Sometimes, I need to write a fluffy blog post. Something short, cute, and straight to the point. Also, it should include cats. Because the internet loves cats!
Luckily, my month-long stay in Dubrovnik, Croatia gave me perfect source material for an extremely fluffy blog post.
Why are there So Many Cats in Dubrovnik?
It’s hard to say exactly where the cats in Dubrovnik came from. Many of them seem to be ‘community cats,’ taken care of by tourists and locals alike in the Old Town. Many have sleek and shiny fur and are fit and healthy. It’s not uncommon to see kittens too.
The reason there are so many cats in Dubrovnik is that most people don’t pay to spay or neuter cats (or dogs, as far as I can tell). This isn’t unique to Dubrovnik, Croatia, or even Europe: throughout our travels, we saw more unspayed/unneutered animals than not. Coming from the U.S. where it’s a common practice to spay or neuter your animal, this is somewhat surprising.
It’s likely the case that it’s more expensive or inconvenient to spay and neuter animals, so most people don’t do it. This means that cats will be cats, and said cats will make kittens from time to time. If this happens every year or two, soon you have an entire Old Town full of cats!
Playing with the Cats of Old Town Dubrovnik
For the most part, the cats in Old Town Dubrovnik seem well cared for and healthy enough that you should feel comfortable to pet or play with them. Always wash your hands as soon as possible after doing so.
Most of the cats I met were willing to be petted, and seem familiar with people. A few were very friendly, such as the mother cat and kittens we met near the Jesuit Stairs and Church of St. Ignatius.
Before you pet a cat, do your best to check and make sure the cat doesn’t have any open sores or wounds. Cats – as stray/wild animals – get into fights and have injuries from time to time. Just as I wouldn’t want someone petting my broken arm, respect the cats who are injured or shying away from people. This seems like common sense, but it’s easy to get distracted by how cute they are and just want to snuggle with them!
One of my favorite cats was missing an eye, so we named him ‘Captain Jack.’ He lived with another cat that looked quite similar, so we called him Will – like Pirates of the Caribbean. Both were occasionally friendly but quite skittish, so I met them on their terms rather than trying to pet or play with them.
Should You Feed the Cats in Dubrovnik?
As in most cases with animals you don’t own, it’s not advisable to feed stray cats in Dubrovnik. If like me, you are compelled by their cuteness, I recommend you invest in an appropriate cat food.
I chose to buy a bag of cat snacks and carry them with me as I explored the city. I could stop and feed the cats a snack or two – but never more than I would feed a cat of my own at home.
The local cats near our apartment became familiar enough with me that when they heard the crinkle of the cat snack bag, they would come running over. Sassy, savvy cats would even try to get the bag out of my hand.
At the end of the day, the cats are one of the most charming parts of Old Town Dubrovnik. If you’re a cat lover, they’re a wonderful addition to a city with loads of charm and history. If you’re not, you’re now forewarned: there are cats everywhere in Old Town Dubrovnik, and they’re super cute!
Lemme know any questions you have about the cats of Dubrovnik in the comments!