The Cats of Odessa

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.

Terry Pratchett

Cats are worshipped, or at least revered, in the beautiful Black Sea city of Odessa in Ukraine.

Cats really are the embodiment of class and cool- they are entirely self-obsessed, utterly aloof and invariably gorgeous.

As we wandered through the cobblestone streets, market places and boulevards of Odessa, we came across a feline fiefdom which is fully endorsed, encouraged and indulged by Odessan humans.

The cats of Odessa were merely an observation by me- however on closer internet research discovered that the worship of cats is a conscious thing in Odessa, as chronicled by the tourist office who have published a walking guide of the cat monuments around the city.

Please forgive me for not editing the photos- the cats are my focus but the surrounds in Odessa are just so quirky I couldn’t resist soaking up the whole experience- from the clothes the vendors wore (and the ubiquitous bumbag to store the cash float) to the gently undulating/downright dangerous footpaths and paved walkways.

This majestic ginger presided over a rather eclectic array of wares; it looks like this lady cleared out her dressing table and dining buffet to sell on this warm morning. This is how the Starokonka Market in the Moldavanka district operates- streets of wares displayed on trestle tables with canopies, or simply displayed on a sheet or blanket on the ground.

This cat was guarding the LPs
This pajama top is no longer for sale.
Let me in! Now!
If you want to find the warmest and most comfy spot in any place, look to where a cat is sleeping.

This is perhaps my favourite memory of Odessa- the beautiful mural of the cat and then the serendipitous tabby in the corner foreground, nonchalantly having a toe bath. My friend Alex tells me the writing says ‘You are forever responsible for those you have tamed.’

I don’t want these cats to be tamed, I love that they can roam the city, and belong to everyone.

This photo pretty much sums up the cats of Odessa- pedestrians on the main cafe strip walked around this very relaxed little tabby-cat, which had no intention of moving at all. My apologies to the anonymous couple in the background- I did not edit this shot as I loved the pastel pink baroque buildings in the background to add to the grandeur of the immovable pussy cat.

The Odessa Journal is an online periodical in English and has some really beautiful articles about the city’s culture and history as well as the zeitgeist. There is a researched article ‘Art project: Odessa cats’ which gives a more in-depth explanation of the special love Odessans have for free spirited felines.

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