Walking on the southern bank of the Black sea I wistfully recalled my many hours of wandering the cobblestone streets of Gelendzhik, my camera, and imagination in tow. Anywhere I walked, there were cats. In Gelendzhik’s wide backstreets, cats perch on rooftops and window sills, sit on doorsteps and relax on nearly every corner.
Whether loafing in sunlight, scampering into shops in search of food or grooming themselves, cats have become an inseparable part of neighborhood life in the small coastal city.
Shop owners in Gelendzhik and locals often know their neighborhood cats by name and will tell tales about them, as if chatting about a friend.
Some cat-loving buy food for a feline to keep their furry neighbors in good mood, taking advantage of the discount on cat supplies at pet stores. Some even bring cats home if the outdoor cat has a problem with health.
“A lot of people think that money is not an issue when it comes to cats,” said Sergey, a pet shop employee.
“People with big heart take cats with broken legs, blind ones or kittens with stomach problems and bring them to the veterinary clinic.”
Cats were considered guardians in the cultural world: they defended libraries from destruction by mice and may have helped protect city populations from rat-borne plagues. And, of course, the cats were necessary on farms.
Unlike somewhere else in my travels, no one glared at me if I tried to feed the kitten in Gelendzhik. People do not like to attract the cats because of my feeding the strays would merely ensure that they returned time and time again. In opposite, when I went for shawarma, and couldn’t finish my plate, I tried to furtively slip the morsel of food for cat underneath my chair. Seeing my furtiveness, the owner walked over and, with a smile on his face, dropped the cat below a full drumstick to enjoy. Sometimes tourists who are going to the shop, also buying a cat food and gladden felines by treats.
Of course, it’s not a purely idyllic life for the animals of Gelendzhik. Walking the poorer parts of town will open your eyes to the less fortunate of cats. They are trying to live near the cafe’s kitchens, but as I already mentioned, not everybody likes such neighborhood.
Looking through history books, many mention the people’s love of felines and talking about sage and dexterity cats while variations on the foregoing stories exist, the overarching affection for cats has been consistent. One of the famous writer in Russia – A.S. Pushkin wrote about the cat wisdom and in Gelendzhik, you can see the Learned-cat sculpture.
As for me, I met, petted and hugged with many a cat during my life in Gelendzhik.