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The thing that will attract your attention the most while walking around in Istanbul will be the stray cats walking around, sleeping, playing, and eating. Especially in Cihangir, you will see many small containers by the sides of buildings, and food holders put out by its inhabitants. While the cats are not adopted formally, they are taken care of by no one and everyone, a giant community network of cat caring.

We traced the origins of Cat love in Istanbul and find this historical article in İstanbul Life written by Yenal Bilgici.

“Dozens of cat skeletons that lived in the Middle Ages were found during the Marmara railway excavations that spanned the 2000s. The experts who examined the bones came to the following conclusion. They took good care of cats in Byzantium.

When historical records were searched, it was found out that there were feasting cats in fishermen around Kumkapı, Aksaray, and Yenikapı. Altan Armutak (from the Istanbul Osteoarchaeology Department) says that European cats have a hard time unlike the ones in Istanbul. Cats were counted representatives of hell in the middle age, and they were burned and persecuted along with the women accused of being witches. Between 1300 and 1500 there were almost no cats left in Europe. The plague epidemic occurred at that time. The fewer cats, the more mice …

After Byzantine Istanbul, the new residents of the city quickly learned to live with cats. Since Prophet Muhammed’s love for cats is known,  the houses, roofs,  and courtyards were filled with cats.

The baron Wratislaw, who lived in Istanbul during the Ottoman period in the 16th century, wrote: “There are large gardens in Istanbul and cats gather on their walls at certain hours and wait for those who feed them. Turks, who buy food from those who sell liver cooked in wooden buckets, give them to cats.”



In 2017,  a fantastic documentary about cats, Kedi, showing the life of street cats in Istanbul with full of character. The cats of Istanbul are everywhere. They sit on stools, car tops, cafe tables, they sit on walls and in shops. Watching “Kedi” is like eating a big delicious cake for cat lovers.

If you ever adopt a cat here in Istanbul, the luck will follow you everywhere you take it with you J

Wish you a day with lots of cats




When Billur moved from her hometown of Izmir to Istanbul at an early age, she immediately fell in love with its charm and uniqueness. Over the years, she became part and parcel of Cihangir – a zone heavily inhabited with expats and intriguing locals, where today she is known as the real expert of the neighbourhood. Also known as an animal rescuer, Billur currently owns two cats and one dog, all three of them saved from tough conditions on the streets.

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