If you have been in Istanbul, chances are you have seen cats everywhere. So much is the love for these felines that murals of cats appear on walls in shopping areas, people leave food and water at random places for the stray and better still people take up “cat sitting” right on the streets for a small sum. I even noticed certain areas around Taksim that have put out “blankets” and pots that overflow with cat food.
Now, I am not particularly fond of cats, but the story of Istanbul’s obsession with cats in legendary, in my opinion. I don’t mind photographing the furry feline occasionally, but that’s about it.
But when walking around Beyoglu, Istanbul’s high octane neighbourhood full of cafes and shopping, I came across an old man tending to a dozen of these beautiful animals. With a smile I approached him for a photograph. The smiling old man suddenly changed his expression, gathered his “children” close and shooed me away!
He threw me a harsh look. The he rubbed his thumb and forefinger in a way to indicate “money”.
I was aghast – this was a man who wanted money to be photographed! Well, I walked away without paying of course, the picture remained un-taken, but I am not sure what I felt that moment when he asked for money. It was quite strange, in a country full of friendly people, this was an exception – from a cat-sitter no less!
I hope I am not being judgmental here, but I thought the cats here enjoyed the same love as the cows of India!
When googling for this, I even came across FB pages for Istanbul’s cutest stray with thousands of followers! No, I don’t understand this at all.