A fat black and white cat has become a major tourist attraction in the Polish city of Szczecin.
Gacek, a free-roaming feline who lives in a box on Kaszubska Street in Poland’s seventh largest city, has captured the attention of cat enthusiasts around the world.
The rotund animal had a five-star rating on Google Maps, clocking up more than 2,500 reviews, according to local reports, before it was removed.
A new listing for Gacek attracted almost 500 reviews and an average five-star rating in its first 48 hours, according to Insider, beating other attractions in the sea port city, including the 12th-century Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle.
The cat, whose name means “long-eared bat” in Polish and is pronounced “gats-ek”, has been a resident of the city for many years, earning the affections of locals and visitors alike, but his international reputation exploded after a 2020 video by local news outlet wSzczecinie went viral.
Now, ailurophiles from around the world are being drawn to the city in a bid to meet the “King of Kaszubska Street” in the fur.
“I flew from Oslo with transit in Gdańsk to see Gacek,” wrote one five-star review from August 2021.
“As expected, he didn’t pay any attention to me which made the experience fully wholesome. If I could have dinner with anyone in the world, I would fly again in an instant to feed him,” it continued.
“It was worth travelling three hours to feel ignored by him,” wrote another.
A third reviewer commented: “I am very fortunate to meet this distinguished gentle creature.”
Visitors offering Gacek snacks led to concern about his increasingly plump appearance, prompting a local animal shelter to ask people not to feed the famous cat.
A sign beside his box house asks admirers to only leave treats in closed packets which his owner can open for him.
“I happily pose for pictures, but please don’t stroke me while I’m having a nap,” the sign adds.
“Cat tourism” is a concept not confined to Szczecin, however.
Lovers of our furry friends are also drawn to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida.
As well as being the former abode of the great American novelist, it’s also home to around 50 free-roaming cats, all of whom are descended from Hemingway’s original Maine coon, Snowball.
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