Hi, in response to your question, there is no set answer. There are basic, unavoidable costs to having a cat; they need their own food, litter and vet checks.
It is entirely up to the owner of the cat whether they want to keep the cat on a dry food only diet or a combination of wet food and dry food. The dry food diet is the more economic option and varies depending on the brand of food you choose. We choose to feed our cats a combination but it is a personal choice. Royal Canin is considered one of the best kinds of dry food but there are lots of alternative options as well. Expect an adult cat to eat about 2kg of dry food each month but our kitten can eat that amount in a week.
One cat may goes through a small bag of litter every 10 days or so and again, there are loads of different litter options but I think the average for a small bag is 8,000LL.
Kittens need regular vaccinations until they are about 5 months old and all cats need annual booster shots and bi-monthly fleas-ticks-and worms medication. It is hard to put a cost on vet checks, we are very particular with our cats so they all visit the vet, (much to their dismay) every 2 months. We have also had a cat who was continuously sick for 6 months so the cost of caring for her was very expensive. It just depends and you should always anticipate the worst but I guess all going well expect to pay about $100 a year as a minimum.
Initially, you will need to buy a litter box and a poop scoop (can be gotten cheaply) and a cat carrier cage. These things are a necessity. I would also recommend buying the cat a scratcher to save the furniture.
Finally, if you are thinking of getting a cat remember that all cats have different personalities so do some research and think about what kind of cat would suit you and your living situation. Some cats are independent while others crave as much human attention as possible (lap cats) and, rescue rather than buy!!
Rain, rain and more rain (with reports of a storm called Alexa heading right this way next week).
Winter has hit fast and hard.
It is so easy to tip the delicate balance here, a country that was on the brink of drought one day and the next, overflowing with uncontrollable floods. Lebanon does not have the infrastructure to fend against heavy rainfall (lets face it though, Lebanon doesn’t have the infrastructure for anything), within seconds of a downpour roads swell and rivers of water appear.
Traffic reports coming in that some major roads are closed in Beirut due to today’s rain alone, including the airport road. So imagine what a full week of heavy rain is going to do… Traffic is going to be a nightmare.
I also suspect the rapid change in weather will see flues and sickness soar.
The month of December is Christmas month. Granted Christmas comes almost at the end but most of December leading up to it is spent thinking, sourcing and buying gifts. While the act of giving a gift is self satisfying I am well aware that it can also bring about stress for those less creative or whose pockets are not so deep this year.
Therefore, while browsing the internet for my own gift ideas I decided to share a handful of the my finds that are for the most part Lebanese slanted and which are be suitable for most ages and budgets. (There are no books on this list because I have not had chance to check out the book stores but I should hopefully have a Lebanese book gift guide post coming soon).
1. Lebanese Cooking Classes with Tawlet
Class prices start at $40 plus 10% VAT each varying depending on how many is in the class. There are classes in “Lebanese cuisine” (might not go down well with every Lebanese person), a really interesting sounding class called “All about Kebbeh”, “Chouf Mountain Food”, “Southern Taste”, “Forgotten West Beqaa” and many, many more. All sound fantastic to be honest and fun.
2. Recycled Homeware with GGRIL
I actually wan’t looking for Christmas gifts when I saw this new initiative by Green Glass Recycling Imitative Lebanon (GGRIL). Some friends of ours got engaged and I was looking for something different to gift them for their relatively new home together and chanced upon their page. They have cleverly created some quirky, yet practical homeware goods that are also rather unique to the Lebanese market. All are made from recycled goods so feel good about the environment too with these gifts.
Below is a price list of their very affordable goods on offer:
and here is my favorite, a round carafe selling for just $10, although it wouldn’t be hard to make a gift set with glasses included:
3. Kick start New Year Resolutions with a gift voucher from Body Garage
Body Garage is well known for its great selection of exercise classes but the rather steep prices usually keep the not-so-keen away so why not anticipate the season of over eating by buying both yourself and your best friend a gift voucher for Body Garage gym so come the new year you can both take a class together while doing something new too.
Class selection includes: Gymnastics, Body Jam, Tae Bo, Zumba (recommended) and Metamorphosis. Times are catered to suit all timetables. Vouchers can be purchased for any amount so even if you just want to try out something new once or plan for a full session of classes call 01200090 for more details.
4. LG Pocket Photo Printer
This gadget is at the higher end of the budget but for those looking for something new to keep their technology mad relative/friend/partner this is a great idea. It is a portable wireless printer which connects to your phone and can edit and print on the spot, anywhere that has wifi.
It is approximately the size of a smart phone and perfect for on the go.
(To let you in on a secret: I am actually going to splash out on this for our wedding because I think it is a fantastic, modern alternative to having a Polaroid camera which we wanted to do for the guest book so that each guest can now take their photo, print it and instantly add it to our wedding guest book.) This will actually be cheaper in the long run than the Polaroid camera as film roles are rather pricey and difficult to come by these days.
Winter has well and truly arrived in Ireland. It is that kind of pervasive, bone-rattling cold that makes your lungs bolt in shock at the first breath and stops the circulation to gloveless fingers.
It is at once freezing, breathtaking but renders nostalgic sentiments each time I go back.
Living outside of the homeland forces me to acknowledge the kind of person I have become, no longer bound by childhood behaviors or the version of myself I am in Ireland (or so I like to think). I am a different self here in Beirut. Each city and place evokes a different sense of the self. I find it difficult to write about my relationship with Ireland. I have tried, but I always end up sounding unduly pessimistic, which is not true because I love Ireland.
It is this wistful nostalgia to Ireland which I cannot yet shake. It is at times lonely because most of my friends have moved on to different continents from the lives we once so closely shared, and if it is not them who has moved on it is I who has.
Traveling is fantastic and I cannot get enough of it but it is also very tiring, not least navigating airports, car rental and transfers.
Needless to say I wasn’t too pleased when my fiance (very noisily) arrived to bed at 3.30 am in the early hours of Sunday morning and the alarm was set for 4.30 am. After a battle of almost epic proportions to wake him from his coma we set off for the capital, some 3 hours away, half an hour behind schedule.
5 minutes into the drive I realised I forgot to leave my bank card at home so I turned around and asked P to run into the house with it. Running was never going to happen. He was still inebriated and wobbled around the corner to the unlocked back door. After waiting for what felt like an age I decided something was not right so I hopped out and found him bent over at the back door having decorated the wall and path. I bundled him back into the car with a towel and tissues, waved apologetically to my poor mother who would have to clean it and set off once more.
With a sleeping bear beside me I drove through darkness and dawn to finally arrive in Dublin Airport 3 hours later. P almost fainted at the car rental returns office, no time for that so he was quickly directed onto the shuttle bus and we arrived at the check in.
I noticed the check in lady kept looking at P’s passport and then at him with a perplexed look on her face and finally she told me that the man standing in front of her does not look like the one in the passport photo. I told her that comes as no surprise after no less than 2 bottles of Irish whiskey. Thankfully she let us through without any more delay and we ran to catch our flight.
The short flight to London was grand and without hassle. P, still drunk, slept the whole way through it from lift off to touch down. However, the hangover began to hit at the end of the 3 hour wait in Heathrow and he boarded the plane to Beirut in an even worse state than checking in at Dublin.
We were assigned different seats, I had the bad luck to be sitting slap bang in baby central, beside a mother and her 9 month old child, with 2 more young children/babies in front of me and the same in the row behind me. No matter how loud I had the volume on my earphones there was no possible way of drowning out the noise of 5 children screaming and roaring all around me. I was also left baby sitting for much of flight as the mother, a lone traveler, kept going to the loo and dumping her child over to my care. The kid obviously got the vibe that I was none too pleased to be holding him and roared even louder every time he was in my arms.
P had it even worse, hang overs and high altitudes don’t bode well together so he spent much of the flight with his head down the toilet or in the cabin crew area with shakes and numbness. In one unfortunately timed dash to the plane loo he found both to be occupied and had no choice but to vomit in the cabin. We arrived to Beirut airport and I thought I might have to ask for wheelchair assistance as P’s blood pressure and balance were both off.
After waiting an age for our bags to come through we made our way to P’s waiting parents outside. Home at last, almost 24 hours awake, I finally got to bed late last night but our cats were so excited to see us they spent the entire night fighting over who could sleep on me and when they weren’t fighting each other they did not stop tapping or nudging me awake for cuddles.
I think it goes into the record books as one of the worst air travel days ever.
Best thing to do is first contact the airlines and speak to them about cargoing the cats and ask what they will need from you. Some airlines don’t cargo an animal that is unaccompanied by a human.
I am not really sure if bringing cats over to here from the UK is any different from the other way around, I know that for cat to travel it needs to be micro-chipped, you need to have certain vaccinations done (a pet passport), blood test done with clear results before travelling (it is 30 days for Lebanon but that is because there are no blood testing facilities in this country so I presume it would take less time in the UK).
I would also suggest you email Animals Lebanon for more details, those guys are the experts, here is their email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We go to a vet clinic called Animalife in Hazmieh. There is a facebook page apparently for the vet and all the information can be taken from there. He is probably a bit more pricey than some vets but we are generally happy with the standard of care our cats receive there, I know BETA use him and he has a good selection of cat beds, toys, cages, etc… Another reputable vets is Animal House Hospital, also on Facebook and Animals Lebanon use this place but I have not personally gone there.
Good luck. I was away for over a week there and missed them all so much so I can imagine how hard it is to be apart. Thankfully, they seemed to miss us too and didn’t really allow us to get much needed sleep last night as they all insisted on cuddling on top of us.