cats of mohandessin

Some years back I used to live in Mohandessin, a neighbourhood in Cairo. On my first visit, I arrived at my apartment late at night from airport. First thing in the morning, I looked out of my bedroom-window and saw rows of cars parked on either side of the four-lane street. Seeing so many cars parked there I thought maybe there was a club or something nearby, but I was wrong. As I came to know, the street was being used as permanent parking space. Public streets in Cairo are kinda parking lots, especially in residential areas - due to over-concentration of automobiles. Of course the streets are four and six lanes but only two lanes are free for driving; the rest - they are used as parking areas. Permament. I wonder whether they are planning to improve this situation or not; but if they do - then certainly, the cats are gonna be angry.

Yes, you heard me right. Beneath the multitude of parked vehicles throughout Cairo there is a different world - of cats, who probably ran away from their owners generations ago and now have become independent cat-izens of Cairo. Egypt has a long history of cats, probably since the beginning of their domestication - hence their species are varied as well. A family of Tabbies living under a 1970 Datsun Fairlady in Mohandessin, may have little or nothing to do with the lone Maltese wanderer of Zamalek - or the proud Munchkin Sister of Maadi whose abode is the classy BMW E61. Yet, they all have something, or someone in common - kind humans who think and work for them. Highlighting such cordial Cairenes, here's a piece from Al-Ahram Weekly in Cairo:

..... The population of cats and dogs is increasing by the day, as anyone can notice from the number of animals rummaging in the garbage, and the corpses lying in gutters, strewn across the Maadi Corniche, 6 October Bridge or the large avenues of Mohandessin. Without a policy providing for the systematic spaying and vaccinating of strays, the task of keeping these animals out of harm's way lies on those who can find it in their hearts to give a little time or money.
It is nevertheless clear that a desire to help others, cherish animals and care for nature is learned at home at a tender age. If a mother screams and throw stones at the sight of a cat or dog, her children will copy her. When a child is told that if he disobeys his mother will get the cat on the landing to scratch him, feelings of hatred will have been planted. Many people, ignorant of both child psychology and the ways of animals, do just that. This may be why feelings of compassion toward animals are more prevalent in affluent countries, where the young grow up with pets as a matter of course. It would be possible to teach Egyptians from every walk of life that, while they don't have to rescue or protect street animals, they should not engage in their systematic torture either. Islam and Christianity both encourage kindness to animals: while one tradition venerates St Francis of Assisi, the other reveres the Prophet Mohamed, who is said to have cut off the sleeve of his robe rather than disturb a cat that had gone to sleep there. Children should be taught that, except in very rare cases, if animals are left alone they are not likely to harm anyone. A live and let live philosophy must be encouraged; the media could play an important part in disseminating new attitudes, which will help alleviate the kind of criticism visitors to Egypt invariably need to voice....


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