Animal shelters around the world are running out of space. An unsterilized mother cat can give birth to three kittens a year. If the average litter of four kittens lives the full 15 years, that’s a total of about 180 kittens that need to find good foster homes. It’s no surprise that shelters are forced to turn away animals, but one group in Turkey has taken a unique approach to solving this global problem. They have created a miniature town in an idyllic setting, Cat City, which focuses on rescuing homeless cats and solving the problem of cat overpopulation.
Walking through Cat City, you’ll see brick pathways, elevated cat houses and cozy-looking cat hammocks. More than 200 cats live in Cat City, and they come from a variety of backgrounds. Best of all, they have all been neutered and have space to live out their lives in peace.
Cat Town is located in Samsun, Turkey and covers 6,200 miles of beautiful forested land. The city of Samsun built the town to reduce the number of homeless cats on city streets and in neighborhood shelters. It’s not much different from a traditional shelter in that all animals receive veterinary care, regular feedings, and the opportunity to be permanently housed. Of course, this difference is what makes Cat City unique.
Rather than searching for a building large enough to house hundreds of cats, CatCity’s founders thought it would be better to think outside the box and help more cats. What started as an urban shelter for 50 stray cats has now expanded to accommodate 500 homeless pets. There are plans to increase it to 1,000 more in the future.
At Cat City, all cats are welcomed with open arms. If they have health problems, they will receive the necessary care before entering Cat City. They will be sterilized and microchipped. If a cat becomes ill while at Cat City, Huseyin Aydin, the shelter veterinarian and manager, will take care of all their needs. Some cats with special needs will receive individualized care.
All 200 cats are free to move around and roam the vast grounds of CatCity. They can live in the large bungalows with one or two friends or alone in private catteries. The cats spend their days doing what cats do best – interacting with other cats and humans.
The cats can be fostered, but they can also live in Cat City for the rest of their lives. Since the creation of Cat City, the number of stray cats has decreased. Whenever a new cat arrives, we screen it, de-sex it, and introduce it to a new home. In this way, there is one less cat that contributes to the major problem of overpopulation.
While Turkey is still far from the goal of completely eliminating feral cats, their strategy of focusing on a spay/neuter program should be replicated globally. Neutering is the only way to stop the chain of homeless cats. So whether they live in miniature cities built just for them or in loving homes, cats can live the happy lives they deserve.