In the vibrant, ancient city of Istanbul, Turkey, feline citizens can be seen going about their daily business just as much as the human ones! Istanbul’s long and storied love of cats dates back to the Ottoman Empire, which held the domestic cat in very high regard. Today, respect for cats outdoors is still ingrained in the city’s rich culture, and cats have their own unique spaces (including creative outdoor cat houses!) amid the bustling megalopolis.
Enter, Leo (pronounced “Leh-ou”)! This handsome tabby, who is of an older yet mysterious age according to his caregiver, makes his home near a local restaurant known for its cat-friendly atmosphere. When you see locals’ eyes light up when they talk about him, you understand just how loved he is! They adore Leo’s independent and feisty nature, which makes him the dominant presence among his feline companions near the restaurant. In this neighborhood, residents make space for Leo and respect his boundaries.
Even with the bold personality of his namesake, Leo’s soulful green eyes show the greater truth: He’s a happy, fulfilled cat living life in his outdoor home on his own terms. He and the restaurant near which he lives are a shining example of how a community can make space for its feline members, and celebrate the harmonious bond cats and people share.
You may notice that Leo has a notch in the tip of his left ear. That is a signifier that he has been neutered and vaccinated through a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program! Istanbul has many dedicated TNR advocates, and TNR as a program continues to grow in the city to protect the health and wellbeing of community cats. Alley Cat Allies’ preferred best practice is to eartip (when the very tip of the left ear is removed) rather than ear notch during TNR, but the latter is most common in Turkey.