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Saving Rome's Wild Cats in Torre Argentina

If you visit Italy's capital, you are likely to realize quickly that Rome is a city that belongs to its wild feline population as equally as it does to its human inhabitants. After all, cats, with their innate elegance and independence, have much more in common with the personalities of the locals than dogs would, so it only makes sense that Romans have a true affection for the graceful creatures who stalk through the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, the Forum, and the Protestant Cemetery with a sense of casual ownership.

Cat sanctuary in Rome, Italy
Keely Herrick
Cat sanctuary in Rome, Italy
Keely Herrick

One of the city's main organizations for caring for the gatti is in Torre Argentina. The shelter is open every day from noon to 6 p.m., and visitors can interact with some of the 250 cats currently under the care of these dedicated volunteers. On pleasant days, the animals roam through the nearby ancient ruins, but on rainy days you can find a large number of them enjoying the comfort of the interior sanctuary. If you're in the middle of a long trip and missing your own kitties back home, or you just need a quick cat cuddle time, this can be a fun stop on your Rome itinerary. Also, if you are traveling with children and they are getting a bit whiny about being dragged from museum to monument, this is a quick diversion guaranteed to make them smile.

The organization is currently fending off threats of eviction from archaeological groups concerned about preserving the ruins, but the parties have been negotiating and hope to come to an amicable resolution. If you would like to donate to the group to help them in their efforts to sterilize and care for these creatures, there are several programs available through their web site.