Spring 2017 my husband and I went on a holiday to Rome, Italy. As always when we travel, I had to go visit the cats at the local shelter (rather than the Zoo). The cat sanctuary in Rome looks a little different from most shelters though.
Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary is home to around 150 felines, sheltered among the oldest temples in Rome! These are the ruins of the very same temple Julius Caesar was murdered in. I sure hope he liked cats, cause if you look closely, the ruins are crawling with them. The cats were already there, so that's why the sanctuary was built on this very spot. The shelter offers a sterilization and adoption program, and it also cares for sick, handicapped and elderly cats that are difficult to place in homes.
The first time we went to the shelter there was a lot of tourist and there wasn't really time to talk to the staff. So we went back another day and this time we got greeted by a big fluffy white cat outside the main entrance. She was showing us her belly and rolling around in the sun. So I got to pet her before we went inside.
A very nice lady showed us around inside, where all the special needs kitties live (deaf, blind, skin cancer, diabetes, tripods etc.). The rest of the cats can go in and out as they please. Some of the cats are forever feral and chose to live outside, where they find shelter in the ruins and are provided with food. Some cat only come inside to eat and immediately leaves again, while others hang out both inside and outside. I asked about the white cat tanning at the entrance and she told us that her name was Trilly and asked us "why, did she bite you?". I told her that Trilly had been very friendly with me. This surprised the volunteer lady, cause usually Trilly does not like to talk to strangers.
She went on to tell me that Trilly has lived at the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary for 6 years. She came there as a kitten and the odds seemed good that she would get adopted, since she was young and in good health. However Trilly turned out to be somewhat of a moody lady and would often scratch the visitors. So no one wanted to take her home and the years went by without Trilly getting adopted. She hangs around inside the shelter as well as out. She likes being around humans, but will never be a lab cat. Trilly has too much cattitude to get adopted apparently.
Because no one has adopted Trilly for so long she has become a part of the "Adopt from a distance program". These are cats who are "unadobtable", usually because they are sick or has a disability. Most of these cats are kept inside in the special needs room. But not Trilly as she is still perfectly healthy. You can check out some of the cats in the program here.
Adopt from a distance
Adopting from a distance is a way to sponsor the shelter. Choosing a cat to adopt from a distance is merely symbolic, as the money will go to all the cats. The only difference is that you will receive updates and pictures specifically on the cat you chose. These unadobtable cats are not really unadobtable though. The Sanctuary choose cats for the program who, in their experience, are unlikely to be adopted and therefore will spend the rest of their days in the Sanctuary. But sometimes an angel comes along and adopt a special needs cat. You can read all about adopting from a distance here, if you want to help.
I wanted to help out the sanctuary with the work they do, by adopting from a distance. There was a lot of lovely cats to choose from but I had to adopt Trilly. She was friendly (with me), she's white like my Victor and has personality like my Ronja. I also have a theory that not many would choose Trilly even for distant adoption, since a cat missing an eye, an ear or a leg speaks more to people? So I chose the one that no one is choosing.
I think we caught her on a good day or she saw an easy sponsor miles away, haha. Once in a while I get letters from the sanctuary with pictures and updates on Trilly.
She seems to be doing good and doesn't mind the warm weather in Italy even though she has delicate white fur and lots of it. I think she just enjoys it so much at the sanctuary, that she decided to stay there. If you ever get the chance to visit this place, I highly recommend it.