Tomboli, Istanbul's beloved "meme cat" has passed away, but his spirit will live on.
Residents of Istanbul's Ziverbey neighborhood were devastated when they're beloved mascot, Tomboli, passed away a few years ago. Tomboli, the Turkish word for chubby pets, became a symbol, to a great extent, for the town's beloved feline population.
You may recognize Tomboli from the many memes of his photos that were shared worldwide through social media. The one most will recognize is of the rotund cat reclining on a step, taking in the sights of his neighborhood often with a photoshopped drink nearby.
This photo quickly went viral, as many joked the chubby kitty looked like he ran the town. Tomboli quickly became the unofficial mascot of Istanbul.
After his death from a mystery illness, posters began to appear around the neighborhood in honor of the late cat, bearing phrases such as "you will live on in our hearts, mascot of our street."
Not long after this, a petition was created on Change.org with the goal of having a statue erected in Tomboli's honor. Unsurprisingly, this one petition garnered over 17,000 signatures, which led to the Kad?köy Municipality and local authorities to officially honor the cat's memory.
Anadolu Kedisi, the Anatolian cat page and project, was very happy with the commission and the popular change.org petition.
Local sculptor Seval ?ahin was commissioned to make the statue, which was unveiled on World Animal Day. With the community rallying behind their late mascot, hundreds showed up to the unveiling ceremony where Kad?köy deputy mayor Ba?ar Necipo?lu thanked the city's animal lovers for helping make the statue possible.
Now, the statue is the mascot for stray cats of the town where many people still leave tributes on the statue and cat food nearby.
Tomboli may be gone, but his bronze statue will ensure that his spirit lives on for years to come.
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