I never had a pet cat growing up.

We were a dog and bird kinda family, and there was also a period of serial hamster adoption. I’ve since grown an intense fascination with cats. They are so, so weird. They love you and hate you at the same time, and they always choose the weirdest, most uncomfortable looking place to sleep. Why?!? It will always remain a mystery to me.

I went to Izmir, Turkey recently to visit a friend from my days teaching English in Prague. I basically spent the entire time surrounded by street cats, kittens, and the occasional street dog. Turkey is only the second place I’ve been to with street cats. The other place was Bosnia and Herzegovina, but there the cats mostly hung around the dumpsters and weren’t as involved with the humans. It seems like the city of Izmir really tries to take care of the street cats, leaving little food and water dishes all around the city, which is perhaps why they are so sociable.

I would have spent the entire trip in a pile of street cats and kittens if my friends didn’t have other plans.

Here’s a visual overview of my best moments with all the street cats. If I lived there I’m pretty sure I’d end up a crazy cat lady within .5 seconds by trying to adopt all of them.

Petting a cat on a car in Izmir

It all started with this cat, who hung outside the corner store right in front of my friend’s apartment. You could pet him exactly one time before he swiped at you. He was really into that one pet, but after that he was done with you.

Then there was this sassy little fellow, who struck a model pose for me.

Me petting two cats at once in Turkey

This is where the street cat and kitten cuddle pile began…

Me surrounded by cats

Look at the pure look of joy on the middle cat’s face. At this point I was yelling, “I only have two hands!!” as other cats started surrounding me.

Here is the look of pure joy on my own face. At this moment I achieved my life’s mission.

A cat cleaning itself in Izmir

This cat was bathing itself outside a bike shop. I may have interrupted him from afar. Oops.

My friend petting one of her street cats

My friend Sara petting this lovely cat. He apparently always hangs out by this tree so she knows him.

A street cat with its food pile outside a bank.

A cat sitting on a motorcycle

Cat on a motorcycle near the changing rooms at the beach. I guess it’s as good a place to chill out as any.

Let the kitten porn begin…

A tiny street kitten in Izmir, Turkey

I happened to be there during kitten season. It was so glorious. My heart basically exploded. I have no motherly instinct for babies, but I want to take all these kittens home forever.

Me holding a tiny street kitten

This little street kitten tolerated me picking it up for a bit. Look at its little face!!!

This was right outside a bike shop. Someone made a little habitat for the kittens and their Mom.

My friend plying with a tiny kitten

I just…I can’t even.

There were some dogs too

A street dog in Izmir

A happy street dog, although his front paw was injured. 🙁 Almost all the street dogs are big. I joked with my friend that it would be funny to see a street pug.

A black log on a lounge chair in Izmir

I think this dog wins at evolution. Any dog that manages to secure himself a lounge chair equipped with plants basically wins at life. I love that he even has a pillow. We gave him a serious belly rub.

You want to see something besides cats and dogs? Oh. I guess we can arrange that.

The Izmir sky line on a cloudy day from on top of a hill. It seems that most of Izmir’s residents use this hill as a place to makeout, as we interrupted many a session.

This shop was epic. Soooo much Turkish delight (Lokum). Most of it happens to be accidentally vegan as it’s made with cornstarch. They gave us so many free samples.

A shop filled with nuts and sweets in Izmir, Turkey

The nut and seed shops were also pretty epic. They had sweets as well. One cool thing were these dried roasted chickpeas, great for a quick protein boost!

Okay, it’s a perfect beach photo. For the sake of blogging authentically, it was cold AF. I swam briefly before retreating to my lounge chair to eat sarmas (long stuffed grape leaves). Maybe next time?

Me and my friends after going to the hamam in Izmir

My lovely friends and I after we got scrubbed by nice Turkish ladies while laying mostly naked on a marble slab. My lady was wearing swim trunks on the bottom that said “Can’t touch this,” which just made her colleagues try to slap her ass. After the session, she got dressed in a full hijab. It was awesome and broke a lot of stereotypes for me. I can officially say I conquered my nakedness in public apprehension. As those dead skin cells floated down the drain, the last bit of my American modesty went with them.

As you can tell, I had a pretty great time in Izmir. It was my first time in Turkey, and my first time outside of the EU in awhile. Luckily, Berlin has a very large Turkish population, Turkish grocery stores, restaurants, etc. At least I can track down all the new yummy foods I tried, even if I can’t bring all the cats with me back home.

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