Cat in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Love cats and traveling? You might want to add these countries, at least the ones that may have escaped your radar, to your must-visit list. From cat islands to an army of cats protecting the treasures of a world-renowned museum, these cat-loving countries should be on every ailurophile’s travel bucket list.

1. Egypt
Cats held a special place in ancient Egyptians’ heart that harming them was considered a serious crime which is often meted out with harsh penalties. One of the famous gods of the ancient Egyptian religion was Bastet, a goddess depicted with a head of a cat and a body of a woman. The ancient cat-lovers may have long been gone, but you just have to take an Egyptian adventure and marvel at some of the country’s greatest sights like the Great Sphinx of Giza to see how felines were revered in this country

3. Japan
The birthplace of Sanrio, the Japanese company that gave Hello Kitty to the world, is one of the best-known cat-loving countries in the world. Cats have been part of the Japanese culture since the ancient times with many serving in Buddhist temples and others featured in stories and artworks. Today, Japan boasts of many attractions and reasons that draw cat-lovers from around the world. Hello Kitty, Doreamon, the famous fictional cat characters of popular animes and mangas, cat cafes, the cat islands like Tashirojima, Maneki-neko, temples dedicated to cats like Gotokuji and Imado Shrines, and the famous cat station master Tama and his successor Nitama are just some of Japan’s top cat-themed attractions.

3. Turkey
The cats of Istanbul roam freely in the city’s streets. And they are often treated with affection not just by locals but also by tourists who are charmed by many of the cats’ gentle nature. One of the residents featured in Kedi, a recent documentary film featuring Istanbul’s famous free-roaming street cats, said that, “Without the cat, Istanbul would lose a part of its soul” – a statement that says a lot about the city’s love for its cats.