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The Cats of Rome

Updated on November 19, 2014
VladimirCat profile image

Vladimir is a former champion ratter (retired). His hobbies are bushwalking, birdwatching and nature studies

Abandoned Cats in the City of Caesars

It was in the Torre Argentina, in 44 BCE, that Julius Caesar was stabbed to death, but it is said his spirit lives on in the proud and haughty cats that roam the ruins of Rome.

Over 300,000 stray cats live in Rome, descendants of Egyptian cats brought there 3,000 years ago. These cats are not wild, but need human help to survive.

A much needed Cat Sanctuary sits in the very place that Caesar was murdered, and I hope the shelter continues to receive support and donations. In my own very small way, I'm trying to do my bit for them.

image : pantheon institute

Cats are considered as rodents

Under Italian law, cats are deemed to be wild animals, not domesticated pets, and they're treated in the same way as pigeons in the piazza - as monumental pests.

Most Romans consider the cats to be on the same level as rodents.

(You won't catch me moving to Rome any time soon)

A cat in Torre Argentina
A cat in Torre Argentina

The Cats of Rome aren't Feral Cats

The cats who live in the magnificent ruins are NOT feral cats (but they soon could be if no-one helped). They are abandoned cats, probably because they grew out of their kittenish appeal. A Christmas present, unwanted in February.

As well as the 'strays' turning up, many kittens are dumped in the ruins by callous people who can't be bothered to have their housecats neutered.

Abandoned in the Roman Ruins

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Cat Sanctuary in Torre Argentina

The Torre Argentina Sanctuary is staffed by volunteers seven days a week, some Italian and some from elsewhere, and they house and care for more than 250 cats.

The cats of the ancient ruins are vaccinated here but the main priority of the Sanctuary is to spay and neuter the cats they find

The ultimate goal with every cat that comes into care is to have a loving home with an adoptive family - many tourists call in the sanctuary to leave a small donation and find themselves drawn to one of the cats.

Some of the Torre Argentina cats have been adopted by people in Germany and as far away as the United States!

The Cats of Rome

Influential Felines

Every generation brings a few elite cats who rise above their species. Cats who make a difference.

One example, Isaac Newton was interrupted in his work by his cat wanting to constantly go outside and then come back in. Newton invented the pet door.

Extraordinary true tales of cats who broadened the world's understanding of science, history, art, and religion.

The most infamous, celebrated and just-plain noteworthy cats in history

Tourists flock to see the Cats of Rome

Torre Argentina
Torre Argentina

Most Italians consider the cats that roam the city a nuisance - but tourists flock to see the cats in the Colosseum.

Help is at hand

There is a Cat Sanctuary sheltered amongst the oldest temples in Rome (400-300 BCE)

Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

Tarek, a Cat of Rome
Tarek, a Cat of Rome

Tarek, Cat of Rome

This photo is of Tarek, one of the cats in the Sanctuary.

He's been there with his littermate since they were abandoned at about four months old.

The woman who feeds me wanted to adopt Tarek but Italy is just too far away and, frankly, we don't need another cat to take up any of my space.

Tarek doesn't want to be just one of the many black cats in the shelter, he hopes to obtain that special status of being adopted at a distance. We adopted him for two months. I hope he got a bit of tuna in that time.

What would you do if you had the chance?

How would you fix the problem of the Cats of Rome?

See results

© 2010 Vladimir


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