Cats in Istanbul are the soul of this city. As you sometimes feel, these beautiful creatures possess Istanbul, and humans are just tourists in it.
Istanbul, this beautiful and big city in Turkey, has different attractions, and hosts millions of tourists from all over the world every year. In addition to all the sights in Istanbul, what catches your attention on the first day of your arrival in this city is the large number of cats in the corners of the streets or in shopping malls and shops.
These beloved cats have become part of the city’s population and part of the country’s culture, as the inhabitants of Istanbul treat these beautiful animals kindly and provide them with food and places to sleep.
The presence of cats in Istanbul gave this city a different vibe from other cities in Turkey, as the friendly and peaceful relations between Istanbul residents and cats have diverse cultural and religious roots. All of these matters made Istanbul a paradise for cat lovers all around the world.
The Cats in The Streets of Istanbul
There are hundreds of thousands of cats roaming the streets of the Turkish cultural capital. When you walk on the streets, watching these cats has become an integral part of the beauty of urban life for Istanbul residents. You often see people carrying large packages of cat food and feeding cats in gardens and alleys.
Istanbul municipality has also built small houses and cat shelters to house them in the winter.
Where did all these cats come from in Istanbul?
The story of these cats dates back to the Ottoman Empire. At that time, many ships stopped in Constantinople (Istanbul today). All of these ships have several cats to kill mice inside the ships.
During these trips, some cats stayed in the city, and over the years their numbers increased dramatically, until they are what they are today.
Cats in culture and religion
In Europe, cats are attributed to magicians and demons. But in the Ottoman Empire and the city of Istanbul, religious and cats loving people took care of cats through charitable organizations.
One of the reasons why the Turkish people are so interested in animals, especially cats, is that in Islam, these creatures are referred to as pure creatures, and the Prophet Muhammad was very interested in these animals. As it was said that a cat have saved the Prophet Muhammad from a dangerous snake.
There is an story of the Prophet Muhammad, that he tore the sleeves of his clothes so as not to disturb a sleeping cat, that was sleeping on his clothes. There are also many stories and hadiths about the love of the Prophet Muhammad for these animals.
Cats also guarded the city and protected it from mice that carry many diseases, such as the plague.
Istanbul cats on social networks
The popularity of cats in Istanbul has also reached social media. An account called cats of Istanbul was opened on Instagram, and has many followers.
Istanbul municipality also built a bronze statue of the famous cat (Tombili), a fat cat in Kadikoy district and one of the most famous cat in Istanbul.
Another cat in Istanbul, Jolie, who has crossed eyes and lives in the Hagia Sophia mosque and museum, has a personal blog with photos and videos posted by tourists and visitors.
A documentary film about Istanbul cats
In Turkish, the cat is called Kedi, and in 2016 a documentary film of the same name was produced by Turkish documentary filmmaker Ceyda Torun.
The 80-minute documentary tells the story of seven cats in Istanbul, and shows the friendly relationship between humans and these animals.
This great documentary was premiered at the 2016 Istanbul Independent Film Festival and was shown in Sweden, Finland, Singapore, Australia and the United States and won several awards.