Istanbul and it's cats: The 'kitty capital' of the world
Istanbul, a city steeped in history and culture, is one of the largest cities in the world, both in terms of population and land area. The city, which contains about 19% of the people living in the entirety of Turkey, is as busy as a big metropolitan area can get.
However, there is something unique about Istanbul that it doesn't share with other cities of this stature; that is, the city has a stray cat population exceeding 1,25,000, which has become part and parcel of the overall ambience of the city.
Turks are generally fond of cats and are widely regarded as one of the most cat-loving people in the world. Hence, the stray cats of Istanbul are not left without care like many stray cats around the world but receive a massive amount of love and affection from the city's inhabitants.
The cat is also a venerated animal in Islam, and Turkey being a Muslim country, plays a huge role in the cats of Istanbul getting the exceeding amount of care that they get.
A passerby going through a street in Istanbul will often come across many small containers and discreet food rations laid out by the inhabitants for the cats.
And petting a cat by a local is indeed one of the most common scenes in the city. There is also a popular saying in Turkey that states, "If you kill a cat, you need to build a mosque to be forgiven by God."
However, it's not all rainbows and butterflies, as the presence of such a significant number of stray cats in the city is detrimental overall to city management when it comes to littering and catfights. And Turkey's current animal protection law only compels the offenders to pay fines, which was even worse before 2004, when there was no formal animal protection law.
The 2017 documentary about the cats of Istanbul, Kedi, garnered worldwide attention and attracted many cat lovers to the city and its feline inhabitants. And despite a few misregulations and drawbacks, Istanbul remains the most cat-friendly city in the world.