Cats of the Colosseum

The cats of the colosseum have been a popular side attraction to one of the most famous monuments in history, but they represent only a small colony in the city of Rome.

The cats of the Eternal city number about 300,000 with just over half of the felines being domestic cats, living with the locals in relative comfort, the other 120,000 (more feral felines) live amongst the Roman ruins and side streets of Rome. They live on their wits and the generousity of women known as "gattare" (cat ladies), who feed, care and sterilize them (if they can catch them).

Now a select few cats, around 200, live in the colosseum, true gladiators of the feline world. Sometimes you'll spot one zipping through an arch or you may just glimpse a tail as it disapears into the various nooks and crannies of the ruins. But they are there, they are always there. In fact Rome has a regional law which states that if a group of more than five cats are found living in a natural habitat they can not be given their marching orders, it constitutes a protected feline colony. So the cats live in relative peace from eviction and death as it is also illegal to kill a cat or dog in Rome.Many of the cats at the colosseum are feral and it is wise not to try and pat them, not that you would get a chance, as most of them are timid and untrusting. I would be too, living rent free at one of the greatest landmarks in the world.During the summer the cats pretty much fend for themselves with an abundance of pigeons, mice and lizards to keep them happy. But during the winter months, when times are bleak, the felines have to rely on the generosity of the Italian volunteers to feed them.

Torre Argentina : United Nations of the Cat World

Cats aren't just hanging around the colosseum, they are also found in a nice little hideway at Torre Argentina, the place where Caesar was stabbed by Brutus in 44 BC. Following excavation of the area in the 1920's the felines sort refuge in the relatively protected area. One of the most famous people to show kindness to these cats was Italian film star, Anna Magnani, who use to feed them during her breaks from filming. The Torre Argentina ( Roman Cat sanctuary ) is now located within the ruins and it has become just as popular with the tourists as the ruins themselves. From 1929 to 1993 the cats were being fed by a succession of cat lovers who felt sorry for the starving creatures. During the 1990's the sanctuary was run by Silvia Viviani who was using her own savings to feed, spay and neuter all the cats of the Torre Argentina.
Today the extraordinary women of the Torre Argentina rely on donations from the public, both locally and from around the world and they often refer to themselves the United Nations of the cat world. If you want to check out more about the sanctuary or see some of the special cat residents please visit their website Torre Argentina.

Interesting Facts About The Cats of Rome

During the inquisition many cats were killed along with their heretic owners . It seems that the Roman Catholic Church weren't too fond of cats either and began killing them too. This led to a shortage of cats to kill the rats and it wasn't long before the rats were ruling the streets of Rome. It has been argued that this was probably a major reason why the plague was so devastating, there were no cats eating the flea ridden rats which carried the plague.

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