The origins of Tombi, an affectionate orange cat, remain a mystery. However, one thing is certain: he discovered the place where he truly belonged.
Back in 2018, Tombi mysteriously appeared on the premises of a public elementary school in Izmir, Turkey. Unlike most stray felines, who tend to be skittish, Tombi exuded friendliness and approached children, seeking attention and affection.
But Tombi’s journey didn’t end there.
After a couple of weeks spent exclusively in the school’s garden, Tombi decided to embark on a new adventure—receiving a formal education. The clever cat chose to join the third-grade class, convinced it was the perfect starting point for his pursuit of knowledge.
“He walked into our classroom,” shared teacher Özlem Pınar Ivaşcu with The Dodo. “The children instantly fell in love with him.”
Just like that, Tombi became an integral part of Mrs. Ivaşcu’s class.
One might assume that having a cat roaming around the classroom would be a major distraction for young students, hindering their learning progress. Surprisingly, Ivaşcu discovered that Tombi had the opposite effect.
The cat’s playful curiosity ignited a newfound enthusiasm within the students, making them more eager to participate and engage in class activities. Even the sound of the morning bell seemed more pleasant, all thanks to Tombi’s presence.
“The children now arrive on time at school, and they take care of Tombi,” Ivaşcu remarked. “It’s been great for them.”
And Tombi thrived too.
Not only did he have a safe place to rest and spend his days, complete with dedicated bowls filled with food and water, but he also gained dozens of friends who cared for his well-being. Ivaşcu ensured that Tombi received proper veterinary care, ensuring his health and providing vaccinations.
Life in Ivaşcu’s class had never been better. However, an unexpected problem emerged that threatened to dismantle their newfound harmony.
Upon learning that a stray cat freely roamed the classroom, the parents of one student raised concerns about potential health risks. Consequently, school officials instructed Ivaşcu to remove Tombi from the premises.
The class was devastated—and so was Tombi.
“We found a new home for Tombi, and he stayed there for three days, but he was unhappy. He stopped eating,” Ivaşcu recalled. “So, I took him into my own home, but he still wasn’t very happy there.”
Tombi’s school friends even wrote letters in an attempt to lift his spirits.
Realizing that Tombi’s condition was deteriorating, Ivaşcu turned to social media to share his sad plight. The story quickly gained widespread attention.
“The news spread rapidly, and I received overwhelming support from various people, including my superiors and the director of education in Izmir,” Ivaşcu explained.
Even the parent who initially complained had a change of heart—she wanted Tombi back in the classroom too.
With the approval of school officials, Tombi was welcomed back with open arms.
“The children were overjoyed to have Tombi return,” Ivaşcu expressed. “And he, once again, found happiness in the company of the kids.”
Tombi held a special place in the hearts of the 33 students in Ivaşcu’s third-grade class that year. However, his story extended far beyond them.
Inspired by the cat’s positive influence on her young learners, Ivaşcu wrote and published a book about Tombi.
Years have passed since Tombi first strutted into Ivaşcu’s classroom, but his tale was far from over.
Reportedly, Ivaşcu has since relocated abroad, bidding farewell to the school and her former students. However, she didn’t leave everything behind. Joining her on this new chapter of life was Tombi, the beloved cat from the storybook, eager to embark on new adventures together.