Tombi, a sweet orange cat, has no idea where he came from, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he has found his home.
Tombi first emerged on the grounds of an elementary school last month in the Turkish city of Izmir. Tombi was pleasant and outgoing, in contrast to the majority of stray cats, which may be fairly timid. She approached children outside in search of attention and affection.
Tombi, though, didn’t stop there.
After a couple of weeks of hanging out exclusively in the school’s garden, Tombi apparently decided to try his paws at a formal education. For a street-smart cat, the third grade seemed like a good place to start.
“He came into our classroom,” teacher Özlem Pınar Ivaşcu told The Dodo. “The children liked him very much.”
And just like that, Tombi became part of Mrs. Ivaşcu’s class.
Having a cat prowling around the classroom might seem like it would be wholly a distraction for young students, potentially hindering their learning — but Ivaşcu found that Tombi was having the opposite effect.
Seeing the cat’s playful curiosity had caused her kids to become more excited to be in class.
In between sessions, Ivaşcu’s pupils would run and horse around the room. They can concentrate better now that there is a cat there to entertain them. Because of Tombi, even the morning bell has a nicer sound to it.
“The children come on time to school, and they are taking care of Tombi,” Ivaşcu said. “This is good for them.”
It’s also good for Tombi.
Not only does the cat now have a safe place to sleep and spend his days, with bowls full of food and water to call his own, he has dozens of new friends looking out for his best interests. Ivaşcu has taken Tombi to the vet to make sure he’s healthy and gotten him vaccinated.
Things in Ivaşcu’s class had never been better — but then a problem threatened to bring it to an end.
One student’s parents complained to the school about the stray cat after finding that it had full reign of the classroom and may be dangerous to the student’s health. Vaşcu was subsequently informed by administrators that Tombi had to be fired.
The cat was also heartbroken along with the students.
“Tombi stayed at the house we selected for him for three days, but he wasn’t content. He put down his fork “said Vaşcu. “So I took him in at my place, but he was also not very happy here,” she said.
Even in letters, Tombi’s schoolmates tried to cheer him up.
Seeing that the cat wasn’t getting better, İvaşcu decided to write about his sad situation on social media. From there, word about Tombi spread like wildfire.
“The story got a lot of attention and support on all TV news,” İvaşcu said. “I had a lot of support from many people, including from my manager and the director of education in İzmir.”
Even the parent who complained had a change of heart. She wanted the cat back in class, too.
And sure enough, school officials gave the OK for Tombi to return.
Since Tombi’s story broke, a grassroots campaign has been gaining steam across the country calling for every class to adopt a cat of their own.