The Weasel that you see in the pic. may not be the exact one which came to visit, but it is our balcony entrance where we regularly saw our resident weasel and its family come up the steps with the cats to see what we had left out on the roof for them to eat! Most nights as darkness was due, the beautiful bounding creature, (properly named in Egypt as the Least Weasel) ... with its mate and two cubs, competed with two or three cats to make the last dash on to and across the balcony. If we were still, they would pass in fast bounds only a few inches from where we were standing or sitting. Their favourit scraps were of course when we had any chicken leftovers. There was always competition between them and the cats, but for sure when the weasel went to investigate, the cats held back, even though they were two or three times the size of the small weasels. The weasels have earned the respect of everyone for their spirit, strength and tenacity.
When we told Mo that a family of weasels had set up home down around the basement somewhere and were visiting us three storeys up, he was very excited. He told us it was very lucky to have these with you. Apart from the fact that they control the vermin, he told us they guard the antiquities.... and this meant there must be items of antiquity beneath us in the ground. It just so happens by the way that we already know this to be true, but the nice legend is a bonus.
Cats still also fulfil their role of controlling smaller pests and vermin. However over the centuries they have evolved from wild cats of the desert and scavengers, to creatures living from the bosom of the people in worship, and now back again as exiled domestic cats scavenging to keep alive ! They still retain their characters and we saw many variations of this in the ones which came to visit us or that we knew of nearby.
We were often reminded when we raised the subject locally that no one harmed a cat lest bad luck come upon them.
But the corruption of modern life and its disappeared values have poisoned the children and clouded the judgement of their elders.
Yet again in defiance of the Quran's teaching, we witnessed ignorant and blatent cruelty excuted against cats and dogs and horses and camels and donkeys... and to just about any animal there is - by the children with their whips and sticks. One day when the children of the square crowded around us, they showed us a tiny ragged kitten. Our concerns were calmed when one of the older children said it was ok... they were going to take it back to its mother and the other kittens now they had shown it to us. We told them not to be rough with it. Next day as we returned on foot back to the apartment from another session on the plateau we were both very distressed to find the dead kitten from before - just mushed into the dust and dirt at the entrance like another piece of trash.
It is time to meet some of the cats which came visiting to us. We have given them each an appropriate pet name that seemed to fit their characters. Judith was the ace with the camera to catch the cats and other animal shots and later you will see some really special ones. Here are a few of them to begin with :
WILD CAT COOL CAT
PATROLLING CAT WHASSUP CAT
POOR CAT HIDEY CAT
SOFT CAT BOSS CAT
SLEEP CAT WALKING CAT
ACROBATIC CAT TIRED OUT CAT
BAGGY CAT STALKER CAT
WHO DAT CAT SCAREDY CAT
The preceeding cats are ones we saw around the apartment complex in downtown Nazlet el-Samaan. Cats could be found everywhere, but their tameness was being lost as they were more and more losing status in the home against the more pressing needs of poverty. The cats were friendly up to the point where they could gain some food from you - but we saw more than once where an unsuspecting tourists was clawed when they tried to touch one or pick one up. Many cats have clear infestations or are diseased and covered with scars. We tried to show in the pics that some such as in our apartment block were still being looked after. There is nothing to stop the prolific breeding and it is inevitable that the cats themselves will be regarded as the vermin due to overpopulation.
When we visited the hanging church in Old Cairo, we visited a lovely resteraunt closeby. Many of you who have visited there will recognise it. There were several cats resident to the grounds who were happy to make friends with the patrons at the outside tables in return for tid bits of food. The waiters were unkind and harshly tried to chase them away, but they were a pleasant viewing addition to the scenery for those of us who were resting with a drink in the sun. It was fascinating to watch the interaction and play of the kittens among them.
Next question: What secret lurks beneath the riding Saddles ? HERE