Tuesday, April 23, 2024

"My Dear, I'm a Cat. Everything I See is Mine."

~ Title quote belongs to Rick Riordan.

My parents recently took a trip to Turkey, Greece, and Crete. And by "recent," I mean almost seven months ago. I completely forgot until last week that I had intended to share a bit about one specific part of their trip here on the blog. Which specific part, you ask? The cats.

Unlike in the United States, in much of Turkey, Greece, and Crete (and probably other countries with which I'm less familiar) cats are woven into the fabric of the community. They visit all the tourist hotspots but hang out with the locals as well, and you'll regularly find them basking in the sun on car rooftops, curling up next to your feet at a sidewalk café, lounging on the patio furniture next to the pool, and even riding the bus. These cats belong to no one, but also to everyone, and members of the community collectively care for them by putting out food and water and either intervening or seeking medical attention for those who are sick or injured. 

Below are just a few of the pictures my mom took while they were traveling. As you can see, these friendly felines really do make themselves at home and the cities and communities in which they live truly do welcome them with open arms!

How many cats are we talking about here? A LOT. Istanbul, for example, has a reputation as one of the most cat-friendly cities in the world, and cats seem to have figured this out; there are more than 150,000 street cats (plus house cats not included in this number) living their best lives among the human population of roughly 15.5 million. 

I've heard these cats described as, "unimpressed, uninterested onlookers of the hustle and bustle of city life," which definitely tracks with what I know about cats. 😂

Istanbul's cats are thought to have originated from and been domesticated in ancient Egypt, where they were considered sacred. They became "true darlings" during the Ottoman Empire, in part because of their past regality and in part because they, as one would expect, took care of the rats. The city's adoration for cats eventually led to the creation of the cat sitter profession - these individuals were tasked with making sure the city's cats were healthy and comfortable. 

There were undoubtedly a few famous cats back then, and there have been a few famous cats in our time as well. One of my favorites was Tombili (a common Turkish nickname for chubby pets), who was known for both her friendly nature and her affection for people watching while lounging in a particular position. When she passed away, a sculptor created a sculpture of her in her signature pose and that was placed on her favorite people-watching step.

This photo is all over the internet, but I can't find
who deserves credit for either half or the compilation,
otherwise I would provide that credit here.

If you've been around here for any length of time you already know that the four Ferri love cats. I grew up with cats, Tom and I adopted our first two cats shortly after we were married, and since then we've had Tux, Plié, and Popeye as a family. My parents are also cat people (they adopted their current babies, Bill and Molly, from our rescue here in Texas), so it was particularly fun for them to get to experience the cats in this region of the world firsthand. And while I had never really considered a trip to Istanbul, now that I know who's waiting for me, I just might have to add it to my bucket list.

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