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Home > Cats > Why Are There So Many Cats in Istanbul? History & Facts

Why Are There So Many Cats in Istanbul? History & Facts

If there’s anything you know about Istanbul, it’s probably that there are a whole lot of cats living there. From time to time, you may see a video pop up on the internet of a cat in Istanbul generally showing its full cat-ness by entering a business.

Unlike most places, though, these cats aren’t usually chased out of businesses. Why are cats so popular in Istanbul and just how many cats are there in Istanbul? There have been many cats in Istanbul for centuries due to a combination of factors. Basically, Istanbul is a very-cat-friendly city!


Why Are There So Many Cats in Istanbul?

There are actually a few reasons that Istanbul is home to so many cats. According to some sources, a large number of cats in Istanbul trace all the way back to the Ottoman Empire. At the time, most of the buildings were made of wood, which provided a haven for a large number of rats and mice. With so many pests running around, cats became a welcome sight as they helped to keep the population of these vermin under control.

Another reason is that Istanbul is located in Turkey, which is a predominantly Muslim country. In Islam, cats are viewed with respect and are considered to be clean animals due to their tendency to routinely groom themselves and help eliminate pest species. This may have allowed the number of cats to increase.

As time has gone on, though, the people of Istanbul have continued to happily welcome these feline friends in their city. Residents often put out food, water, and forms of shelter for stray cats in the city, and it’s not uncommon for people to take stray cats to the vet for care.

There are strict rules in the city about the care and management of stray cats, and as a whole, the city has a no-kill policy when it comes to cats. In fact, animal abuse and neglect are punishable with jail time in Istanbul.

feral cats resting outdoor
Image By: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

How Many Stray Cats Are There in Istanbul?

Nobody knows exactly how many cats are located in Istanbul because the vast majority of the cats are strays, so they are not necessarily accounted for in surveys of pet owners in the city.

Since the city is so welcoming to cats, stray cats aren’t viewed in the same way that they often are in places like the US, where they are sometimes viewed as dirty and dangerous. In Istanbul, cats aren’t viewed as strays so much as they’re viewed as belonging to everyone in the city.

Some estimates approximate that there are 100,000 to 150,000 stray cats in Istanbul. However, some people have estimated that there are as many as a million living there. Again, it’s hard to determine an exact estimate!


In Conclusion

Stray cats thrive in Istanbul because of the willingness of the citizens of the city to step up and provide for the cats. Cats are respected and cared for in a way that is not common in the Western world.

There are potentially hundreds of thousands of cats living in Istanbul, and most of them are well cared for and provided with everything they need to live happy, healthy lives.

Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory

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