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Why are there so many cats in Istanbul? (legalnomads.com)
121 points by ducaale 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 105 comments

I do not think religion plays a role at all. Greece is full of kitties too.

The climate is nice. They can survive the winter without having to crawl into a steamy sewer like rats. Though many cats sleep under cars (especially if the engine is still warm). Most cities in these areas are not heavy on traffic, the city roads are narrow and designated for slow-driving - giving the animals an opportunity to move around with not much noise and danger.

Old people in the neighborhood feed them and play with them. I would say it's as nice for them as it is for the cats (they get to have a hobby, go out etc). People at cafes and restaurants (especially the ones with outdoor seating) might put some food aside.

People growing up in such an environment learn to like the cats, and give them some attention or feed them themselves. (I grew up loving stray cats, and animals in general due this culture). Was surprised to see how much having a pet is a "business" in the states (higher rents if you have a pet, mandatory chips, pet salons everywhere, eugenic like focus on perfect looking breeds etc).

And the elephant in the room. Careless people adopt them, decide it's too much work and then let them roam free. Or decide that neutering them is immoral or too expensive or something...

If you wanna see some more of Instanbul's cats -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0dJ4zrTopU (no affiliation)

I believe this phenomenon is similar in other Turkish cities as well. After moving abroad from Ankara, I can say lack of stray cats/dogs on streets was very noticeable.

I agree it doesn't have much to do with religion, IMO main two reasons are:

1) there doesn't seem to be any on-going effort to keep number of strays under control by the city.

2) many people feed strays as it's considered animal friendliness, often there will be at least one person in your neighbourhood who leaves food & water for animals.

You might think it's nice to see a cat or two in the streets, though it can get a bit crazy when you see 5-6 big and aggressive dogs appear in your street every day because someone feeds them, yet complaining about this would be considered heartless, and it's very likely the local government won't do anything about it either.

So, getting well fed and without any predators in a generally forgiving climate, strays easily get to survive and breed, and since neutering them all would be expensive and requires some level of organization from the state (which doesn't seem to happen) their numbers get to ever increase.

> You might think it's nice to see a cat or two in the streets, though it can get a bit crazy when you see 5-6 big and aggressive dogs appear in your street every day because someone feeds them

You can't just reason about cats by arguing about dogs. You might as well say the same thing about squirrels and raccoons at that point. I for one would think it's nice to see a stray cat or two (or six) in the streets, but I wouldn't want to see a stray dog. They're just different animals.

It's probably a cultural thing. Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea, is culturally similar in some ways (religion obviously, but also beyond that; e.g. the language is similar) - and yes, there are tons of cats in that city. Or at least were, years ago when I visited.

There was this inner courtyard somewhere, baking in the sun, with a huge pile of what we thought were dead cats. Like a rugby melee type of thing, but just laying down motionless. I mean, it was so hot we could not imagine how those critters could just lay there not moving.

Then we noticed some of them were lazily moving their tails. They were not dead, they were sunbathing.

>though it can get a bit crazy when you see 5-6 big and aggressive dogs appear in your street every day because someone feeds them

Yeah, I got surrounded by a pack of 7 or 8 big dogs around dawn on the Golden Horn once. Was frantically swinging my backpack and screaming at them as they approached. After 30 seconds or so, a man noticed and threw some food to distract them so I could get away. They probably were just hoping I would feed them but it was still fucking terrifying. Felt like it activated some sort of primal fight-or-flight instinct passed down through millennia of humans being cornered by wolves.

That is an epic experience that I'm sure you'll never forget! Love the way you wrote it too - especially the last sentence :)

Dealing with stray dogs isn't that difficult. They don't mess with you if they think you are more aggressive than them.

Also keeping the dogs in a neighbourhood well-fed is quite easy and cheap. That will rule out any aggressiveness.

I learnt this back when studying in my home country. As long as you bark back at them at a much louder voice, dogs will never attack you. But if you ever run away from them, they will chase behind you.

Learnt it the hard way when I interrupted a fornication session between three strays.

God staredowns with dogs is always terrifying. Especially when I gotta go somewhere. Now I'm in a position where if I continue to leave, the dog thinks I'm a pussy and chases me. But I can't stand there all day playing chicken!

Trust me, bark back at them in a voice louder than theirs and they will run away. Dogs are pack animals, so I think they fall for whoever is the more dominant one.

Cats were brought to Europe from Egypt by Romans. They were domesticated in the regions around Istanbul for thousands of years before they were brought to the attention of the Greeks and Romans. Presumably, the Romans that brought the cats back to Europe saw their benefit to the populations on the other side of the Mediterranean and also adopted the culture of revering cats. The culture of revering cats predates the religion of Islam and is part of the culture that that religion was born out of, and is understandably celebrated.

What benefit does letting cats run feral have for settled humans? Rodent control. Even before they knew the public health benefits of that, they knew the benefits towards granary stores.

Now that cats aren't the only method available to control rodents, cities that don't have a cultural or cultural/religious reason to revere stray cats understandably don't and those that do, do.

Religion plays a role, culture plays a role, biology plays a role, history plays a role: everything plays a role (yes probably even the cuteness of cats).

Cats were domesticated in Egypt, not Turkey. And in Ancient times the areas around Istanbul were Greek.

Greeks that called themselves Romans for 2 millennia (200BC - 1800 A.D until the Hellenes name is back I think). Fascinating history.

The Roman (Rhomaion) identity was decoupled from the Latin language by the Early Byzantines.

The Byzantines never called themselves Byzantines, they called themselves Roman. Lots of places adopted Roman names with varying levels of legitimacy.

There were Greek speaking colonies around the Bosporus and in Egypt before the Romans got there.

Evolutionarily it seems cats didn't change that much and domestic and wild living cats are pretty similar. It's just that when humans became farmers rodents were attracted to the grain and the cats came and helped out with those. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/06/domesticated...

> I do not think religion plays a role at all. Greece is full of kitties too.

I came here just to say that: Athens is absolutely loaded with cats, especially strays. I think this is regional cultural, not religious.

Currently in Athens (well Pireaus). Can confirm. Italy used to be similar like 20 or 30 years ago but they got round to spaying / controlling things and now most cats are have owners and homes.

Dogs too, though I think dogs have a harder time in cities.

The dogs do ok in Istanbul. Less so in a lot of other places though.

edit: the city of Istanbul has a program where they drive around and neuter and tag stray dogs. it seems to work pretty well. I used to be in istanbul every year and had the same dog friend that lived by my hotel. he was the best. miss him dearly.

With the exception of Loukanikos. The legendary hero dog. Everyone worshipped him haha.

Same thing with (at least) Dubrovnik in Croatia

I noticed a lot of cats in the port of Jubail in Saudi Arabia. I was told they were scavengers and Arabs didn't usually keep them as pets, or think about them much at all.

My sons attends NYU's Abu Dhabi campus, and they have a population of feral resident cats on the campus.

I wonder if they end up taking part of the niche taken by strays and feral dogs, which are much less tolerated by Arabs. I'm in Canada, on the outskirts of a city, and we won't ever have much of a feral cat problem because we have a pretty stable coyote population. (I often feel sad when I see the missing pet posters for smallish mammals, especially in Winter.)

I’ve lived in a couple of Muslim countries, and religion is such an obvious explaining factor to me. Jakarta and KL have tons of stray cats. Bangkok and Manila don’t. Disturbing the business of a cat is strictly forbidden by Islam, and due to their religious significance, a lot of people will feed stray cats. Greece having stray cats too doesn’t make any of these factors less relevant.

I saw parts of Bangkok where people were feeding stray cats and had set up little donation boxes to that effect.

I haven’t seen a part of Jakarta that didn’t have stray cats, and I lived there for about 10 years.

Interestingly enough, it was not a Muslim dominated part of Bangkok (as opposed to where I was staying) but rather a Buddhist request for cat alms as I recall, I could be wrong.

There are temples in Thailand that care for stray cats, just the same as there are temples that care for stray dogs. But stray cats are far from ubiquitous in Bangkok, especially compared to the Muslim majority cities in the region.

Jakarta has so many stray cats that it's legitimately concerned they're going to bring rabies back to the city.


During the Covid lockdowns, I saw numerous articles about how stray cats weren't getting fed properly in KL


Every city has stray cats, it's just Muslim majority ones tend to have way more than you'd otherwise expect. Especially in developing countries that don't have sufficient animal control resourcing. Those cities also tend to focus their animal control efforts on getting dogs off the street, as Muslims are typically incredibly adverse to them (I saw 0 stray dogs in Jakarta the whole time I lived there, compared to Bangkok for instance where I couldn't walk to the end of my street without seeing at least 5 of them). If everybody all of a sudden decided they adored squirrels, and started carrying squirrel food around incase they ran into one, and started feeding all the squirrels that hung out around their home/place of work every day, you'd expect the squirrel population to explode too.

israel has both muslims and non-muslims and amounts of street cats are around the same for both areas

the big difference comes from socioeconomic state of the neighborhood i think

As I said above, just because something happens for one reason in one place doesn’t mean that same thing can’t happen for a different reason in a different place.

The reason Isreal has so many cats is because the British imported a lot of cats in the 30s, and just let them loose to control rat populations. The reason they’re still there is because animal sterilization is a very controversial topic in Judaism.

OK, just to set the record straight we have community cats in the US too. Disneyland has a couple hundred of them: https://disneylandcats.com/about/

(We are doing our part and have 2 at home.)

So is Rome.

One of my fondest memories of Rome, is visiting the Acattolico cemetery only to discover it's basically overrun by friendly cats. gothic monuments + cat sanctuary what a combo

It's the same at the Paris Montmartre cemetery.

There was a documentary years ago about the cats living in the Roman Forum. The alpha male they named Ceasar, and the younger upstart Brutus. The interactions and roles they observed between the female cats was quite interesting.

Edit: Found it - City of the Wildcats (narrated by David Attenborough)

True, same situation in Tel Aviv, I guess it is just an east Mediterranean thing, there are no stray dogs though like I have seen in Greece but that was many years ago.

Cats as street animal is just perfect, they are clean, they keep the rats at bay, you almost don't see any rats or mice in Tel Aviv comparing to places like NY. Also if you want a cat at home you can just pick one from the street.

Cat situation is the same, but the dog-loving culture of Tel Aviv is completely absent from nearly absent in all nearby cities – which seems to be exactly the religious or cultural difference. Religious not as jewish vs muslim, but as in secular modern vs religious: there seem to be no dogs in jewish cities outside the bubble as well.

I have been living in Istanbul for the last 5 years (moved from US) and I have seen most of the other cities mentioned...No other city has as many cats as İstanbul - I have seen cats at bank HQs, at large corp office buildings, sleeping on subway turnstiles,at museums, at stadiums - anywhere you were not expecting them to be ,surely a delight for cat lovers. The reason there are more cats is not religion, Turks are cat friendly, nobody bothers cats and most importantly all cats are fed. Adding no neutering/ spaying completes the madness in cat population

How are you enjoying living in Istanbul? We spent some time there a few years ago and felt like it was the first international city that we would move to (we currently live in Brooklyn).

Time of our lives(my wife and I) I am in high tech - so work wise not stellar but culture, restaurants, entertainment is great / colorful people around...You need to choose neighborhood well, my advice for American friends is , if you like New York then you will like Istanbul- If you can manage to keep your Brooklyn income I strongly suggest giving Istanbul a chance// and if you are not married (I have been told : ) it is even better

Do you work for a local company or remotely? We are thinking of moving there, too!

You can live well even with a fifth of a Brooklyn income in Istanbul

I lived in Istanbul for about 10 years (then moved back to SF; currently living in Boston).


* Istanbul is an extremely large city, pretty much like LA, so chances are there is something to do for everyone. Your favorite band may show up some point within your life time, you don't feel isolated from int'l community.

* Weather is pretty nice, not too warm, not too cold, you experience 4 seasons. But it's a little too warm for me, but I like it a lot colder than other people.

* People are overall pretty great imho, although certain neighborhoods can be worse, too conservative etc, but overall it's fine.

* There are certain places, e.g. Prince Islands, that are simply gorgeous and I'd love to spend rest of my life there in peace.


* City is pretty secure; not like super secure that I'd go out alone drunk at 3AM without thinking, but I think it's still more secure than cities I lived in the US (maybe except Boston?).

* EDIT: I should also add that it's a very crowded city. It's densely populated and about ~15 million people live in "the city" which is like this multiple set of downtowns, very close to each other and span two continents. You might like this but I think this makes everything very messy.

* EDIT: Nightlife is pretty ok I think? I'm not a huge club person, but I've visited many bars (especially those in Kadikoy) and I really miss them, there was something about them.


* Not very tidy, clean like European cities. I think it's still orders of magnitude cleaner than LA or NYC but e.g. compared to Boston, it's less nice. Architecture etc are pretty banal. Living spaces are usually like condos and nothing exciting.

* Political climate is as bad as it can possibly be. Although some parts of Istanbul are extremely liberal -- feels like just another European city -- Turkey is currently a very fucked country, led by a dictator, and I personally wouldn't live there at the moment. But you know, politics change.

* Not a very developed tech scene. I know some interesting startups and was able to closely work with some of them; so there is definitely some interesting stuff happening, but absolutely not like any major city in US or Germany.

* Everything is extremely unstable, Turkey is "developing" very fast e.g. what is a gorgeous park today can end up being a horrible tourist hellscape a year later because economy relies so much on tourism. Everything is in flux, and things are done without thinking about aesthetics etc. Almost everything is half-assed. E.g. Taxim Square was a really nice and historic place when I was there, but somehow they managed to rebuild and fuck it up last few years.

* Bad traffic, but that goes without saying for most major cities. Drivers are definitely bad, but like you know, you adapt.

* EDIT: A majority of people are cigarette smokers. Not 420 friendly (since cannabis is highly illegal) but it's possible to find it if you know a guy who knows a guy.

Considering how many cats I saw when I was in Greece [0] I think this might be more cultural then religious.

0. https://imgur.com/gallery/LbU7j

I don't remember seeing many cats in Istanbul but sure did see many dogs. And Istanbul dogs are, euh, frighteningly big. Maybe it's a Mediterranean thing? Tunis and all of Tunisia cities have lots of cats. Any restaurant, cafe, or even companies will have cats playing around. There are no health checks or controls, so things are out of controls.

Also the cats/dogs seem to mark their territory. It's the same group of cats/dogs at any particular restaurant and they survive on the workers giving them the leftovers.

Here is one in a cafe nearby ;) https://imgur.com/a/a4RqkWV

As the article neglects to mention, stray dogs are a huge problem in Turkey. My wife is Turkish and we travel a lot to Turkey. They unfortunately exist in every single place. In Istanbul they are not such a big problem because you have so many other prople around you.

But as soon as you you get to other cities it’s less fun. As a person that likes to jog in the morning I had stop and turn around and slowly walk away too many times. Some angry, mentally unstable, dog would block the way. Sometimes they chase you. I have seen other runners being chased and bitten by dogs. Especially in the morning they get aggressive. I have also seen packs of dogs attacking normal dogs in leaches. Of course they also carry rabies.

According to my wife stray dogs were not so common when she was young, but the population has exploded since then. She and her mother also dislikes them.

It doesn’t help that there is almost no one working on the problem. I know Istanbul has some organisation that will vaccinate and neuter stray dogs. Otherwise locals seems to have some twisted sense of animal wellfare going where they believe putting a domesticated dog on the street is an ok thing to do, since other locals will take care of it. Never mind they get malnourished, get aggressive and are obviously completely unstable mentally. A broken leg, an infected wound? Who cares, as long as they can roam around free and multiply as much as they want.

I have no idea how this became the norm but I really hope it will change!

It's a thing where I live too (Tunisia). After the revolution, the government became loose and dogs multiplied. Where I live, there is a pack of 40-50 in front of the building. They survive on trash and some neighbors feed them regularly, so they are well fed and friendly. Most people here are not married or don't have kids, plus most of them have cars. I would not be comfortable having a kid walking around with these dogs (although they are friendly so far).

I think part of the issue is that removing them from the streets requires two things which are pretty tough: 1) a very large investment to build shelters and 2) euthanizing many thousands of dogs to make more room when the shelters are full.

I found the same in Sofia, Bulgaria. It's alright in the heavily populated areas, but the area I was staying in had large packs of stray dogs and the nearby park was full of them.

As a cat person, I want to ask why other cities are so cat deficient.

Realistically though, an overpopulation of any domestic/ semi animal, particularly when they are non-native is not great. These cats almost certainly spread out into the surrounding countryside and wreck havoc on native/ natural populations.

Cats are great... in moderation and properly spayed so they don't spread.

For one reason, they are terrible for the ecology. Wind turbines have been getting a lot of hate due to them killing 234k birds per year in the US. However cats kill 2.4b birds per year in the US.


I'd rather have an overpopulation of cats than rats. Looking at you, New York, London and Paris.

You answered your own question. A lot of people spay and neuter.

In US, any cat that touches any shelter get spayed and neutered.

Some shelters are also kill shelter. If the cat doesn't get adopted, it will be put down.

Sometimes I wonder if we would accidentally make cats extinct.

Cats breed fast. Sexual maturity is 6-9 months, pregnancy takes 2-3 months, and a mother cat can go into heat a month after giving birth. Litters are mostly 2-6 kittens, and there is no such thing as "cat menopause" - your ancient housecat well past the end of a wild cat's lifespan can still get pregnant.

As long as there's a few breeding pairs out there, they can repopulate quickly. You would have to go to a very deliberate effort to make them extinct. Or accidentally destroy everything they would eat - which, given that they will eat pretty much any animal they can take down, would be a serious global extinction event.

House cats are insanely adaptable, it would be incredibly difficult to wipe them out. There are feral cats on every continent and while they are incredibly well adapted to cities and people, they also do just fine in the wild.

I thought it was clear with my second sentence. My question was facetious and rhetorical.

Istanbul's culture traces to the agricultural technology revolution, when cats were an auxilliary technology to grain storage and transport, addressing rats and mice. They also usurped alternative predator, especially snakes. There is an element of thanks-giving and even worship.

Cities dating to the industrial technology revolution similarly keep old machines around in their yards and surrounds, with affection and reverence for their blessing.

In new cities, dating to the information technology revolution, they bow their shoulders to their screens, genuflecting, and swiping up, down, right, left.

I like the old way better.

Awesome comment! :)

Part of the answer:

>Turkey is not unique among predominately Muslim countries for honouring its cats, which are considered ritually clean animals in Islam.

Which I can confirm is true in many cities in North Africa. They're efficient and cheap pest control that manages itself with very little input. You could argue that the cats themselves are pests, but at least they're nicer to look at than rodents.

I remember watching Kedi, a feel-good non-fiction film about cats in Istanbul that was popular a few years ago. My impression was less "awww" and more "wow, Istanbul has a massive feral cat problem." I'm not sure having thousands of feral animals fight over your garbage is good for public health or, for that matter, humane toward the animals.

I did not walk away from watching Kedi (or leave my recent visit to Istanbul) thinking that the cats live anything but an excellent life.

I think it's inhumane how cats are treated basically everywhere else! In Istanbul, cats are loved, fed, petted, and live a pretty great life. In almost every other city on earth, they're picked up and sent to shelters where they live in cramped cages until someone happens to adopt them or they're killed.

Which sounds more humane?

I come from a country that has stray cats (and dogs) roaming the streets. Some are probably cared for by kind people who give them food. But lots and lots of these animals are sick, starving, sometimes aggressive parasites that live on trash. Many look sickly or injured, and I doubt their lives are long or pleasant.

Is your claim that people in Turkey are so uniquely, extraordinarily committed to their street cats that the lives those cats lead are similar to the lives of pet cats in other countries?

Yes, almost exactly that (I’ve only visited Istanbul so I can’t speak to other parts of Turkey, but basically yes.)

The overall picture I got is that the cats of Istanbul do seem to be uniquely loved and well-treated compared to the street animals of other countries. They are welcomed, not seen as nuisances. They are immediately loving to people, not skeptical and skittish. They seek affection (and food), not just food.

Then why isn't Istanbul's cat population continuing to soar? If they are well-fed, they will reproduce normally, with the corresponding growth in their population. Human populations don't necessarily fall into the Malthusian trap, but animal populations certainly do.

So either cats and kittens are dying of accidents, disease and a lack of food, or they are neutered by humans. Like... it's not as though cats will have fewer litters if they get a college education and a career outside the home. A female cat will have 1-2 litters of 1-5 kittens every year, that's just how their lifecycle works.

The municipality spays and neuters, then places the cat/dog back to where they found them. For cats, they clip a small part of their ear and for dogs they put an "earring" on to prevent multiple operations. You can see if any stray animal is neutered yourself if you are ever around Istanbul.

It's in the article. Treating stray cats well is a feature of Muslim culture. It's true in other Muslim places too, not just Turkey. I've heard the same anecdotally about Mecca.

You think you have a feral cat problem, but you really have a rodent problem that the cats are keeping in check. Conservationists found that out the hard way when they removed cats from remote islands to boost bird populations. Then the number of rats and mice exploded until there was nothing left.

The solution to rodent problems in cities is sanitation, not feral cats. Example: don't smear buckets of raw fish guts in the streets, as people in Kedi are shown doing.

"Until there was nothing left" sounds dramatic. Can you point me to any wildlife conservation campaigns that introduced cats to control other invasive species? All I can think of are the feral cats on Hawaii, that are described as "among the most harmful invasive species globally".[1]

[1] https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/info/invasive-species-profiles/...

It's probably this one: https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=6637714&page=1

"But the decision to eradicate the felines from Macquarie island allowed the rabbit population to explode and, in turn, destroy much of its fragile vegetation that birds depend on for cover"

Thank you! That's a fascinating counterexample. In most places the cats are the invaders that eradicate native bird species. I'm curious why the native fauna of Macquarie was more resilient to cats.

They're not feral cats, they're stray cats.

I found them pretty cute when I watched the video. (Recommend it for those who haven't seen it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpG0z-npFIY)

The article states that there are 130,000 dogs and 125,000 cats, which sort of begs the question, why is the focus on the number of cats, when there are even more dogs?

Maybe this is a high cats/dogs ratio compared with other major cities. Clearly, more research is needed: for as many cities as possible, find the ratio, plot it against the prevalence of Islam, compute a coefficient, and test whether one can reject the hypothesis that it's zero.

cats are the ones with character. they decide for themselves. they literally own the space u wrongfully assume to own if there's a cat 'living' with u. a bit like with father and daughter where he is of the false belief to have a say, now and then ..

Follow-up article: why aren't there any songbirds in Istanbul?

Istanbul seems to be doing OK with birds [1] [2].

There are some people that aren't nice to songbirds in Istanbul, though [3].

[1] http://howtoistanbul.com/en/birds-of-istanbul/8560

[2] https://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/checklist.jsp?region=TRmaib&list...

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/mar/24/photogr...

A few years ago, I noticed that Athens also had a large feral cat population, so I'm not sure Islam plays as large a role as suggested.

Given that a cat's gestation period is only two months and they can become pregnant again immediately... anyplace where there is sufficient food to support ferrel cats, you'll end up with a whole lot of cats quickly. But, the author does make an interesting reflection on the culture of a city whether those cats are treasured or treated as a burden.

I wonder if there is an ecosystem-wise balance established in Istanbul even with many cats living freely with plenty food. And if so, I guess there is something unique to it that many other cities can’t replicate in a night (so some control was still needed elsewhere).

Let us note that Henry David Thoreau was wrong about a great many things, but especially on the counting of cats in Zanzibar and therefore Istanbul, a Turkish delight on a moonlit night: "It is not worthwhile to go around the world to count the cats in Zanzibar."

I asked my cats, and they agree. Even my dogs agree because the cats do.

I watched “Kedi” a few years ago. Now, my 2 and 3 year olds remind me weekly they need to see what the kitties are up to. This is also why we have 9 cats. Go figure. I’m glad my kids respect the cats and let them all integrate into outlives as the cats deem appropriate.

Funny that this popped up on HN. I lived in Istanbul for a little bit and was perplexed by the number of cats, but for one reason or another it's not something I ever thought of actually Googling. Thanks for sharing!

This question is equivalent to "Why doesn't the Istanbul government spay and neuter stray cats?", a question the article doesn't address. If there really are no systematic efforts to control the stray cat population, I have a hard time believing that nature isn't performing the same function. Cat populations grow explosively unchecked- if this phenomenon has been happening for hundreds of years, there's no way that the cat population hasn't been butting up against various limits by now, with all the suffering that that implies.

It's interesting, many people in this comment section are pointing out other places, like greece, the caspian sea, the black sea, where cats are found all over the urban environment. What all of these places share (including istanbul) is their proximity to water, and presumably, ports! When I was in istanbul, I remember someone saying that the cats, historically, would help tame the massive rat populations that often plague both port cities and the hulls of ships. I don't have a source to back this up, but its some food for thought!

Not exactly. No US cities have the abundance of stray cats roaming around, even though LA, SF, NYC, Boston, etc. are all up against the water and ports. Elsewhere outside the US, Tbilisi, Georgia isn't very close to the sea and yet it's also filled with stray cats and dogs.

I think it's partly because they do not collect and euthanize them at volume like they do in many Western countries. And probably also less neutering, at least before.

Good memories with cats in the Princes islands: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princes%27_Islands

I'm an American living in Istanbul for the year. It is true, there are soooo many cats here. It's even worse in my neighborhood. I once walked down my small street and counted over 50 cats on the street alone!

More like CATstantinople, hoooo boy.

I believe they prefer HISStanbul these days.

If you’ve a cat in Constantinople, she’ll be waiting in Istanbul.

for those unaware [this](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNUsOaB5V2c) is the reference. amusing song

EDIT: How do I format links on HN?


To be fair, this was an article about cats posted on HN. I do apologize, I just couldn't help myself.

I don't find them bad actually. Maybe we can leave under one roof after-all... my city even builded small houses for cats next to suburbs. So people would know where to go and feed them. which makes everything clearer.

Simple: When you see too many rats, just stop feeding cats.

finally someone dares asking the important question.

had hoped for one to be offered in an arte.tv docu the other month .. excellent photography and filming tho.

They have great dishes.

Because people feed those cats, and those cats are having meat to feed more kittens, and less kittens starve?

Cats are good people.

Not everyone shares your sentiment [0].

[0] https://theoatmeal.com/comics/cats_actually_kill


the better ppl they are, that's for sure

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