Why are there lots of cats in Turkey?


When I traveled to Antalya, Alanya, Istanbul, I noticed an interesting thing – a lot of cats. In the streets, in alleyways, in public places, in parks, on the beach. But the most interesting thing is that these cats do not look like they are in need. They live in brick or wooden houses several stories high, with a fence and full plates of food. And the cats live there well-groomed and well-fed.

I’ve even heard that street cats can be taken to the vet, and I’ve seen videos on youtube of cats being let into the office for warmth in the cold winter.

I have heard somewhere that Turks have a special attitude toward cats, and it has nothing to do with a great love for animals. It’s something else!

cats in Turkey
Сats in Turkey

I made some inquiries and now I’m ready to tell you why cats are treated so well in Turkey!

Why is there a great love for cats in Turkey?

It turns out that cats are the only animals allowed to enter the mosque in Turkey (I will not speak for other Muslim countries). Turks believe that if you take care of a cat, then after death the animal will go to heaven and then its owner will be there too, provided, of course, that he did not hurt the animal. The cat will intercede for its benefactor before Allah.

According to legend, the cat was the favorite animal of the Prophet Muhammad and lived with him. His cat’s name was Muizzah. Once this cat saved the Prophet’s life, after which he honored it, did not give it any harm, and gave it nine lives.

Also, according to the stories, there was such an incident – Muizza was sleeping on an expensive garment, and in order not to disturb her sleep, Muhammad cut off a part of the garment.

why Turks love cats so much

This is how cats became an honorable place among the Turks, and after this, of course, even street cats should not be offended. Only to cherish and nurture.

A mundane story with rats

But there is another story. In the sixteenth century there was an infestation of rats in Asia Minor. The rodents were eating the wheat, and to control them it was necessary to bring in cats from Egypt, as they were not common in Europe at that time.

In fact, they were precious animals and so they were well cared for. The rats were vanquished, but the tradition of caring for cats remained.

By the way, cats were forbidden in medieval Europe, especially black cats. But that’s another story.


Jenya Travels

My name is Jenya. I travel around Ukraine and the world and tell stories.
In simple language, without nerdiness and dry facts - interesting about uninteresting places.
I have been to more than 100 places on the map!

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3 thoughts on “Why are there lots of cats in Turkey?

  1. It’s a nice topic and a nice story, but cats and dogs have been a part of Turkic cultures long before their encounter with Islam.