The imam and congregation of a mosque in Turkey’s central Kirikkale province have adopted a cat and its kittens after the former gave birth at the mosque.

Imam Huseyin Sut made a temporary home for the cats after the birth of seven kittens inside the Cesmeli mosque in downtown Kirklareli, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported. The congregation embraced the feline guests, feeding the cats with milk and taking care of them.

The imam said that the pregnant cat had entered the mosque during Friday prayers last week and delivered the kittens inside the pulpit. “Since that day we’ve been feeding them with milk,” Sut said, adding that he’s been an imam for the past 14 years and it is the first time he came across such an incident. He noted that the mosque is now referred to as the “cat mosque” and children frequently visit it to play with the kittens.

Cats are revered animals in Islam and are often allowed to freely roam in mosques and other sacred places, unlike dogs, who are viewed as unclean and therefore forbidden to enter places of worship.

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