Fact Check

This Tuxedo Cat Is Polish City's Top-Rated Tourist Attraction on Google Maps?

Only Wały Chrobrego — a long, historic terrace along the river — boasted more reviews than the cat. And the terrace had a lower rating.

Published Aug. 30, 2023

 (Facebook profile Cats With Jobs)
Image Via Facebook profile Cats With Jobs
Claim:
As of late August 2023, a cat in Szczecin, Poland, was among the city's top-rated tourist attractions on Google Maps.
Context

While the cat, named Kot Gacek (Cat Gacek), remains rated highly on Google Maps as a "tourist attraction" after roaming a particular street as an orphaned cat, he no longer can be found there, as of this writing. Local media reported in spring 2023 he was in the care of a temporary guardian and planning to "spend his old age lounging in an armchair."

In 2023, a Polish cat gained worldwide attention for purportedly appearing on Google Maps as a "tourist attraction" in Szczecin, a northwest city, and earning an average five-out-five stars from reviewers. As the alleged story goes, the animal's entry on Google was among the city's top-rated locations of the sort.

The cat — "Kot Gacek" in Polish, or "Cat Gacek" in English — was an outdoor cat, without an owner, and, over time, gained fans while roaming Kaszubska Street in Szczecin. His story went viral on social media and was covered in various English-language news articles since February 2023. One Facebook post published by the account Cats With Jobs, for example, garnered more than 275,000 reactions and 8,200 comments, as of this writing.

(Facebook profile Cats With Jobs)

We found Cat Gacek's entry on Google Maps, which indeed listed him as a tourist attraction on Kaszubska Street in Szczecin. As of late August 2023, the entry had nearly 10,000 reviews — a majority of which (9,829) ranked the location a five out of five stars, the best grade possible.

(Google Maps screenshot)

According to that data, it was fair to consider the Google Maps entry among the city's top-rated tourist attractions on the site — if not the highest rated by a slight margin. Among all tourist attractions listed by Google Maps in Szczecin, only Wały Chrobrego (a long, historic terrace along the river) had more reviews than Cat Gacek (over 20,000), with an average rating of 4.8 stars. Several other attractions of the sort obtained average five-star ratings, like Cat Gacek, though those entries did not exceed 100 reviews.

However, while the claim about Cat Gacek's rating as a tourist attraction is true as of this writing, interested tourists may be disappointed if they follow through with Google's suggestion.

Cat Gacek was still marked on the map as a tourist attraction as of August 2023, but he reportedly no longer roams the area. "Unfortunately no sign of the almighty Cat. Even without a sighting I felt his presence," one comment on the Google Maps' entry read.

Reporting by Szczecin's local newspaper, Szczecin Nasze Miasto, in April 2023 explained (Polish-to-English translation ours):

Gacek, the most famous Szczecin's cat, will not return to Kaszubska Street. After years spent on the street, he will spend his old age lounging in an armchair - this is the final decision of the employees of the Szczecin's branch of the Society for the Care of Animals. As we found out, for now (with a temporary guardian) he is resting and thanks to a special diet, he is losing weight - recently he was 5 kg overweight. Where will he live permanently? This will become clear in the coming weeks.

In other words, at last report Cat Gacek was in the care of a temporary caregiver and no longer roaming the streets.

That appeared to remain the case, as of this writing, according to an Instagram account, @kotgacekeveryday, dedicated to him. An August 2023 post read: "Some things are not changing but Gacek def is changing:) newest photo of our not so chonky anymore celebrity.":

In an interview with Szczecin Nasze Miasto, the president of the Society for the Care of Animals, Karolina Winter-Zielińska, said Cat Gacek's age and popularity makes any hypothetical return to Kaszubska Street risky. "Gacek is no longer a young cat, he is at least ten years old. Paradoxically, the growing popularity did not work out for him. He began to gain weight," she said. In March 2023, there was even an attempt to kidnap him.

Before his high-ranking status on Google Maps, the local news agency wSzczecinie highlighted Gacek in a video published in January 2020:

Sources

Free, Cathy. "This Polish City's Top Tourist Attraction? A Stray Cat." Washington Post, 11 Mar. 2023. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2023/03/09/poland-cat-gacek-google-maps-szczecin/.

"Gwiazda Szczecina w domu tymczasowym. Kot Gacek musi schudnąć." TVN24, 3 Apr. 2023, https://tvn24.pl/pomorze/szczecin-kot-gacek-u-weterynarza-musi-schudnac-miejska-gwiazda-w-domu-tymczasowym-6883400.

Zając, Julia. "Próbowała ukraść słynnego szczecińskiego kota Gacka! Na szczęście jej się nie udało." Głos Szczeciński, 31 Mar. 2023, https://gs24.pl/probowala-ukrasc-slynnego-szczecinskiego-kota-gacka-na-szczescie-jej-sie-nie-udalo/ar/c1-17421623.

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.