Pets can make you feel at home, especially in an unfamiliar place. We ended up leaving our cat, Ruby behind, but if you are traveling to Egypt, you can of course bring your pet. I’ve heard of people doing it, but unfortunately I don’t have any info about costs, as I never planned to do it myself. I do know several airlines will let you bring a small cat or dog right in the cabin (Air France is one).
Cairo has numerous pet shops. You can find a pretty good variety of animals. Parakeets, parrots, sparrows, kittens, puppies, turtles, fish, mice, and hamsters. I personally was not impressed with the care taken of the animals. The puppies weren’t feed pet food, but some mixture of soft cheese and other ‘people’ food. I saw a dead hamster being pecked at by the other hamsters in the cage. After my son begged and begged for a mouse, lizard or hamster, we finally compromised with a sparrow. Unfortunately, one of our pair of sparrows died within a month of purchasing it. We also lost two turtles. I’m not sure if the problem was the store or us. I read a lot about care for turtles, their food and habitat, one thing they need is a heat lamp, which they did NOT have at the shop. I did purchase a lamp, but it probably wasn’t adequate.
I’m not sure how easy it is to find a vet. The way that street and farm animals are treated is often appalling, so I’m not sure how much demand there would be for medical treatment for animals.
A puppy will run you about $50, a kitten as well. They are pure breeds. Surprisingly dogs are a pretty common pet. Surprising for two reasons, many muslims view living with dogs to be haraam, and, given the cramped conditions in Cairo, God knows why would you want a dog to share your space, particularly the large breeds that seemed popular. I saw a lot of bull dogs! Another drawback would be commercial food, I don’t remember specifics, but compared to other foods, dog and cat food were not cheap! We purchased our little turtles for 15 L.E.’s, there were huge ones for over 100 L.E. Birds go anywhere from about 20 to 150 L.E.’s. Bird food and cages are pretty cheap as well.
Some people also have rabbits, although you won’t find them at the pet stores. You can get them at the souk, I think for about 20-30 L.E.’s. Of course more people prefer to eat them then keep them as pets.
Street dogs and cats abound, but I would NOT recommend taking one off the streets. They are WILD animals. The afore mentioned Ruby was a very mild and fat cat. It was a big deal to see her jump up on the couch. Cairo cats on the other hand can scale 8 foot walls! I felt my heart in my throat several times when a cat jumped out of a dumpster right at me, just as I was throwing our trash inside! Street dogs are the common mutt variety, tail between the legs, usually sleeping underneath cars during the day, avoiding the sun. At night, they seem to roam in packs. Some brothers reported being chased by them at the time of fajr. I know some even took to carrying rocks to throw, just in case. People from the ‘west’ are often dismayed to see the poor treatment of animals. It is common to see the children of the poor taunting, teasing, or doing worse to the poor dogs in the streets. Once we watched from the balcony, a group of ‘bawwab’ kids mistreat a dog that they’d tied up. We yelled down at them, but most people just ignored them. Alhamdulillah, one man came out of a building waving a stick and made them scatter. I shared an arabic class once with a Ukrainian girl and she came to class very upset about seeing a group of kids mistreating a cat. It is very unislamic to mistreat animals, but many of the people live pretty hard lives themselves and are ignorant to the idea of ‘animal rights’.
One thing which surprised us were the sheer number of animals wandering the streets. Obviously there is no official neutering program in place. I did hear tales of people poisoning animals to reduce their numbers, but I don’t know if that is true.
There are other non domesticated animals to be found in the streets. Ferrets are pretty common. You can occasionally see a hoopee bird in the park. There are toads as well. In the spring, the kids and I found toad eggs in a park puddle. We took them home and tried raise tadpoles and eventually toads, but unfortunately they didn’t live. I found a pic of the typical street dogs, below.