On our stay at Buyukada, one of the Princes Islands near Istanbul, we experienced on close hand how the lack of nutrients and the Covid-pandemic had become a serious challenge for stray cats.
Already the first day we got a new friend. A little stray kitten around three months old lived with its mother out on our terrace. When we were sitting on the terrace the kitten would either crawl up into our lap or continued upwards until it lay on top of our heads, half asleep, half curious about what was happening down below its hairy resting place.
But the weather was getting colder and so the kitten began to sneeze. And one morning we experienced how the kitten was bumping into the things on the terrace and when it tried to crawl up on our heads it fell. After a closer inspection, we found out that its eyes were glued together with a yellow kind of bacterial crumbles – it had gotten eye inflammation. So we began cleaning our eyes with chamomile tea – something we remembered our mothers had done when we had eye inflammation as children. And for some days everything seemed to be going in the right direction. Until we found the kitten shaking on the terrace, and we decided to take it to the local veterinarian. However, it was already in too bad a shape – not so much because of the infection, but due to its lack of nutrients. Later the next day the kitten passed away. We buried it around midnight in the backyard between tomato and pumpkin plants, laying it to rest in a grave filled with purple and white flowers. It was a sad day. However, when we earlier that evening went out on the street to pick the flowers for the grave, we were met by a gang of maybe 18-20 stray cats – whom all were sitting across the street waiting while following us with worried eyes. It was a strange and uncanny experience. After the funeral, we peeped out of the front gate and could see that the gang of stray cats was gone. The street was empty and more silent than any other night we had experienced. The local stray cats had come to say goodbye to the kitten and had then left it in peace.
Photos: Sila Yalazan
Text: Steen Andersen