Istanbul’s gone to the…cats?
I don’t want to start an international incident, but: cats in Belgrade are way, way tougher than cats in Istanbul.
Belgrade cats are big, healthy and strong. They live off of garbage and whoknowswhat. I haven’t seen a mouse or a rat yet—even by the waterfront. If Belgrade cats had opposable thumbs they’d club you for a tuna fish sandwich.
Istanbul cats are sleek, cute little cats that are used to attention. They’re everywhere-in restaurants, museums and shop windows. Tourists and locals pet them, feed them, and generally let them go wherever they want. The photo above was taken in the Hagia Sophia. After I took it, a tourist bent down to pet him and the cat put his paw in the tourist’s bag, looking for treats. In Belgrade, a cat would glare at you, decide you weren’t worth his time, and stalk a pigeon. A big one.
Why are cats treated like royalty? Maybe it’s their looks. Even Muz noted that Istanbul was Zoolander for cats. I had to agree, they were really, really good-looking. And probably can’t read good.
Dogs aren’t faring too poorly, either. They’re spayed, tagged, and left to roam around the city. Oddly, the dogs aren’t as friendly as the cats—they basically hang out in their territory and wait for vendors to give them food.
We knew that cats were “top dog” when we went to an upscale restaurant and noticed cats walking around…inside. We’d seen cats in other European restaurants and decided to ignore them in this one. Until after the meal, when a cat decided Muz was his new best friend and jumped in his lap, purring.
Muz awkwardly petted him (big mistake) and tried to put the cat on the floor. The cat kept jumping back up until we moved a chair to block his passage. What did the waiters do? Nothing. What did I do? Laugh and take this photo. I’m so helpful.
Perhaps I’ve underestimated the cats in Istanbul. Belgrade cats might be more intimidating, but Istanbul cats will walk all over you. Literally.