She never set out to be a mom
Lynea Lattanzio initailly wondered what she was thinking when she bought a huge house on 6 acres of land in Parlier, CA. She had no children and had just been through a difficult divorce. But twenty-nine years later, her large house is no longer empty.
In fact, over 700 cats, a dozen dogs, and dozens of peacocks currently share it with her!
Lattanzio didn't set out to become a cat mom. It started when she visited a local animal shelter trying to find a new cat for her father. She walked out with a box of 15 abandoned kittens instead.
“I didn’t set out to have, never said, ‘Hey I’ll go ahead and have 700 cats. What a novel idea,’” Lattanzio said. “There was always room for more if I had the money, I would take them in.”
From there she created The Cat House on the Kings, a no-cage, no-kill animal santuary, eventually recruiting volunteers to help her manage the grounds and care for the animals.
Lattanzio is well-loved for her kind heart and generosity by her Parlier staff of nine and 30+ volunteers.
"Celebrating our hero and founder as an original #nationalcatladyday" --The Cat House on the Kings, Parlier. CA. Instagram
After purchasing the property in 1983, Lattanzio retrained as a surgical veterinary technician and has treated many sick animals, even bringing some kittens back to life.
“The kitten room will bring me a kitty that’s dying, and I will put all my effort into saving that kitty, and I’ve been brought so many that have been dead. I bring them back to life and then they get adopted out. That to me is very special.” --Lattanzio, in Your Central Valley
The Cat House on the Kings has saved over 30,000 cats and 7,100 dogs. Added to that are over 56,000 animals they have spayed and neutered, helping to control the stray animal population in Parlier.
After the stay-at-home orders and pandemic disruption, it's likely communities will be facing a worse-than-usual kitten season this year. Cats left in the wild can create multiple issues for both the cats and the environment, which makes animal sanctuaries like Lattanzio's even more important.
If you'd like to become a cat mom or dad yourself, find out about adoption or volunteering here.