Cats in Șanlıurfa do not have a real good or a real bad life. It depends a bit where they are, whom they meet and what the weather is like. I saw happy and unhappy cats, and locals who were nice to them or unpleasant. Following my statement that the way people deal with cats says something about their level of development, I’d say Șanlıurfa is somewhere ‘average’ compared to Turkish levels.
Cats in Șanlıurfa are not difficult to spot. Especially in tourist places like the parc around the Balıklıgöl close to Abraham’s cave and the Mevlid-i Halil Mosque cats are very present. Although no one will give them fish as the thousands of carpers in the Balıklıgöl are holy, the parc with it’s many visitors must be a great place to find food. However, the cats in this parc were merely unhappy as it was raining a lot when I visited. Some cats were totally soaked and moreover dirty.
They had difficulty to cope with the circumstances, even though they got some help for food. Most people leave the cats alone. They do not pay any particular attention to them and they do not bother them. A negative exception I saw was in the Grand Bazaar where a cat was begging and the two owners of a shop wanted to kick the cat. The good news is that they are aware kicking is a no-go.
Their feet were already ‘hanging in the sky’ when they noticed me watching them. The feet stayed for a moment up where they were, then they stood on two legs again, grinsing in my direction. Without awareness of considerate animal treatment, they would have continued their initial movement and kicked the poor cat. The cat learned his lesson and escaped quickly between the stalls of the bazaar. A positive exception I saw was in the Freedom Museum and Müslüm Gürses Museum where the museum guard had a warm relation with Keto, a true museum cat.
Finally three more pictures of cats in notable places:
The camera in the movie Kedi (Turkish for ‘cat’) follows many cats that walk in the streets of Istanbul/Turkey from the point of view these cats have of the city. This offers a great insight in their experiences. Overall in this movie, the camerawork is very special. Istanbul as a city and the inhabitants of Istanbul – especially the cat-loving inhabitants – are shown with warmth and beauty. Just the camerawork in itself makes the movie Kedi worth a visit.
But there is more to say. The core story shows us how cats conquer the people’s hearts. The cats choose who can love and feed them. And the people warmly respond to that wish. It is wonderful to see the different characters of the cats: from a clever thief to the psychopath of the neighbourhood, from the curious cat in the bag of organic tea at the market to the gentleman who never enters the place where he gets his food, but who simply scratches the window outside whenever he is hungry. The humans adapt to the cats; not the opposite. For cat lovers, watching Kedi is heaven!
And there is more to it. For those who love psychology and/or philosophy, Kedi has a lot to offer. People explain their relationships with the cats and come up with surprising remarks about what the cats mean for them: from finding money with the help of a cat to experiencing therapy by helping the cats. And what about these comments on the world:
– ‘cats absorb your redundant energy, just like earth does’
– ‘cats know about God, dogs don’t. Dogs think that humans are God but cats know that humans are an instrument in the hand of God to feed them’.
Just two examples, there are many more.
One last thing I liked a lot and that made me think is a remark made about freedom. I have written about cats in Istanbul in 2012. The perspective that humans should not take cats inside to keep them there because in doing so, they will make cats forget how to be a cat, is new for me. This movie Kedi clearly shows what is meant with this perspective. Freedom is everything, even when it comes with disadvantages.
Maybe you don’t agree. Well, all I can say is: go see it yourself. There’s a lot more in Kedi then I can show here and you will not regret. Enjoy!
Street cats in Adana Yesterday I wrote about the street cats in Cyprus; that they are somehow loved, although the fact that they exist in such large numbers shows that the Cypriots do not deal enough with this problem: https://grethevangeffen.nl/2015/06/02/street-cats-in-cyprus/. For street cats in Adana, however, the situation is worse. It can be seen from the street cats’ behaviour, they are afraid. It was almost impossible to take pictures of street cats because they would run away immediately like this very small and sad kitten. It really panicked, terrible; it did not think ‘hey here is a friend that will give me some food’. The only cat I could photograph quitely was a sick cat, also quite sad:
If we think that animal behaviour is an expression of local values, there is quite some development work to do for street cats in Adana – they can learn from Cyprus or from Istanbul where things have developed better already for street cats: https://grethevangeffen.nl/2012/03/03/istanbul-and-its-street-cats/.
When cats are either afraid or ill, local values need reflection!
A blog about the great documentary Kedi that follows street cats in Istanbul.
Street cats in Cyprus
Cyprus is not a poor area in the world. People in Cyprus do have their struggle with daily life but they could do better with cats and dogs than we see them do now. In this case, the North and the South of the island (Turkish or Greek Cypriot) are alike. They are kind to the animals, for sure, and that is nice. One can recognize gentle people from the fact that the cats and dogs are not afraid. The street cats in Cyprus as well as the dogs see mankind as their friends, although the responsibility mankind in Cyprus takes is only partial.
Street cats in Cyprus ats freely approach people for food, and everywhere around houses we see plates with foods or bowls with water for cats and dogs. This is the nice side. There are projects, usually cooperation of private citizens/asylums and local governments, to sterilize and castrate the animals in the street to stop the overpopulation of cats and dogs. This is very nice too. But, strange enough, private owners of cats and dogs refuse to invest in sterilization and castration. Their animals gets youngs and the young ones are sadly left and abandoned in fields, forests or faraway streets: just like that. This is such a shame! And it means there will be no end to the efforts of the asylums and local governments, because new animals keep appearing in the streets…
A few years ago I wrote this in a blog about Istanbul street cats: ‘Changes can sometimes be perceived in small signs that function as a symbol for deeper lying norms and values. 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”. https://grethevangeffen.nl/2012/03/03/istanbul-and-its-street-cats/
What could bring Cypriots, Turkish and Greek alike, to value these animals and take the measures necessary to prevent this endless row of new cats and dogs in their streets? Do we need peace between the North and the South side before further care for animals can be deployed? Or is this a conviction rooted deeply in Cypriot culture, that cats and dogs don’t matter and that you throw them in the street whenever it suits you?
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!