Clowder: The Istanbul Cats Game


A Clowder is a group of cats, and boy does Istanbul love them some kittays.  One explanation for their popularity and treatment has to do with the Muslim community and Abu Hurairah, the “father of kittens” – a companion of Muhammad.  Per this article on cats in Islamic culture,

There are variants of the story of how Abu Huraryra’s cat, which he always carried in his bag, saved the Prophet from an obnoxious snake, whereupon the Prophet petted her so that the mark of his fingers is still visible in the four dark lines on most cats’ foreheads, and, because the Prophet’s hand had stroked her back, cats never fall on their backs.

I’ve been to plenty of other places that had street cats wandering around – although none so much as there seemed to be wandering around some of the streets of Istanbul.  They also appeared to be quite healthy and well fed for street cats.  The cats are are taken care of communally with people leaving out boxes and food and things for them.  Can you spot them all??

Here is a video I took my second day walking back to my place.

Cats in the bed…

Cats in the street…

Cats in the overflow of ruins just thrown about in the museum cafe…

Cats in the mosque…

So by the end of my trip I was trying to see how many cats I could get in one shot.  Note this was a natural shot, no herding of cats was attempted!  My last full day I managed to capture 7.  Can you beat my record?  I will also note there was no food involved in this shot, which would make capturing a group a lot easier.  This was taken on a street off Istiklal Avenue, right near the alley I would take to go to my host’s flat.

5 thoughts on “Clowder: The Istanbul Cats Game

  1. Ryan

    I’m a cat guy, so I found all of the cats to be kinda neat. What I wasn’t so fond of was the packs of dogs roaming the streets. I never had any problems with the dogs, but it was uncomfortable to have several of them following me around at night while I was alone.

    1. mike Post author

      i didn’t see many dogs myself. two days a single alone one lounging in the sun around galata, and by the big mosques i saw 3 laying out together in the sun, i never even saw any walking around other than that though. i assumed they were all street ones, they did not look as healthy as the cats seemed to be either.

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