It can be difficult to control a population of stray and homeless cats, but the town of Samsun in northern Turkey has come up with a creative, and frankly adorable, solution.
Turkey is known for its compassion when it comes to stray cats and Samsun is no different. With stray and sick cats multiplying at an alarming rate, the Samsun Metropolitan Municipality dedicated an area of land to building a cat shelter. This is no ordinary cat shelter, however. Lying within a 10,000km [6214 mile] area of forest, the shelter is built to resemble a tiny town – purely for cats.
With two years to build to completion, the tiny town is made up of cat bungalows, bridges, and walking tracks, and the cats have the freedom to roam however they choose, living individually or in groups. “It’s like a five-star hotel for cats,” says Hüseyin Aydin, the vet and manager of the shelter. “Everything that is required for their health and life is provided here.”
What started as an urban shelter for just 50 stray cats has massively expanded, now housing more than 200 felines. There are plans to expand even further, with a view to comfortably house around 1,000 homeless felines.
All are welcome at the facility, regardless of age or health concerns, and you can even go and visit if you’re in the area. The cat town is carefully managed under the care of the vet and team, taking care of any health concerns and making sure each and every cat resident is spayed or neutered.
And it’s not just Samsun that is known for its stray cat population. Turkey has a long history with cats, and you’ll find plenty of social media accounts celebrating their special connection. In Islam, the predominant religion of Turkey, cats are highly favored by the Prophet Muhammed, who is said to have blessed them with the ability to land on their feet, and once even cut off the sleeve of his robe so as not to disturb one sleeping.
In Instanbul, cats were an important tool during the Ottoman era when wooden houses were breeding grounds for bugs and mice. Their royal status has carried over to modern day, with close to a million cats dominating areas of the city, and no lack of places to eat and sleep. They even provide a pull for many tourists to the area. In a project similar to Samsun, a cat village in Antalya was recently built by a married couple and local volunteers to house around 100 stray cats made up of houses, hammocks, and playgrounds.
Turkey’s special relationship with cats is definitely one we can get behind.
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