No one’s quite sure where this friendly orange tabby named Tombi came from. One thing’s for sure, though—he found his forever home.
Back in 2018, Tombi showed up at a public grade school in Izmir, Turkey. Not your typical shy stray, this guy was all about making friends. He’d stroll right up to the kiddos, looking for some head pats.
But Tombi had bigger plans.
After a few weeks chilling in the schoolyard, Tombi figured it was time for some learning. Third grade looked like a good fit for a savvy street cat.
“He came into our classroom,” said teacher Özlem Pınar Ivaşcu. “The children liked him very much.”
And just like that, Tombi became a third-grader.
You’d think a cat in the room would make it hard for kids to focus. But it was the total opposite. Tombi’s playful vibe had the youngsters more jazzed than ever about school.
“The children come on time to school, and they are taking care of Tombi. This is good for them.” said Ivaşcu.
But then trouble hit.
After hearing a stray was hanging around, a parent complained, saying it was a health risk. The school told Ivaşcu that Tombi had to go.
The class was crushed, and Tombi was too.
“We found a home for Tombi and he stayed three days there, but he was not happy. He stopped eating,” Ivaşcu said. “So I took him in at my house, but also here he was not very happy.”
The kids even penned letters to cheer Tombi up.
Desperate, Ivaşcu turned to social media. Tombi’s story caught fire.
“The story got a lot of attention and support on all TV news,” said Ivaşcu. “I had a lot of support from many people, including from my manager and the director of education in İzmir.”
Finally, the school gave the green light for Tombi’s return.
The children were very happy to have Tombi back,” İvaşcu said. “And he is happy again to be with the kids.”
Tombi had such an impact that Ivaşcu even penned a book about him.
Years have rolled by since Tombi first strutted into that third-grade class. Ivaşcu has moved overseas but didn’t leave everything behind. Tagging along for the next chapter? None other than Tombi, the tabby who started it all.