France has its dogs, Iceland has its cats. People aren't dressing them up in little jackets and bringing them to cafés here, but walk down any side street and you'll see them shadowing into cracked-open windows, crouching under cars, curled on windowsills inside, and skulking through the gardens on nearly every street. At night the yowls of their battles drift through the windows.
On sunny days like the past week, their expansive mood can make for slow going, since I always have to stop and greet them all, and like Icelandic people, they get foolish and slightly sun-drunk when the weather's benevolent. In some of the older neighborhoods, they will lie in wait on the wide concrete walls, and follow your progress down the street, Give them one scratch on the cheek and they will follow you along the wall for blocks, hopping between fences and yards, looking hopeful.
Some are more aloof and will only watch warily from beneath cars or up in trees, but there's always one somewhere. Each stretch of sidewalk I have lived along in the past 2 years has had its own particular cat staking out the territory- the sprightly orange tabby that did the midnight rounds last year, the enormous black and white one that hefted its bulk through the fence to inspect your ankles this spring, and now my new place is loaded with them. There's the small white one that suns on the stump in the back yard, the tuxedo cat that lurks in the grass in the front yard, and all of them seem to be more than willing to twine around my legs and welcome me to their little corner of summertime Iceland.