The large number of stray cats that have their home in the neighborhoods of Istanbul is remarkable. They are well fed and look great for stray cats. How is that possible?
Keeping pets is a foreign concept in Islamic culture, and dogs are considered unclean animals by pious Muslims. Cats, however, can expect care and love because the Prophet Mohammed loved cats.
According to a well-known tale, one day when the Prophet was sitting on a carpet talking with his friends and it was time to attend prayers his favorite cat, Muezza, was asleep on his cloak sleeve. He could not bring himself to disturb his cat, so he decided to cut the sleeve from his cloak. He also drank the same water as the cat and often allowed it to lie on his lap while he addressed his followers.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there are always bowls of pet food and water or dishes of milk at the entrances to flats, shops, offices and mosques wherever you are in Istanbul. Being kind to cats is a smart move – the stray cats make sure that there are remarkably few rats in Istanbul. Much less than the number I saw in the metro stations at night in New York when I lived there.
Sometimes I see cat loving tourists who buy food to give it to cats whenever they see some.