This is classy cat hoarding or perhaps I’m being unkind to call it cat hoarding because it is also large-scale cat rescue at home using both the family’s four-bedroom home and outhouses in the garden where Silvana Valentino-Locke looks after 122 cats. There is a fine line between hoarding and rescue.
Another amazing fact about this exceptional cat hoarder/rescuer is that her husband accepts it all in good grace. Silvana has been married to Tony for 32 years and he does not mind her cat obsession.
£90,000 a year is about £1,700 per week. In American dollars this is over $142,000 per year!
Judging by the photographs, Tony really must be incredibly patient. I can’t believe that he does not like cats himself because they are everywhere in the family home.
Silvana says that when a man comes to adopt one of her cats they ask “have you got a husband?” The reason is obvious. They cannot believe that she has a husband who puts up with it. As it happens, Tony works long hours so he is not at home that much!
She employs two people to help which no doubt increases the costs substantially. This is a genuine cat rescue/hoarding operation being run out of the family home in the suburbs. They live in a place called Downe in Bromley, Kent. For international visitors this is in the far South East of England. Kent is said to be the best county in England for tourists.
Mrs Valentino-Locke began her cat rescue operation 20 years ago. As long ago as 1998 it was full up! Fifty-four of the cats live inside the four-bedroom home and the remainder live in the outhouses in the garden. Thirty to forty are currently awaiting new homes. Does that mean that the rest of them are not awaiting new homes and are therefore going to stay where they are?
Not content with looking after 122 cats at her home, she also looks after about 30 ferals cats who roam free in a nearby field.
Feeding the cats costs £500 per week ($791). The litter costs £30 per day. Mrs Valentino-Locke’s helpers who she calls ‘cat nannies’ are paid £250 per week plus food and board. Veterinary bills amount to £4,500 a month (over $7,000 per month).
Mrs Valentino-Locke works from 6:30 am in the morning until after midnight on some days looking after her cats. It’s an extraordinary story but it is successful and she is managing things with the help of a very, very patient husband who provides half of the running costs. The remainder is provided through donations and fundraising together with a charity shop.
The rescue operation is called Romney House Cat Rescue. Is this cat rescue or cat hoarding? What is the dividing line between the two?