PARLIER, Calif. (AP) — It started with a few kittens. But nearly a quarter century later, a California woman has transformed her 4,000-square-foot home into what's believed to be the largest no-cage cat sanctuary and adoption center in the U.S.
An estimated 24,000 cats have been saved by the sanctuary, which houses up to 1,000 felines at any given time. Lynea Lattanzio set up Cat House on the Kings after finding out that many nearby shelters euthanize cats who aren't adopted.
As more feral and abandoned cats took up residence in her home, she moved out into a trailer on her 12-acre property.
Lattanzio spent her entire retirement fund on her pet project, which also relies on donations.
"If I didn't have to deal with humans and all their drama in life, I would be perfectly content just taking care of cats," she said.
She now has staff and a team of volunteers to keep the house clean and the cats fed. The sanctuary also employs veterinarians who keep the cats healthy and spayed or neutered. The cats lap up about 1,000 cans of cat food a week.
People looking for a furry companion are allowed kitty cuddle time on adoption days.
A cat-proof fence keeps predators out and cat doors allow them free reign of the home.
"They've got this house. They've got 12 acres. They can climb a tree. They can go sit in the sun outside," Lattanzio said. "It just gives these animals a reason to live as opposed to just living in a cage just because no one wants them."