Big round eyes that stare directly into one’s own, playful purrs and tail wags, warm comforting snuggles… there’s nothing quite like having a fluffy member of the family to come back home to. In recent years, more and more people in Egypt have opted for adopting stray baladi cats and dogs rather than buying a new pet.
Most people living in Cairo are fully aware of the extent of stray cats and dogs roaming the busy streets of the city; as such, people who find and adopt these strays off the streets usually have horror stories accompanied with how they found them. From abuse on the streets to having been partially run over or even being exposed to the dangers or mass poisoning, most of Egypt’s stray cats and dogs are exposed to highly dangerous situations on a daily basis.
Ultimately what most people will find is the fact that baladi cats and dogs are in fact some of the most playful, smart and loving creatures they will come across, simply longing for friendship and affection. There are of course efforts being done by various shelters across Cairo (such as ESMA and SPARE) trying to keep these strays safe and off the streets, and even finding them homes.
That being said, below is a compilation of beautiful rescue and adoption stories from various people across Cairo and their beloved baladis.
“Bilya, my baladi cat, was rescued over five years ago from a pile of garbage in which she was rummaging through for food at only three weeks old.” Photos courtesy of Dalia Rashdan.
“Mahgoura was bought from a pet shop when she was a puppy as a ‘German Shepherd dog’; her owners never walked her and left her with the bawab (doorman) all the time. When she grew up and they found out she was a baladi, they told the bawab to throw her away from the house so that she never comes back. She was beaten by kids and attacked by dogs everyday because she had never been on the streets before. Now she’s with me – adopted and still being rehabilitated.” Photo courtesy of Leila el Atreby.
“This is Coco… rescued off the manwar stairs about 2 years ago.” Photo courtesy of Dalia Rashdan.
“Maslaha – used to be beaten up by kids. All her babies have been killed and one was stolen and abused by the children on the street, her best friend was poisoned. Later on, she was beaten up by children on the street. Now adopted and is with me.” Photo courtesy of Leila el Atraby.
“My baladi baby was the one who adopted us. He used to live inside our building and everyday he would come to our apartment and bang on our door at 7 a.m. to eat and drink, he then would leave at night. After a year of regular visits, my parents and I decided to welcome him to our house for good.” Photo courtesy of Noha M. Salem.
“Bamia – found dumped on a side walk at the age of five days old without a mother and was crying to eat. He’s been bottle fed and fostered. He’s now two months old and has been adopted by an amazing person.” Photo courtesy of Leila el Atraby.
“This is Bella, a baladi mix rescued off the streets of Cairo two years ago.” Photo courtesy of Dalia Rashdan.
“My four babies that were thrown out in the middle of Taalat Harb Square, totally scared and freezing. I kept two and two got adopted by my friend.” Photo courtesy of Anna Bellydance.
“Meet Sticky on the left, she was rescued from a pet store because she was sick and the owner kicked her out of his shop, so she was laying there next to the shop. Mystery on the right was rescued from the streets, she was so tiny and was very weak and was beaten by street kids because she’s black. Both are my beautiful rescued babies.” Photo courtesy of Sanabel el Mazny.
“Louie hiking in Germany. He was part of a litter of eight that I rescued. His mom was hit by a car when he was about a month old.” Photo courtesy of Amanda Lee.
“Nugget – on her way to Canada. Rescued with her brother at only about a week old. Found abandoned by mom at my school. Now living her best life abroad.” Photo courtesy of Amanda Lee.
“Max, loving life in Canada. Found sick and dehydrated under a car in 6th of October. Now a happy thriving best friend to two little girls.” Photo courtesy of Amanda Lee.
“Kira the dog and Khamis the cat. My husband found Kira when she was three months old under the building where he worked… she would always greet him and play with him whenever he came, until he heard the neighbors wanted to poison her, so he took her home! She will be six years old in a few months. Khamis the cat I found when he was about two months old under my grandmother’s building alone and scared. I took him in because I couldn’t resist leaving him on the street! We also have two more cats but couldn’t find a picture with all of them.” Photo courtesy of Nour Gheita.
Candy. Photo courtesy of Maha Yassin.
“Monkey – she was thrown over a fence by an old man when she was three months old because she wouldn’t stop chasing people around to play with her. She had a minor fracture and healed beautifully. Three years together and counting.” Photo courtesy of Areej Ismail.
“Ishta and 3asal (honey), both baladis. Adopted from the street three weeks apart.” Photo courtesy of Mai Alkhamissi.
“Shisha – rescued back in 2018 when she was a kitten. She came to us when we were in a local ahwa baladi (cafe).” Photo courtesy of Rahma Ali.
“CatKoot (AKA Mr Wassim) – rescued during corona lockdown. Probably was dumped by previous owners after rumors spread that pets transmit COVID19 to humans.” Photo courtesy of Rahma Ali.
“Sir Jack and Ninja Cat Tofu. Jack was found in our building howling at 2 a.m., he’s owned the house since. Tofu was found in the middle of a busy road, she’s owned Jack since.” Photo courtesy of Kezra Bradshaw.
“My beautiful Sandy and Adham; found them when they were about two weeks old in a basket the security guy told me they’ve been there for two days. Someone threw them away from their mother… it was a very cold and rainy day. They’re two years old now.” Photo courtesy of Reem Khaled.
“Mishka (right) and Spots (left) – brother and sister from a litter of 11 puppies! A mama doggie gave birth in a garage of a building and one of the building’s residents decided she doesn’t like dogs and she poisoned their mother while they were three weeks old. The other residents took turns into feeding them and looking for homes for them, I went there and saw them and completely fell in love with Mishka, she was the clumsiest and was the first one to come and bite my pants, so I adopted her. And I adopted Spots because he was the most shy, quietest and also the chubbiest. They are now eight and a half years old and are my best friends. We have been through so much together and they mean the whole world to me. As they are now transitioning into their senior stage, I am becoming more and more terrified of the moment when they leave me alone in this world, I hope I can give them the best life they could possibly have before the time comes.” Photo courtesy of Doaa M. Sallam.
“Keety- Was found in a pit in the streets after being stuck in there for days and suffered a huge abscess that almost ended her life. We took care of her and fostered her for almost two months and now she is in the best forever home.” Photo courtesy of Nada el Atreby.
“Three of my six cats… the terror squad Bondok, Booboo and Trigger; all rescued from precarious situations!” Photo courtesy of JeaneAnne el Corashy.
“This is Shalaby, a rescue baladi cat. He was rescued from getting eaten by some stray dogs as a baby kitten, for a while things didn’t look well from him, he was weak, had an eye infection and very little appetite, but one day he started eating well getting better and finally exposed some belly while sleeping. He loves to sit in my hair and suckle, he is now a six months old handsome boy, but as playful as a two month kitten.” Photo courtesy of Yasmine A. Khalaf.
“Baluza was hit by a car in Cairo. That’s when she came to me. She had her leg amputated. I already had everything prepared to leave Cairo when she came to me, so after three months with me, I put her in a boarding place. Two years later I managed to send her to the U.S. with me. She arrived two weeks ago!” Photo courtesy of Andrea Portillo Hernández.
“Shisha, Nun, and Batata! My baladi kitties that I rescued and brought with me to the US! I found Nun (white cat) as a kitten by the trash in Maadi Degla, and I took in the other two from someone giving away free kittens that their rescue cat gave birth to. I did not want them to end up on the street.” Photo courtesy of Alejandra Ramos.
“I picked up Wadi (white) and Degla (brown) in the desert in Cairo after finding them dumped and abandoned with their already dead sibling – no parent dogs in sight. By some stroke of luck and a lot of help, I found them two separate adopting families in Germany. They were ready to fly in March 2020, but the airport was suddenly closed because of covid. Thankfully, their adopters were patient and understanding, and they finally met Wadi and Degla (now Gara) in July.” Photo courtesy of Melissa Ghelman.
“A stray cat had kittens in my friend’s balcony, so I adopted one.” Photo courtesy of Ahmed Hammoud.
“It was seven years ago on a cold January night, I found Oreo and her siblings behind my house and they were no more than three weeks old. Oreo stole my heart and I knew she found her forever home.” Photo courtesy of Kenzie Ali.
“This is Simba. Him and his brother were adopted during the run-off of the 2012 presidential elections. Simba’s brother didn’t make it, though.” Photo courtesy of Omar Tarek.
Photo courtesy of Dina Elgohary.
Atef. Photo courtesy of Sherine Medhat.
Afreet. Photo courtesy of Nour Alaa Hafez.
Photo courtesy of Gehad Hossam Eldin.
No2ta. Photo courtesy of Ahmed Moheeb Yehia.
“I never had a pet.
When I was a kid, I used to beg my parents every month to get me a baby Dalmatian because I legitimately thought I’d be saving the puppy from Cruella Deville’s evil claws. My mama never had a pet either, she wasn’t into the idea of raising an animal, and it particularly annoyed me the fact that I could never change her mind. When I was eight, I won two beautiful orange fishies at the arcade. I was so excited to finally have a pet… not long after, my whole finny tribe died. I was heartbroken and went into my first ever depressive episode. I never asked my mom for anything with a heartbeat again.
Sixteen years later, I found myself watching cute kitten videos and experiencing weird emotions whenever rescuing and adopting were in the equation. I started thinking about it again, but I couldn’t bear the thought of going out there and paying up a rack for a dog or a cat when our streets are, in all sense of the word, packed with them. Adoption was my only acceptable option at that point, but I was still traumatized from my first experience. Who knew some furry munchkin with eyes like the universe would change my mind? It was a Tuesday and I’d just left the office. I was leaning on a tree waiting for my Uber when a tiny little thing came up to me, stood there in silence, and started gazing at me in wonder. I didn’t understand what was going on and I was trying to collect my strength so I wouldn’t fall for the most adorable baby kitten my eyes have ever seen. If you know me well enough, then you know I’ve always had a soft spot for baby everythings. Can’t help it. I truly was, however, trying to shift my attention away from her because I was a total noob who had never raised an animal and I’d never risk harming her. But as dark as one side of my personality is, as mushy is the other; I’m a caregiver by nature. It makes me happy.
It was a real struggle to look away because I knew I was falling in love. That’s when the furry squeeze ball decided to latch on to my ankle. And that’s exactly when I picked her up and got into my Uber, especially after I was assured by the security guard that her mom hasn’t been back in more than a month. I’d never had a pet before Nairobi. My mind kept going crazy as I picked her up but there was no going back. I wasn’t even sure I was a cat person. I wasn’t even sure I was a person. Best damn decision I’ve ever made. This marmalade stuffed toy is loving, affectionate, smart, playful, an early riser, definitely paranoid, a huge conspiracy theorist, a capitalist, a satanist, and my best friend. Nairobi teaches me how to become a better person every day in her own way and I couldn’t be more thankful that the universe was kind enough to put us in each other’s paths.” Photo courtesy of Nour Nasreldin.
“This is Shams. After graduating university, I was suffering from post grad depression and while I was out with a friend in Korba this one time, there was a small pile of what seemed like sand that I was about to step into… then I found a tiny kitten in the midst of it. She was very small and rolled up into a small ball and she was so still and peaceful to the point that I thought she might have actually been dead. I poked her slightly and she wasn’t very responsive, it wasn’t until I picked her up that she all of s sudden opened her little eyes in confusion. I carried her in my hands and then she went right back to sleep, and at that point I was like, okay you’re not going anywhere. I took her to a doctor in Korba to get a full check up and make sure she was okay and then I took her home. I had initially planned on finding her a foster home, but she ended up staying with me and she is now three and a half years old and she’s my bundle of comfort and joy.” Photo courtesy of Zahraa el Husseiny.
“This is Dio. I was never really a cat person before him, but he would always hang around the place where I worked as a baby kitten and his mother was never in sight. I would love sitting outside and having him come up to me to play or sit on my lap, and it just felt like this strange sort of inexplicable bond formed. And then one day it was just like okay, you’re coming home with me; so I took him to the vet and he’s been with me ever since. He’s now about three years old.” Photo courtesy of Mary Aravanis.