Istanbul Feral Cats or Wild Cat Hybrids?

Istanbul Feral Cats or Wild Cat Hybrids?

by Michael
(London, UK)

Near Istanbul Feral Cats - Photo Bart Cotton

Near Istanbul Feral Cats - Photo Bart Cotton

Hi, I received an email from Bart Cotton the founder of Data Power Monitoring Corp (see link below) about some feral cats he noticed when he was visiting the  Istanbul area. He took some photographs. He made this remark about them:

There may be nothing here, but the ears on the attached were a little unusual, and no one there seemed to know about these.  The two shown were in a group of about a half dozen, and I was only able to get pics of these two. They were definitely wild, but may be normal kittens with large ears.  Some of the others I recall had larger ears.  Anything unusual to you? Location is on the Marmot sea just prior to the Bosporus Strait entrance through Istanbul in the rocks in the pic.  This is about 5 mi. from the Istanbul airport in the Atakoy Marina area behind a Sheraton hotel where pic was taken from.

Istanbul wild kittens

This is a thumbnail picture.

I thought that there just might be something in this. They are almost certainly “ordinary” feral cats. I am sure that there are millions of them in Turkey and around Istanbul in particular. But we know that wild cat hybrids are created when feral cats or domestic cats mate with small wild cats. This can happen in the wild (see for example American Bobcat Hybrids – new window) although it also happens in the cat fancy when breeders create wild cat hybrids.

The thing about these two little cats is that have characteristics that are not that common in feral cats as far as I am aware and I could be wrong, namely:

  • they have over sized ears. This might just be a developmental thing and the ears might become more in proportion with the rest of the body when more adult
  • they have dark nose leathers
  • they have white eye markings

Sure, they are classic tabby cats too. If, unlikely though it is, they are wild cat hybrids it would have to be through a mating with a wild cat hybrid such a Bengal cat (abandoned perhaps) because I know of no large eared small wild cats roaming around the Istanbul area! Although the Bengal cat does not have oversized ears. Of course Servals have huge ears. And Savannah cats have slightly oversized ears too as a consequence.

I am just “chewing the cud”….Any ideas?

Photos by Bart Cotton, Founder, DATA POWER MONITORING CORP (new window)

From Istanbul Feral Cats or Wild Cat Hybrids? to Feral Cats

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Istanbul Feral Cats or Wild Cat Hybrids?

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Oct 31, 2010 Feral Cat problem in Turkey
by: Cat Lover

I have just returned from a trip to the country of Turkey. I was extremely shocked and
heart-broken over the stray cat overpopulation, suffering and starvation.

I saw kittens roaming and cats with no tail fur or infections starving and fighting over food. When I tried to feed a few kittens food I had from a hotel meal I counted 15 cats looking up at me for help!

I wanted to know what can be done to help educate and help a country start an Animal Control program to stop the overbreeding and suffering of these beautiful cats.


Oct 04, 2009 Thanks
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

I forgot to thank Bart Cotton for sharing these interesting pictures - and also for pointing to the location. Great shots and an interesting story to think about. Thanks a lot. 🙂

In case we have any visitors from the Ataköy area or Istanbul in general, please let us know whether this is a common type of cat around there.

I've only visited Turkey once - 15 years ago on the west coast South of Izmir. There were lots of feral cats (especially outside the butcher's shop), but I don't recall them being very much different from the Danish moggies.


Oct 04, 2009 Finn
by: Michael

Hi Finn, I can rely on you to come up with a very sensible and interesting explanation and I think you are spot on by the way - thanks a lot once again for your input.


Oct 04, 2009 The craddle of domestic cats
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Very interesting pictures of those two Istanbul kittens, but they don't have to be hybrids to look like that.
The kittens of some breeds can have extremely large ears which comes into more harmonic proportions when full grown. The picture enclosed shows my Somali kitten Ivanhoe aged 2 months and 4½ months. Adult show cats should still have rather big, alert ears, but nothing like this.
Looking at the Istanbul kittens, besides the ears also notice the white rims around their eyes, white lower chins and tabby pattern. Had the coat been ticked, they would actually look very much like Somali kittens.

somali cat face and ears

I'm thrilled to see "cousins" of the Abysinian and Somali breeds in Istanbul, but not that surprised. After all the Eastern Mediteranian area is probably the craddle of all domestic cats.



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