Angora longhair cat ready to take up new home at Hagia Sophia Mosque

Angora longhair cat ready to take up new home at Hagia Sophia Mosque

Seymen is grandson of Angora who once lived at historic mosque, and will continue representing his native species at Istanbul landmark

By Zeynep Duyar

A special Angora cat is being sent to Istanbul’s historic Hagia Sophia Mosque to follow in the pawsteps of his forebear.

Seymen, a longhair kitty, is being sent to the famed mosque on the occasion of Aug. 8, International Cat Day.

At one time the mosque had two felines-in-residence, explained Aysegul Korkmaz, a veterinary technician at the Angora Cat Protection, Sustenance and Promotion Center in Ankara, Türkiye’s capital.

In 2020 the center sent a cat named Kilic to the mosque, which was built some 1,500 years ago, to join Gli, the kitty who already called the mosque home.

"Gli passed away after a while due to old age,” Korkmaz explained, adding that the free-ranging Kilic also went missing. “Now we’re planning to send Kilic's grandson Seymen to Hagia Sophia.”

Korkmaz said that under a new law to protect pets, Seymen has a microchip implanted under his skin to help keep track of him.

Stressing that there is a demand for Angora cats from abroad, Korkmaz said: "It is forbidden for many of our domestic species, including the Angora cat, to be taken out of the country.”

“But we recently sent cats to the Turkish cities of Kars, Aydin, Izmir, Istanbul, Adana, and Hatay. There are probably Angora cats in all 81 provinces of Türkiye,” she underlined.

“Our goal is to ensure that Angora cats, which are classified as a native species, are kept as pets in every province,” she added.

The historical Hagia Sophia in Istanbul marked the third anniversary of its reopening as a mosque in July.

The venerable building was inherited from Fatih Sultan Mehmed, an Ottoman sultan, and is the most important symbol of the conquest of Istanbul.

Mehmed the Conqueror, as he is also known, performed his first Friday prayers after conquering Istanbul in 1453.

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