People in Turkey like cats

One house is blue, the other has a pink roof, and the third reads: Kedi Evi, cat house. Cats supposedly have seven lives, anyone who knows Istanbul can only advise the animals to spend one of them in the city on the Bosporus. There, cat huts are placed on sidewalks and in green spaces. Residents build these cat villas, often equipped with a blanket and bowl, and the city administration does too. There is always food somewhere for the armies on four legs. There are film epics about the cats of Istanbul, poems, songs - they are always present roommates in the sixteen million metropolis.

They also get along amazingly well with the street dogs, which are also very numerous and mostly lying around quite lazily from being fed a lot.

Allegedly the Prophet Mohammed tolerated a cat on the hem of his coat. But Istanbul's love of cats is independent of religion, age and origin. So you could think that animals are never bad in Turkey. But that's not true. That is why there will soon be an animal police, the law has just been passed. The police should track down animal abusers who can be punished far more severely in the future than before.

Abuse was circulating on social media

Such a tightening of the law was discussed for years. The final push came from social media, where harsh examples of cat and dog abuse are circulating: dogs whose paws and tails have been cut off; a cat wrapped in duct tape; Cats with their ears cut off. So far, the perpetrators were threatened with fines, animals were considered "things". In the future, prison sentences can be imposed in extreme cases.

The ban on keeping animals in apartments, which has not been generally observed for a long time, will also be lifted. Strict Muslims regard dogs as "unclean"; they do not want them in the house. Secular Turks, on the other hand, keep everything that dog breeders have to offer: pedigree dogs, attack dogs, mixed breeds.

The law aims to distinguish between domestic animals, urban animals, and wild animals. A large poster is already hanging on Istanbul's Galata Tower, which is one of the main attractions for tourists: It says that the space in front of the tower also belongs to the street animals, i.e. cats and dogs, according to law number 5199. Why feed must not hinder and should not harm the animals in any other way.

Lots of wild dogs in Istanbul

Many dogs already have a button in their ear as a sign that they have been sterilized and vaccinated. In the future, this should happen in general, the municipalities are responsible for it. The Turkish media write that they are to be supported by an "animal fund" into which part of the property tax will flow.

Even in Ottoman times, the wild dogs were very numerous in Istanbul, they were seen partly as a nuisance and partly as a picturesque ingredient. They often frightened strangers, as most of them were quite large. They are still today, and joggers in Istanbul's parks also report unpleasant encounters, even bites, especially when the dogs appear in packs.

In anticipation of the new law - and after years of protests - the nostalgic horse-drawn carriages have now been abolished on Istanbul's Prince Islands. They were also part of the cityscape, the islands in the Sea of ​​Marmara are car-free. At the end of last year, many animals on the largest island fell ill with a highly contagious horse disease and a quarantine was imposed. After that, the city administration decided to buy their horses and licenses from the coachmen, and in future there will only be electric cabs.

The animal rights activists were happy, they had repeatedly complained that many horses were poorly cared for and that there was a lack of veterinary care. Some coachmen protested, including against allegations that all of them had treated their horses badly. The number of animals had recently risen to around 1,400 on the largest island alone, because more and more tourists are coming to the islands. These are popular Instagram backdrops with their white old mansions and gardens full of bougainvilleas.

The real stars, however, remain Istanbul's cats. There are also street signs for them. Then a black silhouette and the warning: Attention! Free running cat!