Someday, when I no longer live in Istanbul, I will remember it every time I smell cat pee and coal. Since coal-burning season is past, ripe cat pee is pretty much the dominant summer odor of my 'hood.
Istanbul's neighborhoods --like Baku's -- are lousy with cats -- mangy, skanky, smelly scrapper cats. And they breed like rabbits. Lately, we've had many of what we referred to in Baku as "dead kitten days" -- days that are so hot, the little kittens just can't cope and collapse on the sidewalks.
On one hand, I think they are a blight. On the other hand, in a city where much food-related garbage lies around on the street, they provide a very useful service. I figure for every cat I see, that's several rats I don't see. Although I am an accredited rat master, independent rat control contributes to my overall quality of life, so I tolerate the cats.
The Carpetdogs, however, have an adversarial relationship with them. Any cat that shows fear and runs away is asking for a whoopin'. Some cats strike pre-emptively, with a well-timed hiss and swipe, which establishes detente. Lately, however, tensions have increased.
The guy we bought the house from suggested I not leave the windows open because the cats come in. "Ha ha ha," I said, "like that will ever happen. What kind of a stupid cat would do that?" Turns out, several kinds.
The day I moved in, the Carpetdogs went batshit insane at 4am, which pretty much took seven years off my life. An orange tomcat had entered through a window I will never leave open again. I ran downstairs to see it flying through the air five feet above my head, looking for a ceiling escape hatch, like a feline Jack Bauer. It wedged itself in a window and wouldn't exit via the door or other open windows, no matter how much I poked it with a stick and the dogs barked their heads off. Now my entryway smells like cat pee.
Yesterday, the Carpetdogs stepped outside to greet visitors. A cat was sitting near the front porch and they approached it with hostile intentions. The cat struck a defensive posture and the conflict escalated within seconds. Rather than escaping behind the fence or under a car, the cat decided to fight back against two Carpetdogs that clearly hoped to inflict grave bodily harm. Its primary tactic included attaching itself to Mo's head, like velcro.
The cat fought so intensely, it was like a battle between the hyenas and the lions on Animal Planet, making it nearly impossible to stop watching and intervene. But intervene we did and the cat fled. I have no idea in what condition.
It left its mark, however, having pretty effectively shredded Mo's ear. While the injury was hardly serious, let me tell you how much dog ears bleed. There were pools on the wood floors, spots on the carpets and arrays on the walls. My house resembled an abbatoir. The bloody-headed dog did not receive much sympathy.
As a result of the skirmish, our fortress seems to be coming under increasing attack, either in retribution or because we have been assessed as weak. Another cat entered an open window into the kitchen today, just three feet from two sleeping Carpetdogs. Several others have sat right next to the window, taunting them with yellow eyes, while they bark and whine and snorffle impotently behind the bars. Cats need to learn a lesson, so the only Turkish word these dogs know is "kedi," as in "get the kedi!" But the cats don't seem to be scared at all.
I feel we are surrounded by hostiles and unless we keep vigilant, this will end badly. We cannot let these terrorists win!