Last month, I was lucky enough to finally take my dream vacation to Italy.
My husband James and I spent the first four days of our vacation in Rome-strolling the piazzas, sightseeing, drinking espresso, eating pasta…
And looking for cats. 😉
As a cat lover and rescuer at Beach City Kitties, I’m always on the lookout for cats.
Three days into my trip, I’d heard all sorts of references to the cats of Italia, seen amazing cat clothes, cat art and cat souvenirs everywhere, but had yet to see one actual cat!
Well, apparently that’s because they were all hanging out at Torre Argentina (Roman Cat Sanctuary).
Turns out our fabulous hotel G Rough was not only located 650 feet from Piazza Navona, 650 feet from Campo de’ Fiori, 1,300 feet from the Pantheon, but also 1000 feet from a Roman Cat Sanctuary! (Umm why didn’t they include that on their website?!)
I must have walked right passed Torre Argentina several times, without even realizing it.
When a friend on Facebook mentioned it to me, I looked it up and rushed there immediately.
And it didn’t disappoint.
The cat sanctuary is located on a archaeological wonder made up of extensive multilevel temples that lie sunken 20 feet below modern street level.
Torre Argentina also contains part of the famous Theater of Pompey, upon whose steps dictator Julius Caesar was killed in 44 BCE.
After the site was excavated, Rome’s feral cats moved in immediately, and the gattare, or cat ladies, began feeding and caring for them.
Volunteers at Torre Argentina now care for approximately 170 cats.
Since the mid-1990s, the cat population has grown from about 90 cats and the organization has ramped it up with care for sick and wounded cats, as well as an extensive spay and neuter program to keep the feral population in check.
Many of the permanent residents have special needs—they are blind or missing legs or came from abusive homes.
When I first arrived at the sanctury, there didn’t appear to be that many cats around the ruins, perhaps why I hadn’t noticed it the other times I walked by.
I saw a couple of cats lounging in the sun, one sitting on a man’s lap in the piazza, and cat food remnants on the stone wall.
But upon taking a closer look, I started catching glimpses of bright eyes, tails and whiskers and peeking out from different nooks and crannies.
As we all know, there is nothing most cats love more then a good hiding spot, which makes this place pretty much cat heaven
At first there didn’t seem to be any way to enter the sanctuary, but I walked all the way around the outside and I saw a staircase with an arrow pointing down.
When I got to the bottom of the staircase, furry felines of all varieties ran out to greet me.
I discovered a large indoor area filled with cages, cat hotels, scratching posts, toys, and nearly 100 cats of all shapes and sizing running, jumping, playing, sleeping and eating.
I was shown around the indoor area by a very nice volunteer, who told me that all the special needs cats are kept in one room, as well as the kittens.
Though the majority of cats are permenant residents there are some kittens, and a even a few older cats, available for adoption.
The Adopt At An Distant program allows you to sponsor a cat and help with expenses from a far.
There is also a very cute gift shop where you can buy cat tee shirts, mugs, bags and wallets made by local artists, to benefit the sanctuary.
If you’d like to help or donate or help Torre Argentina, please visit their website.
And if you are in Rome, I highly recommend stopping by. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
I went to a Roman Cat Sanctuary and it was Pawsome