The Cat Hostel is how my apartment block, and my apartment in particular, is refered to by the feline population of Bakırköy.
The setting of the building itself is ideal for the cat who enjoys the finer things. We are surrounded by a grassy garden on the back and sides, replete with small trees. This backs onto an enormous human graveyard which is closed most of the week, thus making it an exquisite marble maze that stretches for (cat) miles. The apartment itself is located in a one way cul-de-sac and is surrounded by a concrete ditch on all sides, built for the purpose of allowing sunlight to seep in for us saps on the bottom floor. This ditch is sheltered from rain by the balconies of the apartments above.
"I'm sure this guy won't mind being late for work
tomorrow, or having his bed pissed on as a thank
you for feeding my children"
Needless to say our cat Şeyma is having a ball here. She goes in and out when she pleases, barely bothered by the hum-drum affairs of other cats. In fact, it's quite funny to compare cat cultures in different areas. British cats are pretty territorial, patroling outside their owners' gardens only up to as far as the next cat's territory. In Istanbul it seems, even the cats have to compromise the lack of space, and so groups of cats in one area tend to get along as a group, mirroring the way the local humans will simply pretend each-other don't exist even if this results in their inevitable collision in the middle of a busy street.
Şeyma may have thought herself lucky to be here, but not as much as the heavily pregnant cat who crept into my open window while I was sleeping, sneaked into the bottom of my wardrobe and gave birth to six kittens. Yes it did happen.
I woke up last Thursday and noticed a tiny grey/white face poking out at me. "Get the hell out" I said nonchalantly, opening the window further and pointing. I imagined she might be put of darting out to make her escape with me still in the room, so went off to brush my teeth and came back. "Still there?" I said, looking down. Just as I was about to shoo her out, I crouched down and lo and behold, six tiny, blind, fumbling creatures were clinging to her brest.
Dumbfounded, I simply contented myself to feed her and deal with it later, but her position made it impossible to get her out without getting scratched to shreds but with imediately set to work on a new home...
Make A Cat Yuva
Other cats started gathering outside, as if they knew all about the commotion last night trying to find a place for the mother to give birth, and were somehow involved. Well this hostel was closing, but the wooly liberal I am, I don't have the heart to throw a single mother and several babies onto the street. So I made a yuva, or nest. If you are in the same situation as me and need a solution, this should help:
1) A box (0.5 metre sq.)
2) A roll of tape
3) Some old newspapers
4) An old rag
I won't patronise you with the details - just use your imagination, but if you can't even do that, I hope the following pictures might help inspire...