Eternal Kitty: Rome’s Famous Feral Cats

Great Caesar’s Ghosts!

(image via: Catster)

The semi-feral, generally independent lifestyle of the cats of Rome has led to a certain “attitude” exhibited in their interactions with people. Some commentators, in fact, have co-opted the spirit of legendary Roman general, statesman, Consul and dictator Julius Caesar: the great leader’s supposed sense of haughty grandeur is expressed through the behavior of Rome’s street cats.

(images via: NPR, Care2 and Frydmania)

Living with cats for centuries has fostered more than just familiarity between Roman citizens and Rome’s kittens. According to Rome’s city council, “there is a deep-rooted affection for these cats who have an ancient bond with the city,” and in 2001 the cats living in the Colosseum, the Forum and the Largo di Torre Argentina were officially declared to be part of the city’s “bio-heritage.”

(images via: Travels of Adam and PoolPurrs)

Official recognition of the essential place cats have in Rome’s urban milieu has encouraged well-meaning cat-lovers and organizations like the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary in their efforts to make life better for their feline co-heirs to history. As well, dozens of so-called “gattare”, or “cat-ladies”, keep an eye out for these Gatti de Roma, some of whom themselves have an eye out – literally.

(image via: The History Blog)

An ongoing program to feed, spay & neuter, and provide medicine and treatment for the roughly 250 cats in the Torre Argentina cat colony has made a remarkable difference in the lives of both the cats and the volunteers who care for them. It’s enough to bring a tear to the eye of ol’ Julius Caesar, who coincidentally (or not) was attacked and killed at the Largo di Torre Argentina just over 2,000 years ago.