Rome, Feb. 22 (Reuters): A couple of thousand cat lovers turned out for Rome’s first “Cat Pride” march today to demand protection and funding for the city’s thousands of strays.
Donning whiskers, bearing signs and in some cases cradling cats in their arms, protesters streamed by the Colisseum and ancient Fori Imperiali ruins, home to many “sacred strays” which Rome declared a part of its historical heritage last year.
The stray cats have been slinking through the ruins since they were first excavated and their protectors believe they are descendants of felines who stalked Roman temples in the time of Julius Caesar more than 2,000 years ago.
But cat rights groups say the city's 150,000 abandoned moggies get far from imperial treatment from residents.
Last year, a string of stray cat killings sparked fears of a feline serial killer and highlighted the city’s love-hate relationship with domestic animals.
Today, the city’s “gattare”, or “cat ladies”, marched to demand government aid for cat shelters and neutering programmes and more help from the general public in protecting and feeding the animals.