Capital of the Cats Istanbul!

Capital of the Cats: Istanbul! True Lords and Ladies of the City

The City Ruled by Cats: Istanbul

You may have heard how much cats are loved in Turkey, especially in the city of Istanbul. If you haven’t heard, you will be quite surprised when you read this article! Because the real owner of this city is cats.

Turks’ love for animals actually dates back to ancient times. Before the Turks migrated from Central Asia to Anatolia, they lived almost as nomads on horseback. Therefore, especially horses have great importance in Turkish culture. At the same time, Turks also show great respect to wolves due to their traditions from Central Asia.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Cats.
Welcome to the Kingdom of Cats.

World’s First Animal Hospital

The Turks’ respect and love for animals continued to increase when they came to Anatolia. In fact, the world’s first animal hospital in the Ottoman period, the “House of the Fallen Storks” was opened in the city of Bursa, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire. It was forbidden to spoil the birds’ nests, meat was bought and distributed from the butchers for cats and dogs every day.

In the travel books of European travelers, the love of the Ottomans for their animals, the foundations and treatment centers they established for their care, and the laws they enacted to protect animals were mentioned with admiration. In the same period, there was no animal rights law in European countries, and in the 16th century, Paris had a dark history in which all stray cats were stuffed into sacks and burned on a certain day of the summer every year, and the people celebrated this day in a festive mood.

Ottoman Officers in Charge of Taking Care of Animals: Mancaci’s

Ottoman Mancaci
Ottoman Officer: Mancaci


Mancaci, a profession that emerged from the love of animals in the Ottoman Empire, regularly fed stray animals. Particular attention was paid to the care of mounts and beasts of burden. Horses, cats, dogs, pigeons were all cherished and protected under the law. In the 17th century, the traveler Jean du Mont wrote in his travel book that “The benevolence of the Turks applies even to animals. They are especially kind to dogs. It is a crime for Turks to kill animals that are not fed for their meat, such as cats, dogs, and horses.” After briefly talking about the love and respect Turks have for animals, let’s take a look at Istanbul, which is ruled by cats today!

Mancaci on duty!
Mancaci is on duty!

Welcome to City of Cats: Istanbul!

Are you curious about cat life in Istanbul?

When we return to the present day, we can easily see that this attitude towards animals continues. You can see hundreds of cats on the streets of Istanbul every day. The cats of this place are just as respected as citizens of the human species, perhaps living a more luxurious life than other citizens. Many associations for stray cats operate in Istanbul. Thanks to donations, these associations treat sick and injured stray cats and feed them. Istanbulites share the streets of the city with approximately 125 thousand cats. Moreover, these are just stray cats; When house cats are included, it is estimated that an average of 200,000 cats live in this city. More than the population of many cities and countries! It is not for nothing that it is called Catstanbul! (Kedistanbul in Turkish)

Cats from Istanbul are all over the city! A photo from the Galata Tower
Cats from Istanbul are all over the city! A photo from the Galata Tower


In Turkey, 19 percent of the 80 million population has cats at home. In Istanbul, which is famous for its stray cats, shop owners or locals feed the neighborhood cats. Animal-loving Istanbulites buy cat houses for cats to keep them warm on cold nights, or even take them into their homes. They are lucky enough to pat their heads with ex-US President Obama and take a picture with him. The documentary “The Cat”, shot in 2017, grossed $2.7 million in the United States, making it the third most-watched foreign language documentary of all time. Why is ‘cat culture’ so special to Istanbul?

World Famous Cat of Hagia Sophia: Gli

Gli, the Famous Cat of Hagia Sophia and Obama
Gli, the Famous Cat of Hagia Sophia and Obama


Gli, the famous cat of Hagia Sophia
Gli, the famous cat of Hagia Sophia


Gli even had a bed of her own.
Gli even had a bed of her own.


Gli passed away in November of 2020. Rest in peace Gli...
Gli passed away in November of 2020. Rest in peace Gli… We will never forget you.

Istanbulites Are Very Fond of Cats

Cats live quite comfortably in Istanbul. They are in almost every area of ​​life. On the street, in front of workplaces, on the subway, even at universities… Generally, every street in Istanbul has known cats. In these streets, you can see tiny “cat houses” prepared for stray cats. Neighborhood residents place food and water containers in front of their houses to feed the stray cats.

Kedi Evi means "Cat House"
Kedi Evi means “Cat House”


Even, The Municipality of Istanbul has placed vending machines for cats in many parts of the city. There are quite a few cats around these vending machines. When you throw a coin into the vending machine while crossing the road, cat food is spilled into the container underneath. So that the cats do not go hungry. 🙂

Cat Machine
Food Delivery Vending Machine for Cats and Dogs

Treating Cats Well is a Requirement of Religious Belief

A common rumor in Istanbul says, “If you killed a cat, you have to build a mosque to be forgiven by God.” Cats are the subject of a special religious association in a predominantly Muslim country. In Islam, cats are mostly respected and are the most preferred breed for domestication.

The Fat of the Neighborhood: Tombili (Sweet Fat)

Tombili, who became famous with the photo of her charming pose in front of the kebab shop sign.
Another Famous Cat: Tombili


Tombili, who became famous with the photo of her charming pose in front of the kebab shop sign. One of the famous cats of Istanbul is Tombili. Unfortunately, Tombili also passed away. However, the locals did not forget him and his statue was made in the place where his famous photograph was taken.

Istanbul University Medical Faculty Student: Sansli ! (Lucky in English)

It is possible to encounter cats on university campuses, libraries, and even classrooms in Istanbul. One of the most famous of these cats is lucky! Lucky is quite popular in medical school. He attends classes, hangs out with students, even takes exams. He may even start graduate school soon.

Lucky in class
Lucky (Sansli) in class


Sometimes you can see her tired from studying.
Sometimes you can see her tired from studying.

Istanbul Cats Are Everywhere in Life

You can see cats all over the city. For example, among the books in a bookstore...
You can see cats all over the city. For example, among the books in a bookstore…


Cat Gang
The cat gang holding a council meeting…


In this city, cats can even use public transport.
In this city, cats can even use public transport.


Subway Cat
“Subway Cat” has been very popular in Istanbul lately. You may pass through the turnstile only if he permits. And no one bothers him.

Even the famous star Nina Dobrev, who came to Istanbul on March 21, 2022, could not believe that the cats in this city lived freely. She shared these moments on his Instagram story:


Nina Dobrev Istanbul Cat
When she saw the cat sneaking into the Resteurant, she hugged it and took it in her arms. And she met her first cat in Istanbul.


Nina Dobrev Cat Istanbul
When she met one of Istanbul’s free cats, she shared her surprise with her followers.

Kedi (Cat) Documentary Trailer

Cat Vibing Song Also Born in Turkey

Today, we shared the prosperous lives of cats in the world capital of Istanbul. I hope you like it. Waiting for your comments 🙂

In addition to our own experience, the following resources were also used: THY, Ensonhaber, Haytap, BBC Türkiye

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