The Cats of Morocco

Sarah Mamlet
April 1, 2019
A group of cats sitting in the Andalusian gardens

Like many countries in the Arab world, cats rule the streets of Morocco. They sit where they please in the middle of busy markets, they look both ways before crossing the road, and they have even taken over an entire garden in Rabat's historic Kasbah of the Udayas! I'm going to share with you here a few of my favorite felines.

First off, there is Oscar from my homestay during my orientation in Meknes. Not all cats in Morocco live on the street, many are also spoiled pets! Oscar was the king of his apartment. 

Oscar lounges on a couch in his living room

The other pet cat that I know is this friend who sits in a window on my walk to school every morning, sometimes dangling a tail out over the ledge.

A Siamese cat looks out of a window

I'm not sure if this little one belongs to a human or lives on the street, but I spotted them one cold morning on my neighbor's doorstep.

Tiny gray kitten in a doorway

Most of the cats I see live on the street. They are not wild or feral—the city is their home and they are a well-integrated part of Rabat society. This parking lot near my home is one area where people leave food for the cats, so many congregate there. They are taken care of by the human residents of the city, and they have no fear of humans. Most of them are friendly, even chatty, and happy to be pet or greeted.

Cats in a parking lot, on cars, making themselves at home

This little kitten has made a habit of sitting on the side of the road through the medina in the mornings, watching the traffic as everyone rushes to school and work.

kitten sits on the side of a dusty road

Throughout the medina's market you can see cats making themselves at home among the wares. These two seem to have hit the jackpot for a napping place.

two small cats curled up at the rug seller's

The cat with the best view is this one, who sits on the pier at Sale, looking out over the Bouregreg river and the Rabat skyline. If the cat is lucky, a generous fisherman may even share some of his catch.

A cat overlooks the Bouregreg River

Cats take control of any situation they want to, whether or not it suits the humans involved. Here, a cat photobombs some friends of mine who came to visit in Rabat.

A cat photobombs a tourist photo

Besides living cities, cats also reside in dead cities. This litter of kittens lives in Volubilis, the ruins of an ancient Roman city near Fes.

A herd of black and white kittens

The ruins of a Roman settlement in Rabat, Chellah, which also houses the necropolis of the Merenid Dynasty, is the home of these friendly cats who have made it their job to greet tourists.

Two cats on the red sand of Chellah

These cats spend their days walking around on the ancient, sunbaked stones.

Cat among ancient ruins

Other cats enjoy the company of tourists in cafés in the Kasbah of the Udayas.

Cat on a cushion in a café

But the best place to see cats in Morocco, their real home in Rabat, is the Andalusian Gardens in the Kasbah. Here, the cats lounge on stone walls and are admired by tourists and locals alike.

Cat on a wall in the Andalusian gardens

They curl up in large groups in the stone courtyard.

Cats lounge in the shade

There may be 20 of them visible in the garden at any given moment.

Cats are lazy

There are full grown cats, but also many tiny kittens, happily napping in the sun.

A kitten on the wall in the sun

They hide in the long grasses.

Kitten hiding in a garden

They let you pet them.

Petting a kitten

They play with visitors.

A kitten pounces!

This cat is curious and would like to investigate my camera.

A cat investigates my camera

This cat poses for a portrait.

A cat poses for a portrait

This kitten's portrait pose is my favorite.

A kitten poses for a portrait

These cats in Morocco are our friends and neighbors as much as the humans who live alongside us, and I am grateful to them for welcoming me into their city.

A cat greets me

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Sarah Mamlet

<p>My name is Sarah, and I'm from New England but I study psychology (and math, and religion, and everything else) at Vassar College in the Hudson Valley. When I'm not doing schoolwork, you can find me singing in a choir, at ballet class, or binge watching TV shows with my friends.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2019 Spring
Home university:
Vassar College
Hometown:
Acton, MA
Major:
Psychology
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