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Venice's Oldest Cat?

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Venice, Italy - Neno the 21-year-old cat

ABOVE: Neno wakes up and smells the flowers.

How do you transport Neno around Venice?

I mentioned before that Neno loves boats. I trained him from an early age to follow me or walk on a lead. The rules of the public boats say dogs must be muzzled and cats must stay in carriers, but sometimes--when the boat isn't too crowded--I let him out on his lead. He loves to walk around the boat and walk right up to the edge, where he'll lean out to watch the waves and feel the wind is his face.

Neno also loves people, so he'll go right up to strangers and paw their legs, which means he wants to be petted.

What about his diet? Is he a connoisseur of the local seafood?

I've always cooked for Neno. Fish is plentiful here, so I buy fresh fish and shrimp (Neno's favorite dish) at the market and make him fish and rice with a little cooked carrot added. He also gets red meat occasionally--I think it's good to let a cat taste anything I eat. You'd be surprised at what a cat might like. I found out that Neno likes boiled potatoes, cooked zucchini, and pasta with Parmesan cheese.

Does he still enjoy the water, now that he's getting older?

These days, he most enjoys his annual bath in the kitchen sink. Since Neno spends most of the spring and summer out on the street, he gets a yearly bath to rid him of any fleas that he might have picked up.

Neno is still going strong. He sleeps a lot now, but he still enjoys his walks with me in the neighborhood. He loves his catnip, and though he's long in the tooth, he's still in good health. I hope he has many more years ahead of him!

Related article

Cats of Venice
Forget the Lion of St. Mark--Venice's real-life mascots are feline, but they're a good deal smaller and more abundant than their African cousins.

BELOW: Neno outside, looking in.

Neno: Venice's oldest cat?

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