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Cat Wanders Into Third-Grade Class — And Decides He's Never Leaving

No one knows where he came from, but he changed everything for the students ❤️

An adorable orange cat named Tombi appeared one day on the grounds of a public elementary school in Izmir, Turkey, in 2018. Unlike typical stray cats, Tombi was remarkably friendly and sociable, seeking attention and pets from the children playing outside.
After spending a few weeks exclusively in the school’s garden, Tombi decided to broaden his horizons. This street-smart cat sauntered into a third-grade classroom, much to the delight of the students and their teacher, Özlem Pınar İvaşcu.
“He came into our classroom,” İvaşcu told us. “The children liked him very much.” And just like that, Tombi became an integral part of Mrs. İvaşcu's class.
Contrary to what one might expect, having a cat in the classroom did not distract the students. Instead, Tombi’s playful curiosity brought a new level of excitement and focus to the class. The students, who previously ran around between lessons, became more engaged and attentive with Tombi around. The presence of the cat even made the morning bell ring sweeter.
Tombi not only found a safe place to sleep and regular meals but also a group of young friends who adored him. İvaşcu took him to the vet for a check-up and vaccinations, ensuring his health and well-being.
However, a problem soon arose. One student's parents, concerned about health risks, lodged a complaint with the school. As a result, administrators informed İvaşcu that Tombi had to leave the classroom.
The class was heartbroken, and Tombi was too. He was placed in a new home but refused to eat and seemed unhappy. İvaşcu then took him into her own home, but he still didn’t thrive.
Seeing Tombi’s distress, İvaşcu shared his story on social media, where it quickly gained widespread attention. Support poured in from all corners, including from her manager and the director of education in İzmir. Even the parent who initially complained had a change of heart and wanted Tombi back in class.
Eventually, school officials relented, and Tombi was allowed to return. “The children were very happy to have Tombi back,” İvaşcu said. “And he is happy again to be with the kids.”
Tombi’s presence profoundly impacted the 33 students in İvaşcu's third-grade class. Inspired by this, İvaşcu wrote and published a book about Tombi, sharing his heartwarming story with a broader audience.
Years have passed since Tombi first entered İvaşcu's classroom. İvaşcu has since moved abroad, but she didn’t leave everything behind. She took Tombi, the storybook cat, with her, ready to embark on their next chapter together.

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