A Cat Map of Poland
#travel in poland
#lifestyle & opinion
small, Meow, 'Miau': A
Cat Map of Poland, Cat map of Poland, photo: Lech Muszyński / PAP, Michał Kość / Reporter, center, output_o3zxdx.gif
Poland, not unlike most other countries, is home to countless cat lovers. Polish fans of the fluffy pets take them into their homes, of course – but they also open cat cafes, paint cat-themed murals and even erect monuments to cats. Especially for all you cat fans out there, Culture.pl has put together a guide to the top feline places around Poland.
In 2017, Poles were surveyed about their furry feline friends. It turns out that every second citizen of the country has one or more animals at home. Forty-two percent of Poles have dogs, 26% have cats and 5% have some other kind of pet (guinea pigs, parakeets, turtles and so on).
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Polish enthusiasts of the purring pets are not limited to cuddling with kitties in their own homes. They can also share this happiness with others. In Warsaw, for example, there are two bookstores where cats can freely roam.
One of these is Eureka, located in the district of Saska Kępa. Shop visitors are greeted by a sign announcing that they’ve entered the domain of Chuck and Cesar. These two critters are impossible to forget. Both members of this cat duo belong to the biggest breed in the world – the Maine Coon, the males of which weigh in at between six and 12 kilograms.
It’s quite clear that Chuck and Cesar consider themselves to be the true proprietors of Eureka. The two cats nap among the books on the table tops, clamber up the shelves and even allow shoppers to pet them sometimes.
The second cat bookstore in Warsaw is called Bagatela na Pięterku. At present, its star resident is Lynx the cat, a red-furred beauty. Before Lynx, a ginger cat named Rudolf lived here, but he passed away three years ago. Having grown accustomed to Rudolf, the bookstore’s customers persuaded the owners, Kasia and Iwona, to get another pet. In 2015, they gave in, adopting Lynx from a Łódź shelter and bringing her to the capital city.Kasia and Iwona love cats so much that they even arrange cat-themed soirées at their bookshop from time to time. At these events, visitors read literature about cats, chat about the fluffy little beasts and make crafts and drawings that feature their feline friends.
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- Bagatela na Pięterku, 14 Bagatela Street, Warsaw
- Eureka, 15 Francuska Street, Warsaw
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Yet another kitty curio can be found in the Warsaw district of Wierzbno. At Miau Cafe, anyone can sip on homemade lemonade, sample desserts and play with the cats who live here.
Rudik greets the café’s guests at its doorstep. He loves to watch them as they sip beverages, and he has even been known to fall asleep in women’s purses. Young Thelma is always ready to play games, while the sociable Ksenia is usually happy to join in. Susie, in turn, purrs with pleasure, relieving customers of any stress.
Another Polish cat café opened in Lublin in 2016. Now, you’ll find two Mrau Cafes there, where you’re welcome to stop for a bite as a guest of their 16 friendly felines (eight in each location). It is also possible to adopt these residents, if you so desire – so far, ten cats have already found new homes. For reasons of safety, the owners of Mrau Cafe ask that visitors not come to these establishments with children younger than six years old in tow.
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The first cat café in Kraków – Kociarnia – opened on Lubicz Street three years ago. Today, six cats live there. If you find yourself in the royal Polish city, you must pay a visit to the snow-white Snieżka, the velvety Gucci, the tri-coloured Gretel and their friends.
Last summer, a second Kociarnia opened in Kraków, home to six additional cats. At this establishment, you can attend regular lectures about cats, as well as meetings with veterinary-behaviourists and animal psychologists. In the company of the curious creatures, you can feast on a ‘Feline Sadness’ smoothie and open your chakras while drinking ‘Feline Zen’ tea.
- Miau Cafe, 30 Naruszewicza street, Warsaw
- Mrau Cafe, 6 Orla street, Lublin
- Kociarnia, 48 Krowoderska street, Kraków
Hipolit & Włodek – cat museum guards
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At first glance, our next cat locale in Kraków doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the animals at all. The Hipolit House is a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków. Here, you can learn how the Polish bourgeoisie lived several centuries ago.
This establishment finds a place in our guide, however, thanks to a cat named Hipolit, who happens to live here. The once-homeless cat was taken in off the streets by one of the museum’s curators. According to museum employees, Hipolit is not curious at all, but rather quite disciplined. Most often, the black-and-white critter stands guard by the museum pieces closest to the radiators. Each morning, he makes his rounds of the exhibition halls and then goes to sleep. All in all, this furry museum employee never lays a paw on any of the exhibits.
In the summer, Hipolit loves to spend time near the gift shop, while in the winter, he relaxes on couches in the café or in the security guards’ room. The cat even has his own Facebook page. In the group ‘Oczami Kota Hipolita’ (‘Through the Eyes of Hipolit the Cat’), he ‘writes’ about life in the museum, inviting everyone to the exhibits and chatting with his loyal fans.
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Hipolit’s cat colleague, Włodek, also works on his paws. This black cat, contrary to superstition, brings luck and happiness to the employees and visitors of the Zwierzyniec House museum. In 1912, Vladimir Lenin and Nadezhda Krupskaya lived in this exact building for a month and a half. Unsurprisingly, this house formed part of the Kraków Lenin Museum during the communist regime, when it contained an exhibit titled ‘The First Kraków Apartment of the Leader of the Revolution’.
These days, the Zwierzyniec House presents the history of the Zwierzyniec district. Its feline resident, Włodek, is quite the sophisticated internet user. He promotes the museum on social media, announcing new exhibits and posting adorable photos – all while fulfilling his main mission of sleeping most of the time.
- Hipolit House, 3 Mariacki Square, Kraków
- Zwierzyniec House, 41 Królowej Jadwigi Street, Kraków
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Poland contains a village by the name of Kotowice … but don’t confuse it with the industrial city of Katowice! There are many such ‘feline’ toponyms on the country’s map. You’ll find cat villages such as Kot, Koty, Kotiki, Kotuń, Kotów. Then, there are the lakes: Kot, Kotel, Kotenok. The origins of these toponyms are unknown, but examining them will surely make you want to say: ‘Meow!’
Monuments to cats
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For ten years, Dante the Cat lived in an antique bookshop in the city of Wrocław. The name of the fluffy lodger was not chosen at random, for most of the time, the cat would sleep on a copy of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.
The cat would spend his days gazing at passers-by through the shop window, often sitting on a table and greeting customers. Dante even received the honour of being named Wrocław’s most popular cat. A year after his death, in 2015, a statue of Dante was erected on the shop’s windowsill. Now, everyone can stroke Dante’s back and make a wish.
In Łódź, you’ll find a monument to two cartoon cats – the light-haired Filemon, and Bonifacy, with black fur. This pair of animated pals was created by the Polish author and screenwriter Marek Nejman. Filemon is young and naïve, whereas Bonifacy is old and lazy.The adventures of these furry friends inspired two cartoon series, Dziwny Świat Kota Filomena (The Strange World of Filemon the Cat) and Przygody Kota Filomena (The Adventures of Filemon the Cat). Over a period of nine years, 39 episodes were produced between them.
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- Filemon and Bonifacy statue, 1 Zwycięstwa Square, Łódź
The Magically Mighty Murals
Expressions of love for cats can be found just about anywhere you go in Poland – even, for instance, out in the streets. A few years ago in Łódź, ‘Raspazjan’, the pseudonym of a Silesian artist, painted a mural of a cat woman, who sits atop an adjacent hair salon. In her hands, she holds images of futuristic worlds, as well as traditional Silesian symbols. The cat woman was painted during the ‘Energy of the City’ street art festival.
The cat murals of the artist Mariusz Bartoszewski, created under the pseudonym of ‘Skucha’, can be seen on various street corners across Poland. One of his best works, in the artist’s own opinion, is located on Warsaw’s Osowska street.
Once, there was once a fire in this building, and several people died. The building evoked such sad emotions from the local residents in the wake of this incident. So, I wanted to bring these people some joy.
In 2016, ‘Skucha’ painted an enormous mural of a cat and a frog on a Warsaw skyscraper.
- Cat woman mural, 39 Sienkiewicza street, Łódź
- Cat and frog mural, 34 Osowska street, Warsaw
A cat paradise in the village of Dobra
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Is there such a thing as a cat paradise? If you found yourself asking this question, we’d tell you: Yes, and it’s in Poland. In 2017, in the village of Dobra, near Szczecin, local authorities built an animal shelter called Dom Kota (the Cat House). The investment cost local officials one million złóty (around 250,000 EUR).
The one hundred residents of Dom Kota are doing superbly well. There are plenty of labyrinths, cat trees, little houses, and scratching posts for them to enjoy. The extensive collection of balls, rods, mechanical mice and other toys available to its feline guests would be the envy of any housecat.
‘There was a real need for a place like this’, says Katarzyna Hermanowicz, the director of Dom Kota:
In our region, the animal shelters were overcrowded, so we decided to build something brand-new. Its construction was financed by four gminas (the smallest administrative unit in Poland – ed. note). Today, people bring us homeless cats from all over the place. We nurse the sick cats back to health, and we work to find the healthy ones real homes as soon as possible.
Thanks to the Dom Kota team, around 15 to 20 cats find caring owners each month.
- Dom Kota, 1 Zwierzyniecka street, Dobra Szczecińska
Originally written in Russian by Evgeny Klimakin & Tatiana Kuchinskaya, 28 Feb 2018; translated by KA, 17 Jul 2018; edited by LD, Feb 2019
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