The cats of Istanbul

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.


  1. Well Anjaly, sadly the love of lucre transcends a lot of other loves. maybe it is also a statement on the economic state of a place. BTW I also saw a lot of cats in Indonesia with funny stubby tails. Quite friendly too. Apparently, they are sacred in that country.

    • Yeah, I saw that in Indonesia too and Georgia – but the Turks take it to a whole new level – wish i had taken more pics – but me, I dont fancy cats that much 😉 Its kind crazy – this obsession. Germans and Chinese are that way with dogs 🙂 Though not to the stray!

  2. Happens everywhere… even in India. Try and photograph a ‘baba’ or a sadhu and you’ll know that almost all are just ‘behrupiyas’ or people earning money by disguising. The real sadhus don’t suddenly sit in a meditative aasana on seeing a tourist approach him… right? I guess everyone has a right to find the best and the easiest way of earning money… so… I let them live the life they’ve chosen. 🙂

    Arvind Passey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *