Cat Stevens aka Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou) tweeted today, one hour ago, that he is in the City of Cats. In the photograph he is standing in front of a large mosque. I think it is the Blue Mosque of Istanbul, a city dubbed the City of Cats and sometimes referred to as ‘Catstanbul’. It is a city were there are lots of community cats and you’ll see them by mosques. Sometimes the imams let in community cats (semi-feral street cats) to join those in prayer.
Friday greetings from the city of cats! pic.twitter.com/hRxt2nrK3r
— Yusuf / Cat Stevens (@YusufCatStevens) November 29, 2019
Here is the full photo:
The photograph prompted me to investigate why Yusuf Islam wanted to call himself Cat Stevens – why the prefix to his name of ‘Cat’. Is he a cat lover? Is that the reason because if so we should know.
It seems that I have found a definitive and straightforward (prosaic) answer. Georgiou believed that the name that he was born with was simply not good enough as a stage name. It wasn’t memorable enough. He chose Cat Stevens because, he says, his then girlfriend told him that he had eyes like a cat. Also, and this second reason is interesting:
“I couldn’t imagine anyone going to the record store and asking for ‘that Steven Demetre Georgiou album’. And in England, and I was sure in America, they loved animals.”
Source: Reiter, Amy (14 August 1999). “Salon People: Cat Stevens”. Salon. Retrieved by Wikipedia on 17th October 2015.
So, he believed that he had to inject a reference to animals into his stage name because the public where he intended to sell his records liked cats he believed. Well, he could not have chosen a better animal. Domestic cats are extremely popular in North America as are dogs as their numbers are very similar.
The Turkish Van and Angora comes from Turkey (of course). Here are some articles on the Turkish Van: