I was sitting at Harpa the other day, and as the warmth of the sun rays coming through the huge glass surface made me sleepy, I drifted away from the conversation I was enjoying with my friends and casually eaves-dropped people at surrounding tables. There were two American couples who were running through their day over coffee and comparing photos. One of them had taken a whole series of the cats that roam in 101. Kitty and Fluffy were all in there and the guy was going on and on about how cute and nice and relaxed and friendly and casual cats were around here. He talked about them as if they were some kind of main attraction of Reykjavík, like puffins or whales, and I couldn’t help but picturing a bus full of tourists driving around Seltjarnarnes trying to spot cats.
Well, we are not quite to that point yet, but it is not the first time we hear about Reykjavík’s numerous and famous felines. The city’s estimated twelve thousand cats are said to be well-mannered and overly social, which is rather true. They’ll run up to you, ringing away with their little neck-bells to ask for a few strokes, lie on their back and crawl into the air and purr like engines while you discreetely try to walk away, intimidated by all the attention. They may follow you down a few blocks, even make your home theirs for a while. I used to have a cat, well at least I thought so until I realised a friend of mine living a few blocks down had the exact same one, and that so did a bunch of other families. Unlike Rome, which is over-numbered by stray, unsociable underfed and over-beaten creatures, Reykjavík loves and takes care of its cats, which probably explains why they are so social – and so popular.
OK that sounds a little crazy-cat-lady like, but the fact is, our little furry friends do attract a lot of attention from the newcomers. Tourists like testing the cats’ friendliness, and an afternoon socializing with unknown cats might soon become as popular an activity as an afternoon feeding the ducks – but way cooler, if you think about the percentage of people who are afraid of birds versus the percentage of people who are afraid of cats…
And as for their ability to run the show by missing the window sill, hunting for abandoned socks or sunbathing in the middle of the road, not bothering to move when a car shows up, they definitely are the stars of the city. So if you are on the prowl around 101, look out for the little furry residents of Reykjavík, or kittyzens, as they probably call themselves.
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