Orin of Pacific Reverie is a California-based photographer who captures everything from weddings to street animals. A self-described “Californian world traveler,” he recently embarked on a two-week trip to Turkey.
He couldn’t believe the number of stray cats and dogs roaming through the streets and local cafes. As a cat lover, he has always dreamed of having his own cat but a life filled with travel and crossing international borders keeps that dream at bay.
While traveling, Orin often becomes lonely. Lucky for the talented photographer, he found that the cats in Turkey are friendlier than any other strays he’s come across.
“The road is often lonely and I always want to play with stray animals to alleviate this feeling, but they’re usually too afraid of people,” he writes on Bored Panda.
Yet, in Turkey, it was a completely different story. “I couldn’t believe how many stray kitties roam the streets and cafes, and how aggressively friendly they are!”
The shot of a lifetime presented itself one ordinary day while he was traveling along the Bosphorus Canal. There, sitting along the water’s edge, were two stray cats in the most perfect cuddling position.
“One day, I was strolling the Bosphorus Canal and I saw something I’ve never imagined possible: two cats just cuddling each other, inseparable. I’ve never seen any cats, let alone strays, behave like this.”
After capturing his photos, he immediately worried that people would think he staged the photo.
“As I quickly snapped photos, I wondered if anyone would believe it wasn’t staged but then, who could ever possibly pose cats like this? Who would even try? Life’s too short for that!”
The two lovebirds look alike and clearly share a special connection.
“It was a chilly day, so maybe they were huddling only for warmth? But then why would they sit atop this windy wall? They are exposed to the elements here.”
“Maybe they planned this outing earlier? I wouldn’t be surprised,” Orin jokes.
There were many cats hanging out wherever he went, and they were all hungry for cuddles.
“If I stood in one spot for just a few minutes, it was guaranteed that one would come running to be stroked… and then soon after, another!”
He believes that it is a reflection of the warm-hearted Turkish people who take care of the stray animals, feeding them and even constructing cute little shelters for them.
Here’s a look at one of the many kitty houses locals have built for the cats to escape the elements. The cats share the little houses found all throughout the city.
The cats are also welcome in local cafes. “Nearly every cafe has cats on the tables. They are the real guests. People eat and sip chai around them,” Orin explained.
“This guy hardly lifted his head to say ‘hello’. He was in no way threatened by the bustling cafe. It made me happy inside.”
While wild cats aren’t usually in the market for human cuddles, the stray cats of Turkey are unique in that they love attention, and even beg for it.
“Two strays. This scruffy boy hopped up and wouldn’t go. I didn’t mind at all.”
“This one was pregnant and, hence, wary.”
These rocks are a common safe haven for kitties who live all over them, where they spend their days eating fish and any other food they can find.
“They come running, demanding to be picked up! I said ‘okay’ every single time! I cuddled as many as I could but still left so many in need of a hug.”
It’s not just in Turkey, travelers have noted an abundance of friendly cats all over Istanbul.
According to a 2017 article in The Economist:
“Turkey is not unique among predominately Muslim countries for honouring its cats, which are considered ritually clean animals in Islam. In the hadith, the collected sayings and actions of Muhammad, there are numerous examples of the Prophet’s fondness for cats.”
Orin will hold Istanbul in a special place in his heart for forever. He can’t wait to return and still misses the “kind people, the scrumptious food, and of course, the little furry ones. I wonder if some of them, too, miss me back. Aw. Hehe.”
He encourages anyone craving some kitten cuddles to visit Istanbul, as the cats will be waiting!
To top off his incredible adventure, he stumbled upon his doppelganger working in a local supermarket.
Due to a language barrier and time crunch, the two never had a chance to speak. The photographer would love the chance to change that and hopes this image goes viral so the two finally have a chance to communicate.