I’ve been to a few cities around this world but Istanbul really takes the cake for cat lovers. Jodi Ettenburg explores the reasons in her blog LegalNomads, far better than I ever could. To quote her quote:
Turkey is not unique among predominately Muslim countries for honouring its cats, which are considered ritually clean animals in Islam. In the hadith, the collected sayings and actions of Muhammad, there are numerous examples of the Prophet’s fondness for cats. By one account, Muhammad cut off his sleeve when he had to rise for prayers so as to not disturb a feline that had curled up on his robe for a nap. In another tale, the pet cat of Abu Hurayrah (literally “father of the kitten”) saved Muhammad from an attack by a deadly serpent. Muhammad purportedly blessed the cat in gratitude, giving cats the ability to always land on their feet. Cats were considered guardians in other respects for the Islamic world: they defended libraries from destruction by mice and may have helped protect city populations from rat-borne plagues.
Recently I visited Istanbul, just passing through to decompress from two weeks in Afghanistan - where cats are also revered, particularly in the household where I stayed (more on that, later) but not nearly to the extent in Istanbul. Cats are everywhere and although some seem to have owners, most just wander around and hang out wherever they please, including the roofs and hoods of cars.