I love cats. I love every kind of cat. I just want to hug all of them, but I can’t, can’t hug every cat. Can’t hug every cat.
Ok, so obviously, I’m quoting the infamous E-harmony cat lover here, but this statement rings true in my heart. I can’t resist hugging and petting nearly every cat I see.
I can’t really explain why I love them so much. They’re truly gorgeous and mystical creatures. I’m drawn to them. And perhaps, they’re drawn to me in the same way.
From Barcelona to Istanbul to Lima, I seem to find a cat in nearly every city I visit – or rather a cat finds me.
Therefore, I decided to create a running photo essay of cats from around the world.
It took all of one day in Costa Rica for a cat to find me. This beauty was basking in the sun outside her home, Hostel Vista Serena. With a gorgeous beach and thick jungle full of wildlife only meters away, I think Manuel Antonio is as much a paradise for cats as it is for people.
I met this shy tomcat just outside the Caleta Hotel in Gibraltar. I caught him having a drink from condensation pool that dripped off the hotel air conditioning unit above. I felt bad to have scared him away. It was over 32 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit), and there’s not much fresh water to be found on the small peninsula.
This shot isn’t my best, but it was my very first attempt at cat photography abroad. I captured this little darling on my old point-and-shoot camera during my semester abroad in Greece. I made sure to pet this loving cat just before hiking up the Acropolis in Athens,
This ginger fellow stopped to wish me luck before heading out on a seven-hour hike up Volcano Acatenango. It’s rare to capture an epic landscape and a cat in the same frame.
This little guy is the resident el gato negro at Three Monkey’s Hostel in Antigua. He hopped up in my lap as I was having my morning coffee. The overnight concierge seemed to be very fond of his cat. After he said he had a certain affinity for black cats, I showed him a picture of my cat, Deja. His response was so many words in one. “Corazón!”
I thought this cat might be feral when I saw her strolling around at a farmers market in Nairobi. I decided to pet her anyway. But when I went inside the restaurant on the grounds, I discovered my initial hypothesis was sorely misplaced. She seemed to have her own shrine in the back of the restaurant – complete with a cat statuette and big bowl of food.
This little grey cat was begging for food outside Java Café in Nairobi. Conventional wisdom may tell us not to touch stray animals. This little guy is a perfect example of why that “conventional wisdom” is nearly impossible to follow.
I quickly grabbed up my camera when I noticed a familiar silhouette in the distance. I captured this gato misterioso while floating down the canals of Xochimilco in Mexico.
An orange and black tabby followed me into a Moroccan diner, hoping to snag a bite to eat. Who could turn down that face? The owner eventually chased her out, but not before I snuck her a piece of lamb from my stew.
As much as I love running into cats while traveling, sometimes it can be hard to look. Many cats around the world are sick, hungry and live very hard lives. It’s a reminder how important it is to spay and neuter our pets back home. I met this skinny striped cat in the empty medina as I was heading to Tangier’s port to catch an early morning ferry to Spain.
This is only one of the many cats I met in Parque Kennedy in Lima. Who’d have thought Peru would have a park dedicated to former U.S. President John F. Kennedy? Who’d have thought it would be overflowing with cats?
If a cat were to name a country, would it be called “Cat-a-lonia?” Puns aside, it was a pleasure watching a sweet old lady put out food for a couple of cats near the Magic Fountain in Barcelona.
I watched a jet-black cat leap from rooftop to tree in the Jewish quarter of Cordoba (Juderia). Some of the residents in the area seemed to leave a pile of fish guts in the park – a gift to the neighborhood cats no doubt.
I met this fellow at the entrance of El Caminito del Rey – formerly known as the world’s most dangerous hiking trail. He seemed to have found a temporary reprieve from the burning Andalusian sun. I had to resort to 100 SPF sunblock instead.
This ginger found a comfy place to rest on a brick bench in the Alhambra in Granada. The Alhambra is one of the most incredible architectural structures I’ve ever laid eyes own, yet my lens was still drawn to a feline. As peaceful as he looks here, he got a bit grumpy when a young girl woke him with some unwanted petting. She had to learn that lesson the hard way I suppose.
Several cats seemed to take up residence inside the Alhambra. It’s said that the prophet Muhammed loved cats so much, he’d rather cut off the sleeve of his prayer robe rather than wake a cat that was sleeping on it. Perhaps it makes sense that these cats are drawn to this former wonder of the Islamic world.
This alley cat was hanging out in old Valencia near the Mercat Central. He booked it once I got too close, but not before striking a pose. Travelers, much like cats, find it hard to quench our undying curiosity. The urge to explore trumps our fear of the unknown.
There’s no better place in the world to be a street cat than Istanbul, Turkey. Many of the city’s residents have taken it upon themselves to take extra care of the many cats that call their neighborhoods home. I found these furballs trying to stay warm outside a cafe in Gülhane Park on a cold January morning.
Something in this storefront seems a little out of place, don’t you think? My girlfriend Dasha asked the store owner, “How much for the cat?” He laughed and jokingly replied, “One lira!” For those who want to learn more about the culture of cats in Istanbul, I’d recommend watching the recent documentary, Kedi. It’s a brilliant look at the daily lives of Istanbul’s street cats, and the Turkish people who love them.
This is how we say “hello” in Istanbul. Even if I hadn’t seen the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Cistern or any of the many wonders in the ancient city, this moment alone would have made my trip to Istanbul worth it.
While I’ve seen plenty of cats in my own country, none compares to my cat Deja. He’s pretty much the smartest, friendliest and all-around best cat in the world. He’s a fine example of what every American cat should be.
This photo essay will be ongoing. As I encounter more cats on my travels, I will add their photos, location and details to this post. I hope to one day have encountered a cat in every country. Perhaps I’ll even publish a book…
Had your own encounters with cats while traveling? I’d love to hear about it! Share your experiences in the comments below.
Also published on Medium.