Wherever I go in Istanbul, I see a lot of cats and dogs. They are wandering from one place to another or chilling under the shadows of a tree. They are not afraid of humans passing them by. Sometimes they even approach them when they are being friendly or giving them food. This behavior simply shows that people are treating them nicely.
The Turks are known for their fondness for cats and dogs, either domestic or wild. I have read many articles on the news about how they are giving blankets to freezing stray dogs in Bakirkoy. People even put bowls of food and water for cats and dogs in the corners where they often walk past.
The dogs are tagged with chips on their ears, which mean they are neutered and vaccinated for rabies and other diseases. I saw one dog sleeping by the front door of a Starbucks cafe. And there was a cat chilling down on a stack of papers in a bookshop. Nobody chases them away or do any harm to them. Nobody feels disturbed by their presence. In fact, they are happy when they meet playful cats.
There is a very nice documentary entitled “Kedi” that explains more about why cats of Istanbul are different than others. It shows what it feels like to live as a cat in this city. Here is the film trailer for you to see.
After watching the documentary, I understood why Istanbul’s cats have clean and fluffy furs. The cats are not stray to them and they love them. As the man in the documentary said, “If you cannot love animals, you cannot love people.”
I totally agree with this statement. I hope we all can learn from Istanbul on how to love and take care of the animals around us. If you decide to have a dog or a cat, remember that you’re the only one they’ve got. Spare your time to play and chill with them. They are living beings, don’t abuse them or take their love for granted. And for the cats and dogs that you see in the street, if you cannot feed them, don’t torture them. Life in the street is harsh already. All of us living things just want to be loved and live in peace.