"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul by Leighton Travels

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

September-October 2020 & August 2022.

I’ve been looking forward to putting this piece out for months. Sladja and I are both passionate and unapologetic cat lovers. Everywhere we travel, without fail, we end up befriending the local kitties.

The gorgeous cats of Istanbul.

“Yes, I am gorgeous. Whatcha gonna do about it?”

We nearly always stop to stroke friendly felines. Moreover, we have often fed and taken care of needy street cats. This has resulted in several playful scratches here and there, not to mention a few worrisome bites. And yet I don’t think we’ll ever stay away from cats altogether, we just can’t help ourselves.

Black cat mooching around in Venice

“Hey you, these are MY streets”. A kitty cat in Venice.

I don’t think we have ever seen such an extraordinarily cat-friendly city like Istanbul. From our first day in the city to the last, we saw street cats absolutely everywhere we went.

Lovable cat at Istanbul Archaeological Museums

Sladja with a lovable cat at Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

At Topkapi Palace there were a pair of twin-like kitties keeping watch over a stretch of the gardens.

Cat guards at Topkapi Palace.

“Carry on…” 

Elsewhere, in and around the many graves at the Mausoleum of Mahmud II, a variety of pretty, gentle cats rested and napped in precious corners of shade.

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Graveyard cat in Istanbul

“Sorry, this spot’s taken”.

Later, while exploring the wonderful Sahaflar Book Market, we found ourselves positively surrounded by kitties. They slept on boxes, darted between the stalls and even held court over some of the shelves. All of them existing in perfect harmony with local vendors. Who, more often than not, would keep an eye on their furry friends with amused smiles.

Studious cat Sahaflar Book Market Istanbul

“May I recommend George Orwell’s Animal Farm?” The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

According to those in the know, there are around two hundred thousand cats living in Istanbul.

Sleeping cat Sultanahmet Istanbul.

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Of these, experts reckon around one hundred and twenty five thousand are feral. I guess in many cities this would be considered a problem. However, in Istanbul locals mostly embrace the city’s wild beasts.

A cat on some mats in Istanbul.

A cat on some mats. Dr Seuss would’ve approved.

In fact, time and time again we witnessed how Istanbulites routinely look out for cats in their local neighbourhoods. On our very first day in the city we saw an elderly gentleman laying out dried cat food on the ledges of the garden wall at the Informatics Department at Istanbul University.

Istanbul University Informatics Department.

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Armed with a white bag full of dried pellets, within a minute at least a dozen expectant cats had swarmed around him, meowing with urgency. He had clearly made the journey from somewhere especially. Furthermore, his actions, slow and deliberate, spoke of a man at ease with a ritual he’d been carrying out for years.

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed.

Why cats don't go hungry in Istanbul


Walk just about anywhere in Istanbul and chances are you’ll see similar acts unfolding. Day in day out, groups of catticuses (a made up word Sladja and I use) gather around charitable men and women. Their ears alert, tails wagging, eyes wide.

Feral cat outside Istanbul University Informatics Department

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

These many acts of kindness are not exactly executed on a whim. Rather, this admiration and support of cats are deep-rooted in Islamic traditions.

Cat in the garden at The Great Palace Mosaic Museum in Istanbul

A cat suspiciously eyeing me in the garden at The Great Palace Mosque Museum.

Muslims all around the world favour cats for their cleanliness in addition to a perceived purity of soul. As such, Muslims throughout Turkey happily accept cats into their homes for a bite or a drink. Or simply just to hang out.

Window kitty near the Museum of Innocence in Istanbul

An Istanbul cat chilling in the window at a private residence near The Museum of Innocence.

Cats have been a key part of Istanbul culture since Ottoman times. Initially, locals began breeding them to take care of the city’s problems with rampant rats and mice.

Kitty in a plant The Adorable Cats of Istanbul

“Dude, I don’t do mice and I don’t do rats. You’ve got the wrong kitty”.

Before long, an unspoken agreement was in place. Cats caught mice and rats, people fed and watered cats in return.

An expectant cat outside Armada Restaurant in Istanbul

*clears throat* … “um… hello?”

Eventually, this long-running union reached the point where city residents began to see stray cats as communal pets. Free-spirited companions to be appreciated and taken care of. An essential part of the city’s culture and heritage that is every bit as important as say dervishes, shadow theatre and Turkish coffee.

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Kariye Sehir Park in Istanbul.

A catty captured in Istanbul’s Kariye Sehir Park one morning on the way to The Chora.

With this alliance firmly in place, it became common for locals to adorn the streets with food and drink bowls. They also created rest stops where cats could nibble on scraps of food. Take a much-needed mouthful of water, or a lick of milk or cream. Particularly benevolent locals have built cat stations that provide shelter from the rain; little huts fitted with scratching posts and toys.

Cat shelters in Istanbul.

A row of cat shelters in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district.

Despite these many privileged spots, most cats still prefer to choose their own hangouts. In the corner of someone’s front doorstep. In a flowerbed of a city park, on the recently polished hood of a car.

Adorable Cat on a car in Istanbul.

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

In 2021 Istanbul authorities introduced a law prohibiting anyone from harming and/or capturing street cats. Officially recognised as “living beings” for the first time, messing with the city’s kitties can now be punished with prison time instead of the previously enforced monetary fines.

Law against capturing or harming street cats in Istanbul.

“Yo people… see me.. I’m UNTOUCHABLE”.

With cats holding such a revered place in Islam, it’s no surprise to see them hanging out in and around the mosques. Indeed this was our experience, from the first to last mosque we visited. In Süleymaniye Mosque there was a Catticus Finch (yes, we made that up too) curled up in a ball sleeping in the main courtyard.

Cat Dreams.

Sleeping cat Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Meanwhile, at Kalenderhane Mosque, we met a lazy cat lounging within the protective confines of the courtyard. Naturally she was more than up for a stroke while she yawned, stretched and licked herself. Frankly, this is a life I could aspire to.

Lazy cat Kalenderhane Mosque.

“Yes, that’s good. I want more of that”.

At Ortakoy Mosque we shared a bench with Cat Stevens, pictured below. He was quite the people watcher, observing all the various comings and goings with interest. Not at all territorial, he even scooted over so that we could rest our feet.

A cat resting in the grounds of Ortakoy Mosque.

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Elsewhere, at Beyazid II Mosque, we came upon a family of darling ginger cats outside the main entrance. They were clearly very hungry and not shy in meowing at anyone who entered or exited the mosque grounds.

Meet the Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Outside Beyazid Mosque.

Some of mummy’s kittens were so tiny and helpless Sladja and I admittedly found ourselves feeling more than a touch emotional. I kid you not, if we could have adopted this little guy, we would have, on the spot.

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Hungry kitten outside Beyazit Mosque in Istanbul

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Unfortunately, we had no food to offer. But it wasn’t long before someone stepped in to help out. A family (mother, father and daughter), were passing by with a bag of bread and pastries. As soon as they saw the cats they knew what they needed to do.

Taking care of the cats of Istanbul

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Breaking bits off into manageable chunks, mum and dad let their daughter do the honours. She proceeded to drop little bits around on the floor, the cats scampering after them and gobbling everything up. At first glance one can consider this a heartwarming act of kindness.

Turkey flag.

However, in recent years local vets have criticised such acts, claiming they often lead to fighting and overcrowding in certain areas of the city. What’s more, in most cases people don’t feed cats properly. Right enough, bread isn’t the best food for them, while pastries usually include ingredients toxic to cats, as well as an overload of carbohydrates. 

A young girl feeding feral cats in Istanbul

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Social media and the travel industry have even transformed some Istanbul strays into celebrities. From what I can gather, two of the city’s most famous cats are now sadly deceased. Take Gli, for example, a European Shortcut who lived in Hagia Sophia for many years.

Gli the Hagia Sophia cat.

Gli, an Istanbul celebrity. The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Photo courtesy of Kumkum. 

In 2009, while visiting the magnificent 4th century monument, cameras caught then US president Barack Obama stopping to pet Gli. Thus propelling her to the very apex of international fame. During our visit though Gli was nowhere to be seen. A few weeks later, we read an article confirming the kitty had passed away at the grand old age of 16.


Gli The Queen of Hagia Sophia.

The Queen of Hagia Sophia. (2004-2020).

Some of our most intimate and amusing cat encounters came at the numerous cafes we visited. At a branch of Lattas Coffee our delicious traditional breakfast (more on that in my food and drink roundup) drew the attention of several neighbourhood cats. One of which became so fixated on me that I felt quite awkward as I tried to enjoy the morning feast.

Begging cat Lattas Coffee Istanbul.

“Top of the morning sir, will you be wanting that last chunk of scrambled egg?”

Another morning, at Espresso Lab off Taksim Square, our coffee and bites came accompanied by the resident house cat. He was absolutely delightful. With seemingly little interest in begging, Catboy Slim was quite happy snuggling on our laps, rubbing his cheeks against mine and even posing for a photo.

Resident cat at Espresso Lab in Istanbul.

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

With Istanbul often painted as some manner of cat utopia, I feel it only correct that I also share some of the sad sights we witnessed throughout the city. I guess when there are two hundred thousand cats, it’s unsurprising that some slip through the cracks. This raggedy cat, drinking mucky water from discarded paint pots, looked decidedly run down and forlorn.

Raggedy cat in Istanbul.

Sad cat.

We’ll also never forget this glassy-eyed cat wandering aimlessly outside a toy shop. Whining at us, the poor thing was definitely in distress and appeared quite confused.

Cat with glassy eye in Istanbul

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Most heartbreaking of all were the tiny newborns who clearly weren’t getting looked after. In such cases it was truly hard to walk away, especially when it was clear that they had become sickly.

The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Sickly cat Istanbul.


If you enjoyed this article and want to know more about Istanbul street cats, we can thoroughly recommend the award-winning documentary Kedi. Directed by Ceyda Torun, an independent Turkish filmmaker, the film focuses on seven of the city’s strays, following them as they experience the various ups and downs of life in the big smoke.

Kedi a documentary about Istanbul street cats

We had the privilege of watching the movie while we were living in Istanbul. As a result, we found our daily cat encounters enriched by the background info that Kedi provides. Thanks so much for checking out my piece on The Adorable Cats of Istanbul.

Friendly cat Serdar-i Ekrem Street Istanbul

Chairman Meow.

Like this? Take a look at my series of articles on Istanbul.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Travels logo travel reports and short stories.


  • christinenovalarue


    September 27, 2023 - 3:03 pm Reply
    • Leighton


      September 27, 2023 - 3:27 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    I think those are the friendliest cats I’ve ever seen! It is nice you can enjoy them without all the responsibilities of owning them. Italy seemed to have so many cats too.

    September 27, 2023 - 3:56 pm Reply
    • Lyssy In The City

      We only have rats, not cats in NYC ha!

      September 27, 2023 - 3:56 pm Reply
      • Leighton

        Wow, I reckon as an article The Rats of NYC would have a whole other vibe.

        September 27, 2023 - 4:05 pm
      • Little Miss Traveller

        Such adorable cat photos Leighton that you might even convince me to like them more!

        September 27, 2023 - 10:38 pm
      • Leighton

        Thanks for checking out my piece on Istanbul’s irresistible kitties Marion.

        September 27, 2023 - 11:34 pm
    • Leighton

      Yeah, Istanbul’s cats are very tame and for the most part super people-friendly. Were the cats you saw in Italy wary of people? I remember the kitties of Venice being pretty chilled.

      September 27, 2023 - 4:08 pm Reply
  • vermavkv

    So cute

    September 27, 2023 - 4:26 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    I think Istanbul’s warm climate makes this possible. Good for them that it is working out. In cooler climes, these guys might not be as friendly. We have one local roaming cat (Waffles) who roams around looking for comfort, cuddles and food. My wife is allergic to cats so we try to stay away. Thanks for sharing this interesting post Leighton. Allan

    September 27, 2023 - 4:31 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Waffles is a fine name for a cat. I hope someone is able to take him/her in full time and give it a proper home. Cat allergies can be pretty rough I hear, I couldn’t imagine such a thing. I would probably make myself sick again and again and again. Cheers Allan.

      September 27, 2023 - 5:33 pm Reply
  • Memo

    With so many cats, you didn’t have to go looking for subjects to photograph. Amazing how people friendly they are. Like being in a giant Cat Cafe. In addition to controlling mice and rats, cats unfortunately also take a big bite (pun intended) out of the bird population. Still, its a whole different level of acceptance when you legislate their protection.

    September 27, 2023 - 5:36 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Funnily enough we didn’t witness any cat-bird clashes. But of course that thing must be going on all the time. I think I saw a cat or two skulking around the edges of Taksim Square keeping their eyes fixed on the pigeons. Thanks for reading Memo.

      September 27, 2023 - 5:41 pm Reply
  • Travels Through My Lens

    Oh Leighton, this post is wonderful and had me thinking about all the cats who have allowed me into their lives, particularly Neville. We’re right there with you and Sladja as passionate and unapologetic cat lovers. They are special creatures, and Istanbul deserves honors for protecting them. We visited Rome last year and learned that they also protect and provide for the street cats. Maybe someday even more cities will follow suit. Your photos with the captions are all so touching and endearing; particularly the ones ‘holding court’ at the book market. Catticuses should be added to the Oxford Dictionary at their next cycle; well done! It’s perfect that the cats are allowed to roam and settle wherever suits them, that’s their preference after all as territorial animals. It’s difficult to see the cats in distress, perhaps they can provide a group of street veterinarians; time will tell. Absolutely lovely post Leighton.

    September 27, 2023 - 7:03 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ah Tricia, your comment has left me with a wide smile. We have plenty more catty tales to tell from our time in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Greece and beyond. One day they’ll all makes these pages, slowly slowly. I didn’t know about the cat scene in Rome, a city I have not yet visited. Thanks for the kind words and enthusiasm 🙂

      September 27, 2023 - 7:16 pm Reply
  • Mallee Stanley

    This is your first Istanbul post that’s dampened my desire to visit Turkey’s capital. I’m a dog lover and unfortunately, allergic to cats. Recently, one headed straight for me rather than the other two visitors, and rubbed itself against my legs while I remained stoic. Perhaps it hoped to change my attitude because on observing its antics, it was clearly a clever feline. Still, on the positive side, Istanbul must be the most rat/mouse free city in the world—definitely a plus. Not far behind would be Malta, also know for its cats.

    September 27, 2023 - 7:14 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Allergic to cats! 🙁 Well… at least you discovered something important before deciding on a visit to Istanbul. I do think that by having your wits about you it should be possibly to stay clear of direct contact. But hey, it’s something you’d have to weigh up. Malta might have just bumped up a touch on my to-do list. Thanks for your contribution Mallee.

      September 27, 2023 - 7:23 pm Reply
  • anoush

    Beautiful post, Leighton. Istanbul looks like my kind of city with so many lovable felines wandering about. I love your captions and puns, the article is full of humour and of course your love for cats shines through. That tiny ginger kitten, I hope someone adopted it. Kedi sounds like a great watch, I must check it out one of these days.

    September 27, 2023 - 7:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Anoush! It’s great to hear from you again. That tiny ginger kitten is particularly memorable, it was so damn helpless. I do hope it built up its strength and is enjoying life in Istanbul.

      September 27, 2023 - 8:28 pm Reply
  • shoestringdiary

    Those cats alone would make a visit to Istanbul worthwhile. Fellow cat lovers here. 😺😸

    September 27, 2023 - 8:16 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      They really do enhance the feel of the city with their charm. Thanks for your comment!

      September 27, 2023 - 8:27 pm Reply
  • travelling_han

    What a funny post – I love how much you love the cats. Personally, I really dislike cats so rather you than me, but they look cute and I love all your captions which made me laugh. I was also slightly worried as I thought that father, mother, daughter group were going to pull a cat out of the plastic bag at first look – then I read it and realised it had bread in it 🙂

    September 27, 2023 - 8:48 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Han, I’m glad this post amused at least, even if it failed to pull on your heartstrings. Beyond being funny and cute, I did want to communicate Istanbul’s somewhat unique position as a cat-friendly city and the reasons behind that. I’m curious, what is it about cats that you don’t like?

      September 27, 2023 - 9:29 pm Reply
      • travelling_han

        They are horrible bringing in dead animals that they’ve normally tortured or played with, and they go to whomever offers attention or food with no loyalty. Plus often pee and **** all over my garden…I’ve just no time for them 😂😂 (I realise as I type I’m an awful person who really dislikes cats more than I even realised)

        September 28, 2023 - 12:34 am
      • Leighton

        Well…. I did ask, ha ha. Having never had a garden and only kept house cats, I guess I’ve never had experience with this kind of cattishness. The cats I’ve had in my life were incredibly warm, loving and loyal. But I get the general thing about cats being much more self-sufficient and selfish than dogs. I’m a dog lover too so one day, if Sladja and I ever properly settle down, we like the idea of raising a puppy and a kitten together.

        September 28, 2023 - 10:23 am
      • travelling_han

        Perhaps I am being unfair to cats then and I should give them more care. I know Neville the Cat (Tricias cat from another blog) looked great too, so perhaps I need to be more open to them 😁

        September 28, 2023 - 10:28 am
  • Monkey's Tale

    And the large number of cats continue throughout the entire country! Yesterday a cat was walking on the roof of a cafe and spilled rain water on the people sitting in the Cafe below. No one got mad or upset, they just saw the cat and cleaned themselves up as best they could. Sad to see the one’s that are not healthy, but the majority are very clean, well fed with shiny coats. Love all of the pictures 🐈 Maggie

    September 27, 2023 - 9:09 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Aw, what an endearing story. We would definitely like to do some cross-country travel in Turkey one of these years. If that is we can justify returning to Turkey when there are so many other new countries lying in wait. Thanks Maggie for following this Istanbul series, I hope Turkey has been treating you well beyond the inflated prices.

      September 27, 2023 - 9:33 pm Reply
  • bronlima

    So the whole city is fully catified! How interesting! Here in Lima the central park of Miraflores (the district where I live) is a true Cat Kingdom. There are hundreds, and they are looked after by well- wishers, and the local Municipality. However, cats are not seen around other parts of the town. I guess they must have passed the word round that Parque Kennedy is the place to be. They are all feline good about life!

    September 27, 2023 - 9:53 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Would love to spend some time in Parque Kennedy if Sladja and I ever whisker ourselves off to Lima. Thanks for reading Geoff. 🙂

      September 27, 2023 - 10:26 pm Reply

    Mate, cat lover here too! Here I am in Morocco where the towns at least rival Istanbul for sheer numbers of ferrels. If you add up all the minutes I’ve spent tickling chins, stroking heads and holding tiny kittens in my arms, I’ve probably already “lost” a full 24 hours in our two weeks here! Some are so incredibly tiny, only just able to walk. We probably have a billion photos already, the collage in our last post was a very small percentage of all that Michaela’s taken. One of my favourites so far was Buster – catchphrase “need any help with that tagine?”…

    September 27, 2023 - 10:05 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      The tickling and stroking is time very well spent I’d day Phil. Buster sounds like a character, we should find some time for a Moroccan tour one of these years.

      September 27, 2023 - 10:29 pm Reply
  • Fearlessly Abroad

    As a fellow cat lover and traveler, I am now very excited to travel to Istanbul! Anytime I go abroad, I am always missing my furry babies at home. It would be so hard not to rescue and home one of these cats in Istanbul. I am such a lover for animals but it makes my heart so happy to see that these thousands of cats are continuously cared for and loved by everyone they interact with!

    September 27, 2023 - 10:26 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks so much for reading and contributing to the chat. These cats are hard to ignore and love, while the whole feline-friendly scene only added further to our general love for Istanbul. Cheers.

      September 27, 2023 - 10:32 pm Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    It’s amazing that Istanbul has catapulted what could’ve been a catastrophe into a categorical cat-tribute for the city. Anyway, I thought the post was delightful because who doesn’t love a sweet animal? Bravo for Istanbul for making it a crime to hurt one of their fabulous furry friends. Hope you and Sladja are having a great week!

    September 27, 2023 - 11:58 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Kellye, you win top prize for the number of cat puns squeezed into one sentence. I think nobody can compete, I shall prepare your trophy. Thanks for reading this fun piece, it certainly provided a break from the history-heavy vibe of the series.

      September 28, 2023 - 10:18 am Reply
      • Mike and Kellye Hefner

        Thank you, Leighton. No prize necessary, but it was a fun post!

        September 29, 2023 - 8:24 pm
  • Lookoom

    As checked again today, I can confirm that Istanbul is still full of street cats and stray dogs, all of whom seem well fed and live in harmony with the population. Cats are more familiar and many are happy to be petted, as long as it suits them.

    September 28, 2023 - 1:06 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Ah so you are in Istanbul now! I hope you are enjoying the city, looking forward to hearing which bits impressed you the most.

      September 28, 2023 - 10:39 am Reply
      • Lookoom

        Istanbul was more of an unplanned stop-over to reorganise my trip to the region. I followed in your footsteps to the Dolmabahçe Palace and revisited the Cistern Basilica with improved lighting.

        October 1, 2023 - 1:02 pm
  • Anna

    I can’t say I’m a cat lover, but these ones are kind of cute!

    September 28, 2023 - 3:53 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for popping in Anna, I hope these photos were the CATalyst for a few smiles 😉

      September 28, 2023 - 10:30 am Reply
      • Anna

        Lol that dad joke was a CATastrophe! Stick to blog posts mate! 🤣🤣🤣

        September 28, 2023 - 11:34 am
      • Leighton

        Oh dear, telling jokes, writing blog posts and answering comments is clearly too much for me. Time for a catnap.

        September 28, 2023 - 11:41 am
      • Anna


        September 28, 2023 - 3:04 pm
  • thomasstigwikman

    125,000 feral cats seems like a lot. I did not know Istanbul was that cat friendly. I guess feral cats can give you some scratches and bites. The photos are fun and interesting.

    September 28, 2023 - 3:55 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Thomas, thanks for reading and adding to the chat.

      September 28, 2023 - 10:35 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    I recall you wrote a post about these cats a while back. I actually didn’t see many cats while in Istanbul, which is a shock, considering you say that there are thousands of them. I did, however, see many dogs wandering about, and the locals care for them, too. Very adorable creatures, and definitely worth stopping to coo and ahh over them! 😻❤️

    September 28, 2023 - 4:27 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hi Rebecca, I briefly mentioned cats at the end of my post about Bulgarian St. Stephen Church. But this is the full-blown cat extravaganza I have been promising. I’m wondering how you managed to explore Istanbul without bumping into scores and scores of cats! The dogs are endearing too, as you say, but in my experience at least very much a quiet minority. Thanks for reading!

      September 28, 2023 - 10:33 am Reply
  • salsaworldtraveler

    Good for Istanbul. Outdoor cats need as much care and support as possible. It can be a hard life, but perhaps not in Kitty City.

    September 28, 2023 - 7:26 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for stopping by John.

      September 28, 2023 - 10:33 am Reply
  • Terry Christopherson

    What a heartwarming read, j’adore les chats.

    September 28, 2023 - 11:08 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Terry! 🙂

      September 28, 2023 - 11:42 am Reply
  • Travel with a Pen

    I loved how street animals in Turkey seemed to be welcomed and taken care of everywhere we went. I didn’t realize there was an actual law protecting them too!

    September 28, 2023 - 12:01 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Amarachi! I hope you are well and enjoying the fall, wherever you may be. I remember you spent some time in the Turkish capital and have seen the city’s cat extravaganza first hand. Thanks for commenting!

      September 28, 2023 - 2:12 pm Reply
  • qprgary

    Helen wanted to take loads home but we now have 2 old boys left, lost Ferdinand named after Les, unfortunately I took her to the directors box and lunch for a game and she told Les our cat is named after you and not a king of Spain. He took that really well and asked after the cat at the next match maybe being black we should have swapped him for Jude, better luck ???

    September 28, 2023 - 1:18 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ferdinand is a fine name for a moggy, I’m sure Les was honoured. Jude also feels like a no-brainer for a QPR family cat. I think if I were to go down that route one day I fancy the idea of Gallen or Ray. But perhaps not Barker.

      September 28, 2023 - 2:17 pm Reply
  • Toonsarah

    They are indeed adorable! I love the notion of them as communal pets and it’s good to see most of them thriving, but I was saddened by the images of those who are not. These cats give me yet another reason to visit Istanbul one day soon! Btw, I love your names for the cats, especially Catticus Finch 😀

    September 28, 2023 - 6:07 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      When we were living in Serbia some years ago there was a local street cat who occasionally used to come and spend the night at ours. He clearly loved hanging out in our warm living room. Getting strokes, a few licks of milk, the chance to curl up on a chair by the radiator. He was our favourite Serbian Catticus Finch, so we named him Finchy. Thanks for reading and commenting Sarah.

      September 28, 2023 - 9:34 pm Reply
  • Jackie in Italy

    Amazing and so adorable! Thanks for sharing this!

    September 28, 2023 - 9:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading and commenting Jackie.

      September 28, 2023 - 9:30 pm Reply
  • Erin of the Hills

    So sweet but also heartbreaking. I hope they are all able to find safe places to shelter. I would have definitely been stopping to get to know each and every one of them as well! Especially since my husband is allergic so I can’t have on in my own home…

    September 28, 2023 - 11:14 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Erin, thanks for reading and contributing. It seems quite a few people are allergic to cats, this would be a total nightmare for me! As fellow non cat owners I agree that Istanbul is the perfect place to get a kitty fix.

      September 29, 2023 - 7:28 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    How could this post not make anyone burst out with aww, kitty love 🙂 I do really like that Istanbul seems to take care of the kitties that roam their streets and that they so obviously love them. It seems like you made quite a group of furry faced friends 🙂

    September 29, 2023 - 12:57 am Reply
    • Leighton

      They are just purrfect (sorry). Thanks for reading Meg!

      September 29, 2023 - 7:27 am Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    All of these cats are adorable!

    September 29, 2023 - 10:37 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for the catchup on recent articles Allie.

      September 30, 2023 - 8:31 am Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    As a cat lover myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this post and all the cat pictures. I’m not going to lie, Istanbul seems a lot more appealing now after hearing that it’s a very cat-friendly city. My heart melted to hear that the locals try to take care of so many of the stray cats.

    September 30, 2023 - 7:57 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      So glad this brought a few smiles and made you think better of Istanbul and Istanbulites. Thanks for reading and hope you are both doing well ahead of the big arrival.

      September 30, 2023 - 7:59 pm Reply
  • 100 Country Trek

    Amazing and so interesting cats all over this area. And we saw these too. Anita

    September 30, 2023 - 8:14 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your comment Anita.

      September 30, 2023 - 8:16 pm Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    Cuteness overload! It was lovely browsing your “cat post”. It’s great to read that the people of Istanbul care so much for all the stray cats – the cat stations are such a great idea. Your photos are beautiful – the cat sitting by the books is such a classic. And I loved your captions to the photos … a real cat conversation 😁. A little sad to see the little kittens who clearly need care – I’d struggle to walk past …

    September 30, 2023 - 11:08 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Corna, I think had we the means we would have adopted at least a dozen of these beauties.

      October 1, 2023 - 12:04 pm Reply
  • Stan

    such a heartwarming (and heartbreaking with a few of those photos) blog post leighton. you have captured istanbul’s moggies very well and provided a thorough overview of the history behind their special status in society. i will definitely make sure to download kedi in the near future. catticus finch is actually genius! i’m sure plenty of these cats would love to ‘kill a mockingbird’.

    October 1, 2023 - 4:21 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ahhh Stan, nicely done, I actually wish I’d thought of that pun myself. Glad you enjoyed this piece, I’m sure you’ll like Kedi too, especially as it provides the personal stories of several Istanbul catticuses.

      October 1, 2023 - 4:25 pm Reply
  • Juliette

    As a fellow cat lover, I loved reading this and looking at the pictures – I gasped at the adorable fluff ball in Venice and the tiny ginger babies in Istambul 😍. I didn’t know some Istambul kitties were Instagram famous and that’s definitely a perfect use of social media right there ahah! Thanks for sharing those adorable cats, that was a perfect start to my day!

    October 5, 2023 - 9:11 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for checking out Istanbul’s gorgeous catticuses Juliette. 🙂

      October 5, 2023 - 9:27 am Reply
  • ThingsHelenLoves

    How lovely, we need to see more of this side of humanity. The number of times the cat pictures in this post made me ‘ahhh’ leaves me feeling a bit disloyal to my dog!

    October 11, 2023 - 5:48 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Uh oh… you’ll have to put in extra walkies to make it up for it. Thanks for checking out Istanbul’s amazing community of feral cats 🙂

      October 11, 2023 - 8:20 pm Reply
  • sillyjunior25

    There is truly nothing better than seeing communities of people deciding to treat these cats as fellow beings instead of the all-too-common way of kicking them off the street to go to who knows where.

    October 12, 2023 - 2:33 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hear! Hear! I totally agree, thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      October 12, 2023 - 10:55 am Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    There’s nothing to make street photos come alive as much as a sweet kitty! I had no idea there were sooo many there. So glad to see the residents treating them kindly, as they are residents too.

    October 12, 2023 - 8:25 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      We loved how often Istanbul felt like cat-land. Curiously, at the other end of the spectrum, we haven’t seen a single cat in the four days we’ve spent exploring the City of Zagreb. I do hope that is put right before we leave. Not least due to the fact that I would like to grab a photo of a Zagreb kitty so that I can use the caption “Croatticus”.

      October 12, 2023 - 10:59 pm Reply
  • Katie

    I remember the cats of Istanbul. They certainly livened up every outdoor dining experience ha ha. There’s just something so fun about sharing a meal surrounded by cats.

    October 21, 2023 - 6:33 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Katie, thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad that you were also charmed by Istanbul’s cat community. 🙂

      October 21, 2023 - 7:08 pm Reply
  • ourcrossings

    Wow, just look at all the wonderful kitties you stumbled upon in beautiful Istanbul, there’s even one in a bookshop! I never realised that you are back on the WordPress platform, sharing your inspiring travel stories, Leighton – somehow your post just never appeared in my reader anymore – there better not be some fishy algorithm involved like it is with other social media platforms. Anyway, I am glad to see that you guys are happy and healthy and having a great time exploring the big wide world. Glad to see you back! Cheers, Aiva 🙂 xx

    November 3, 2023 - 8:24 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Aiva, it’s lovely to hear from you again. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a weird algorithm thing, I’ve experienced similarly strange things with WordPress this last year. I was indeed back for a while after my blogging break, but actually I’m now on another break as we are going through a really busy period. Launching a new side of our business… taking care of some health issues. As such, it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with writing, posting and following other blogs. Thanks again for getting in touch, I hope to be back posting again by the end of the year. Hope all is well you with you and your family, stay safe and healthy.

      November 4, 2023 - 12:05 am Reply
  • tagpipspearl

    The Queen of Hagia Sophia was especially regally beautiful! Very nice post.

    November 5, 2023 - 9:17 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      November 5, 2023 - 11:18 am Reply

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