The Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary: Why It’s Worth A Visit

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My trip to Rome was supposed to take me to the Coliseum, but instead, I ended up seeing something much better, the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary.

With just enough time to see one attraction,  I debated between the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary and the Coliseum. This cat sanctuary is the cat sanctuary of them all. I even sought advice on Facebook as to which site I should visit given my limited time.

If I had listened to the majority of people’s advice, I would have gone to the Coliseum.  I didn’t.  And if I’m honest, it really wasn’t much of a debate. I’m also the same person who regularly visits the Cat Cafe in Munich…despite having a rescued cat at home. I’m a total cat lover!

What Is The Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary?

The cat sanctuary has a long history, starting with the excavation of the Torre Argentina in 1929. It is one of the oldest temple ruins dating back to 400 – 300 BC, the site where Julius Cesar was killed. 

Cats, believing they deserve the best of everything (and rightly so) also have the ability to recognize a prime piece of real estate when they see it.  They promptly moved in after the site was excavated.  Throw in a few GattareCat ladies (it make me so happy to know there are cat ladies in Rome too!) and soon Largo di Torre Argentina was soon home to approximately 250 cats. It was also patronized by a famous Italian actress, Anna Magnani during the 1950s.

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The Residents of The Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary

There are the feral cats that come and go relying on the kindness of volunteers for food, but also the permanent residents, most of whom have some sort of disability, like a missing leg or who have been abused.

I observed them for over an hour and say that most of them appear to have settled in rather nicely, taking their celebrity status in stride as stunned tourists spot the first cat (the middle of Rome is not the most obvious spot for a cat sanctuary), snapping pictures.  Take a look for yourself:

Cat sitting on the ruins of the Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome
Cat sitting on the ruins

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Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome
Largo di Torre Argentina Ruins, including those of the Theater of Pompey date back to 400 – 300 BC.

Cat hanging out at the Largo di Torre cat santuary

Black rescue cat in Rome

Cat walking up the ramp in a sanctuary in Rome.

torre argentina cat sanctuary

In addition to feeding the cats, Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary also runs a spaying and neutering program to help reduce the number of homeless cats. I have so much respect for the volunteers.

They have faced challenges such as not having running water for a year and a half.  They solved it resourcefully by carrying buckets of water from the nearest fountain.


You Can Support Them Too

Of course, the torre argentina cat sanctuary can always use more support.  You can volunteer (how rewarding would that be!), make a financial donation on-site or online.  You can also adopt a cat virtually – you choose which cat and they’ll send you photos of it and keep you updated on its life.  Or, my personal favorite, you can actually adopt one of the cats for yourself. Visit their site for further info.

But whatever you do, don’t feed the cats near the street when you visit.  Numerous cats have been killed by cars as they cross the street in search of food.

So perhaps now you have a better understanding of why the Cats vs Coliseum was never really that much of a debate in the first place. The Coliseum never stood a chance. While I would still like to visit the Coliseum – perhaps on my third visit? I could not have chosen a better way to spend a couple of hours in Rome. 

It is located at Largo di Torre Argentina, a large square bordered by Via Florida.

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Accommodation In Rome 

You can stay at the Over The Tiber Loft which is nearby the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary. The apartment comes with free Wifi and bikes so you’re free to explore the city on one of the bikes. The apartment also has a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher washing machine.

You can find some great Airbnb’s which are conveniently located nearby. Use this link and get €25 off your home booking and €9 off an experience.

I  can’t recommend  Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary enough to fellow cat lovers!

Many thanks to my dear friend Simon from Wild About Travel who helped me find this place via Google when we were en route to Rome from Molise and I had no internet connection. 

torre argentina cat sanctuary