Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Kötü the Istanbul Kitty

As far as "travel writing" goes, it can be fairly easy to fall into writing in the same style for every post. That is, you're writing about different places in the same way. To avoid that, I occasionally like to think outside the box a bit, and put together a post that is definitively random and surprising. Nobody wants to read the same thing in the same format, over and over and over. I've tried to fight against this in the past. The post I did about Bri and I comes to mind, or the focus on the doors of Granada, or even the video I put together of my time in Korea just recently. It's more fun for me, and, hopefully, more enjoyable for you.

So, today there is quite a bit of snow in Istanbul, and I have the day off. Seeing as it's snowing outside, I decided it was the perfect day to sit down, write, and just watch the snowflakes drift down outside the window. But what to write about? I thought about things that might have had a strong influence on my time in Istanbul that maybe I hadn't thought about as necessarily "blog worthy." Something that might be a little different. Then, the lightbulb turns on - I've got to write about Kötü. 

For those who don't know, Kötü is our adorable, fun-loving Turkish kitten (or at least he was a kitten, he is something closer to adolescence now). And, for the record, Kötü means "bad" in Turkish, so we thought it was appropriate for this mischievous little fellow. And, the most important factor in calling him Kötü was that he came at a bad time, as we literally couldn't have had more on our plate at the time.

But, back to the story. When we first arrived at our apartment in Istanbul with all of our bags, a small, dirty kitten started to cry out and rub up against Bri's leg. At first, we thought nothing too much of it, but we surely appreciated his cuteness and tenacity. We began bringing our bags up the stairs, and we could still hear him crying outside the door, desperately trying to get in. As we came down the stairs to get our final bag, he was still there, looking saddened and helpless. We started bringing the last bag up the stairs but by the second flight we had put down the bag and stopped. We decided we would at least bring him up for 10 minutes. And just like that 10 minutes became five months. And, assuredly, he'll be coming with us wherever we go after Istanbul. We didn't find Kötü, Kötü found us. 

He's a Turkish Van, an appropriate cat to have in Istanbul if I've ever seen one. He has added so much to our experience in Istanbul, and we've created a lot of memories together. I can still recall the first night when he arrived and couldn't figure out where to go to the bathroom because we didn't yet have a litter box. He was meowing like mad as he looked over his shoulder and pooped in the corner of our second bedroom. And now? Now he's the regal kitty I see staring out the window at the snow just to the right of me. He's got a litter box now, assuredly, and he's come a long way.

So, what is this post going to look like? Well, I'm going to tell you the story of Kötü through words and photos, to give you an idea of what a big part he has played in my experience in Istanbul. Who knows if it can be filed nicely into the "travel writing" category, and, frankly, who cares?

Also, kindly note that a lot of these photos are from my iPhone, so my apologies on the quality.

1) From the Mean Streets to Our Loving Arms 

Kötü starts off as just about the dirtiest and scrawniest kitten you've ever laid your eyes upon. In the pictures below, you'll see him as we first found him, and how he adjusted to our home in the first few weeks. He's a character, and a fighter.  

2) Settling In 

Kötü starts to get the routine, and, dare I say, starts to show some love. In fact, from the beginning, this Turkish kitty has always been very loving and sentimental, but, he starts to show even more of that. He cuddles more, he gets a much needed bath, acts as my Turkish tutor, and even becomes adept at using the iPad (please see video below for evidence of that). 

3) Coming into his Own 

Kötü has become a fixture in this household, and, especially during the holiday season, was the star of the show. We had a Christmas party in which he was surely the most popular individual. Also, he figured out how to send mail, how to climb the Christmas tree, pose for family photos, and, generally, continue to look even happier and healthier. And, I should also note, he's even had an international skype call with friends abroad. 

Kötü is not a place, this is true, but he still belongs on this travel blog because of the drastic effect he has had on Istanbul for me. For as long as I live, wherever I live, animals will always be a part of my life (and Kötü is no exception, he's in it for the long haul). So, just maybe, they'll be featured on this travel blog. 

I do hope you've enjoyed getting to know Kötü, and hope to see you back here again sometime soon. 

Iyi günler,


Have any animal stories to share? Write them in the comments section, I would love to hear them.


  1. Replies
    1. He is indeed awesome. I think we were lucky to find this little guy. Looks like you've got some fine pets yourself.

  2. I think he has super powers to sit so lightly on that Christmas tree!

    1. He does. You've got a knack for spotting animals with super powers.

  3. I run the Istanbul Trap/Neuter/Return page on Facebook, so this story interested me. When we moved here from America, I never dreamed I'd become "the crazy cat lady"—but there was such a need to help the street animals that I had no choice but to take action. We are moving home next month, after 2.5 years stabilizing our colony and adopting two street kitties ourselves. Cat rescue became my purpose, and I love any success story that takes yet another little soul off the treacherous streets here. Bravo (and fantastics pictures)!

    1. Great story. I totally agree with you when you say that you felt like you had no choice but to take action. I have never seen such an array of street cats. Istanbul is full of cats who need love and support. Keep rescuing those cats! Istanbul needs more people like you, Sparkles!

  4. Many blessings to you and your sweet man :) I've been in Turkey for almost 5 years and have rescued 4 adorable furry friends that have changed my life exponentially!

    1. That's wonderful! Kötü has definitely changed our life, no question. Thanks for stopping by to read his story!

  5. I love this post and he is a handsome little guy. Good for you guys for taking him in, that's awesome. We have a cat, Kramer, back home and we miss terribly. What's next for you guys?

    1. Kramer? That is amazing name for a cat. Sorry for the delayed response, I've been off in Australia. In the long term, we'll be around Istanbul for the next two years, and wherever we go after that, Kötü will be by our side. Thanks for taking a moment to read this!