The street cats of Morocco are abundant, and I chose to use them as my subject in their natural surroundings, to depict how different (and sometimes a like) the interactions between the animals and humans/environments are here, compared to Australia. In some instances, here the cats are treated like pets by store/restaurant owners who leave out left over food/water, which creates a huge contrast to Australia where cats are not socially accepted at all, so close to food, due to health concerns. In some cases the cats are just treated like nuisances to the locals, and I have witnessed people kicking them out of their way with no concern for their poor health and fragility. Most often the cats are just looking for a quiet place out of the sun to rest, or for food.
I began looking at blogs of photographers, and artists pages, who have had a similar interest of stray cats as their photography subjects, and came across Dennis Low’s (or D Jun-Yu Low) blog; http://www.takemetothekittens.com/index.html. (View images here )
Other blogs/photographers: http://bitesizedtravel.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/morocco-cats-marrakech-navigation/
All of these blogs, and Dennis Low’s images were quite inspirational, however I wanted to experiment more with showing the environmental and human surroundings of these cats, within my own images. I wanted to show the clear contrast of the treatment/environments of these animals that I have never seen before within Australia, or any other country I have visited before. I have experimented with panorama images to document these surroundings and find that it gives a more interesting and larger perspective of the surrounding environments and people, as well as documenting particular cats with RAW file images.
Many of the panoramas I took became skewed and blurred because of it being so busy and people continuously walking through the image. However, in this instance, I really like the effect. The cats are the only thing still in the image, patiently waiting at the windows of the butchers for food.
“Mimi” the cat: This adorable cat lived in the Riad of Fez of which we stayed. He was originally a stray cat which the owners saved and generally made himself very comfortable.
A guard regularly feeds the cats his leftovers at a local tourist spot.
At first, whilst in Morocco, I felt the treatment of animals on a whole was “bad”, but in reality, my whole perception of the situation, was being influenced by what I was used to back home. We’re generally not used to animals being used as transportation of products and people, nor vast amounts of “unowned” animals roaming the streets. But just because Morocco is different in their treatment of animals, does not necessarily mean it’s a negative thing. I also learned that whilst many tourists understandably consider the cats in the streets “strays” many shop owners/families have a cat that will spend time at their houses/shops and receive their left overs. Also being strict Muslims, the people of Morocco are required to prey 5 times a day, washing themselves down before-hand, in which is called “Wuhu”. Touching “impure” things can break their Wudu, requiring them to undertake the process again. Talking to a local who has lived in Morocco his whole life informed us that whilst touching a dog would break their Wudu, touching a cat however, would not. He explained that this is because their culture fully respects the surrounding cats, “They (cats) are not naajis (impure), rather they are among those who go around among you (al-tawwaafeena ‘alaykum).” (quote reference)