The Fantastic Relationship Between Istanbul and Its Cats!


cat sleeping on car in Istanbul

Istanbul, the biggest metropolis in Turkey, is thought for a lot of issues: its unimaginable landmarks, rocking nightlife, historic significance, and the attractive relationship between the town and its cats. Have been you shocked to be taught the final one? I used to be too!

A number of hundred thousand cats roam the streets of Turkey’s largest metropolis, and every appears to be as cared for because the people that dwell there. Istanbul has an extended historical past of caring for its feline residents that goes manner again to the town’s origin within the Ottoman Empire, so it is sensible that the cats are so properly cared for.

Preserve studying to be taught extra about why cats are so extremely revered in Istanbul and what the residents do to make sure the well being of their strays.


The Historical past of Cats in Istanbul

Cats’ prevalence in Istanbul could also be linked again to Ottoman instances. The Ottoman Empire, also referred to as the Turkish Empire, managed many international locations in Europe, Asia, and Africa between the 14th and twentieth centuries. A lot of the houses constructed in these instances have been made from wooden, offering shelter and enabling the proliferation of mice and rats. And everybody is aware of the place there are mice, there are cats. So the presence of cats grew to become a necessity for the town as a way of controlling the vermin inhabitants.

cat street sign in istanbul, turkey
A cat-related road check in Istanbul | Picture credit score: Riccardo Monteleone, Unsplash

Why Are There Nonetheless So Many Cats in Istanbul?

It is sensible that the town’s cat inhabitants was excessive throughout the Ottoman Empire to manage the mouse inhabitants. However why are there nonetheless so many within the metropolis in the present day?

There isn’t a lot of a tradition for spaying and neutering in Istanbul. Most stray cats will solely dwell between three and 6 years, however the inhabitants continues to develop. Turkey additionally has a blanket no-kill, no-capture coverage, which can add to the cat inhabitants.

How Do Folks in Istanbul Deal with Cats?

Istanbul’s road cats are a definite a part of everybody’s lives. An unstated rule for the residents of Istanbul is that they supply stray cats with the requirements of life—meals, shelter, and water. The general public gardens and parks have meals and water dishes for feline guests, and householders construct shelters for the strays so that they all the time have someplace protected and heat to sleep. Sadly, because the inhabitants of cats continues to be rising within the metropolis, there aren’t sufficient little shelters to deal with them.

One other unstated rule for the town’s residents is that they view the strays as belonging to everybody and nobody concurrently. This leads to the cats having freedom and independence whereas making certain they’ve meals, water, and shelter wherever they want it.

It’s commonplace for cash in tip packing containers at eating places to go towards veterinary payments for sick animals or for fishermen to sneak an anchovy to one of many strays hanging out at his stand. Many Istanbulites really feel it’s their responsibility to look after the cats that hang around the place they dwell and work.

Cats sit atop automobiles, nap on rooftops, and hand around in native eating places. I can’t think about a relationship like that with the stray cats I discover right here in Canada. Whereas I’d fortunately love any stray cat I see, I do know I’m within the minority. Our feral cats have little to no human interplay and usually are not thought of communally-owned pets like these in Istanbul. Strays in North America are left on the streets within the chilly to fend for themselves. They’re checked out as diseased and undesirable.

Turkey’s new animal welfare regulation defines animals as dwelling beings, not commodities. Earlier laws punished cases of animal cruelty with small fines as animals have been seen as commodities (corresponding to the destruction of property). Now, individuals who kill, abuse, or torture animals will obtain jail time between six months to 4 years.

stray cats in the streets
Picture Credit score: Lea Rae, Shutterstock

Cats & Islam

Turkey is a predominately Islamic nation, and Islam has lengthy revered the cat, so the nation isn’t distinctive amongst different primarily Muslim international locations. Cats are thought of the quintessential pet by Muslims and are revered for his or her cleanliness in Islamic custom. Their ritual cleanliness permits them entry into houses and mosques.

Cats have lengthy been honored within the Islam faith. The Islamic prophet Muhammad prohibited folks from persecuting and killing cats, and his companion, Abu Hurayra, was identified for his attachment to cats. Abu Hurayra actually interprets to “Father of a Kitten”.

Muezza, a black and white Absynnian, was mentioned to be Muhammad’s favourite cat. Someday as he was making ready to attend prayer, he discovered Muezza catching a nap on the sleeve of his prayer gown. So as a substitute of disrupting her sleep, he minimize the sleeve off his gown so he wouldn’t disturb her.

Istanbul Cats in Pop Tradition

Istanbul’s cats are a well known phenomenon the world over.

There’s a documentary concerning the lovely relationship between people and 7 of Istanbul’s most beloved metropolis cats. Kedi, a 2016 documentary, acquired vital acclaim and was even named one among Time journal’s prime movies of 2017.

A Fb web page known as Cats of Istanbul has over 81,000 likes, and the Instagram web page of the identical identify has over 23,000 followers.

Gli, a European Shorthair cat, rose to fame for dwelling within the Hagia Sophia, a mosque and historic web site in Istanbul. She grew to become well-known when former president Barack Obama visited the mosque in 2009 and was photographed petting her. Gli sadly handed away in 2020, however not earlier than gaining an Instagram following of 112,000.

cat on Istanbul rooftop with hagia sophia in background
Picture credit score: Ksenia Pavlenko, Unsplash

Ultimate Ideas

The connection between Istanbul and its cats is a gorgeous one. Take a go to to the town, and also you’ll be amazed at what number of cats you come throughout. We might be taught one thing within the West about learn how to deal with our unhoused cats and canines. We might deal with our strays with as a lot reverence and love as Istanbulites deal with theirs.


Featured Picture Credit score: Tom Prejeant, Unsplash

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