Did you know that Reykjavik is the city of cats? Because we did not. Imagine then our delight when, within hours of arriving in the city, we saw cats everywhere. We saw cats on walls, rolling on the pavements, crossing the streets, hanging outside Hallgrímskirkja. Like, imagine a bunch of cats just lounging outside of St Paul’s cathedral or something, it just doesn’t really happen anywhere else. We were already falling in love with this otherworld city, and as self-acclaimed ‘cat people’, the constant feline presence tipped the scales from love, to full on infatuation and obsession.
Why are there so many cats though? After chatting to some locals, we discovered that the dog laws in Reykjavik are crazy strict. Until the 80s, it was illegal to own a dog in Reykjavik. Nowadays, you can get a dog, but owners must pay for a licence, get residential approval and adhere to rules about leashing, chipping and vaccinations. Cats, however, can be owned free of charge. With this in mind, it’s far easier for people to get their four-legged fix in feline form (try saying that when you’ve had too much Brennivín!).
But let me explain what’s SO charming about the cats in Reykjavik. These cats aren’t the dirty skinny strays of Rome or Istanbul, they are chubby, friendly, collared pets. And, let me tell you, there is something really surprising and whimsical about seeing peoples’ pets wandering around the streets like pedestrians. It is something that seemingly would only happen in Iceland, and really sums up the country well. For, only in a country so safe and welcoming would creatures known for their skittish, fickle and untrustworthy ways, happily wander the streets and let total strangers pet them.
So, if you are a cat lover, Reykjavik is the place for you! Be sure to wander the residential areas for maximum cat coverage and, if you are serious about seeing the cat population, we would recommend avoiding the depths of winter, as they tend to stay indoors more. And we don’t blame them!
.:. Jo & Jasper .:.