Pope Benedict XVI is a cat lover. He owns two cats that live at the pope’s home in Tubingen, Germany, and are reportedly looked after by a caretaker at the pope’s private residence. In the garden of his German home, a cat statue stands guard overlooking the grounds. Vatican rules don’t allow pets to reside in the pope’s Vatican home, the Apostolic Palace.

Before becoming pope, according to news reports, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger used to walk the streets of his Roman neighborhood, feeding cats on special plates and caring for wounded felines. Today, Vatican sources say the pope’s e-mail address is swamped with messages from cat lovers seeking special prayers and blessings for their pets.

There is even a biography of the pope written by a cat with help, of course, from an Italian journalist, Jeanne Perego. “Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat” has been translated into 10 languages and has sold 12,000 copies in the United States. It follows the life of Joseph Ratzinger from birth until his election as pope through the eyes of Chico, a cat living at the pope’s residence.

page 2 did you know chicoPS.tif

And because of the pope’s love of cats, one of the hottest selling tourist mementos in Rome is a little cardinal hat for cats that sells for $15.