NEWS/OPINION-TURKEY: The story is that a street cat, a calico cat in fact, carried her sick kitten into an Istanbul hospital for treatment. It was a demonstration of incredible motherly instincts, on the face of it. The cat dropped her kitten in front of medics in one of the treatment rooms, we are told. The staff gathered around in order to help the sick kitten.
A patient at the hospital took some photographs. She uploaded it to social media where it received lots of comments and praise for the medical staff. Some of the staff gave the mother and her kitten’s food. A fantastic story of a mother cat looking after her kitten in a very intelligent way.
I think there are two aspects to the story which come to my mind. Firstly, I do not believe that this community cat took her kitten to a hospital for treatment. There is no report that the kitten was in fact ill and the staff contacted a local veterinarian, as I understand it, who confirmed that they were doing well.
My belief is that this female cat was looking for a den – a safe place for herself and her kitten. It is probable that she had lost her other kittens. In Turkey, community cats often take their kittens into buildings for safety. I have seen several videos of community cats taking their entire litter, one kitten at the time, into mosques where the imam ensures that they are safe.
In general, there is a good relationship in Turkey between community cats and the people. This is a reflection of the history of the domestic cat in Turkey – the Turkish Angora and Turkish Van for example – and the influence of the Islam faith which preaches that people should be kind to cats (but not dogs sadly).
My second point is that the staff at the hospital did not boot this cat and her kitten out for hygiene reasons. They took her in and looked after her. They ensured that a veterinarian checked them over. This goes against the general feeling of many people that street cats are disease spreaders. The compassion from the staff is more notable than the cat bringing her kitten into the hospital where hygiene is paramount. I find that aspect of the story more impressive than what is reported, namely that the mother brings her kitten into a hospital.