One of the things that most amazed me in Turkey was the prevalence of very friendly, well-behaved stray cats and dogs. One Istanbul mosque, however, is taking the city’s relationship with its animals to a new level by welcoming cats inside, including this mother cat with her very tiny kittens:

The cats — which as visitors to Istanbul quickly discover are ubiquitous — have been welcomed into the mosque by Mustafa Efe, the Imam at the Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi Mosque.

And here’s one of the cats hanging out with worshipers:

When I first saw the video (the story has been floating around for a few weeks now), I was disappointed I had just returned from Istanbul; had I noticed this sooner I might have checked it out while Laura and I were in Istanbul in January. Instead, we’ll all have to settle for pictures of cats in a mosque — there’s an entire Getty gallery here — which is not at all a bad plan B.

Related reading: 17 Pictures of cats in ancient ruins

Turkey 101: Helpful tips for your arrival in Istanbul

— Jim Dalrymple II

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Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Editor in Chief of Tripping Over the World. Also, reporter at BuzzFeed News.

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