The culture. The sights. The food. The people. The customs. The cats.
Yes, the cats. Istanbul may be well renowned for its history and architecture. What I hadn’t found in any city guides: the number of stray cat and kittens. They are everywhere. No exaggeration – on benches, on sidewalks, outside the door of stores, under your feet when you eat, in trees stuck, behind trees, on garbage bins, trying to sneak into stores, shops and cafes, on the road.
I thought they may just be a touristy area thing. This is until I visited one of the slums in Istanbul. Maybe is similar to the University of Victoria’s rabbit issue – one got let go, then another, and well I will let your family education take over from there. They leave you alone Until you have food. Luckily they don’t swarm you but at least one will come over if you are eating and walking.
Most people – locals and tourists – ignore the cats. I saw one guy holding a cat (the cat didn’t look happy). I’m not sure of protocol so I too have decided to leave the little animals alone – even the fluffiest orange kitten you can imagine. I don’t want my ignorance of the customs to come across as disrespectful to locals. And if I remember my Social Studies 9 class with Mr. White when we studied various cultures and religions I think Muslims strongly believe in not harming animals (I will have to look that up when I have actual Internet power). Disrespecting a religion would probably not be too good for the popularity, and would go against my own values.
Adam is currently traveling Asia, Africa and Europe. Follow him on Twitter (adam13goodwin) – #travels2012.
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