the cat appears in Venice in the mid-14th century and it was imported from Syria for a specific reason: to eliminate the massive presence of rats in the lagoon. In the continuing trade with the Middle East, the ships that transported goods such as silk and spices, carried a dangerous guest, the rat, whose fleas, if infected, could transmit bubonic plague. Even if Venice was well organized, for the sorting goods and health checks, with the creation of the first lazzareti, which were situated in islands out of the city,suffered the scourge of the plague, in some cases up to decimate the population.
The cat then became a valuable ally to that moment!
The lazzareti, there are two currently in the lagoon, one in front of the Lido of Venice and one in front of St. Erasmo, were islands of customs and goods' control. The vessels were carefully controlled and the sailors remained in quarantine.
We suggest you to make a visit to the island of Lazzareto Nuovo, taking line 13 from the Fondamenta Nuove. In addition to being a lovely little trip in the North Lagoon, you can make the guided tour of the island and observe the evidence left in the centuries by sailors who passed by, as well as a small museum of artifacts of the ships-goods found in the lagoon.
Now the cats that lived in the city, fed on by elderly ladies prodigal volunteering, were moved in small colonies and are cared for and fed by animal welfare groups.
By Roberta Michieletto