Sunday, April 28, 2013

Every day’s a Roman Holiday for these cats !

In 2001 I spent a month in Italy and the day before we flew home we visited a fascinating square in Rome that was excavated in 1929 … Largo di Torre Argentina. It is considered a sacred area, hosting four Roman temples, the remains of Pompey’s Theater and is actually the very place where Caesar was murdered in 44 BC.

It felt so strange to see this immense below-ground area containing authentic parts of Rome’s earliest temples. Gazing from above you get the feeling that history is playing out before your eyes.

The public is not allowed into the ruins so I was a little shocked to see movement in the shadows below. Then it occurred to me…these were the feral cats of Rome. They live in the cave-like excavations under the streets and for years they were fed and protected by the “amanti del gatto” (cat lovers), the most famous of which was the Italian film star Anna Magnani.

Now, since the mid 90’s, the Torre Argentina has become an official Cat Sanctuary. It is a no-kill shelter and is literally over-run with homeless cats lounging on the ancient ruins. Volunteers feed, spay, neuter and protect the cats but I noticed that the ordinary citizens passing by seemed to show little interest.

You would think that the people of Rome could at least thank the cats for keeping the rodents at bay ... but I guess the cats have the last laugh ... they get to bask in ancient temples, but, unlike Caesar, they don’t have to worry about being killed.


Blogger KGMom said...

Ginnie--very clever conclusion...the cats not worrying about being killed.
I recall seeing some of those ruins, but I didn't see any cats. I do recall seeing ONLY cats in cities in Italy when we visited--for whatever reasons we saw no dogs.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

I am so pleased that the people of Rome are seeing to the animals welfare. I have seen similar colonies of feral cats destroyed by animal control here in the states.
Seeing such a historic place would have given me goose bumps.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

We used to have cats on our Parliament Hill, but due to spaying etc, they are now extirpated.

7:05 AM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

Interesting. I love the photograph of the cat on the giant foot. I would love to visit the ruins.

8:30 AM  
Blogger troutbirder said...

As a defender of our disasppearing song birds I'm not a proponent of feral cats whereever they may be found. Still I love the history lessong though....:)

12:13 PM  
Blogger possum said...

Oh I LOVE that picture of the cat on the toe. How perrrrrrrrrrrfect.
I doubt if those cats catch many birds... my cats used to sit under the feeders out front - Punkin slept there - and the only time they got a bird was if it dropped dead and into their paws!
Now the hawk, that is a different story, and actually, the cats seemed to keep the hawks away.

But great post, as usual.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Glad the ruins have some company and that the cats have a safe place to hang out.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Great photos and so glad that the cats have a great place to live and be free. Having them be there without fear of euthanasia is a great thing. Somehow I get the feeling that animals are much more revered in many other countries than in the US where so many are disposable.

4:23 PM  

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