Morocco’s Cat Fetish

"So whadya think, Harry? A lot of tourists today?"

“So whadya think, Harry? A lot of tourists today?”

Furry felines flourish in Morocco.  And maybe they have for years.  Not sure about the history of it all, but everywhere we went, there was another cat — or two or three or so.

One guide told our group in Marrakech that Moroccans like cats better than dogs.  “They are clean animals.  You know how they lick their paws and clean their whole bodies?  Dogs don’t do that!”

Could be, we thought.  After all, cleansing is part of Muslim ritual, so it makes sense.  Whatever the explanation, we rarely saw a dog the  whole three weeks in Morocco. In Marrakech especially, cats were everywhere — parks, monuments, the medina, and homes. We spied our first cat couple on the cobblestone plaza at Koutoubia Mosque.  They looked like two old people camped out watching the tourists go by.

Asleep at the door: Marrakech

Asleep at the door: Marrakech

Cats seemed to have the run of the place just about anywhere, but especially in the Marrakech medina.  Perhaps it’s because Muslims would prefer to put bowls of leftover food and scraps near the stalls for their furry friends rather than throw good food away.  We liked that.

A motorcycle seat makes a fine cat bed in the Marrakech medina.

A motorcycle seat makes a fine cat bed in the Marrakech medina.

In Bahia Palace, it didn’t seem to bother the resident furry ones that hundreds of visitors per day passed through their home.  After all, who’s going to let a few foreigners disturb a perfectly good nap?

Asleep on the stoop: Bahia Palace, Marrakech

Asleep on the stoop: Bahia Palace, Marrakech

Even in the early 1800s when the palace was built, special accommodations were made for this favorite of all Moroccan animals.  See that little hole?  It’s a going-in-and-coming-out place for — well, you guessed it. Now we know who really had the run of the house!  (And it wasn’t the 24 concubines kept on the premises.)

Cat door in Bahia Palace

Cat door in Bahia Palace

Some cats, like this one in Chefchaouen (the blue town) seemed to be posing for pictures — much like the tourists do.  (And, yes, you’ll see us standing beside a blue door, too, in an upcoming post on this charming town.)  Ready, set, smile!

Cat on a doorstep: Chefchaouen, Morocco

Cat on a doorstep: Chefchaouen, Morocco

We’re not so sure that Moroccan cats even care that they might be upstaging a take-back-home, frame-worthy picture. Like this little critter who just nonchalantly strolled through the stables at Heri Es Souani in Meknes.   We were posing so our guide could take what she said was “the one picture you’re going to treasure from this trip.”  But here came this cat, just calmly photo-bombing our photo image from beautiful Morocco.  Could it be that cat snobbery exists all over the world?  Maybe so.  It’s at least one thing we have in common.

We've been photo bombed -- by a cat in Meknes, Morocco. Oh, well.

We’ve been photo bombed — by a cat in Meknes, Morocco. Oh, well.

As always, thanks for traveling with us.  — Rusha and Bert Sams

For more information:

More posts on Morocco —  Travel Series:  Marvelous Morocco.

Follow Flickr for more photos of our travels.


About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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12 Responses to Morocco’s Cat Fetish

  1. Your Morocco posts are fabulous! I am a kitty fan and am loving the story here!!!

  2. Tom says:

    I visited Morocco several years ago. Since I just discovered your blog, I don’t know if you’ve been there, but the Chellah in Rabat has a whole colony of semi-feral cats that hang out by some ancient Roman bath and live in harmony with some local birds that also land there. Humans feed them and they may eat mice, but the birds are not afraid at all that one of the cats might pounce them.

  3. prior.. says:

    meow to the cats- and the tiles!
    but the photo bomb takes the cake – that was a great ending to this post!!

  4. JudyinFrance says:

    I like the last photo the best. What a beautiful location!

  5. Joanne Weir says:

    The photos of the cats are great but I love the photo of you and your husband! 🙂 XoX

    • Thanks so much, Joanne! We loved this stop in Meknes where the cats just roamed freely. There aren’t many pictures from there without cats! Loving your posts and keeping up with you on Instagram!

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