In Szczecin, Poland’s seventh-largest city, an unexpected celebrity walks (or perhaps lounges) among its historic streets. Meet Gacek, the robust black and white cat, whose fame has skyrocketed, making him one of the hottest tourist attractions in the country.
Gacek: The Star of Szczecin
Gacek isn’t your ordinary street cat. Residing in a box on Kaszubska Street, he’s captured the hearts of both locals and international cat enthusiasts. With a stellar five-star rating on Google Maps, he clocked in over 2,500 reviews. Even after a listing removal, his re-entry amassed nearly 500 reviews with the same impeccable rating within two days. To put that in perspective, he outshone other iconic sites, including the historical 12th-century Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle.
What’s in a name? Gacek, pronounced “gats-ek”, means “long-eared bat” in Polish. While he’s been an adored resident of Szczecin for years, it was a 2020 video by wSzczecinie that truly propelled him to internet fame. Ailurophiles, or cat lovers, from distant corners of the world have been flocking to the city just to catch a glimpse of the proclaimed “King of Kaszubska Street.”
Travel reviews reveal the depth of affection travelers have for this indifferent feline. One review from an Oslo traveler humorously highlighted Gacek’s tendency to ignore visitors, noting, “It was worth travelling three hours to feel ignored by him.” Another chimed in saying, “I am very fortunate to meet this distinguished gentle creature.”
However, his fame came with a little setback. Concerns over Gacek’s increasing girth, due to generous treats from admirers, led to a local animal shelter’s plea for restraint in feeding him. Signs now adorn his boxy residence, requesting fans to leave only closed packets of treats for his owner to manage.
Beyond Gacek: The Global Phenomenon of Cat Tourism
The allure of “cat tourism” isn’t exclusive to Szczecin. Take, for instance, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida. While it once housed the iconic American novelist, it now shelters around 50 free-roaming cats. These feline residents are the proud descendants of Hemingway’s original Maine coon, Snowball, adding another layer of history and charm to the site.
In conclusion, whether it’s Gacek in Szczecin or Snowball’s descendants in Florida, cats have woven their way into the cultural fabric of many global destinations, proving once again the universal appeal of our feline friends.