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F - 49 : Kedi in Istanbul

Kedi is the Turkish Word for Cat

Two Free Living Cats Cuddling on the Shores of the Bosporus

One of the things you notice when in Istanbul are the stray cats and dogs. Except that they aren't stray animals. Turkish people love them. They belong to everybody.

In more quiet Streets, Cats rule the Road

Could not find many stories about the dogs but there are lots of internet pieces on Istanbul’s cats. Yahoo even hosts “Kedi”, a poetic documentary covering the live of seven cats. It was one of the 10 most popular foreign movies in the US in 2017 and grossed USD 5 million on the box office. Definitely worth watching.

There are at least 200’000 free living cats in Istanbul who are everywhere, even inside coffee shops, book stores, the Hagia Sophia, but mostly on the roofs, in public parks and streets.

Gli, Istanbul's most famous Cat, met President Obama in 2009. She passed away in 2020

Wonder whether free living cats were already part of Constantinople’s history. They were definitely around during Ottoman times. Turkish people appreciated them for their ability to hunt rodents and keep their population in check. With 700’000 people Istanbul was in the 17th century not only Europe’s biggest but also its most densely populated town. The Ottoman state even employed people, the Manaci, to feed them.

The Manaci did not only feed Cats but also freely living Dogs and Horses - under Ottoman Law it was forbidden to kill free living animals

Ottoman houses were mostly built with wood and very close to each other. They were the ideal breeding ground for rats and mice which dug tunnels between the buildings. A cat could only do its job when allowed to roam freely, moving from house to house and roof to roof.

Traditional Ottoman Houses in one of Istanbul's Neighbourhoods

Most homes in Istanbul are now built with concrete and there are far fewer mice to catch than in the past. But over the centuries, Istanbul got used to its hunters and they became part of the town’s culture. Cats in Istanbul leave people alone unless you want to play with them. They are neat and clean and now have acquired fame.

Thanks to Istanbul's wooden Houses, also the Galata

Tower survived. It was used as a Fire Watchtower

Am sure Istanbul's cats let you feed them if you have some dried cat food in your pocket. But they won’t be begging. You have to offer. The cats are queens and kings – not just ordinary folks as we are.

Cats love to be stroked - even when they do not know the Stranger

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