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Curious Cat Finds a Home and Heartwarming Purpose in a Third-Grade Classroom



Quick Smiles:

  • Tombi, a sociable orange cat, became an unofficial member of a third-grade class in a public school in Izmir, Turkey.
  • Despite initial complaints about a cat’s presence in the classroom, Tombi was ultimately welcomed back after his absence negatively affected his health.
  • The cat’s story inspired the class teacher, Özlem Pınar Ivaşcu, to write a book about Tombi, further extending his positive influence.

Some say curiosity killed the cat, but for Tombi, an orange feline in Izmir, Turkey, it provided him a home and a purpose.

No one really knows where Tombi came from, but his destination became clear as daylight when he appeared at a public elementary school in 2018.

Unlike many stray cats, Tombi didn’t shy away from people.

Instead, he was outgoing and approachable, easily befriending the kids he encountered outside the school.

However, Tombi’s ambition stretched beyond the schoolyard. He was ready to earn himself an education.

The furry intellectual wandered into a third-grade classroom, guided by teacher Özlem Pınar Ivaşcu.

“He came into our classroom,” Ivaşcu reported to The Dodo. “The children liked him very much.”


Thus, Tombi became an unofficial member of Mrs. Ivaşcu’s class.

Having a cat in the classroom might seem disruptive, but Tombi’s playful presence actually kept the kids more engaged and excited about their studies.

Tombi’s arrival even improved punctuality.

“The children come on time to school, and they are taking care of Tombi,” Ivaşcu said. “This is good for them.”

Good for Tombi too.

He had a secure place to sleep, a steady food supply, and a host of new friends looking out for him.


Mrs. Ivaşcu took Tombi to the vet for health checkups and vaccinations.

However, the harmonious classroom was disrupted when a student’s parents lodged a complaint about a stray cat’s presence, considering it a health risk.

Despite the class’s despair, Tombi was relocated.

But he didn’t adjust well.

“We found a home for Tombi, and he stayed three days there, but he was not happy. He stopped eating,” Ivaşcu said.

Recognizing Tombi’s distress, Ivaşcu turned to social media. The story of the classroom cat went viral.


“The story got a lot of attention and support on all TV news,” İvaşcu said. Eventually, even the complaining parent had a change of heart.

Tombi was welcomed back into the classroom.

“The children were very happy to have Tombi back,” İvaşcu said. “And he is happy again to be with the kids.”

Tombi’s tale doesn’t end there.

Inspired by Tombi’s impact on her students, Ivaşcu published a book about him.

As İvaşcu bid farewell to the school and her students for a life abroad, Tombi, the storybook cat, accompanied her, proving that their shared story is far from over.