Every day is Caturday in George Town.

George Town – a UNESCO World Heritage site in Penang, Malaysia – is known for its colourful and interactive street art.

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A street art on Lebuh Armenian

The street art scene is so popular that some would argue it rivals Penang’s all-time favourites – cendol (cold, sweet, coconut-based drink) and char kway teow (flat-rice noodle cooked in a wok).

Popularity contest (Left) An orderly crowd queueing  for a photo-op with a street art (Right) A queue outside Penang’s most famous char kuey teow hawker stall on Lebuh Keng Kwee

Two local favourites (Left) A bowl of cendol (Right) A plate of char kuey teow

Cat-themed street art is particularly prevalent in George Town, and this is no coincidence.

Artists for Stray Animals – the group responsible for giving George Town its feline-flavour – painted 12 cat-themed murals for their 101 Lost Kittens project during George Town Festival in 2013. The aim of the project is to raise awareness towards the plight of strays and to encourage people to care for animals.

Simply known as the ‘Giant Cat’ mural (or officially titled ‘Skippy Comes To Penang’) is arguably the most-recognised due to its size and more so because of the story behind it. The mural is based on a real-life marmalade cat with a deformed leg, named Skippy.

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‘Skippy Comes To Penang’ aims to foster love between human and stray animals

One day, Skippy met its soon-to-be lady master at a chicken rice shop, begging for some food. Out of sympathy, the lady ordered some chicken for Skippy, but when the shop owner refused she knew that Skippy wouldn’t get a lot of love on the street. But Skippy was in luck. The lady wasn’t just a passer-by. She was in fact a co-founder of Langkawi Animal Shelter and Sanctuary aka LASSie. Naturally, she adopted Skippy who now lives in Langkawi, an island known for its idyllic beaches, where he gets plenty of love.

Another larger than life mural of the marmalade cat can be found in an alleyway off Lebuh Cannon. Looking out from a strikingly blue-framed window, the adorable cat gives a curious expression that cats typically give to strangers.

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A stray that looks just like Skippy

Other murals encouraging people to care for animals include: ‘The Real Bruce Lee Would Never Do This’ – a mural depicting someone who appears to look like Bruce Lee, the Kung-fu legend, kicking a cat. The idea behind it is to encourage people to NOT do what the revered legend wouldn’t; and ‘Cat Walking For Animal Awareness’ – a mural of a procession of black cats walking in the same direction, reminding us that they also have rights and deserve love and respect.

(Left) Do NOT do what Bruce Lee wouldn’t (Right) Care for strays

Keeping cats as pets isn’t without its advantages. Apart from being cuddly companions for humans, cats can help hold down rat population. This cat-vs-mouse message is portrayed in several artwork.

Sharing the same street as Skippy on Gat Lebuh Armenian is a grey cat in ‘Love Me Like Your Fortune Cat’. In the mural, the cat is eyeing a mouse that is hanging precariously by its tail on a roof. Ironically, the mouse appears to be teasing the cat with a tiny fish bait (is it offering the fish or itself?).

Fortune cat is a symbol of properity in the local culture. Keeping cats is a win-win situation for the locals and the cats alike. 
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‘I Can Help Catch Rats’ mural on Lebuh Armenian

img_7760 (Left) This ‘Giant Rat’ mural is the answer to the ‘Giant Cat’ mural. The rat appears to be hiding from the cat.

Naturally, a cat-loving town isn’t complete without its very own cat-themed shop.

On Lebuh Cannon, Cat n Dog shop is a shopping mecca for cat (and dog) people.

A shopping mecca for cat and dog lovers

At the entrance, customers are greeted by a cheeky looking cat clinging on a tyre-swing. And on the inside, it’s hard NOT to spend money on the adorable cat-themed merchandises which include t-shirts, tote bags, keychains and even god-like cat statues (if you’re into worshiping cats).

Psst. Take my money. Take all of it.

While the cute and cuddly-s take centre stage in George Town, big cats mural is a rarity. Lurking in a lane off Lebuh Chulia, a tiger awaits for some company. While it may look menacing, the stick in its mouth reveals the gentle giant playful nature. All cats, big and small, just want to be loved!

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A gentle giant by Color Fighter
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A cat-cycle?

Most of these murals are painted with eco-friendly paints. They don’t last very long and are made to fade. So while they’re still visible, let loose your inner cat-self and go wander in George Town!

PS: Does this article tickle your whiskers? I’d love to know.

Happy #Caturday, #catpeople! On this paw-scipious day, I’d like to share with you my latest blog post – For the Love of Cats. It’s about my recent #travel in #Penang, #Malaysia. I wandered around #GeorgeTown, and found out a lot about its love affair with cats. Check it out. Full link in bio. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #catsofinstagram #catsagram #catslover #catstory #catspam #catpeopleproblems #catpeopleunite #streetarteverywhere #streetartglobe #streetartpenang #streetartistry #travelblogger #travelersnotebook #travelogue #travelasia #travelholic #wanderasfolk #wanderlost #wanderlusting #visitmalaysia #worldheritage #southeastasia #unesco

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49 thoughts on “For the Love of Cats

  1. Now I wish we hadn’t skipped George Town and Penang when we were in Malaysia briefly! I had a laugh out of the “Bruce Lee Wouldn’t do that” piece! My favorite is the tiger though, since they’re such beautiful beasts! I have a feeling I’ll remember this post the day I visit and see all the cats haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I miss eating the Penang way! Especially the char kway teow. 😦 If you love cats, you should hop on over to Singapore’s cat island (St. John’s) and get overwhelmed with cat cuddles!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lately, I have seen many travel bloggers write about the street art of Penang. It looks beautiful in all images – it seems the artists have done a truly wonderful job. However, I admire your eye for cats. You have taken the effort to dig out stories of these cats we see on walls and that is truly commendable. You are someone I would love to travel with – there are not many people with that keen an observation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. As a cat lover I’m always on the look out for everything cat lol. I’m also a street art enthusiast. I find that there’s always a story behind street art or even graffiti. I’ve also written a post about street art in Italian cities and what they represent. Check it out if you’re interested 😊

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  4. I SO have to visit George Town! I’ve been living with cats all of my life (now mom to 3 of them) and I always strieve to visit all the cities that have a “cat tradition”: if you add great urban art and delicious food… I’m in! I’m also going to check out Artists for Stray Animals, what a great, kind and beautiful idea they’ve had!

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    1. Hehe yes you must. Say hello to your 3 cat babies for me 😊 There are many strays in Penang – cats and dogs, and the idea that the whole community looks after them is not only kind but brilliant too. Everybody chips in, and it benefits the people, the town and the animals alike.

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  5. Such art is amazing and your pictures capture it beautifully! I love that the artists did this to raise awareness and the story behind it should definitely sway tourists into supporting this cause! Thank you for bringing awareness by sharing this blog post! Great work!

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  6. I also missed visiting George Town during my tour in Malaysia. Loving to see your love for Cat 🙂 I didn’t know here murals are painted with eco-friendly paints. That is awesome for the environment. I wish to visit someday to wander around.

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    1. I’m glad u asked. It is a Malaysian thing because there’s no system or control in place. There’s not enough shelters for people to take lost or unwanted animals to. They just end up on the street 😦

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  7. Although I have been to Georgetown and have certainly seen and captured some amazing street art, I never realised that they have a lot of art focusing on cats! Now that you say it, I’m thinking about it and I realise – you’re right! I love the cat murals, even though I am not really fond of cats! Good to know that these murals are painted with eco-friendly paint, I had absolutely no idea!

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  8. OMG these are soooo cute! Georgetown sounds like a very interesting and vibrant place – and I love that the street art is helping raise awareness for strays too! I love the tiger mural, and Fortune Cat – so creative. The eco-friendly paints are such a good idea too – I wish all cities would do this!

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  9. I have seen several posts on street art of Penang but your post stands out distinctly because of the stories you have included. So good to know that they have raised awareness for animal shelter through this. I really found it hard to choose one fav among these.

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  10. Love the emphasis of the eyes on Skippy on the second mural! Before even reading I was able to see that it was the typical cat expression, they captured it really well! Thank you for shining light on the animal shelters too along with the fun pictures and stories as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yay!! Loving your blog 🙂 this is so informative.
    And I like the idea of how you tell the entire story for it.
    This is an interesting place with an interesting back story behind it.
    I wish they could repaint it as well to make it more beautiful once again.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love the idea of creating art to encourage people to care for cats – Artists for Stray Animals is such a fabulous concept. The themed street art is beautiful, and a really great way to insert their message right into the heart of the community. Skippy is beautiful 🙂

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  13. That char kuey teow looks so tasty. I’ve never heard of it before. Interactive street art is always fun – I like that part of the bike in the street art is real so people can actually sit on it. I love the story of Skippy – it’s always great to hear happy endings.

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  14. Penang is such an exciting city with amazing street art. The food is incredible and Char Kway Teow is one of my favorite dishes. Missed skippy’s mural – an interesting story with a happy ending!

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