The history of the cats’ residency began in 1929 when the sacred area of the Torre Argentina was excavated.
For nearly 65 years stray and abandoned felines found a home in the protected area below street level. The only people who provided for the cats were a series of gattare – cat ladies. One of the most famous gattare was 1950s Italian movie star, Anna Magnani. During breaks in filming at Teatro, Argentina Anna would spend time feeding the cats.
It wasn’t until 1993 that Lia Dequl and Silvia Viviani came to the aid of a woman who had been working alone to care for the felines. Lia and Silvia stepped in to help the woman feed as well as spay and neuter all the cats.
In 1993 there were 90 cats that needed care and the numbers grew daily because some Romans abandoned their cats and kittens amongst the ruins. That is when the Torre Argentine Cat Sanctuary was founded. But caring for the cats brought the women near economic ruin and they needed help to keep caring for the felines.
Though embarrassed, Lia and Silvia began approaching tourists who appeared more interested in the cats than the ruins and asked for donations to support their project.
Their hard work paid off and the women received not only cash donations but also help from volunteers from all over the world. In 1998 the first of many galas were held to raise money for Torres Argentina.
Torre Argentina sanctuary is now able to provide medical care and medicines for cats with chronic illness. The organization now offers access to test kits for FIV/FeLV. Cats living at TA are also available for adoption, even internationally. Interested parties can visit the organization’s website for more information.
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