One of the only things I really knew about Turkey before I visited was that there were cats in Istanbul. Lots of them. Along with the fact that the city of Istanbul communally takes care of these adorable four-legged friends, it made the cat lady in me so excited to visit the city. There is even a movie about Istanbul’s love affair with the felines!
Though I have to admit something… I was pretty disappointed upon my visit to Istanbul. Despite being in Turkey’s largest city, I hardly saw any of the adorable critters I had heard so much about. Maybe it was the areas of the city I was in? Maybe it was the fact that the weather was incredibly hot as I was there in the summer months? Or maybe I’m just not nearly as observant as I thought I was. After a week of being in the city of cats, I was a little bummed about barely seeing a single one.
Don’t worry though, this story has a happy ending.
My wishes were granted as I touched down in both Cappadocia and Pamukkale. It’s not just Istanbul! Turkey as a whole is a haven for these adorable little munchkins. My inner crazy cat lady was over the moon and so I bring you the adorable cats of Turkey. I had the pleasure of meeting each and every one of the felines pictured in this post during my stay. Be warned though, the following may induce uncontrollable awwws, squeals and urges for kitty snuggles.
Why Are There So Many Cats in Turkey?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving the fact that there are so many since my inner crazy cat lady is very similar to this girl. Though it does make a girl wonder… how did Turkey end up with so many felines?
Historically it’s not uncommon for Muslim countries to love cats as they’re considered to be ‘ritually clean’ animals in Islam. Cats are mentioned in many pages of the hadith, the collection of words and actions of Muhammad. Though Muslim countries aren’t the only ones who show a love affair for felines as it dates back to the days of the Ottoman Empire as cats were cared for through local charities. With this, it won’t surprise you to hear that two breeds, Angora and Van, call Anatolia home.
Despite all the love, it isn’t all fluff and cuddles. It’s not uncommon to hear catfights in the quieter hours of the night and without spaying or neutering the cats, their numbers can get out of control. We all can imagine what difficulties that will cause. However, the cats are protected and as of June 2017, if you are caught hurting the animals you will be punishable by law and face jail time.
Want to Meet the Cats of Turkey?
Are you like me and hoping to enjoy the company of some of these furry faces? I’d suggest heading to quieter, more shaded areas in Istanbul. This is especially the case during the summer months. If you venture out in the evening hours, chances are you’ll see a number of curious felines out on the prowl. Also, while you’re out exploring the city streets, keep an eye out for dishes of food. You may even see some stands that hold bowls for food and water. There just might be a kitty or two lurking for a nibble!
While it can be tempting to pick up and snuggle these adorable felines, don’t be so quick to follow your instincts. This is especially the case for kittens as their mothers could reject them if their scent is too tainted by us. Lastly, they’re still wild animals so treat them with respect and give them the space they need.
So, Have You Fallen In Love Yet?
It didn’t take long for their cuteness to win me over, though I have to say I’m a total sucker for a furry face. While the cats of Turkey are a perk of visiting the country, there are plenty of other great reasons… like the food! If you’re planning to travel to Turkey, be sure to check out my tips for visiting the country before you touchdown on Turkish soil.