Szczecin, a Polish port city near the German border, has a lot to offer tourists. There’s the Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle, complete with an ornate clock tower and the cell of an accused witch who allegedly cursed the castle’s owners in the 17th century. And Kasprowicza Park, whose tree-lined walkway looks idyllic at any time of the year.
But it’s hard to compete with the wonder of Gacek, a portly tuxedo cat with a five-star average rating on Google. Notes from Poland reports that Gacek rose to fame due to a viral video that local news site wSzczecinie posted in 2020. According to Marta Nowicka, a local woman interviewed in the video, Gacek had appeared on Kaszubska Street in downtown Szczecin roughly seven years earlier. Passersby took to feeding him, and eventually the very thin cat became quite a chonky one.
Gacek—which translates to “long-eared bat” in Polish—lives in a roofed wooden box outside a shop and passes the time putting up with lots of attention from doting tourists. Though he isn’t officially owned by anyone, the community has established some ground rules for visitors. A local animal shelter put out the word that people shouldn’t feed him themselves; there’s also a sign outside his abode—possibly posted by the shop’s owners, who act as Gacek’s de facto caretakers—requesting that any edible offerings be left in sealed containers. And while it’s fine to snap photos of Gacek at any time, visitors should refrain from petting him if he’s asleep.
More than 2580 Google users have visited him as a tourist attraction and left reviews about the experience. The majority awarded Gacek five stars and described their meet-and-greets in decidedly inspired ways. “As expected, he didn’t pay any attention to me which made the experience fully wholesome,” one visitor from Oslo wrote. “Good cat for a nice evening or even afternoon,” another commented. One even gave Gacek five stars on the grounds that he allegedly “saved my marriage and cured my sick child … saved my dear aunt from [a] burning building [and] helped me move when I lost my house due to economic depression.”
Gacek has garnered a handful of one-star reviews, most of which are critical toward the caretaker or express worry over his weight. That said, he did apparently scratch someone’s forearm and steal a sausage. But nobody’s perfect.
[h/t Notes from Poland]