When you think of cat-friendly destinations, Japan might come to mind. As it turns out, Istanbul is one of the most cat-friendly cities worldwide. An recent Wall Street Journal article detailed how much this Turkish city loves their cats.
Some districts of the city have pillows and blankets on the ground floor windowsills to make them more comfortable for cat to rest. Restaurants and cafes welcome feline visitors, and there are many cat cafes throughout the city. If you’re looking for a place to stay, you can check out the Stray Cat Hostel.
The people of Istanbul think so much of their street cats that some residents will walk to work so as not to disturb the cat’s sleep. The cats of Istanbul have become social media celebrities, with pictures of the city’s cutest street cats garnering thousands of followers. The hashtag dedicated to the street cats, #catsofistanbul on Instagram contains more than 50,000 posts of cats being themselves. There is also a Facebook page and website dedicated to the cats of Istanbul.
The Turkish love of cats dates back to Muhammad, when a cat stopped a poisonous snake that was heading toward him. There is also a practical side to the Turkish love of cats. In the 19th century cats were bred to help control the rat population that was thriving in the city’s sewer system. By eliminating the disease carrying rats, the cats helped Istanbul avoid a bubonic plague epidemic.
One district, Cihangir, is considered the hub of cat lover activity. Local restaurants and butchers partner with area animal shelters to provide leftover food scraps to stray cats. People from other parts of the city bring their cats to Cihangir for treatment, or in some cases, leave cats there they cannot care for, knowing the cats will receive care from the district veterinarians. A stray cat hostel has been built in the area to give stray cats a place to rest and recover after receiving treatment.
Businesses in Istanbul take their love of cats so seriously that some restaurants sift through their discarded food to ensure none of the waste would potentially make the cats ill.
Learning all of this makes me smile, knowing there is a city that has such a deep love for their feline residents!