Report From Rome: Cats Among the Ruins

In Rome, ancient ruins aren’t just tourist attractions – they’re also home to many of the city’s stray cats.

Located at the site of Julius Caesar’s assassination, the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary has been providing shelter and adoption opportunities for stray and abandoned cats in Rome since 1929. Taking shelter in the ruins below street level, the cats were regularly fed by a succession of cat ladies, including the famous Italian actress, Anna Magnani, who would spend her breaks caring for the cats.

We caught up with a few modern day cat ladies who visit the ruins to see and play with the cats. Ann Kissell Run told Temple Update, “It’s really cute and the cats looks rally happy. And there’s probably like 20 and they keep popping out.” Emily Falk, from the Rome Studio of the University of Miami’s  School of Architecture told us, “Honestly I feel like having the cats here is more of a draw than just having just the ruins because we’re in Rome so that’s everywhere, but I personally come here because of the cats.”

In 1993, three of the regular cat ladies organized their efforts and founded the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, and since then the sanctuary has focused its efforts on feeding, neutering, and finding homes for the stray cats in Rome. Today, volunteers care for over 130 cats, funded primarily by tourist donations. Says the University of Miami’s James Duprey, “We definitely end up here multiple times just because it’s a great place to eat, watch the cats, interact with them if you’re lucky enough they come up say hi.”

In 2017 alone, the Cat Sanctuary has cared for over 300 new cats and give 92 cats new homes. Just like many locals, Roman cats love the ruins.

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