Shawarma the calico cat enjoys people watching, especially at the train station in Petah Tikva, Israel. It’s almost like she’s a paid transit authority employee. Not only do the people checking their boarding passes not seem to mind, but many seem to like the furry addition on the ticket scanning machine. She is the uncontested official mascot of Petah Tikvah.
Dan Kashani spotted Shawarma, decided to capture the moment on camera. Videographer Kashani reports that Shawarma regularly greets commuters at the station. The name “Shawarma” is, of course, the name of the Middle Eastern sliced lamb meat that westerners are more familiar with seeing at restaurants that serve gyro sandwiches. This video has been seen by millions.
We have a lot of questions about how Shawarma got his job. Is she a stray with a natural affinity to mobs of people, or was she put there by an employee? No one knows. The Dodo reports that the street cat was taken in by the local train station, whatever that means. However she came to hang out on the ticket machine, she has since become a fixture.
One thing is for sure, Shawarma makes us smile. You can see Israelis are all business about their public transportation, but some of them can’t help but crack a smile at such an un-businesslike arrangement. In a country where civilians are always on the lookout for signs of terrorists, maybe it’s a relief to see a cat that couldn’t possibly pose a threat to their welfare. Her demeanor is disarming. She just sits there, relaxed, un-provocative and non-threatening. Passengers are surprised, but only in a good way.
Shawarma is not just an inanimate lever or button you pull or prod, however. She has her own mind and feelings, and whether or not she allows a passenger to pet her is strictly her prerogative. In true feline fashion, sometimes she does, and sometimes she doesn’t. No one can tell her mood from one moment to the next; you will just have to find out for yourself.
Some passengers give her a friendly stroke on their way through, and at least one passenger has been known to bring kibble treats that she obviously enjoyed. We have to wonder why more friendly domesticated animals aren’t more common at public population centers. They calm us down, and distract us from the pressing anxieties of an all too often all too adult world.