If you are Turkish and a true adherent of the Islam faith you’ll treat all cats well because you’ll follow the ancient Hadiths of the Islamic faith. Also, with Turkey developing Western ideas about animal rights amongst the educated, urban elite, the combined effect is good for the cat – most of the time. I know there are a lot of cat friendly people thanks to information provided by the Angora Cat Association and Harvey (PoC regulars and valued contributors).
Forgive me for stating it, but there is a proportion of people who are neither part of the elite nor practicing Muslims. It is these people who have a tendency to disrespect the cat and sometimes – I hope rarely – they abuse the community cats of the country. It is the same in most other countries.
There appears to be a divide in Turkish society with respect to their relationship with the cat and Turkey is one of the most important places on the planet for the cat, particularly Istanbul, a well sited ancient trading port. Not only will you see the genuine Turkish Angoras and Vans (the same cat) in and around Istanbul but also hints of the Egyptian Mau and other ancient or well established breeds.
The Byzantine church of Haghia Sophia, once a mosque and now a museum had (or still has) a resident tabby cat: Gli…..
Was Gli the cat that president Obama stroked when he visited in 2010?
Set against a respectful relationship with the cat is the deliberate poisoning of the community cat in some municipalities1. This goes against the animal protection laws enacted in 2004. Clearly some people hate the cat and enforcement of the law can be lax Once again this is not unique to Turkey. In fact Greece comes to mind where the cats are poisoned out of the tourist season. They are an attraction during the season.
There is an upsetting story on Sarah Harwell’s website recounted by Jackie Short, from England, who visited Turkey in 1998 to carry out a trap-neuter-return programme. Jackie Short was (still is?) a member of the Chelmsford Cats Protection League. She was upset at the suffering of cats in Kusadasi, Turkey. She bravely struggled to achieve her goals because of a lack of good cooperation from the Turkish authorities.
She saved the life of a young cat that had lost one of her front legs in an accident. The leg had been amputated. The local children had tried to “stone” the cat. I suppose they wanted to do this because the cat looked different and it would be fun. That does not give me a good feeling about the treatment of cats in some parts of Turkey. Jackie Short brought the cat home to England. She had considered euthanising the cat as an alternative.
I do not wish to dwell on the darker side of cat life in Turkey but there is also a petition on the Change.org website that asks Ertuğrul Günay, the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey at the time, to ensure that street cats were not poisoned to clean up the streets.
I have to mention dogs too. They have a lower status than cats in Turkey thanks to the Islamic faith. I don’t like that aspect of a religion. A religion should respect all creatures equally. That is obvious,.Islam labels dogs as “unclean”.
There has been a considerable amount of cruelty to dogs over the years in Turkey. In 1910 tens of thousands of dogs where rounded up and shipped to an island to starve to death. I don’t know whether this is true.
My conclusion is that, in general, the cat is respected in Turkey, more so than in neighbouring countries, I suspect. A saying is Turkey is….
“If you’ve killed a cat, you need to build a mosque to be forgiven by God.”
Perhaps a good test as to whether a Turkish person living in Turkey is a good Muslim or not is whether he or she respects cats and treats them accordingly.
Ref: (1) http://www.foxnews.com