Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary, Rome, Italy
The best part of this amazing project is that we get to meet cat people (and cats) whereever we go. Our visit to Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary in September was filled with kind souls, beautiful cats, and many purrs. We left with our hearts full and our laps covered in fur (the way life should be lived!). Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary is located in an old square in the centre of Rome at the remains of Pompey's Theatre. Today, the remains are pure 'cat territory', the only people that venture into this part are the volunteers. Looking at the ruins from afar, you might not see the entrance to the sanctuary. But a few friendly cats venturing outside the walls will soon convince you that you're in the right place.
We spot a welcome sign directing us down a set of stairs and arrive at the sanctuary which is buzzing with activity, people and cats. (I'm advised that it's chicken day, and that's why everyone's a little excited). I'm met and showed around by kind Nora, a wonderful volunteer who spends one day a week with the cats. She introduces me to the cats and explains the work of the sanctuary.
The indoor rooms are designed to take care of the cats that have medical issues, need vaccinations and also provide a permanent home to the disabled kitties. Other cats are free to roam the ruins and come and go, but some stay near the door, with the promise of pats (and first dibs on the chicken!). Despite being small, it's not a sad place. The elderly and disabled cats are lovely, happy and I am smothered with love and purrs. I'm impressed with how clean it all is and how warm and caring the volunteers are. Isn't Nora lovely?
HISTORY & ACHIEVEMENTS
The sanctuary dates back as early as 1929 when Torre Argentina was excavated. Stray and abandoned felines quickly took refuge in the ruins, which provide a haven from sun, and cold winters. The cats were more or less fed by a succession of cat ladies or "gattare" who mustered up food from supporters. In 1993, two kind souls, Lia and Silvia begun helping out and developed a roster for volunteers and donations. More and more people dumped their cats and kittens and they found themselves by the mid-ninties caring for over 90 cats without official funding.
In 1995 an English woman named Molga Salvalaggio visited the sanctuary. She put Lia and Silvia in contact with A.I.S.P.A. (Anglo-Italian Society for the Protection of Animals). A.I.S.P.A. This was the first organisation to give material as well as moral support. What followed was gala dinners, donations from tourists, a website, story books and products. Torre Argentina became known to the world. In 2017, it's estimated that over 47, 000 cats in Rome have been sterilised by their efforts. The sanctuary today offers adoptions, kitten fostering and an immunisation program.
VISITING AND HOW TO HELP
Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary is open every day from noon to 6 p.m for visitors wanting to drop of a donation, and give the residents some pats. The entrance is at Largo di Torre Argentina, corner of Via Florida & Via di Torre Argentina, Rome , Italy. If you're located in Italy, do consider adopting or fostering. There has even been a Eurostar adoption for UK visitors who fell in love during their visit!
If you can't visit, you can support this amazing cause from afar by donating, or supporting one of their long term residents via distance adoption. Details here.
Image credit: James Mills Photography
♥ This sanctuary has been visited by Hotels With Cats