Turkey, a nation known of late for its divisive nature along political, ethnic, and religious lines, has shown a united front in its collective love for the nation’s cat population. Everyone from students to religious leaders can be seen taking the time to pose with the affectionate creatures on social media, or volunteering to build “cathouses” to shelter the beloved animals from the elements as the country’s unforgiving winter season approaches.
No one is quite sure when the Turkish people developed their affinity for the nation’s treasured pets, ferals, and strays, but scholars suspect that it may be a direct result of the dominant faith of the area, Islam. After all, Muslims believe that felines are historically clean animals and they respect the wisdom and beauty of all of God’s creatures. Mohammad was even rumored to keep cats around for companionship. Most followers of the ancient faith believe that members of the animal kingdom are friends of humans that simply cannot talk.
Students spend their free hours building temporary homes for kitties so they can survive the upcoming intense weather. One such child actually played her violin in the street to raise money for the materials to build such structures. While she admitted to initially being embarrassed for being a novice player, her love for all the homeless felines roaming the streets of Istanbul eventually quelled her inmate fears.
Cats from the street are also more than welcome in most mosques across the country. The doors are usually flung wide open to accommodate a kitty that happens to be cold, sickly, or hungry. As a matter of fact, prominent religious leaders have even taken the time to pose on their respective social media profiles with their feline companions to raise awareness of the plight of many at-risk cats.
In conclusion, a country that has recently been nearly split in two over a recent election, as well as other political, societal, and religious beliefs, has found common ground in its love for a majestic species. Cats certainly keep the human population on its collective toes, and while most Western nations may find their existence to be quite polarizing, the Turkish people know that they will never find a more intelligent or loyal friend than a kitty cat. Dog lovers may not agree, but when a cat shows affection, it is much more genuine rather than an ingrained response. And, for Istanbul and its neighboring communities, that affection is definitely mutual.