There are two types of people who go on holiday. Those who go straight for the local cats, and the misguided few who don’t.
And while Istanbul, Rome and places further afield jostle for status as “travel cat” heaven, laidback Essaouira is quietly making things happen organically.
A charming coastal town, with none of the chaos that you’ll find in busier Moroccan cities, Essaouira has long been known for its surfing culture and the quality of its seafood restaurants.
Today, it’s also famous for being a Game of Thrones filming location.
One thing that’s rarely mentioned in guides to Essaouira, however, is its status as unofficial cat nirvana. Here, on the shores of the tempestuous Atlantic, is a place that offers true joy for felines – and their adoring human friends.
At Essaouira’s port lives possibly the happiest cat colony in Morocco. Well fed and completely relaxed, its inhabitants are quite a contrast to their counterparts across the rest of the country.
Why? Probably because they have certainty in life: a daily supply of more fresh fish than they could ever eat. Sardines, barracudas, eels – if it swims, the fishermen will sell it. And the cats are taking advantage.
Essaouira fishermen seem to have a special connection with the port cats, giving them fine cuts of fish, along with the odd chin stroke. The leftovers – which a cat might usually be expected to eat – are for the seagulls.
With their bellies full the cats have a siesta on a bed of soft fishing nets, away from the wind. Anyone want to swap places?
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