Le Gattare: Caretakers of Italy’s stray cats

4 april 10


If you’ve been to Rome, you may have noticed the stray cats hanging out in the Colosseum or the Forum. Maybe you even visited the cat sanctuary located in Largo di Torre Argentina (photo above), where cats have called home since its excavation in 1929. Look for the cats, however, and you may spot a gattara, or volunteer cat caretaker. Historically older women, the gattare have been around as long as the stray cats, and I’ve noticed that recently they seem to be getting more positive attention, and not just in Rome. 

In the city of Monza, outside of Milan, a new course is being offered starting May 12th, to teach potential new gattare – or “feline colony tutors” – what and when to feed stray cats, how to treat an illness, and who to contact if the cats get sick, among other things.

The city of Genoa actually does a cat census, and estimates that there are tens of thousands of stray cats in the city, and 700 volunteer gattare. This article explains (in Italian) that the city thinks it’s important to care for stray cats since their health or illness affects that of both animals and people in the city.

And, for Italians living near stray cats but not near a course offered on how to care for them, they can buy a Manual for Gattare (in Italian). 

It’s noticing details like this that I think adds a level of richness to a visit to Italy, so keep your eye out and see if you can spot a gattara on your next trip!

Photo of Torre Argentina by Xiquinhosilva

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Posted by on May 10, 2010 in Rome | 7 Comments


  1. Nisha
    May 19, 2010

    When we stayed in Rome in 2005, our hotel was just opposite Largo di Torre Argentina. We were amazed at all the cats there. I didn’t know about the gattare though. Would the cats survive without them?

  2. Madeline
    May 19, 2010

    Interesting question Nisha. From what I’ve read, I’m guessing many of the cats could survive but the gattare and cat sanctuary certainly keep them healthier and probably happier.

  3. Bali villas
    June 20, 2010

    nice blog..post more like this please…

    • Dyah
      July 28, 2012

      In Rome, book a shore excursion with your cisure company as your time is limited and it is an hour away from the port. Plain on this being an active cisure as you have much to see. It will most likely be HOT in the med, so pack accordingly, but do bring long light weight pants. You will need them in Rome. In France, I loved going to Normandy and it was very meaningful. Be sure to try a crepe from the street vendor there. Oh, and a gillato in Rome.This is a great cisure and you will see so much history it is unbelievable. Enjoy and take lots of pics.

  4. Joe Nance
    October 24, 2010

    I happened across your blog doing a Google search for “Gattara” since I am working on a post for my own blog http://www.dreaminginitalian.com/. The tone of mine is a lot like yours – I like to point out interesting items that are not everyday Italian stuff. Needless to say that means that I like your blog ;^). Is there anyway that I can subscribe for email notification? I use RSS some but forget to look at it.

  5. villa majorca
    March 10, 2011

    Thanks for sharing good knowledge and links.they help me know more about Italy.ITaly is mine favorite dream destination.I can’t afford travel expenses to Italy.but in future i will surely full fill my desire to travel Italy.

  6. Dennis
    July 1, 2011

    It is a great place. Thank you very much for introducing an ideal place to travel .I never went to Italy, if I have a chance to go to Italy, firstly I will visit Venice city .I think I will plan to vacation here this summer.


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