Stray cats struggle in quarantined Istanbul

Istanbul’s famous stray cat population has been struggling amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Stray cats all across Istanbul are at risk of starvation as the coronavirus outbreak has forced the city’s population into quarantine.

Restrictions on movement have meant that the volunteers and residents who usually feed the cats can no longer do so.

The closure of many businesses also means there is less leftover food for street animals.

Local municipalities have instead been stepping in to try and save the animals, distributing food for cats, dogs and even pigeons.

Turkey’s government has urged local authorities to feed stray cats and dogs in order to keep concerned animal lovers off the streets during the pandemic.

This move comes amid widespread concern for stray animals, many of which are usually well-fed. 

“Since cafes and restaurants are closed and people do not get out, as Fatih Municipality Department of Health Affairs we have increased the frequency of these [feeding] periods in compliance with an order by the Interior Ministry,” said Batuhan Gurpinar, a Fatih municipality worker.

“We are personally distributing the food. We made an arrangement according to the animal population in the districts and we serve according to that list. We increased the number of districts. We are trying to do everything we can in these difficult times. 

Cats are particularly esteemed in Turkey, with local residents traditionally feeding them and taking care of them in their neighbourhoods.

The government has ramped up restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19, such as limiting social contact, quarantining some towns, villages, banning mass prayers, closing schools, cafes, restaurants and limiting intercity travel.

This report was produced and edited by Al Jazeera NewsFeed’s Mostafa Rachwani.