Museums are some of the most popular tourist attractions, with travelers choosing to visit these attractions while in a new destination to learn more about an area or a particular aspect of history. Each museum you visit has a different focus, although many exhibit artifacts relating to the location’s history, culture, and geography. However, some museums’ interest is more about specific areas of interest, such as transportation or toys. Some have unusual specialist areas, making them unique and even more interesting to visit. One such example is an Iranian museum that is completely devoted to cats.
The Persian Cat Museum
According to Daily Sabah, The Persian Cat Museum is in a traditional house on Vesal-e Shirazi Street in Tehran, Iran’s capital, and it has been open to the public for around three years. The visitor entrance fee predominantly finances the museum. However, the museum also receives some funding to operate from the income of an affiliated café. It is dedicated to Persian cats and the history of the breed. Various artifacts and exhibits relating to the breed are on display, alongside paintings of Persian dynasty rulers with their feline friends. However, the museum’s main attraction is the cats living in the building.
The Museum’s Cats Living in the Attraction
Many of the cats in the museum are Persians, just like the museum’s focus. Persian cats are a long-haired cat breed. The cats originated in Italy and were transported to Persia around 1620. Although the breed became recognized by cat fanciers during the 19th century, it was not a popular breed in the UK and the United States until after World War II. The breed has several distinctive features besides its long, thick coat. They have a wide face, short muzzle, yes, and ears set far apart. Persian cats come in almost any color, and there are various markings. It is a calm cat breed that is quiet, friendly, and affectionate, and you are much more likely to see a Persian curled up having a nap than out hunting prey. Although the museum’s focus is Persian cats, not every cat living at the attraction is of this breed. There are various other breeds represented, along with some mixed breed cats. The museum is home to both long-haired and short-haired felines of many different colors and patterns, so there are felines that will appeal to everyone. In total, 27 cats currently live on the premises. Around a third of the animals are strays that once lived on the street. There are also abandoned cats and ones that were donated to the museum, with an increase in cat donations during the COVID-19 pandemic. It means that the museum is informally acting as a rescue center, as they are giving strays and abandoned felines a safe and warm place to live. The museum staff has named all the cats, and they each have the names of the well-known characters from Persian fiction and mythology. The cats are free to roam the museum, and visitors often find them napping in the building’s corners, nooks, and crannies.
How Do the Visitors React to the Cats?
As The Persian Cat Museum is different from most other attractions, you might wonder how visitors to the building react to its feline residents. Most people who come to the museum are cat lovers, so finding real cats inside is their idea of a dream day out. Many of those who visit the cat museum are young people, and they love spending time with the Persians and other cat breeds. Science shows that there are health benefits of spending time with cats and other animals. Evidence shows that stroking a cat releases happy hormones, making you feel positive. It is why cats are sometimes used in animal therapy sessions to help alleviate stress and anxiety. Help Guide says that spending time with cats can also reduce loneliness.The cats now have thousands of fans beyond those who visit the venue because the museum’s staff have set up social media accounts. They regularly take photographs of what the cats get up to in the museum and post them on Instagram, which has led to the cats having thousands of followers. While cats have now become a popular attraction in Tehran, accepting pets is a relatively new situation in Iran. In Shiite Iran, some societies do not tolerate pets, especially those with strict religious beliefs. However, while dogs are considered unclean in the Islam faith, that is not the case with cats. Acceptance of pets has now increased in many parts of Iran, so pet ownership is less unusual. It is common to see people walking their dogs in the north of Tehran, which is the wealthier part of the city. The increased acceptance of pets may have played a part in the museum’s increasing popularity.
Care of the Cats
The museum’s staff takes good care of the cats and ensures they are fed and have somewhere comfortable to sleep. The cats even have their own vet that looks after them several times a week. Veterinarian Haleh volunteers for two or three days a week at the museum to care for the feline residents. She says that it is something she is happy to do in her spare time.
The Future of the Museum
The future of the museum is potentially hanging in the balance, as the rental agreement has not been renewed. One of the reasons for this is that the museum is becoming too small to house the growing number of cats that are living there. It means that the museum will need to relocate to a bigger building. However, there are no plans to discontinue the museum at this time. Regardless of where the museum moves to in the future, it is likely to remain a popular attraction in Tehran.