Domesticated, calico stray cat who gatecrashed the Cairo Film Festival poisoned by the authorities

NEWS AND NEWS-CAIRO, EGYPT: This cute and confident calico cat became a social media star in Egypt when she gatecrashed the Cairo Film Festival (19-28 November 2020). She hobnobbed with the rich and famous on the red catwalk (excuse the pun). The film stars enjoyed her presence and interacted with her. It is the way the world should be. No doubt she had just wandered into this throng of celebrities as she lived nearby. But now she has been poisoned by the authorities and it has provoked an outrage among the citizens. It appears that the citizens of Cairo and Egypt have a different perception about animal welfare and the vulnerable stray cats of the country than the authorities.

Festival Cat poisoned by the authorities where she lived near Cairo's Opera House
Festival Cat poisoned by the authorities where she lived near Cairo’s Opera House. Here she is at the film festival where she mixed with the film stars and celebrities in the past. Photo: Facebook.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The cat became known as the “Festival Cat”. She lived in the grounds of the Cairo Opera House where the festival was staged. Cairo is an overcrowded city and there are some buildings with some outside space and in these spaces you might see stray cats. The authorities regard them as pests and after the Opera House wrote to the city’s Veterinary Directorate to discuss their presence around their building the response was to cull them with poison. A team arrived quite quickly and laid bated poison in the area.

Festival Cat and her kittens were killed. Once the matter was revealed to the public thousands posted angry messages on the Opera House’s Facebook page citing the authorities as murderers. These posts have been deleted as I can’t find them.

'Festival Cat' being petted at the Film Festival
‘Festival Cat’ being petted at the Film Festival. Photo: Facebook.

Sadly, Egypt is a country which is not well known for its animal welfare laws and therefore it is no surprise that the deliberate killing of stray cats is not a criminal offence. Although the deliberate killing of domesticated animals is. Festival Cat was clearly a domesticated cat, by the way, although she’s been described as a stray. In this instance the word “stray” only means that he did not have a home but that is meaningless I would argue in the context of this law because she was fully domesticated judging by her interaction with the celebrities.

In fact, millions of stray cats in the Middle East and going East are stray animals but they are called community cats and therefore domesticated.

Animal rights activists, last February, applied to the national administrative court of Egypt to stop the killing of stray cats but their application was unsuccessful. One last point: killing Festival Cat will not get rid of the ‘pests’ because before long another community cat will take up residence. The killing was senseless and cruel.

Ancient Egypt – See base of page for more

The story is particularly ironic because in Ancient Egypt it is said that the cat was venerated and indeed worshipped and so it appears that those ancient traditions no longer apply. The culture of the country has turned full circle. However, it is probably a misconception that in ancient Egypt they treated cats with veneration and therefore very well because hundreds of thousands of kittens were deliberately bred to be sacrificed to the gods (brutally killed and mummified) which is not an example of a people who cared about animal welfare. Therefore, I conclude that nothing has changed in this country where there is a poor standard, in general, of animal welfare.

Mummified kittens
Mummified kittens, bred and killed for offerings to the gods. They were 4-5 months old. The era: 300 years before Christ to 30 years BC. Photo in public domain

Another poisoning in Cairo

This is not the first time that fully domesticated community cats have been poisoned. On November 22, 2015 the website Egyptian Streets reported citizens being outraged because of a ‘cat massacre’ as an Egyptian sporting club where many cats were poisoned leaving the bodies lying around on a hard floor for all to see. In all 30 cats were poisoned at the Al-Ahly Sporting Club. This is a professional sports club in Cairo and, as I understand it, is the home of a professional football team.

One Cairo citizen was on her usual walk in the morning to the club to feed the cats and to check on them and found them all dead. She found many plates of food on the ground surrounded by the bodies of the cats that she used to feed. They were cold and blue, she said. She also said that the food was covered with a coloured liquid substance which was the poison. Shortly afterwards hundreds of citizens gathered in front of the club to protest the cats’ murder.

The administration said that the cats were not deliberately killed but drugged so that they could be relocated. They also said that the cats were attacking people. Comment: it seems clear to me that the cats were poisoned and that the club’s spokesperson was simply finding a feeble excuse to defend themselves. I think it’s impossible to tranquilize cats through drugs in a controlled way by eating baited food. It just does not seem plausible to me whereas the poisoning seems highly plausible bearing in mind the laws that I have mentioned above.


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