Thursday, May 06, 2010
The cats of Rome
We decided to go to the Largo Argentina cat sanctuary when we were in the neighborhood...and are so glad we did. They have been squatting in an underground area located directly in some Roman ruins for several decades. There are currently over 200 cats there, with an upswing expected come kitten season, to bring them up to around 350. They vaccinate and neuter each cat that comes in, treat abscesses, fractures and other injuries. They dock half of one ear on a cat once they have completed the vaccination/neutering, so that they can easily identify a new cat that shows up/is dumped there. They have a hospice area with sick/infectious cats that are separated from the others. There is also an indoor area with a few dozen cats who cannot go outside for various reasons--either they are waiting for their vaccines to be completed, or healing from surgeries, or they are a danger to themselves. One cat, Barack Obama; was kept inside because he had an extensive history of running in the streets and getting hit by cars, so they now confine him indoors. He is not terribly excited about that idea.
There were several cats with three legs--they are kept indoors until they seem to be getting around allright, then they are allowed to come and go as they please. The area of ruins is set down 15-20 feet below street level, so they can run amongst the ruins without fear of vehicles or people or dogs (it is fenced off). They can stay in the sanctuary area in open cages with bedding, or roam about and only come in when they are hungry. These are well-fed animals. Many happy, healthy cats, and some injured ones. A siamese cat in the indoor area was recovering from two broken front legs (car accident). He had been adopted by someone in Switzerland who visited, and will make his trek there next week, once his adoption papers are completed. He sort of hopped around with both front legs landing at the same time. We felt so sorry for him....but then another cat came into his personal space and he whapped him and sent him on his way--so this cat can certainly take care of himself.
There were a few blind cats--either with no eyes, or just no vision. They are allowed to come and go as they please, but have nice open cages that are their own, and tend to stay there. Such sweet kitties!! Ethan and I fell in love with a little teeny black kitty who so much reminds us of the Boo Kitty--so skittish and nervous and frantic that they just must be related.
This was truly an amazing place to see, and they are run solely on donations. They have no running water, but recently got electricity from the city, which allows them to sort of permanently squat there.