Lynea Lattanzio loves cats. She loves them so much that she now has over 700 cats. They have taken over her entire house and 12-acre property in Parlier, California, 200 miles south-east of San Francisco.
Lattanzio, 63, started rescuing cats shortly after her divorce over 30 years ago. A few years later, their ever growing numbers forced her to move out of her home, that she later renamed “The Cat House on the Kings” because of the nearby Kings River. Today, she lives in a trailer on the property and runs California's largest cat sanctuary and adoption center. Cats and kittens are fed and cared for while roaming free on her property. There are feeding stations and water everywhere on the facility.
All the cats live in the sanctuary until they are either adopted or die of old age. No animal is ever put to sleep except to relieve suffering. This is why they call it a “No Kill, No Cage” Cat Sanctuary. Every year, The Cat House welcomes over 1000 animals. They are either brought to the property, found on the side of the street or rescued from local animal shelters.
Lattanzio is not a cat hoarder. Every single cat is up for adoption. Those who wish to adopt can do so through her website, or come to the sanctuary to choose the animal they want. They fill out a form, pay a small adoption fee to cover costs, and are helped by the adoption coordinators in the process. All adoptable animals are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, micro- chipped and treated for fleas.
Upon arrival at the refuge, every cat is given any necessary medical care, vaccinated and spayed or neutered. They are then placed in cottages where they can become familiar with their surroundings. Once they get used to their new situation, they are released onto the property where they are free to go where they please. Some remain segregated due to age, illness or sociability.
Since its founding, The Cat House on the Kings has saved over 20,000 cats. It is a non-profit corporation that relies on donations from the public to carry out its mission. The operating costs of the sanctuary exceed US$800,000 per year. It also runs a program that has neutered and spayed over 40,000 animals.
The sanctuary has 25 employees who stay very busy with administrative tasks, and cleaning and feeding the animals. Despite the number of cats, the house and property are very clean and almost smell free, thanks to a daily routine of sweeping, changing soiled litters and disinfecting.
Food and litter are either donated or purchased in large quantities at a discounted price. The sanctuary also offers temporary boarding services and spay/neuter surgery for outside cats. They work with local veterinary clinics to provide affordable health care. Lynea Lattanzio is very active in promoting spaying and neutering to prevent overpopulation and in educating the public about responsible pet ownership.
For someone whose mother did not allow her to have a cat when she was a child, Lynea Lattanzio is now in Cat Heaven.