It’s Not Just Istanbul, Say Hello to The Cats of Turkey

It's Not Just Istanbul, Say Hello to The Cats of Turkey :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

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.

Kedi Cats of Istanbul :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

Stray Cats in Turkey :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

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.

Stray Cats in Istanbul :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

Cats of Turkey :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

Turkish Feline :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

Cat in Turkey :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

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.

Turkish Cat :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

Turkish Kittens :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

Turkish Feline :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

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.

Istanbul Cats Mosque :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

Cats in Cappadocia :: I've Been Bit! A Travel Blog

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.

Want to Remember the Adorable Cats of Turkey? Pin it for Later!


  1. Lia Garcia

    August 4, 2018


    • Lindz author

      August 4, 2018

      You have NO idea how hard it was to not kidnap them all and bring them home with me!!

  2. Amy

    August 4, 2018

    So cute! In Cyprus there were so many cats everywhere too and we were loving it!

    • Lindz author

      August 5, 2018

      This is good to know!! I think I need to make a list of cat countries I need to visit 😀

    • Cynthia Sneed

      July 18, 2020

      There is a tiny island in Greece- the smallest I think- with a wonderful rescue if we can ever travel again!

  3. Julie Boyd

    August 4, 2018

    I am sorry to hear that you didn’t get to see all the cats you were hoping to in Istanbul, but glad you were able to in other cities.

    • Lindz author

      August 5, 2018

      I still got to see a few but not nearly as many as I anticipated! I think if I was staying in a different part of the city though, that would have changed things 🙂

  4. Josie

    August 5, 2018

    We stayed in the Taksim Area of Istanbul, just off Istikal Street and saw lots of cats around there. We saw one area that in other cities would be a small garden bed, but it was set up as a kitty playground and rest area instead, with little houses and some scratching posts. It was so nice to see the community caring for the cats too. The really were valued by the locals.

    • Lindz author

      August 5, 2018

      Oh my goodness that sounds ADORABLE! I need to find this little kitty wonderland! Thanks for the tip – next time I visit I’ll be sure to stay in this area so I can get my feline fix!

  5. Angie Briggs (Feet Do Travel)

    August 5, 2018

    My cute fuse has burst!! I absolutely adore kitties, and I want to pick all of these bundles of fur up and give them a big cuddle! I have been living on Gili Air, Indonesia for 16 months and it’s a cat island (I volunteered at the Cat Clinic here back in April), but alas they are not all happy and healthy, so to see all these wonderful kitties unharmed and well fed is just magical.

    • Lindz author

      August 5, 2018

      Right?! As tempting as it was to pick them up I admire from afar unless they came to me for some pets, just to make sure I didn’t upset them! That’s so sweet you volunteered for the clinic! I’m sure all the kitties that came through appreciated your help 🙂

    • Amanda Carnagie

      August 7, 2018

      Cute fuse… hahaha I need to use this.

  6. Amanda Carnagie

    August 7, 2018

    ALL THE SQUEALS! I consider myself above and beyond the scale of crazy cat lady and could literally feel my heart pounding with love and adoration over the cuteness of your photos. I’ve been wanting to go to Turkey for a while now, but after seeing all these kitties, I’m NEEDING to go to Turkey.
    Thanks a lot for making me want to adopt all the cats.

  7. Megan Arzbaecher

    August 8, 2018

    I want to take all of them home with me! Have you seen the documentary about the cats of Istanbul? I dragged my husband last year and by the end, we were both tearing up because it is such a beautiful movie! You can see the trailer here:

  8. Josy A

    October 17, 2018

    Squeeee! What total cuties. I can see why you liked visiting Turkey so much!

    Do the local authorities help keep the population down by neutering them? Otherwise it must be a little sad if they are mostly homeless!?

    Also…I think you need to visit cat island in Japan.

    • Lindz author

      October 31, 2018

      That’s a really good question, Josy! I know they are protected but I’m not sure about neutering… that could be why there are so many 😹 Also YES. Cat island sounds amazing!

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