Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A post for my sister (and other cat-lovers)

A common trait I've noticed among the countries we've visited east of Europe is the surplus of street cats.  In the UAE, Oman, Egypt, and Nepal filthy felines roam freely. In Cairo they were prominently seen picking through the heaps of garbage lining the streets. In most cases the poor things were emaciated with angular, alien-esque faces and dull, sad eyes. They seemed starving and terrified.

But in Istanbul the street cats look like pampered house pets. Throughout our stay we were constantly accompanied by fluffy, well-fed and groomed cats of all colors, in the monuments, outdoor cafes, parks, even at our hotel. As numerous as squirrels in the US, they have no tags or collars, but they act like they belong to whomever is in the immediate vicinity, rubbing against their legs affectionately, playfully pawing their camera strings, or just sitting beside them. They do sniff around for food, but they seem content with a few strokes behind the ears.

I'm serious when I say that cats - were - everywhere!

Greeting us in packs as we left our hotel each morning--

Guarding the streets--

Acting like man's best friend--

Chilling on the lawn outside Topkapi Palace--

Waiting for a head scratch--

Entertaining us in the evening (this little guy played with that leaf for about 10 minutes)--

Hiding in the bushes!--

And behind every lamp post--

Imploring us to take them home (believe me, I was tempted)--

Joining us for breakfast on the terrace--

Jumping into our pictures (see right of the frame)--

Fighting for our attention--

And getting it!--

If Paris is for lovers, then Istanbul is for cat-lovers. Lisa, you would have been in heaven!

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