Cats in Turkey can do anything: they freely walk the streets, sleep in restaurants and cafes, live in shops and mosques. Striped whiskers have long become a living symbol of the Turkish capital — according to the Istanbul veterinary service, 125,000 homeless cats live in the metropolis. Tourists jokingly call Istanbul Ketstantinople, local residents feed cats on a regular basis, and the authorities install kedi evi – cat houses – in the yards. What is the reason for such boundless love?
First, street cats have long occupied an important place in the ecosystem of Turkish port cities, where there have always been many rodents. In the 8th century, tireless hunters saved Istanbul from the plague by exterminating the hordes of rats that infested the port docks and streets. To this day, cats effectively control the population of mice and rats in cities.
A tribute to tradition
Secondly, respect for the feline tribe is a tribute to religious traditions, and the Prophet Muhammad himself became an example of caring for cats: he washed himself with the water they drank, allowed them to enter the mosque, and preached with a cat on his lap. Legend has it that Muhammad once cut off a part of his clothing so as not to disturb a pet who had fallen asleep on it.
According to another legend, the prophet’s beloved cat saved his life by chasing away a poisonous snake hiding in the sleeve of his robe. In thanks, the saint touched her back, giving her 9 lives and the ability to land on all four paws.
And the Turks believe that cats go to heaven and can order a word before Allah for the person who took care of them. Therefore, the inhabitants of the country feed, water and in every possible way protect the furry creatures.
In general, Turks have many interesting traditions, for example, they often smear their hands with cologne, grab their teeth when frightened, and they like to drink coffee with a glass of cold water.