A tale of kings and queens, cushions and streets.
When the rush of day and traffic fades away, the raucous sound of traffic jams and near misses transitions into a new auditory treat.
Sweet Night Sounds To Sleep To
Shadows emerge from their crevices and hide the activities of these creatures of the night. Long howls from lost souls speak of seeking treats or defiling salacious mates. Tensions rise as they hunt for either prize, the drama of eternity playing out with daily regularity.
Dim and grim as these moments are, the tales of a Lebanese Street Kitty only begin here.
Food is food. When you can find it, you go for it. Defined by their propensity for dumpster scraps and sightings within the proximity, these guys are a little rougher around the edges.
The Squid Puss Street Gang
Some kitties you don’t want to play with. Mess with the bull, get the horns kind of cats ya ‘know?
When you visit a nice seafood restaurant, you’re not expected to think about what happens to the bits you don’t eat.
Cirilla likes it that way. She and her gang of thieves and roughnecks take care of the leftovers on their nightly rounds. So order up.
And don’t take anything to go.
A Taste of Home
Or, What A Home Could Have Tasted Like
Though many people adopt Lebanese street cats as pets, millions live as feral cats fending for themselves in small towns and busy cities. They’re particularly rampant in Beirut.
Those who dwell on the same streets as these wandering kitties, may find their hearts melted from time to time. Offerings of peace, in the form of wet food or snacks are welcome treats to those who may never know a traditional home.
Like all domestic cats, Lebanese street cats can trace their roots back to the African Wildcat — whose native land stretched from Egypt to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey.
Some are able to stay wilder than others. Some find quiet lives in the countryside, unaware or uncaring of the lives lived elsewhere.
Cyril, is a unique kitty. Unique in that I believe he is the only one that I met twice between my two trips to Beirut. On the left, the first time I encountered him. Actually he was the first Street Kitty I photographed here.
What I did not realize, was that upon my return nearly a year and a half later, I had found him again. It was only in preparing these files that I noticed two kitties that resembled…and WERE the same one. Without GPS data to confirm, I believe this must have been near my brother’s apartment.
On the friendlier side.
Priscilla preyed on the weak.
The weak of heart that is.
A van had been contracted to pick me up at the bus dropoff. While I waited, she emerged on the scene.
Priscilla’s looks drew your attention from the banality of street corner life to focus on whatever she was up to. Arrestingly gorgeous for a kitty of the pavement, she was the only one I witnessed receive pets from humans.
Tourists are suckers not in disguise.
We are easy targets for the cute, especially when far away from home and missing our own furry pals.
Some kitties have cousins that have found cushy careers. Literally lounging…on cushions. And they know we love them.
These are the places you wake up to a purring pussycat with your morning joe instead of the torn faces of night creatures’ combats. It is a welcome change of tone, breeding a more positive note for the state of the Street Kitties.
I Mustache You A Question
But for now, I will simply look pretty.
In the 1970s and 1980s, many city dwellers left their cats behind when fleeing the civil war. And over the last several decades, the number of feral cats in the area has exploded.
Age, disease, and the toll of living weigh heavily on the Trash Kitty. Without the security of the dumpster, or the love of anyone, they likely suffer the most.
Kitties like Trenton, give up on themselves. Why bother cleaning yourself when your energy would be better spent seeking the next morsel?
Around corners, in the mountains, tourist sites and university, these felines are everywhere. Humans and kitties have grown together as a nearly inseparable dynamic species duo. Like people, they also…
…come in all shapes and sizes. Signs of a life-long street cat — versus a stray cat who may be lost — include a well-kept coat (thanks to their meticulous self-grooming), protective body language, and lack of eye contact. Because they are intact, male street cats may have thick necks, muscular bodies, and scars from fighting.
All good things must come to an end. Such was my time visiting Lebanon and telling the tales of it’s countless, unnamed Street Kitties.
However, try as you might to leave them behind, the Street Kitties will never truly leave you.
For more cat love (I can’t believe I just wrote that) check out my post from a decade ago. I still consider myself a dog person, but there just seems to be more cats more often and they’re more photogenic.
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Quotes and facts from —Lebanese Street Cat Facts – Wisdom Panel™ Cat Breeds
Lebanese street cats share the same basic physical characteristics as pet cats, but they live a mostly independent life…www.wisdompanel.com
Story and photos ©Ian Hanson. All rights reserved.
Please note, many names and stories for this article are of fictitious nature and for entertainment purposes.