It’s no secret that Swanson loves cats. He went crazy for the countless kittens of Fez and the strays of Portugal and Spain, but nothing could compare to the well-loved strays of Istanbul.
Upon our arrival in the office of our rental apartment’s owners, we were introduced to two cats. The first was their pet, a delicate black and white spotted “cow” cat. The other cat named “Angelico” was their regularly visiting stray, a big orange and white tom. Here’s Swanson’s photo of the cats in the office:
We soon began collecting evidence that most strays in Istanbul were very well taken care of. All the cats in the city were large and fat, clearly well fed, unlike the scrawny kittens of Fez. Then we started to notice other details: a saucer of milk under our restaurant patio table, random bowls of water wedged behind window bars, trays of cat kibble tucked into doorways. We even saw sidewalk cat houses decked out with comfortable cushions. Cats were not shooed away, but given affectionate pats by passers-by. I watched a guy pull meat out of his doner to feed the cat under his street-side table.
Here are a few portraits, some taken by Swanson, some with Swanson posing with cats.
Swanson petting the cats of Istanbul:
Bikes in Istanbul! We stayed in Beyoğlu, a hip little area full of cafés and antique shops. And bikes.