The Working Cats of Istanbul

IMG_3980My friend Nichole once sent me  a book called Cats of Greece. This has inspired today’s blog, on a theme dear to my heart–and also to my friend Heather’s. (Heather is the GG who wrote the guest blog “Dirty Little Secrets of the Little Bookstore” a few days ago, featuring cats.)

There are many cats in Istanbul, and because of Turkey’s excellent training programs, they all have gainful employment.  Zeynep weaves carpets just down from the High Street by Topkapi Palace. Below, Turker and his sister Ceren run a sidewalk cafe near the Galata Tower.IMG_3982

At the palace itself, there are several cats working shifts at the guardhouse set up for their convenience in bad weather. I didn’t get all their names, but one night I took some leftover food up, and when the bag rustled as I dumped it, cats came from everywhere.

IMG_3953  Amane sings with a jazz band in the newer part of Istanbul, up near the High Street from Galata, but she is also putting herself through school by selling instruments in a music shop. She teaches beginning drums for children.IMG_3920

Ahmet was on guard duty at the Blue Mosque when we walked up one night, but the mosque was closed except for those who wanted to pray, and Ahmet was clearly embarrassed that we were still there as tourists. We thanked him and left quickly.IMG_3975

Ayse paints ceramics outside the Grand Bazaar; she was on break when we met her. IMG_3875

Of course we were delighted to meet Suliman and his wife Fatma, who keep a bookstore in the market district. They introduced us to their colleague next door, Mahmood, who specialized in antique calligraphy.



IMG_3790This wee cat, whose name we didn’t catch, was begging at a fishing village on the Bosphorous tourism boat stop. She leaped into this couple’s lap and made nice, then when fish from his sandwich was not forthcoming, clawed him until he dropped it. Clever little bugger.

IMG_3912Sultan is teaching his human the carpet trade in the Sultan’s stables bazaar, just off the Blue Mosque. Sultan was very thirsty when we came by, having just finished his lunch of salami, and his human staff were appreciative when I poured water from my bottle into his saucer.

IMG_3703Theodora poses for pictures with little children in Gulhane Park, for the very reasonable fee of one Turkish Lira per photo.

 And finally, Topkapi (that’s her stage name; her real name is Tiffany) moved here from France and models jewelry for the Ti Amo jewelry store, across the street from the Sirkaci Konak Hotel in the Old City. Topkapi only works nights.IMG_3871


Filed under animal rescue, Uncategorized

4 responses to “The Working Cats of Istanbul

  1. Oooh – they are all so beautiful!

  2. That’s some serious feline exceptionalism. Heads up American cats.

  3. I lived on Crete, Greece for a short time. They called it the island of cats. We used to go to Pork Chop Hill where the waiters repertoire of English consisted of “Pork chop?” and “Take kitty.” Looks like you miss your feline friends. I won’t tell you’ve been making new friends.

    • One of the waiters trying to get us to eat saw me smiling at the cats near his back door, and he said, “One free cat for every couple eating here, madam!” We laughed so hard. (But we still weren’t hungry.)

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