Friday, June 18, 2010
By Julia Williams
Nearly everyone has a few grandiose dreams, those “if I won the lottery I would…” type of musings. I don’t even play the lottery, but I still fantasize about how I would spend my fortune if I were to strike it rich someday. (That’s normal, right?). One of the things I envision, and have for many years, is buying some land and starting a cat sanctuary. And if I did, I would model it after what I consider to be one of the best, the Cat House on the Kings.
This safe haven for felines is California’s largest no-cage, no-kill lifetime cat sanctuary and adoption center. The Cat House on the Kings is located along the Kings River in Parlier, California, which is just southeast of Fresno. The sanctuary was founded 18 years ago by Lynea Lattanzio, and today is “home” to more than 700 cats and kittens (as well as a few dogs). Yes, you read that right – 700!!
I became aware of the Cat House on the Kings several years ago after watching a YouTube video about this amazing sanctuary and the extraordinary woman who founded it. I don’t really know Lynea Lattanzio, but after learning about the Cat House on the Kings, I imagine she’s a lot like me – crazy about cats, an animal lover to her core, and someone who gets deep gratification from helping felines in need. On the video Lynea says, “When I was a child all I ever wanted was a kitten, and my Mom wouldn’t let me have one. But she’s sorry now.”
After her divorce in the early 80s, Lynea retired to the peaceful Kings River area to renew her spirit. On a quest to locate Manx kittens for her father, Lynea visited a local animal shelter, and ended up taking 15 abandoned kittens (none of them Manx!) to her property. Lynea sold her Mercedes and her diamond ring to help finance improvements to the property, and by the end of the year, she had rescued and placed 96 homeless cats. Lynea had found her true calling, and she has dedicated her life to helping cats ever since.
The sanctuary’s mission is “to place rescued cats and kittens 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.” The Cat House receives no government or public funding, and relies entirely on donations from the public to fulfill its mission.
All of the animals who live at the sanctuary are available for adoption. None are euthanized; they live out their lives until they either find a loving home or die of old age, however long that may be. The Cat House adopts out approximately 500 cats every year. Since its inception 18 years ago, The Cat House on the Kings has saved over 18,000 cats and 5,000 dogs!
From the video and pictures on their website, it’s quite clear that the Cat House on the Kings is a great place to be if you are a kitty without a forever home. The entire 12 acre property is secured by cat-proof fencing and buried chicken wire that prevents the cats and dogs from digging out, and predators from digging in. Cats have the run of the property, where they can climb trees, run and play, and take long naps with the California sunshine warming their fur. The cats are encouraged to make themselves right at home in the sanctuary’s main building too, which is a 4,200 square-foot house. Besides the house, there are numerous other feeding and bedding facilities for cats with special needs, including a Kitten Quarantine, Senior Center, Short-Term Boarding and FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) Ward.
When I perused their website, I saw something in their FAQ section that really made me laugh. Question: Where do all the cats sleep? Answer: Anywhere they want! Apparently this is no exaggeration, as pictures show cats lounging on kitchen counters, in front of a roaring fire, and on numerous cat trees in every room. The Cat House on the Kings is, without a doubt, a kitty paradise. It warms my heart to know such a place exists for those less fortunate felines without homes. I still hope to see my own “cat sanctuary dreams” come true, but if they don’t, there is always the Cat House on the Kings.
Read more articles by Julia Williams