torre argentina rome

Rome : Day IX – Proof of Existence

She can’t hear anything, but she can sure as hell see.

Her name is Micol, she’s ten years old (give or take a kitty year), and she’s deaf.  She’s also FIV positive – roughly akin to the HIV virus in humans.

For five straight days, I would stroll in to the nursery and settle down cross-legged on the floor at the north end of the room; and for five straight days, Micol would stop what she was doing and run – not walk – to my lap and lay down.  She would purr a little, sometimes let me pet her, other times give that annoyed quick head turn that told you she was about to bring her claws to the party.

Even on the days sans petting, though, she didn’t want you to get up and leave either; she grumbled awkwardly but definitively when she felt you jostle underneath her.  So, we would sit together.  Sometimes damn near an hour.  She would pop up eventually, needing only a second to stretch before bounding off to her next victim friend, leaving me numb from my ass to my knees and wobbling to the food table for support to get fully upright.

Hello.  I am Micol.  You shall not move until further notice.  Thank you.
Hello. I am Micol. You shall not move until further notice. Thank you.

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By the time Micol is done with me, I’ll start talking loud enough for Gruccia to hear me on the other end of the nursery.  On my first visit, I took a liking to Gruccia because she seemed unable to purr without meowing intermittently.

Within a couple days, Gruccia could recognize my voice and would whip her head around, and back and forth, a radar dish trying to hone in on its signal.  In an effort to not startle her I would keep talking slowly as I approached, until she could sniff my fingers for final confirmation – at which time the flopping about would commence.  Her, not me.

Gruccia does not have FIV, however, she also does not have eyes.

If you're havin' girl problems, I feel bad for you son; I got 99 problems but eyes ain't one.
If you’re havin’ girl problems, I feel bad for you son; I got 99 problems but eyes ain’t one.

Against her stark black fur, though, she’s quick to let you know she has a bright pink tongue – after a little neck scratching she feels it right to give your hand an unsolicited bath.  I’m guessing it’s a ploy to keep you somewhere she can be sure of – as soon as you lose contact with her she chirps a note of uncertainty until you speak again.

Every day we share this routine, Micol and Gruccia and I, and it served to reinforce a couple important ideas.  The kind of ideas your brain logically agrees with, but quickly dismisses as you go about your daily routine.

Our problems, truly, are not nearly as bad as we make them out to be.  Someone has it worse.  If the ordeal of your day is that your preferred iPhone color isn’t in stock and you have to order it, then a lot of people have it worse.

Faced with missing eyes, limbs, and senses, these cats also don’t seem to have the ability to lament their condition; indeed, if they are at all cognizant of their conditions, it appears to lead only to appreciation for still being here and being loved.

The other thing they do, instinctively, is trust.  Trust in the idea that the world isn’t a big, bad, scary place, and a stranger won’t knowingly hurt them.  You could say that is only because they’re “stupid animals” that don’t know enough to be suspect of anyone – but when their trust is validated 99% of the time, and our own vigilant paranoia is validated the other 1% of the time, who’s the dumb one?

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Bad things happen, but it could be worse.

Bad people exist, but not as many as you think.

You’ve heard that before, and you’ll hear it again – they’re cliché and hard to fully believe in on most days.  What makes Micol and Gruccia beautiful, though, is that every day, they prove both to be true.

To learn more about Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary in Rome, click here.

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