Are there more cats in Istanbul than people?

If you are walking on the streets of Istanbul, you will most probably come across many cats on your way. There are possibly over one million stray cats in the city, and they pretty much rule the city. Of course, stray cats do not surpass the 15 million inhabitants in Istanbul, but it’s still quite a lot, however, the locals still take care of them like they are their own.

Istanbul is famous for its four-legged residents that you can find in almost every historical or new place. The heartwarming thing is that everyone helps the cats by taking care of them and providing them with water and food. Often roaming around in the city, you would see them sometimes inside stores, sleeping or trying to escape from the weather outside. The good behavior towards cats in general partly comes from the Muslim ideas of tolerating and as the Islamic saying goes, “If you have killed a cat, you need to build a mosque to be forgiven by God”.

Cats are considered clean animals, and there are many stories in history books referencing the Holy Prophet’s love for cats. Another reason cats rule Istanbul comes from the time of the Ottoman Empire when there were a lot of wooden houses and stray cats provided protection from rats. Since the houses were wooden, they were vulnerable to mice and other pests, and cats helped to keep those nuisances out of the house. Also, at that time, books were rare and expensive, but mice would eat or tear the paper, but if there was a cat in the house, it would easily defend against any pests.

Cats are a living attraction in the city as they are extremely friendly. They often take up the best place at cafes and restaurants and no one moves them. Türkiye also has an Animal Protection Law to ensure that animals are protected and mistreated, tortured, or abandoned. There are small cat houses installed all over the city by the municipality to ensure that they have a shelter to run to when the weather is not favorable. The love of the Turkish for the cats is absolutely heartwarming.

What do you love about the cats in Istanbul?

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