What happened to the cats in Venice?


I knew something was different about Venice since the last time I’d been there. Those empty-looking streets and squares felt strange. Then it dawned on me, unlike most Italian cities, there were no cats.

No curled up purrers, no suspicious eyed toms and definitely no one to welcome me with an affectionate brushing up to my legs. No, Venice was definitely empty.

It wasn’t like that when the film director Otto Preminger (1905 – 1986) visited the Venice Film Festival for the premier of his film Anatomy of Murder in 1959. In those days, Venice had an entire and classically anarchic community of feral cats.  I’m not suspecting murder here, Mr Preminger but…

Since then the feline population has dropped from around 12,000 to an estimated 2,000. Well, I didn’t see them. Maybe they were in hiding from the city council’s policy of sterilisation and relocation.  It was more than a week before I spotted this furtive creature who soon after this shot was taken, jumped up to an open window to ease himself lithely through the, yes, Venetian blinds (address withheld – I’m no snitch)

I only saw one other cat over the whole two weeks and he wasn’t sure if I was the man from the council or just someone who had never seen a cat before. He looks as if he can survive the authorities intact.


I’m told most of the other cats, like the one below,  have been shipped off to a cat sanctuary on the Lido  by a strangely named organisation called Dingo – aren’t Dingoes dogs?

I’m sure venice’s council had very good reasons for turning on its cat population, here in Lewes, we would have more birds if we had less cats living cheek by jowl. I saw a lot of birds in Venice, plump pigeon-shaped creatures, they seemed happy to have the place to themselves. I didn’t see any rats though – has Venice got rid of them too?



My novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.
It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region’s Amazon site for Kindle orders)
You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:
…or from Book Depository:
…or from Amazon:


Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love
Ward Wood Publishing
October 30, 2013


Genius Floored: Uncurtained Window
Soaring Penguin Press
June 15, 2013
Poetry anthology


Genius Floored: Whispers in Smoke
Soaring Penguin Press
June 6, 2014
Poetry anthology


Reaching Out
Cinnamon Press
December 2012
Poetry and short story anthology


Tic Toc
A Kind Of A Hurricane Press
June 2014
Poetry anthology


The Blotter
The Blotter Magazine Inc.
November 2009
Three pages of poetry in the American South’s unique, free, international literature and arts magazine.


The Fib Review
Musepie Press
My Fibonacci poetry has appeared in this journal from 2009 until the present


Shot Glass Journal
Muse Pie Press
My poetry has appeared in various issues of this short form poetry journal


Every Day Poets Magazine
Every Day Poets
I have various poems of the day published in this 365 days a year poetry magazine.


In The Night Count The Stars
Bittersweet Editions
March 1, 2014
An “uncommon anthology” of images, fragments, stories and poetry.



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