An email from Istanbul (note: felids!)

My friend Andrew Berry teaches a mini-course in Istanbul once a year, and of course Istanbul is Cat City Central (see below). I got an email from him today about his encounter with a cat while lecturing. As you’ll see, Istanbul cats are especially fearless, as the citizens of that beautiful city nurture them and defer to their needs. I post this with Andrew’s permission.

I’m in Istanbul, teaching evolution at Sabanci University.  An unexpected highlight yesterday was, well, rather charming, and brought you to mind.

As you well know, Istanbul is a very cat-y city.

And campus here is no exception.  There are various cats that roam the halls of the university, fed, I think, by cat-loving members of staff.  Yesterday morning, I was halfway through a lecture  (some 300 students in a cavernous lecture theatre) when a cat wandered in through the side door at the front giving access to the stage.  The cat, not appearing especially interested in what I was saying, decided to brush up, in the way that cats do, against the podium.  While I cheerfully held forth about — yes! — Turkish creationism, the cat explored its surroundings.  On the screen, I was showing the students my claim to fame in this particular area:

And the cat kept looking around.  Then, unable to suppress its urge to explore vertically, it leapt in a single graceful bound on to the podium, delighting its student audience in the process.  The top of the podium is not especially spacious and most of it was occupied by my laptop.  This, apparently, looked like a nice place to sit down (I suppose it’s pleasantly warm), so the bloody animal plonked itself down on my keyboard.  This promptly disconnected the computer from the projector, killing my presentation.  The students were naturally extremely pleased by this performance.  I, however, began worrying that a conspiracy was afoot: that the cat was some kind of stealth agent sent in to my lecture by Turkey’s creationists with explicit instructions to interrupt and disrupt.  I accordingly expected resistance, so it was a relief that Creation Cat could easily be induced to forsake its comfy new perch, meaning that I could relaunch the presentation.  The cat, unimpressed by what it had found at the dizzying heights atop the podium, decided that this was all too exhausting, and wrapping itself, on the floor, around one edge of the foot of the podium, fell asleep.  There it remained for another hour or so, until after I’d finished the lecture.

Well, there you go.  Even though I most definitively am not a cat person (I’m allergic to the damn’d things.  I suppose that makes me a nothing person, because, as I think you know, I’m also not a dog person), I have to hand it to this beast.  What it did, it did well: stylishly, and with commendable unflappability.  Fortunately, not quite, as lecturing problems go, a cat-astrophe, but nearly.

I asked Andrew if he had a photo of this, and he responded with a similar photo:

In case it’s helpful, see below, I found this online.  It’s not my cat, but it is at this university, and doing something not far removed from what mine was doing (ie lounging on a lecture podium; this one, in contrast to mine, seems to have had the good grace to avoid the laptop keyboard)

JAC: I recommend to readers once again that they see the recent movie Kedi, a terrific and heartwarming picture of the cats of Istanbul and the people who care for them. It’s at once a portrait of the city, of its inhabitants, and of their unique relationship with semi-feral moggies. I wrote a short review of the movie in July, and I see the critics at Rotten Tomatoes gave it a very high rating:

If you have a cat lover on your Christmas list, a DVD of Kedi is the perfect gift.  Remember, the last movie I recommended highly was “Spotlight”, and it won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay in 2015.


  1. Simon Hayward
    Posted December 21, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, the first two links take me to the UofC xmail login

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      The underlying link is to

      However, if you just copy the text e.g.

      and paste it into a browser address box, it works.


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        – in fact those two links in my comment actually work.


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

          I see Michael Fisher got there before me ( #4 )


        • Michael Fisher
          Posted December 21, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

          I did the same exercise in comment 4, with the same result. Only 90 minutes earlier. LOL

    • Posted December 21, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes I’ve fixed that. When I copy links from an email it always does this and I always forget to fix it. They should work now. But, as someone said below, just copy and paste the links when this is a problem.

  2. busterggi
    Posted December 21, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    My copy of Kedi arrived two days ago and I’m planning to enjoy it Saturday.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 21, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Did the cat get credit for the class?

    • busterggi
      Posted December 21, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Cat doesn’t need credit for the class, it has tenure.

  4. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 21, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    EXPERIMENT: These are the two links that fail in the PCC post [There’s nothing wrong with the originals – so I’m reposting them below to see if it gets around the security thing that’s blocking them:


    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 21, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Yes. My copy/paste of the two links work fine 🙂

  5. nicky
    Posted December 21, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I guess that the Polis (Istambul) is a bad city for mice…

  6. Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    I wanted to get Kedi but doesn’t have it in English. In fact, this even happened to me!

    ‘Your search “kedi englisch” was automatically translated into “kedi deutsch.”‘

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      The German–available DVD ~ is that the Turkish language version? If so it has an English subtitles feature you can enable

      Have you checked ebay? Almost certainly you can get it there, but note region!

      ** A couple of people on Amazon.UK complain of DVD region problems, but others have no difficulty. But it is difficult to be sure of the problem because most reviewers don’t say where they are & Amazon does this weird thing where it sometimes combines reviews for different versions [different regions] of the same product! I also strongly suspect it depends on playing device.

      ** The Oscilloscope site [who made the movie] sell it for a rip off $28, but they say they’ll not send it if your region is unsuitable & refund you instead. They are not very helpful & not organised. It’s not difficult to list regions, but they don’t.

      ** You should be able to buy from Germany at the Amazon.UK site assuming the UK seller has enabled the EU option. I use multiple Amazons, each with their own account, but the same debit card & delivery & billing addresses. But I note that only the English subtitled Turkish DVD is in stock in the UK.


      ** It’s available to stream at YouTube Red at a ripoff £10/mnth membership [if “Red” is available where you are – probably isn’t]. YouTube were supposed to have exclusive streaming rights for Kedi, but I think Oscilloscope have done deals all over the place – good for them!

      ** Cheapest streaming I can see is at Google Play where it’s £1.49 to rent & £5.99 to ‘buy’. Now that’s what I call proper prices!!!

      ** Available on NetFlix as a physical rental DVD for backward USA only

      • Posted December 22, 2017 at 7:02 am | Permalink

        As I recall the one on Amazon only advertised German and Turkish dialogue and I think only German subtitles. There was no English options at all.

        I’m sure there are ways to get it but I don’t want it that badly that I want to go through too much trouble. If nothing else, I’ll hopefully be back in an English speaking country at the end of February so I might just try find it then. DVD regions are a pain though but I also prefer having a physical product rather than streaming rights or something. Luckily my home country (South Africa) is the same DVD region as Europe.

        • busterggi
          Posted December 22, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

          My copy has optional English subtitles – besides, the cats have little dialogue.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 5:50 am | Permalink

      P.S. with many [all?] DVD players you can hack them to play DVDs from any region. The feature to make multi-region is in a hidden menu [depending on manufacturer] that can be revealed.

  7. Bob
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 6:33 am | Permalink

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Managed to get over to say this was a – what, fun? Delightful? … witty? Don’t know – well-written for sure – piece … of… writing….

  9. docbill1351
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Watched Kedi on a recent KLM flight, silent with Dutch subtitles. Still a great little film. Enjoyed the cats and got enough of the connotation from “reading” Dutch. Simply delightful.

  10. Andrea Kenner
    Posted December 25, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I was fortunate enough to see Kedi on a flight to Santa Barbara this September. I was traveling to what would turn out to be the one of the last Avon 39 walks ever. (The Avon Foundation decided to discontinue its walks in favor of some other form of fundraising.) I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and would love to see it again sometimes.

    Cheers to all! // Andrea


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