That would be me, Mrs. Moglie. Married to a native Italian, Mr. Marito.
Mother to a daughter in high school, Ms. SmartyPants and a son in middle school, Mr. Uometto.
Employed at a private British School as an English teacher and Coordinator of Children's Studies.
Part of a small, but growing Protestant church in Frascati, a small town in the hills just outside of Rome.

This is where I sometimes gripe, complain and grumble about the things I dislike, have yet to get used to or simply don't understand about bella Italia.
I do, however, have many people, places and things that I dearly love and I am more than aware of being blessed by each and every one of them.
Also - a few helpful posts for visitors to Rome or for newly arrived ex pats. Check the side bar for tags. I've even some recipes that I've borrowed, tweaked or invented. One thing I've come to love about Italy is how it's changed the way I eat - slow food !! Although ... I do miss Taco Bell ... and Jack in The Box ... and KFC ... and ::sigh::
Thanks for stopping by !!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stray Cats and Gattara

A gattara is a person (often female) who regularly feeds stray and homeless cats. There are many stray cats in Rome. I mean, lots and lots and lots of them. I suppose this is true for many big cities. Back home, in my small blink-and-you'll-miss-it Californian town, I don't recall seeing ANY stray cats. Of course, there, people have big fenced yards around large one family homes in pristine cul de sacs and there is also the (under-worked) Animal Control Unit. So ... it was surprising to see so many cats in my neighborhood every day. 

To the left is the cat that has left the biggest impression on me. Cats are cute, cats are cuddly and we love them for so many reasons ... but I had never seen a cat with such a woebegone expression. He has never been skittish, not even the first time I approached him with my camera. He just sat there and stared into the lens with his sad eyes. The Eeyore of cats. 

I see Alba most mornings. Even at 82 years of age, she feels it a duty to make sure the neighborhood cats are well fed, so she makes her rounds; one hand pulling her cart along, in the other, the fork she uses to get every last morsel of cat food from the tin can. When I asked if I could take a picture of her, she laughed and wondered aloud why anyone would want to photograph her when before me were half a dozen "beautiful creatures".

Below are photos of the various stray cats in my neighborhood. I've added a description to some of them. 

But first, a photo of a stray dog that I occasionally see. He has a peculiar face, but it's beautiful nonetheless. He's a massive dog - the size of a small bear! Or so it seems to me. He sits in front of shops, a little off to the side so as not to inconvenience the customers as they enter and leave through the front door. You would think he might frighten old ladies and small children, but he doesn't. He never looks at anyone. Babies clanging their rattles and toys, other dogs barking and jumping and pulling at their leashes. He's a rather indifferent sort. He just lays there, with his head on his paws. The only time he shows interest in anything is when he's approached with food and that is often the case as many shop owners find him as endearing as I do.

More after the jump

(LEFT) I nearly kicked this cat. He was lying, half underneath a parked car near the sidewalk. It  was surprising that he didn't scamper off after I'd just nearly stepped on him. 
I stooped down to get a better look at him and saw his left hear was badly damaged. He was so dirty with what looked like clumps of dirt and mud all over his fur. As I photographed, he would turn his head towards every sound of passing cars and noisy feet. It was then that I noticed a very large and open gash on the right side of his neck and face. A whole patch of hair and skin had been torn away and with it a deep piece of flesh. I realized that most of those clumps I'd thought were made of dirt, were blood, instead.
 So... He just sat there. I hurried home to my building, only a block away. In my kitchen, I quickly grabbed 2 cat food pouches, some turkey slices, a plastic fork and plastic plate, stuffing them into a bag and ran out the door. I wasn't even sure what I would do once I had returned to him. At the very least, give him something to eat... could I carry him to the vet? Would the vet even take him in? Well, I couldn't say, because when I arrived where I had left him only a few moments ago, he was gone.

(RIGHT) Well, he's still around.
I saw him sitting under a car. I approached him slowly and pulled out the ground beef I had just purchased at the market. He didn't budge and I didn't want to scare him away by coming any nearer. I squeezed some of the meat into little balls and gently tossed it under the car. He ate. When he had finished, he came out from his hiding place and slowly limped towards me, I guess, anticipating more food. Through matted fur, I could see that the wound on his neck was still open in some places and his left front paw looked a little swollen or out of shape. I wondered how he had survived the past month. After a few photos, I was about to offer him the rest of the ground beef when two other cats that I've befriended came rushing toward him. He raised himself onto his hind legs and swatted at one of the cats with his right paw before running full speed across the street and under a row of parked cars. He's a fighter.

(BELOW) This is one of the cats I often see being chased away by the others. He doesn't seem to belong to any particular group and tries his best to sneak a mouthful of what he can when the others are asleep or away before bolting off, I'm sure, afraid of the consequences that await were he to be caught. I've tried, on a few occasions, to approach him or at the very least get near enough so he can see the bits of ground beef I offer from my morning groceries, but he's so terribly skittish and by the time I've laid a few crumbled pieces onto the ground, he's already long gone and out of sight.
This morning, I had him cornered, so to speak : ) He had ventured down a narrow stairway that leads underground, but then to a closed door, a dead end. I'm sure he wanted to squeeze past the barred gate that stood between us and away from me, but he stopped midway up the stairs and nervously watched me. As slow and as careful as I was, he still jumped and startled at every sound and movement I made to lower my bags to the ground, remove the camera from its case, remove the lens cover and turn it on. The moment I brought the camera to my face and looked through the viewfinder, he flattened his back and lowered his body to the floor in fright. I would have liked to photograph him more; he has an interesting tail that's bent and is half the length it should be, but I thought I had frightened him long enough. I left him an opened can of tuna at the foot of the gate... who knows, maybe he'll learn to trust me in time.

(BELOW) It doesn't take much to realize that this cat has lived through some difficult times. He's a little worn and a little torn, but he's got an amazing face full of character.
I saw him for the first time today, the newest addition to the group of homeless cats I see each morning. This group has made a home in a building courtyard, all but abandoned to itself, with plants & trees growing as wildly and haphazardly as the trash and litter thrown about by careless passersby. They're fed by the generosity of neighborhood residents who always manage to keep the little plastic dishes full of both wet and dry catfood as well as fresh water.
He showed complete indifference to my presence and even as the camera hummed and clicked and I came ever closer to him, he sat perfectly still without the slighest hint of uneasiness. I'm happy to know they've accepted him as most of the other cats who dare to come near have usually been chased away. But something about his face tells me he won't stick around too long... maybe just long enough to get a few square meals, some playful company and a little unguarded rest in the sun.
>^.^<   cheeky !!

1 comment:

rEd said...

Hey! I'm "Chickie." (^.^)