Istanbul (Turkey). I loved this situation: I was taking some photos around the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Uskudar – a conservative district on the Anatolian side of Istanbul. After his pray, I noticed this man lacing his shoes, when a cat came to him and get some caresses. Immediately, a cute smile “blossomed” on his face, and he remained several minutes to play with the animal (while behind him, other believers were praying out of the mosque).
There are many articles explaining the relationship of Istanbul with cats. And I’m talking about street cats, living on sidewalks or populating small courtyards. The first characteristic is – for sure – their conditions: they are loved by people, which cure and feed them as if they were the owners. The origin of this respect is most probably in a popular saying which, in Turkish, should be (if I remember well) “Bir kedi öldürenin günahının affolması için tüyleri sayısınca cami yaptırması gerekir” meaning something like “if you’ve killed a cat, you need to build a mosque to be forgiven by God“: in fact, it seems that a cat saved the prophet Muhammad when was a baby, killing a poisonous snake that was entered into his cradle.
Even Hagia Sophia, one of the most important touristic attraction in the world, hosts a large group of cats: they are free to move in and out the prestigious building, and tourists frequently are much more interested in observing them, then in knowing the history of this church / mosque / museum.
I wish Istanbul could be an example for many other cities in the world: long life to cats!