While Istanbul, Rome and places further afield jostle for status as “travel cat” heaven, laidback Essaouira is quietly making things happen organically. Here, on the shores of the tempestuous Atlantic, lies cat nirvana. A hidden gem for cats and cat lovers alike. Most cats can be found in the fishing port which - if you like cats - is definitely worth the bypass. Being surrounded by fresh fish all day, the Essaouira cats look well fed and completely relaxed. They have a special connection with the fishermen, who seem to adore their fluffy friends and look after them. It is quite a contrast to the well-being of their companions in the rest of Morocco, where most cats are convicted to a life on the streets, searching garbage bins for food scraps. The healthy street cat population in Essaouira is mainly possible because of the work of UK based charity Help the Street Animals of Morocco. (HSAM). This organisation travels twice yearly to Essaouira to sterilize, Rabies vaccinate and treat street cats there. It made a significant difference. A great many of the cats have a small section of their ear tips missing: a sign of sterilization. Something very uncommon in Morocco. It is a small step in the raise of awareness of animal welfare in Morocco, where most animals are either used in the service of people, or not being looked after.