A kitten found in a trash can in Turkey is now living it up in Boston — thanks to a “cat-obsessed” mom and daughter team and a few fellow feline enthusiasts.
Alanur Heidecker, 12, heard the tiny kitty with matted fur inside a garbage can while staying with relatives on the Turkish island of Imbros last August, the Boston Globe reported Thursday.
The middle schooler thousands of miles away from her home in Boston’s Jamaica Plain section then asked her mom if she could check out the meowing cat—a request that Sennur Cinar knew would likely lead to a new mouth to feed.
“That’s why I initially resisted when Alanur wanted to look for the kitten,” Cinar told the newspaper. “But then I saw her. She was dirty, but she was so adorable and so sweet. I knew she had to come with us. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is going to be our third cat.’
The 2-week-old cat — named Bonçuk, which means “bead” in Turkish, a nod to its blue eyes — later got a clean bill of health from a vet before heading to Istanbul to start their journey back home.
But Cinar got “very worried” after learning that Turkish Airlines only allows cats 10 weeks and older to fly — leaving Bonçuk, then about 4-5 weeks old — on the outside looking in, she recalled.
Cinar admitted she acted like a “monster” while explaining the situation to multiple airline reps before one booked the cat a spot on their return flight. Cinar’s husband was also on board with the new arrival, the Globe reported.
But the plan fell apart when Cinar and her daughter got to the airport, where they learned they also needed negative COVID-19 tests in addition to proof of vaccination to fly.
Airline reps also told the couple they had no record that Bonçuk got the go-ahead to join them, sending Cinar and her daughter to a customer service desk as they nearly missed their flight.
The cat was ultimately left at customer service, where Cinar was told she would go to a shelter if not claimed in three days, the Globe reported. A fellow cat-loving flight attendant gave Cinar Wi-Fi access on the plane so she could each her sister in Istanbul, but had no luck in convincing her to pick up Bonçuk.
Once back in Boston, Cinar and her daughter felt as if they failed their mission and worried about Bonçuk’s fate. But a worker from the airport’s lost and found department later came across the cat in her cage and remembered the commotion earlier caused by the distraught cat lovers.
The worker, Ozan Ulasan, took Bonçuk home and later sent a text to Cinar letting her know that she was OK. A college student in Istanbul then picked up the cat from Ulasan and promised to watch her as long as needed, the Globe reported.
The flight attendant with previously helped Cinar — identified only as Tuğba — then promised to bring Bonçuk to the United States during a vacation in October just two months later.
“The cat was my priority,” Tuğba told the Globe. “It wasn’t about a destination. It’s about karma. I wanted to put something good out into the world. And this was perhaps one of the best things I could do for this family, and for the kitten.”
The 8-month-old cat is now enjoying the run of the house with her two siblings, Nar and Laura, the Globe reported.
“This is really about humanity and kindness,” an emotional Cinar told the newspaper. “It goes to show that there really are good people, wonderful people. It helps me believe that there is still love in the world.”