Even if you’ve never been to Rome, you most likely know that the city is rich with ancient art, culture, and architecture. Ancient monuments, such as the Colosseum and the Vatican, attract millions of people every single year. But there is one monument, in particular, that attracts a large number of people, but not necessarily because of its history. People are attracted to this stunning monument because of who, or more accurately, what is inhabiting the ancient monument now.The remains of the historical monument, which dates all the way back to the 4th century BC, include four temples and the Theatre of Pompey. Wanting to keep as much of their history intact, the Roman people have built their modern city right around the ancient monument.
It’s truly hard to believe that after 2000 years of wear and tear, the monument is still standing proud. But if people aren’t attracted to the history of the monument alone, then what else are they drawn to?
These ruins have played a major part in Roman history because of a story that we’ve all heard before. Due to certain acts of betrayal, the infamous dictator, Julius Caesar, met his tragic death on the steps of the Curia of Pompey.
After the ruins were discovered, droves of people began to arrive so they could witness the place where their history changed so dramatically, and of course, to pay their respects. But the history of this ancient relic isn’t the only reason why tourists are drawn to this location.
Rome just happens to have an overwhelming number of feral cats. And once the ruins were discovered, they decided that the ruins would make the perfect cat haven. But, you see, we’re not just talking about a few cats.
That’s an incredible amount of furry felines! Once word got around that there was a safe place for them to live, more and more cats began to show up. But it wasn’t just because they liked the aesthetic of the ruins. These cats had a much better reason for staying put.
Due to the continuous efforts of the local gattare, also known as the cat ladies, these cats are taken care of and fed while they live at the ruins. Free food and love? It’s no surprise that hundreds of cats have moved in.
It’s not unusual to see feral cats in every city you go to, but Rome is literally overflowing with them. You see, Italy has a no-kill law for homeless cats, which is great for the cats, but not so much for finding them all a place to live.
So the cats got together and happily moved into one of the most infamously gruesome landmarks in Rome. But these cats were smarter than they seemed. After all, if they moved into the ruins more people would notice them, and hopefully, give them a helping hand.
But eventually, something else needed to be done for these frisky felines. So in 1993, two women, Lia and Silvia, realized that the cat population needed to get under control, so they created the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary!
Some were born into the life of being a stray cat. Some were abandoned by their families and they needed a new place to live. But unfortunately, some of them were sick, wounded, or disabled. The volunteers decided that the cats that were considered high-risk needed a safer place to live, so they were brought into the tunnel underneath the ruins to live in peace.
Trying to find the money to renovate the tunnel, as well as all of the other expenses that came with caring for all of these cats, started to put a lot of stress on the volunteers. Where could they possibly find the support that they needed? Could there be someone out there who loved cats and just so happened to have a bunch of spare money laying around?
The founders of the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary began to ask the tourists for help. Travelers that wanted to experience the history of Rome found themselves stumbling across the ancient ruins, but they ended up staying to give the cats a bit of their attention. Because of this, the shelter began to receive plenty of donations, but they also gained even more volunteers that cared about the wellbeing of the cats.
More and more people donated their time or their money, which meant that the cats were happier and healthier! Thanks to the donations, the volunteers were able to give the cats better food and vaccinations. And luckily, the volunteers were able to organize fostering programs for the stray cats. As well as things were going, there were some people that didn’t like the cats living in the ruins.
For a while, the authorities were able to turn a blind eye to the cat sanctuary, but that changed in 2012. It was then that the National Archaeological Department decided that it was time for the cats to find a new home.
They claimed that the Cat Sanctuary was invading the ancient ruins, and essentially, taking away its dignity and respect. They immediately began a campaign to evict the cats in the national papers.
These motivated supporters started a petition to keep the Cat Sanctuary up and running. The people spoke, and their cry for help received over 30,000 signatures on the petition. But would that be enough to keep the Cat Sanctuary open?
They suggested a plan of cooperation and compromise for the cats, and they won! Ever since there hasn’t been any kind of attempt to evict this colony of cats from their home!
The fact that the cats live there only increases the appeal of this historic landmark. You never know, maybe Julius Caesar is looking down at the cats, glad to see that the place he was murdered became home to cats in need.
Every single furry cat that lives in the ruins is up for adoption and the volunteers do their best to find the right homes for all of them. You can even adopt one of them from afar by becoming a sponsor!