As heavy snow continues to fall across Turkey and temperatures have remained freezing since Friday, the life of street animals has been getting more difficult. The harsh conditions have prompted municipalities and locals to make impromptu shelters for the animals, but there have been mixed reactions.
Istanbul's Üsküdar district witnessed the good and bad of human-animal relations on Tuesday when two friends were attacked by a group of men while setting up a box for sheltering cats in the Ünalan neighborhood. Üsküdar Municipality officials responded to the incident by installing a large animal shelter of their own.
On Tuesday a video was released on social media, which showed two friends who had left a box on the snowy street to be used as a shelter for cats, being attacked and threatened by a group of men. The men told the friends, a girl and a boy, that they did not want shelters in the street and then attacked the duo when they objected.
The official Twitter account of the municipality responded to the video with an immediate tweet saying "We are on the way with our own cat house."
@duygululuk kedi evimizi aldık yola çıktık geliyoruz.🐱🐱🐱— Üsküdar Belediyesi (@uskudarbld) January 10, 2017
Minutes after the tweet, municipality officials had set up the cat house in the street.
Arif Onay, who was attacked on Tuesday, spoke about the incident, describing how "We bought a cardboard box and our only aim was to set up a shelter for cats."
"Animals cannot find food and need shelter just as we need it," Onay said, adding that "although we were threatened yesterday, I'm so happy now, we have a new cat house."
The residents in the neighborhood were pleased with the municipality's reaction.
Mayor of Üsküdar, Hilmi Türkmen has tweeted the video while the municipality officials were bringing the cat home, saying that "Thank God for kittens"
Istanbul is a warm home for street cats with numerous animal lovers who feed or provide shelter for the cats outside. It is quite a normal occurrence to see stray animals being petted on the street.
Another recent notable example of this love for cats in Üsküdar, which was shared on social media, was the imam of Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi Mosque's decision to open the doors of the mosque to stray cats during cold weather.