We’ve already featured places where animals have taken over islands or villages, but there’s a bigger issue that we need to address here – the cat invasion. You might not see it yet but these feline creatures are all mad now in taking over the internet, doing their best poses to convince humans that they’re not a threat. No, no, no. They’re not only messing up your time by exposing their bellies in 2-minute videos, they’re now creating their own cat communities all over the world and you should know where these are.
One place that considers cats to be as important as people is Rome. Rome’s cat population is estimated to have reached around 300,000 and there’s even a law which protects cat communities (from five or more) living in their natural urban habitat from being shooed away. There are two known cat sanctuaries in Rome that you can visit to connect with your feline self and get a long scroll of Roman history.
Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, Rome, Italy
The Roman cats have been known to live in the Roman temples of Largo di Torre Argentina. Together with these cats, the spirit of Julius Caesar stays in the steps of the Theater of Pompey which is also within the area of Largo di Torre Argentina.
The cats started to come over in 1929 when the sacred area was excavated and they were regularly fed by the cat ladies, called by the Romans as ‘gattare’. The cat population slowly grew as some cats and kittens were abandoned in Largo di Torre Argentina and in 1993, there were about 90 cats.
Three of the cat-lovers – film star Anna Magnani, founders Silvia Viviani and Lia Dequel – thought that daily work of spaying, neutering, and feeding these cats required more effort and funds than they could handle. Because of this problem, they thought about using the historical site and also tourist attraction as an opportunity to raise funds. Fortunately there were other people who were interested in seeing the cats and the continuous visits have brought not only money to support the growing sanctuary but also volunteers from all over the world.
Improvements came in, from the shelter to the quality of food, and there are currently over 300 cats living in the sanctuary.
The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, besides taking care of abandoned cats, also offers adoptions and sterilizations. They also sell feline toys, gadgets, and gifts.
I Gatti della Piramide, Rome, Italy
I Gatti della Piramide is a cat sanctuary located right next to the Pyramid of Cestius, or Piramide di Caio Cestio in Italian. The pyramid, also known as Meta Remi, is currently one of the surviving archaeological sites that appeared in Rome starting from the 1st century BC. The pyramid stands between two ancient roads, near the Porta San Paolo and the Protestant Cemetery. It was built as a tomb for Gaius Cestius Gallus, a magistrate and member of one of Rome’s great religious corporations known as the Septemviri Epulonum.
How the cat sanctuary was created was actually an accident. the founder Matilde just helped an 84-year-old lady take care of a large cat family by supplying food. Unfortunately, the old woman had to stop taking care of the cats due to a broken leg which made Matilde take over in handling the cat family.
It was a shock for the new caretaker to see the cats suffering from mange. What’s more horrifying is the reality when she witnessed dead kittens and cats killed through unimaginable cruel ways. This made her decide to move to a safer place and she found solace within the area of Piramide di Caio Cestio.
Problems emerged from those who opposed placing a huge cat population within the area, but this was soon solved when the superintendents appointed were archaeologists who had a heart for cats as well. Volunteers also started to come.
The shelter continued to flourish from simple house boxes to bricked houses. Food and medical care came in and the cat population in I Gatti della Piramide continued to grow.
It seems like Roman cats aren’t the only celebrities for cat lovers visiting Italy. If you want to go further and travel outside Rome, you can visit cat shelters like the Rifugio Per Gatti Cinni (Cinni Cat Refuge) in Arezzo, the Dingo Cat Sanctuary on the Lido in Venice, and the Boboli Gardens in Florence.
When On Earth Magazine is for people who love travel. We provide informative travel guides, tips, ideas and advice regarding places to see, things to do, what to taste, and much more for world travelers seeking their next dream vacation destination.