Istanbul street cats keep intriguing me. Changes can sometimes be perceived in small signs that function as a symbol for deeper lying norms and values I said in the blog I wrote two days ago. I found another of those small signs in the life of street cats in Istanbul.
Twenty years ago, Istanbul street cats had a very hard time. They were very thin, always looking for food and also very scared. Meeting with mankind was not something to advice to those poor cats, because they wouldn’t be treaten well. People would rather kick them or tease them than be good to them, so they carefully stayed under cars, rocks, inside empty houses and all those hiding places that only cats can find in cities. Sometimes you’d walk into one of those skinny cats that made you think: it’s not going to survive the day of tomorrow. They were sad and lonely fighting animals with a miserable city life…
This has changed a lot. Although there are still many street cats that don’t have enough food or are even ill, you don’t see them skinny and miserable the way they were in the 20th century. They are less afraid, which means that they noticed from experience that people are not such a threat for them any more and quite a few are even affectionate, asking explicitly for human attention 🙂 And they get food in many places: Istanbul citizens are putting specific catfood in safe places for cats on the street side, thus helping the poor animals out. Or they even give them some fish, like the cat on the picture in this blog. That cat also got an improvised home which is not exceptional; on many more places, people have made homes out of boxes for the street cats. Isn’t that sweet?!
If these are signs that function as a symbol for deeper lying norms and values, what are they? I think this symbolizes great progress in wealth and education in Istanbul. Istanbul twenty years ago was very much a survival of the fittest. People were striving to take care of themselves every day and a large part of the street population was uneducated. Hundreds of thousands of people moved from the provinces to the big city of Istanbul hoping to find a better life and the city had problems to embrace them all. Street cats, harmless and defenseless, were on the lowest spot of the ladder and paid the price.
Nowadays, it is clair that the people in Istanbul have time and energy left to take care of animals like the streetcats. Being valued as a human means that one can value an animal as an animal and embrace animals in their very existence close to mankind. Once the concurrency for food and survival is gone, care can be deployed. The conclusion is that Istanbul as a whole goes better because the Istanbul street cats go better!