Thursday, 6 November 2014

Cats Galore

This weekend (8th/9th November) Rome hosts the international SuperCat show. An apt choice of venue as Romans have always have had a soft spot for our feline companions.

In ancient times cats were respected as domestic animals who represented the warmth and security of the home as well as being allowed to wander freely around the temples. They were often kept as mascots by the Roman army as they did an admirable job of protecting their grain stores from rodents.

At the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary over 200 rescued cats are cared for by volunteers. The site is funded by donations and contains a hospital area below ground that can be visited. The cats are free to roam around the ruins of three Republican era temples which is said to be where Julius Caesar was murdered.

Larger cats can be seen in Piazza del Popolo where four Egyptian lions recline at the base of the obelisk.

Via della Gatta is named after the stone cat that perches on a ledge of Palazzo Grazioli in the middle of the street. The statue is thought to have come from a temple dedicated to Isis which once stood nearby.

The former Pope Benedict is known to love cats and there are many stories of him having looked after stray cats in Borgo Pio when he lived there as Cardinal Ratzinger. This may explain the presence of cats in the Vatican Gardens when we visited a couple of years ago.
Finally, if you wish to introduce young children to the sights of the Eternal City then I recommend reading 'Madeline and the Cats of Rome' by John Bemelmans Marciano. This charming tale sees Madeline and friends leaving rainy Paris for sunny Rome where they have an adventure among the famous landmarks accompanied by many cats.

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