Thursday, 07 July 2022
Gillie Sutherland Gillie Sutherland

Cats and Croatia - Why is that I love both cats and Croatia so much?

Written by  Jun 05, 2022

It’s taken me over two years of living here, but finally this week, I figured it out.

Why is that I love both cats and Croatia so much?

And what is it about Croatia that makes it so suited to cats?

Even though he’s up in heaven now, my own travelling cat Lucky Boots, whom I brought from the UK, was in his element here. He had the time of his life. He lasted only one day indoors until I felt he was ready to go outside, and he just slotted straight into life here in Konavle, as if it was where he was always meant to be.

Perhaps he was, and I am reminded of this every time I explain that the fact that I arrived here “just in time” is actually down to him. We did not know if his EU Pet Passport would be valid after January 31st 2020, so I was in a race against time to get him out of the UK before that deadline. Without that deadline, I imagine I would have had to spend lockdown in the UK, in a place that I no longer wanted to be, without the Adriatic Sea on my doorstep.

A lucky escape, some might say. I would say that is a huge understatement. I am thankful of this every single day.

Since then I’ve observed how cats and Croatia just seem like the perfect pairing. It just makes sense, but why?

It’s not like they are pampered here like back in the UK or other countries. Most of them don’t even seem to have a name and if they do, it’s usually “macka” – the Croatian word for cat. Not that imaginative.

However, go into any restaurant and there’s usually a well-fed looking cat wandering around looking like he owns the place. Out for lunch the other day, I am surprised to see a cat with a collar, and I ask the waiter if it belongs to the restaurant.

“Oh no”, he tells me, “he just eats here”.

Of course he does. Oh, to have the life of a cat, just finding his favourite eatery, popping in when he’s a bit peckish, and leaving without having to pay the bill. Nice work, Felix.

cat in dubrovnik 2022

This is part of what I love about cats, they’ve just got it all worked out. Unlike dogs, cats don’t have masters, they have staff. People just to run around tending to their every need.

In Croatia, this is typical that cats not only find somewhere to eat, they choose where they want to live.

You don’t have to look through endless photos on the Homes4Cats website, or check out the local animal refuge, if you’re a half decent human being here, then it’s likely you have at least one cat who shows up each day to get fed, and you have no idea where he came from.

Just don’t expect unconditional love. Unlike a dog who will come running back to you if you kick it, a cat will just bugger off and find somewhere else to live and eat.

I love this about cats.

They’ve got “boundaries”.

They know what’s ok, and what’s not ok, and they’re not going to put up with any of your bull****.

They don’t hide their feelings like human beings. Whatever they’re feeling, it’s fairly obvious.

So I can see why they fit in here in Croatia, and (being British), I really hope I don’t offend anyone here, because this is meant as a compliment.

There are no false “niceties” when you walk into a café bar, or you’re trying to buy something. There’s no bartering.

“That’s the price”, they are very clear (although this doesn’t mean to say they aren’t very generous with their discounts, especially once they get to know you and trust you).

I find it so refreshing.

No one is telling you that you look good when you don’t. They’re going to tell you if your bum looks big in it, and personally, I am good with that. I appreciate the honesty.

In conversations, there’s no “would you mind awfully if I …..?”. It’s just straight to the point. In fact, you’re just going to annoy people if you’re overly polite.

After a rocky start thinking no one liked me here, I have grown to love this more direct approach. I recall one day having coffee with Mark T in Cavtat, and he was laughing about how British I still was when ordering a coffee.

Now I say just two words: “Veliki Machiatto”. In fact, in some places, “veliki” will do.

I’ve noticed I’m more likely to get a smile than if I tried to add any kind of “please” or “may I?”.

The people-pleaser in me is slowly fading, and this is a good thing, it’s so exhausting. I’m becoming more Croatian by the day, in that I really don’t give a rat’s ass if you like me or not.

Because I’m like the cats, I’m a bit more discerning nowadays, and there’s always another place to eat down the road if you’re mean to me.

Read more Gillie here...  


Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Cavtat. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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