Meet the real Catwoman and her mission to protect California’s strays

Lynea Lattanzio

A California woman riffed off that old saw of “turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse” when she chose to rebound from a difficult divorce by uprooting to a quiet new home near a tranquil river. She settled on a 6 acre parcel in 1983, where she often mused, “What am I thinking, single woman with no children living in a big house on 6 acres?” The universe soon provided her with the answer. More accurately, with hundreds of furry answers.

A few years into her new address, Lynea Lattanzio‘s father asked her to help replace his two Manx cats who had died of old age. She visited a local animal shelter, and carried home a box of 15 abandoned kittens (none of them Manx!). She was transformed by the experience,and within a year, she rescued and placed 96 homeless cats. Lattanzio had found her calling, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In 1993, she emerged from retirement to train as a surgical veterinary technician, increasing her medical knowledge, and helping to pay for expenses of her growing feline population, which now numbered 150. She next sold her beloved 1973 Mercedes 450SL and her two-carat diamond wedding ring. As explained on her website, these had no place in her newfound life.

In 1997, the Fresno County Board approved a zoning variance for her homestead, now named The Cat House on Kings, allowing it to openly promote itself, attracting new volunteers and needed financial support.

In 2001 her organization achieved non-profit status and – despite receiving no government or public funding – continued to expand, by 2004 its population numbered over 500 animals. A generous donor bequeathed her estate to The Cat House which enabled purchase of six neighboring acres and installation of cat-proof fencing around the entire 12-acre perimeter.

Since its founding 26 years ago, The Cat House on the Kings has saved over 30,000 cats and 7,100 dogs (not counting the 56,000 animals it has spayed and neutered) and currently cares for more than 700 cats and kittens, a dozen dogs and dozens of peacocks.

Lattanzio’s facility is California’s largest no-cage, no-kill, lifetime cat sanctuary and adoption center. It offers a variety of services including advice and education, adoption, and low-cost neutering.

Its mission is to place rescued animals into loving, permanent homes; to provide a safe, happy and healthy home for unwanted cats and kittens in a unique, no-cage facility; to prevent pet overpopulation through spaying and neutering; and to educate the public about responsible pet ownership.

Learn more at their website (link here).  Maybe be inspired to answer your own “cat-call”.


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