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 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.
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.