Eternal Kitty: Rome’s Famous Feral Cats

Informal In The Forum

(images via: Vagabondish and PetsWelcome)

A furry thing happened on the way to the Forum… and many more will happen once you get there! Some of Rome’s most famous cat colonies can be found in and around some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, such as the Forum, the Colosseum and Vatican City. Perhaps that’s why they’re famous: as distinct features of the scenery, feral cats frequently turn up in photos, videos, conversed reflections and other vacation memories.

(image via: The Cats Of Rome)

It may be that the preponderance of cats in Rome’s public areas is no accident, however. Banished by homeowners in residential neighborhoods, cats may congregate where more kindhearted tourists afford them attention and affection along with tidbits of food. Indeed, describing Rome’s unowned cats as being “feral” is a convenient misnomer: in far too many cases these cats have been abandoned by their owners and instead of avoiding people like true feral cats, are attracted to them and the places they visit.

(images via: Conservation Cub Club and Telegraph Media Group Ltd.)

Rome’s cats received an extra boost of publicity of late thanks to Pope (now Pope Emeritus) Benedict XVI. It seems the Bavarian-born pontiff loved cats and stories abound of his having looked after stray cats when, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he lived in the Roman neighborhood of Borgo Pio.

(images via: USA Today and Global Balita)

Though custom dictates that no pets be allowed to live in the papal apartments, as Pope Emeritus the retired pontiff is free to indulge his affection for felines. Perhaps Contessina (above), one of the many cats roaming the landscaped gardens and winding walls around Vatican City, will soon be snoozing at the shoes of the fisherman.