Why an army of toy cats has appeared in an Italian seaside town

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Why an army of toy cats has appeared in an Italian seaside town
The cats keep a lookout over the harbour. Photo: Nerd

Bisceglie, Puglia is a seaside town, located in the upper heel of Italy's boot and home to around 55,000 people.


And an army of toy cats.

The 50 fluffy felines first appeared on the streets, parks, and beaches of the town last week, prompting some confusion.

But the tags around their neck soon made their purpose clear: the cats were part of a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the town's rubbish crisis - and the increasing presence of rats in public areas.

Photo: Nerd

"The problem of rats in the town has been noticed mainly since the introduction a few months ago of a differentiated waste collection programme, which still isn't being managed well," a spokesperson from the Nerd advertising agency, which is behind the stunt, told The Local.

"The campaign of soft toy cats was a guerilla marketing initiative, with the aim of making residents and the administration aware of the problem."

The cats stand guard by a rubbish dump. Photo: Nerd

According to the agency, the reaction to the campaign has been "strong", with coverage in national newspapers and regional radio.

However, they have not yet received a response from the city's administration about the rubbish problem.

It's not the first time that cats have been proposed as a solution to the rodent epidemics in Italy's cities. During Rome's mayoral race in 2016, the candidate for Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party suggested importing 500,000 cats to act as rat-catchers.

"They could live with Rome's lovely old cat ladies. We could even offer a subsidy for taking them in," the senator, Antonio Razzi, said at the time.

In the end, Razzi was unsuccessful in his bid to be elected mayor, a role Five Star Movement candidate Virginia Raggi won by a landslide after also promising to tackle the rubbish emergency.

But a year on, Rome's streets are still dirty and neither the waste collection crisis nor the rat epidemic have been solved. In May, Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said the number of rats in the capital was "a very serious situation" and called for extra checks by health police, following the case of a child who was bitten by one of the rodents in a public park.

VIDEO: There are an estimated twice as many rats as people in rodent-infested Rome



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