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The phrase “cat lover” has taken new heights by the self-proclaimed “ultimate crazy cat lady” who turned her life upside down for one sole purpose. After years of being an urban legend, she finally opens her sanctuary and home to an exclusive interview. As cameramen approach the land, they immediately know they are in over their heads.
The First Kitten Frenzy
In 1992, while living in California, Lynea’s father asked her to help him find some new cats to replace two cats of her fathers who had passed away, excited with the task Lynea went straight to the
closest animal shelter and ended up bringing back 15 kittens instead. By the end of that year, she had rescued and rehomed 96 different cats. It was at that point when she realized there was no turning back.
Out Of Pocket
Lynea fell in love with these felines, “I like cats because they are independent, they are beautiful, they are just graceful, and I enjoy watching them,” Lattanzio told Barcroft TV. Just a few purring friends weren’t enough, she couldn’t stop there.“When
I first started this endeavor, I was out my own pocket for 7 years. I spent my retirement, I sold my car, I sold my wedding ring,” she explains. But still, she had no idea what she got herself into.
Bringing The Cost Down
In 1993, she became a veterinarian technician to help keep the animals’ medical cost down and learn how to improve the lives of her cats better, but, the number of cats continued to grow, and Lynea couldn’t handle it all on her own. She had to find something more significant, she had to seek some kind of help.
Cat House of Kings
As years started passing by, her love for these felines kept increasing rapidly. She began introducing the idea of becoming a Non-Profit to help kitties in need have a safe place
to call home. Finally, her goal for that moment was accomplished, she started her sanctuary called The Cat House of Kings. But Lattanzio had a lot more goals to achieve.
The Largest in California
The Cat House of Kings is the largest (six acres) no-cage, no-kill sanctuary for feral and abandoned cats in California. The refuge currently houses 800 adult cats and 300 kittens — and even a handful of peacocks, all which can roam freely through the land as cat proof fencing around the perimeter enables that. Still, though, that was not enough space.
Generous Donor – Generous Gift
In 2004, a generous donor left Lynea her estate, hoping it would help her in any way possible. And it did, all the profits from the sale enabled her to buy the neighboring land, and she expanded the grounds to a whopping 12 acres. But, her feline craze didn’t just stop there.
“I started taking in cats, but it wasn’t my intention to have 1,000 plus cats – but it’s happened one step at a time, “she explains. As Lynea kept doing what she loved most, there were also many financial problems that came
with having to take care of so many animals. Keeping up with food, litter, maintenance, staffing, vet, and other medical expenses made a total cost of $1.6 million a year. She had no idea how she was going to continue doing this.
A Day at The Sanctuary
Teresa Angel, a staff member of the sanctuary, explains how they start their day at 4 am. They start feeding the cats which usually takes from 30 min to an hour to feed everyone.
Frank Lavers, another member of the team, states how when he began at the sanctuary he
wasn’t a cat person in the least, but when working with them, he got attached to them. “Every cat has different characteristics; you get to know them, they get to know you and kind of wait for you when you walk through the gate, it’s pretty cool” Lavers explains.
As much as Lynea loves her cats, she knows this is too much. Her aim and goal are to rehome most of the cats and not keep them for herself. Since the founding of the sanctuary, Lattanzio and her team have saved
over 24,000 cats and 7,000 dogs and is also responsible for 40,000 animals being spayed and neutered over the years. But still, overwhelmed with all the cats, she has had to give up her comfortable life to accommodate her new furry friends.
Couldn’t Handle It
The overwhelming population of cats moved Lynea out of her main house. “There wasn’t room for me anymore. I ended up with 60 some cats in my bedroom with dogs, and I just said that’s it, and I moved out,” Lattanzio recalls. Soon after, she
moved out to a trailer home which lives on her land. But, some had even begun to invade her trailer: “When I moved to the trailer, I swore it would be a cat free zone, but I currently have 20 kittens and four puppies in there.
‘I went from a 4200-square foot, 5-bedroom home with a pool, a wet bar and a view to the river to a 1600-square foot, mobile home with a view of a rusty metal shed …’ Lynea says. The spacious house is now pure feline territory. It has
a kitchen where the cats are fed by staff, a wood stove room for them to keep warm, an indoor “kitty garden” to help accommodate cats who have spent their lives indoors, and even a “condo room” with beds, food, water, and benches for the cats to sleep on.
On the Sanctuary there is an ICU, A Hospital, a kitten quarantine, a senior quarantine – where the critical cats stay, a vet that comes once a week to check all the animals plus they also take animals in to the vet every day for checkups, and they also have 7 vet techs on staff!
When There’s Will, There’s a Way
Even though Lynea’s love for her cats is out of this world, she still understands the difficulties she must go through every day to keep up with her sanctuary. She aims to find them all new homes and currently has over 500 up for adoption who are “friendly and ready to go.”