The mogs of Mogador

The cats rule this courtyard in the Moroccan city of Essaouira. They have a system – and we are but their humble servants.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Essaouira Medina (Mogador), Morocco

They rule this Essaouira courtyard, the mogs of Mogador. This is their domain and we, simple humans, are just their subjects. We exist to feed them and, if they deem us worthy, love them.

They have a system, a hierarchical system, these mogs of Mogador. Restaurants line the edges of the courtyard and at each table we sit and eat our meals. But for this privilege we must each pay our taxes to the mogs.

Our taxes, on this occasion, come in the form of some tasty morsels. Perhaps a bit of chicken, a chip, some other scrap that might otherwise end up on a fork and in our mouth.

Cats in Essaouira, Morocco
Cats in Essaouira, Morocco

The mogs have a system. For each table, one of them is assigned. It’s never two… or more. One is enough to collect the taxes and any more than that would start the split the revenue too widely.

And so one mog sits at the side of each table, neck bent upwards, watching its subjects. It waits patiently – making sure its presence is felt without being imposing to the point of annoyance. Eventually, as it always is, a tax is paid.

Cats in Essaouira, Morocco

They have roles within this system, the mogs of Mogador. While some are tax collectors and wait by the tables, others oversee the whole operation.

On a raised platform with the full warmth of the sun at their disposal, three cats stretch out and watch. Eyes half open, half closed, they are making sure there are no double-ups and no opportunities missed. They make sure the mogs are always working.

If one should try to approach the platform, a hiss of warning sends them back to the tables. There is no need for paws to be raised and claws unsheathed – the hiss says it all.

This small council of ruling mogs have done their time collecting. They are now served directly from the kitchen but ensure their domain maintains its natural balance.

Cats in Essaouira, Morocco

On the walls of the courtyard, some of the mogs stand guard. There is a threat to their order that poses a catastrophe – the birds. The winged intruders see the fruits of the courtyard and would like it to be theirs. But the mogs have claimed this space and want to keep it.

The guards prowl the tops of the walls, one eye on their domain beneath them and one eye on the skies. They chase away the birds with a jump, a meow and, when necessary, a swipe of a paw. The birds keep their threat constant but are unable to break through the defences.

Cats in Essaouira, Morocco
Cats in Essaouira, Morocco

They rule this courtyard, the mogs of Mogador. They have a system and their system works.



I would recommend staying a night or more in Essaouira – it’s certainly worth more than a day trip.


For a cool backpacker place with views across the water, I suggest Essaouira Beach Hostel.


There’s a charming option in the medina I would recommend called Hôtel Emeraude Essaouira.


For something a bit stylish, have a look at Suite Azur Hotel, with a great rooftop.


And when it comes to luxury, I would recommend the Hotel Le Médina Essaouira Thalassa.

7 thoughts on “The mogs of Mogador”

  1. Morocco was one of the places we just didn’t get around to during our travels. We decided to extend our Egypt / Jordan trip, thank you for sharing. Planning to live vicariously through your single nomadic journey.

    You write beautifully and your accolade for the AWC 2014 Best Australian Blog is well deserved. Congratulations.

  2. Amazing to see your picture at the top of this page- we treated this beautiful cat in November 2013! We had to remove the ear loobs as he had pre-canerous cells and would have suffered! He now lives a pain free life being looked after by one of the cafe owners on the sqaure. Thank you for taking this photo! Would it be possible for you to email me a copy- [email protected]. Many thanks, Claire- HSAM Founder/Co-ordinator.

    • Oh, that’s fantastic! I’m so pleased to hear the cat’s being looked after and that you can see it is ok! What’s its name? I’d love to know.
      And, sure, I’ll email you through the photo.


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