Rome cat shelter appeals for online donations and distance adoptions.
Rome's Torre Argentina cat sanctuary, located among the ruins of the Largo Argentina archaeological area, has provided shelter, food and love to cats in the city centre for more than 25 years.
The shelter, which is dependent on donations and volunteers, is currently seeking support from cat-lovers around the world during this difficult time of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The shelter receives no state funding and relies solely on donations from the public, tourists and whoever supports its distance adoption scheme.
"We have 130 cats who live with us, many free in the ruins and some who are disabled, deaf, blind and have incurable health problems like kidney failure and so need daily medication" - volunteer Fiona Shaw told Wanted in Rome - "These cats have with us a home for life."
Shaw said that the shelter was started 25 years ago by "two special ladies": Lia Dequel who has since passed away and Silvia Viviani, "a retired opera singer who still works at the shelter every day she can. At the moment she cannot visit as she is 80 years old now."
Outlining the current difficulties facing the cat sanctuary, Shaw says that in addition to a total lack of donations from visitors, due to the nationwide lockdown, there are only four volunteers who are able to go to the shelter each day to feed the cats and ensure they are safe. "We take it in turns during this time so it is very difficult and the days are long and sad for the cats because they are missing human company."
What work is carried out by the cat sanctuary volunteers?
In addition to providing cats with food, shelter, medicine and love, an important aspect of the volunteers' work is "sterilising cats in and around Rome to keep the feral cat population down, working hard for the city by doing so," Shaw says. "We offer sterilisations to other colonies of cats cared for by gattare ('cat ladies') and when required we provide medical care to any cats who need it. Last year we sterilised over 6,000 cats."
What is the history of the cat sanctuary?
Largo di Torre Argentina is home to four temples from the Roman Republic era, as well as hosting part of Pompey's Theatre. It was also the scene of Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC. During the excavations of the archaeological site in 1929, cats began to make their home among the ruins, leading to the creation of a colony of stray and abandoned cats. These felines were cared for by a succession of gattare until 1993 when the two special ladies, Lia and Silvia, established the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary.
How can I help the cat shelter?
Shaw told Wanted in Rome: "We survive on our supporters donating through our PayPal and continuing any distance adoptions that they currently have. People can donate by PayPal on our website."
Where can I find Rome's cat sanctuary?
The shelter can be found in the Via Arenula corner of Largo di Torre Argentina, not far from Piazza Venezia in the heart of Rome, by descending a set of steps to the sanctuary building, located below street level.
What are the cat sanctuary's opening hours?
The shelter is currently closed due to Italy's lockdown but once things return to normality the sanctuary will resume its usual opening hours: Mon-Fri 12.00-18.00 and Sat-Sun 11.00-18.00.
For full details about the cat sanctuary, its resident cats and the work carried out by the shelter's volunteers, see website.
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Cats of Rome: How to help Torre Argentina cat sanctuary
Largo di Torre Argentina, 00186 Roma RM, Italy