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Everything to Know about the Cats of Old Town Dubrovnik

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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.

A cat lounging near the walls of Old Town Dubrovnik
A cat snoozing near the walls of Old Town Dubrovnik

See? Fluffy!

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.

A family of cats in a Dubrovnik cemetery.
A family of cats in a Dubrovnik cemetery.

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!

I'm a cat lover – it was hard to resist petting and playing with the cats in Dubrovnik!
I’m a cat lover – it was hard to resist petting and playing with the cats in Dubrovnik!

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.

Mother cat and kitten playing in Old Town Dubrovnik.
Mother cat and kitten playing in Old Town Dubrovnik.

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!

Feeding cat snacks to Captain Jack, Will, and their crew.
Feeding cat snacks to Captain Jack, Will, and their crew.

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.

Do you see his cute little tongue sticking out? ?
Do you see his cute little tongue sticking out? ?

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.

An intrepid Dubrovnik cat trying to get into my cat snacks bag.
An intrepid Dubrovnik cat trying to get into my cat snacks bag.

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.

Cat obsessed and proud. Dubrovnik is a great destination for cat lovers!
Cat obsessed and proud. Dubrovnik is a great destination for cat lovers!

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!


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I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


  • Wren LaPorte

    looks like you had a very fluffy time in Croatia! I have always wanted to go, and now that I see the extra cuteness… I will have to work harder to go. I do love seeing that the majority seem well cared for and not sickly. 🙂

    • Valerie

      Make it happen! They’re super cute 🙂 I was glad to see that they were well cared for too – in other cities and areas near Dubrovnik, this was not so much the case.

  • Gabriela Mancilla

    Hi, just comig back from Dubrovnik and was wondering about cats and found your blog. Looking into your pics saw the kitten with mom and seems to be the same cat I was petting, now it is an adult already! Wish I could send the pic!

      • Melissa

        I wanted to share what I learned regarding cats in Dubrovnic. The cats are cared for by the municipality of Dubrovnic. The cats are well cared for and many recieve immunizations and medical care (also provided by the city).

        In Dubrovnic (and Croatia in general) cats are respected and cherished. The cats are beleived to have saved Dubrovnic from the plague as ships came into port with good, but along with the goods came mice whose fleas were carriers of the plague. Dubrovic fared far better than the reat of Europe in the days of the black death as a reault of the cats. Cats were appreciated for this and therefore appreciated for the seevice they provided. As a result the cat population grew exponentially (their reproduction was never intentionally intereupted) over the generations and continued to be credited for saving them from the plague.

        Now, in more recent times (I cannot remember the year) Dubrovnic suffered a very serious fire which eventually destroyed the entire city. Thankfully, Dubrovnic was a city where cats were plentiful because of these cats human lives were saved from the fire! In the dead of the night, as the citizens were asleep, the fire began and as the fire became bigger and bigger….the cats started howling, meowing, and raising a rukus which woke the sleeping citizens and alerted them to the fire….providing plenty of time for people to be rescued feom the fires and to evacuate the city.

        Cats have been credited with saving the city of Dubrovnic from disease and fire and have therefore become precious and respected members of the community. As you may have noticed, cats are treated as the heroes they truly are. You will find cats inside lobbies of expensive hotels, in businesses, and inside schools as they have been granted free reign in the city and are financially provided for and supported by the city of Dubrovnic.

  • Yvonne Hill

    Very interesting and you are obviously caring – but have you thought about the possibility of catching rabies
    from them. I have read that it is easier to contract the disease from a catch scratch or bite than from a dog.

    • Valerie

      Yvonne, I trust my instincts to watch out for animals with any open wounds or behaving oddly. These cats were generally just sleeping or were behaving very normally when they approached people. I always respect an animal that doesn’t want to be petted or bothered!

    • SkipFerret

      We are free of Rabies in Croatia, excepting the Bat population, so you can rest assured that you won’t catch rabies from the Dubrovnik cats who are very well loved and cared for.

  • Mark

    Im currently in dubrovnik now and to be honest, im more excited to see cats than seeing the shooting locations of game of thrones! Lol! Mer few of them and all were friendly and playful! I think this is a sign that i have to pursue adopting one back home in the states. Before i left for my vacation, i am already planning to adopt one. So, will have cat soon!

  • Josh

    My girlfriend and I recently visited Dubrovnik (two weeks ago) we took a kayak tour and the tour guide (if in remembering correctly) asked us if we noticed the large amount of cats that were in Dubrovnik. He attributed part of it to the effects the black plague that swept over Europe He showed us an old quarantine building with 5 different rooms each room to be stayed in two days and then move on to the next room. after the end of the ten days was a bath in the sea to help clean the skin. Cats were on the front lines of killing rodents that carried the disease. Thought I’d share what I learned recently. Fun fact we were in Barcelona for 9 days , saw zero cats. We were in Dubrovnik (technically Mlini , just outside) and we saw 3 in the first hour. Great place. To visit. So underrated. The islands are amazing. Thanks!

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