Street animals don’t always live happy and healthy lives, especially in a city like Istanbul, which is home to hundreds of thousands of stray cats and dogs. A new internet tool hopes to correct this injustice by helping stray animals find the help they need.
By Işıl İlkter
Istanbul has always been a haven for stray cats and dogs. While the city continues to grow and expand, its massive stray animal population always appears to keep pace with it. Some neighborhoods are known for hosting a particular kind of animal. Cihangir, for example, remains popular with cats. One thing is for sure: these hapless critters deserve a modicum of respect and we should all do what we can to help them out. That’s the philosophy behind Kırık Kuyruk (“Broken Tail”), a free online tool that allows animal lovers to both locate and assist the city’s numberless strays.
The portal was founded by Christian Feiland and Ceyda Kalafatçıoğlu, and was later joined by Rumeysa Gelgi, who runs its website and social media account. “The ‘trigger event’ for KirikKuyruk.com was in 2013, when we tried to save a street cat from the roof of a five-story building in our neighborhood,” Feiland told The Guide Istanbul, recounting how the project was initially launched. “It took two weeks for the cat to be finally rescued,” he recalled. “The long struggle led us to ask: Why isn’t there a webpage specifically designed to help street animals?”
An Istanbul resident of almost 20 years (who himself has taken in four rescued street cats), Feiland stresses that, while the biggest risk to these animals is the city’s ubiquitous traffic, it isn’t enough to simply feed them occasionally. An unwillingness to have these strays neutered, he adds, only serves to make the problem worse.
Turkey is home to an estimated eight million stray cats and dogs, almost 300,000 of which are in Istanbul. According to the Istanbul Municipality’s Veterinary Service, the city’s vast stray animal population can only be stabilized by having three quarters of them neutered. Within the last year alone, the Veterinary Service has reportedly had nearly 25,000 stray cats and dogs neutered of the roughly 175,000 that have been rehabilitated. As a result of the city’s rapid expansion, there are few green spaces or parks in which street animals can take refuge from the elements. In the winter, stray cats often snuggle up inside car engines to keep warm. For this reason, it’s important to check near the engine–and around the tires–before starting your car. Feiland says that he has discovered a total of 11 cats under the hood of his car within the last two years alone.
How does Kırık Kuyruk work?
Kırık Kuyruk is a free online portal featuring a map-based system that covers the entire country. By dropping a pin giving details about a struggling cat or dog, people living nearby can see what is needed and–hopefully–provide some assistance. The portal is divided into 32 categories, including animal transport, adoptions and food donations. It also carries classified ads for animal sitters, temporary homes and kennels, and lost and found animals, among other things. The website is currently available in Turkish, but also has a few pages in English. With the use of online page-translation tools, however, it can be easily accessed in other languages as well.
Notably, Kırık Kuyruk’s activities depend almost entirely on a network of friends and volunteers. It’s a community effort, and a little bit of assistance–especially classified ads–goes a long way. “Like our motto says: ‘Be a hero to the stray animals on your street–more ads, happier paws,” according to Feiland. He went on to urge more people to use the portal with a view to increasing its efficiency. “If more animal lovers, vets, municipalities and organizations place classified ads on our portal,” he explained, “it will become a well-known place to turn to and find help for these animals.”
Kırık Kuyruk welcomes assistance from anyone involved in the public relations, communications or IT fields who might be able to help improve the website. For more info visit kirikkuyruk.com or follow on Instagram @kirikkuyruk.