Lynea Lattanzio wanted a cat when she was little, but her mother didn’t approve. Now she runs California’s “Cat House on the Kings” shelter and takes care of almost 800 cats.
Lynea’s inspiring story began in 1981, when, after going through a difficult divorce, she decided to move to a quiet place on the river. She bought a 6-acre patch of land and settled in by 1983. Soon after she started asking herself: “What was I thinking, single woman with no children living in a big house on 6 acres?”, but little did she know her decision would change her life forever. Nine years later, Lynea’s father asked for her help to replace his 2 Manx cats who had died of old age. On a quest to fulfill her father’s wishes, Lynea stopped by a local animal shelter and walked out the door with a box of 15 abandoned kittens (none of which were Manx). By the end of that year she had rescued and placed 96 abandoned cats, and had found her calling.
In 1993, Lynea Lattanzio came out of retirement to become a surgical veterinary techinician, an experience that both expanded her medical knowledge and help pay the veterinary expenses of her increasing cat family that now numbered 150 members. She also had to sell her diamond wedding ring and her 1973 Mercedes 450 SL – her pride and joy. In 1997, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved a zoning variance on Lynea’s property, which put her Cat House on the KIngs into the spotlight and brought in financial support and volunteers. In 2002, she expanded her cat shelter and added long-term boarding facilities and an area for FIV positive cats.
Photo by Tracie Cone/AP
By 2004, the Cat House on the Kings was home to over 500 cats, and cat-lover donations just couldn’t cover the ever-growing expenses. Luckily, a very generous donor left her entire estate to the cat haven, and the money was used to purchase the neighboring six acres and install cat-proof fencing around the entire facility. Now there are almost 800 abandoned and feral cats housed at Lynea’s shelter, and even though taking care of them is a full-time job, she welcomes each new arrival with open arms.
Photo by Tracie Cone/AP
A no-kill, no-cage sanctuary for cats, the Cat House on the Kings also features 12 acres of grassy fields, a nursery, an intensive care unit, and even a retirement home for elderly felines. There are cat doors and dog doors everywhere so any animal that wants to go in or out, can, and there are feeding stations and water everywhere on the facility so they can just go wherever they please and live their life freely. Lynea herself says that if she were a cat, this is where she’d be. She has 25 employees helping her and even though she’s always in full-speed mode, they still can’t keep up with everything that needs to be done. Some call her the “crazy cat lady” for even trying, but she says she’s not crazy, what she does is crazy.