The Town Where Cats Are King

The bond between cats and people goes deep here!

Ginger cat sleeping on a bench in front of the Blue Mosque ( Sultan Ahmet Camii ) in Istanbul, Turkey

(Serge Zastavkin /

Wooden houses surrounded by a lush forest, classical music playing softly in the background, a very special cafe, three meals a day and several outdoor activity areas. This sounds like a dream vacation setup. But this is not a destination for people. It’s an exclusive shelter for cats in the province of Samsun, Turkey.

Kedi Kasabası or "cat town" in Turkish, is one of the most intriguing curiosities in the country, a place where felines can experience what real comfort is!

Cozy homes for homeless cats

The town, which covers an area of around 20 acres, is run by the municipality and most admitted guests have a tough backstory. “All cats here are strays and usually go through ordeals before being brought here. They are either injured or mentally distressed. We treat them and release them into the town. The environment here is really beautiful for them,” Faruk Kan, a Kedi Kasabası vet, told Anadolu Agency (AA) as reported on Turkish news site, Daily Sabah.

Kan is not the only vet working at the shelter. There’s a whole team looking after the cats and ensuring all their needs are met. The place even has a special area for sick or injured felines, where they receive personalized treatment.

There are currently 150 animals living in cat town, and the number keeps rising. There are wooden houses where they can rest, and also “condominiums” designed for socializing. During the winter they are provided with heated accommodation, so feeling cozy and warm is a sure thing for these furry creatures.

A cat-loving country

The love for cats seems to be a Turkish predilection. Istanbul is known for being home to several hundred thousand cats, according to Flockeo, a website on responsible travel. There, people take care of street cats like kings. The four-legged friends are fed and kept healthy and they have already become part of the city landscape.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ayasofya Kedisi Gli (@hagiasophiacat)

But how did this strong bond start? Apparently, it’s because cats were used to protect sailors' food from pests and rodents on sea-faring vessels since antiquity. But when ships arrived at the port, some of them got into the city and never returned. At the same time, they became extremely valuable to homeowners in protecting food and books from the same threats, as explained by Flockeo. Therefore, the relationship between Istanbulites and cats has been a  very strong one from the start. Cats belong to no one and everyone, and they have become a real symbol of the city. 

How to get involved

Even though cats may have a happy life roaming outdoors in the forest or wandering around in the city streets, there’s nothing like having a stable home. As Kan told Anadolu Agency (AA), “They would be better off with families adopting them”. So next time you see a homeless feline on your way, remember that for these lovely creatures, the best setting would be their owner’s home, and their favourite corner, lying next to a human friend.