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OMG, Greek kitteh! (Garth Johnston)

It may not seem that way, but I have a serious problem: I'm addicted to catspotting (and not just the Facebook game). When traveling around the world, I will whip out my phone to take photos of lots of things. Stunning sunsets. New friends. Art. Skylines. Drunken new friends. Old churches. Beautiful buildings. Street art. Special sunrises... and cats.

So many cats.

Apparently the world has not heeded Bob Barker's call to spay and neuter all the pets, because once you get out of the Big Apple (though we've got quite a few here, too) feral cats and dogs are everywhere. And while they may not always lead long, healthy lives, my goodness are they adorable. Don't believe me? Let me take you on a quick spin around the globe to visit five of my favorite far flung feline finding locales:

1. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Tiny Kitteh the Tiniest, king of Gili T. (Garth Johnston)

Japan may have Cat Cafes and a Cat Island, but by far my favorite feline fantasy island is Gili T., a tiny slice of heaven just east of Bali. Of course, this tiny island has a lot of non-cat things going for it: perfect weather, amazing (and affordable) diving, ponies... but my goodness, you guys, the cats. So. Many. Cats. See, by law Gili T. has no cars or dogs. But it does have pussies galore. Everywhere you turn there is another adorable ball of fur looking to play.

The one above? My traveling companion and I named him Tiny Kitteh the Tiniest. He showed up one lazy afternoon on the beach and hung out on our towel all day mewing and sunbathing and having a generally good time. The one below? She was quite happy to beg with those big beautiful eyes for table scraps at a fish restaurant on the beach for hours on end (we didn't give her any... but our neighbors did).

Food please? (Garth Johnston)

And, before you freak out about all those hungry felines fending for themselves, take a deep breath. The locals love their cats even more than you do and work hard to keep them healthy.

2. Istanbul, Turkey

One cat, two cat, three cat, four cat (Garth Johnston)

Rome and Istanbul have a lot in common. They both are amazing cities with ancient histories. They both are chock-a-block with hidden treasures. They both once ruled huge swaths of the world. And they both are filled with adorable, adorable cats. Or they were. While Rome's famous felines are much harder to spot these days the same can not be said for Istanbul. For serious, you really don't have the time to see all of my Istanbul kitty photos. But take my word for it: if you go to Istanbul and don't see a few dozen feral cats, you need to stop staring at the Hagia Sophia and remember to LOOK DOWN.

For example, above we have a typical gathering of Istanbul street cats, slowly plotting to take over the world while below is my good cafe buddy, Scraps, who made a purrfect companion for a traditional Turkish breakfast.

Scraps (Garth Johnston)

3. Israel

Holy calico cat! (Garth Johnston)

Oh, my friends, are there are a lot of cute kittehs lounging around the Holy Land. And they really don't seem to care a bit about your political views. Be they Bethlehem kittehs chilling under cars (above) or Jerusalem furballs watching a shoe store display (below), there are sweet cute cats all over the place. Sure, seeing the sites is fun and all but a trip to Israel without some cat spotting is barely a trip at all (I highly recommend hanging with some of the beach cats in Tel Aviv, not pictured, as well!).

What size you want? (Garth Johnston)

4. Singapore

Singapore cat, just checking the street for litter (Garth Johnston)

I don't know about you, but when I think of Singapore I generally think of fastidious cleanliness and stiff punishments (also delicious street food). And you know what are also into keeping fastidiously clean and handing out stiff punishments? If you didn't guess cats you haven't been paying attention. So no wonder that Singapore has tons of furry friends out and about all over the place enjoying the oppressive humidity and keeping the rodent population down.

Singapore cat is judging you (Garth Johnston)

5. Greece

Ben Yakas meets the family (Garth Johnston)

Yes, the ruins are amazing and the islands are magical and the food is... Greece-y. (I kid, I kid, Greek food is special). But that is besides the point. My favorite reason to stop by Greece is definitely the sweet, sweet kitteh love. Seriously, Greek cats are some of the nicest I've encountered. Be they begging to be taken home and loved, like that winky little guy on the top of the page, or sleeping on a moped in the middle of Athens (below) Greek cats are adorable. Don't believe me? Just ask Gothamist's own Ben Yakas, seen above chilling with a young litter of cat friends in Pelios in Northern Greece. It took hours to tear him away. And Ben Yakas, so you know, doesn't even like cats.

Greek kitty will be happy to give you a lift... when it wakes up (Garth Johnston)

See what I mean about my catspotting problem? Here are my photos of cats in:








Georgia (the country!)


...well, you get the idea. But what about you? Where do you go to hang with felines far from home? Let me know in the comments... because I would like to go to there.

Meanwhile remember: if you are going catspotting in an exotic locale, you probably don't want to touch your subjects. But if you do throw caution and kitty litter to the wind, please at least make sure you wash your hands after! Even felines know that:

Garth Johnston is a native New Yorker, world traveller, and newly certified dive instructor. When he isn't running around the world looking for food, fun, fishes and felines he is... nope, that's pretty much what he does these days.