Classy Cat Hoarder Spends £90,000 a Year On Her Cats

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.

British cat hoarder or rescuer

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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!

British cat hoarder or rescuer

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).

British cat hoarder or rescuer

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?

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

18 thoughts on “Classy Cat Hoarder Spends £90,000 a Year On Her Cats”

  1. Unbelievable cat philanthropy.Taking a exchange rate of Indian Rs 100=1 U.K Pound it works up to a phenomenal Rs 90,00,000/Year! Such animal philanthropy by a private individual is unbelievable.It would have been considered “CAT HOARDING” if not for the cleanliness and amount of money spent on ythe personal care of these lucky cats.

  2. Romney House has been around for a long time and has a very good reputation. Westberry was a hoarder who also was a thief, stole the money donated to provide care for the cats she fostered/adopted, in fact got the cats to fund her lifestyle and living expenses but did not care for them, locked them in filthy conditions and starved them, if I ccorrectly recall what I read, including abandoning quite a lot of cats as well. This is not the same thing at all. You simply cannot use the same nomenclature for these two women and how they treat/treated cats in their care. On the subject of hoarding in general, I have a question, is a genuine collector who takes care of their belongings, the same as someone who allows their house to become a filthy rubbish strewn tip? Hoarding, including animal hoarding, is a mental illness, collecting and taking care of animals or belongings properly and decently is not.

    1. I fully take your point. They are points well made. I just think that hoarding does not automatically have to be accompanied by bad behavior and illness. Hoarding is often accompanied by mental illness and neglect and therefore we associate cat hoarding with these characteristics but that does not mean it always has to be the case.

      A genuine collector (of whatever items) who cannot really control the amount of collecting but who nonetheless is organised and the collection is well cared for could be a hoarder in my opinion.

      In this case there are genuinely too many cats in the home. Anyone would probably agree that. That indicates a lack of control which indicates a hoarding but as mentioned this is not a black and white situation. I agree she is marvellous but I think she could do just as well with less cats.

  3. I think its more of a sanctuary – animal hoarders are mentally ill and totally unable to care for the number of animals they have and quite out of touch with reality. I would not call it hoarding, the outdoor cats have acreage – they are not kept in crates full of filth and if she is happy to spend money on staff and keep the cats healthy by paying for it herself, we should not be passing judgement. People are very judgemental and throw the hoarder word around – does it matter if the cats are not being rehomed or only some get rehomed? As long as she and her husband can afford it, and have a decent sized house, plenty of room, including outdoors, I would not call this hoarding. We are supposed to live in democracies, but we are getting more and more burdened by “the nanna state” dictating what we can have etc. I say if the article is correct, let her get on and spend time/money on her passion for cats. I am a foster carer but have only a small place, so I have my own two cats plus one or two fosters, but I have found of late it is becoming very, very hard to rehome, especially due to family breakdowns and landlords not allowing pets.

    1. Meant to also say, I would imagine the cats are neutered so what is the problem really? I think she is doing a marvellous thing taking in these cats and caring for them.

    2. I understand your argument completely but cat hoarding in a strict sense does not necessarily mean that the cats life in poor conditions. It just means the person ends up looking after too many cats.

      1. “Too many” cats is subjective. Hoarders take on more animals than they can cope with both financially and physically, to the extent that the health of the animals and their human carer begins to suffer. This does not appear to be the case at Romeny House Cat Rescue.

        1. So right, Michele. Numbers mean nothing.

          Having any number of cats that are well cared for and healthy doesn’t qualify as hoarding.

          And, Michael, hoarding in the strictest sense, means that someone has so many cats to care for that they aren’t, adequately, able to do it. Therefore, the cats suffer. To me, it doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of finances; it could also mean a lack of coping skills to emotionally deal with a brood. I’m positive that it takes an incredible amount of patience and stamina to cope day in and day out.

          Michael, how do you think you would cope with 10 or more inside cats? Cutting you some slack, because your quarters may be small.

          1. hoarding in the strictest sense, means that someone has so many cats to care for that they aren’t, adequately, able to do it.

            Dee, are you sure that is correct? Are we saying that all cat hoarding results in the cats being inadequately cared for? The word ‘hoarding’ means to accumulate as much of something as one can. It does not automatically means neglect of the ‘hoarded items’ by the hoarder.

            If I had ten or more cats I’d cope but I would not want to cope.

            1. Hoarding is an accumulation of like items and the inability to relinquish.
              That Silvana adopts out disqualifies her as a hoarder.

  4. For me this is very much a rescue organisation. Romney House Cat Rescue is a registered charity with employees and the cats are clearly being taken good care of, so I don’t understand the inference of cat hoarding. Their web site has some great behavioural information, so I have no concerns for the mental or physical welfare of the cats in their care.

    As virtually all U.K. rescues are no-kill, it’s not uncommon for rescues to have long-term residents. When those rescues are full to capacity, they simply don’t take in any more cats or tell people the cat will have to go on a waiting list for a space at the rescue. Perhaps Romney House Cat Rescue, don’t turn away any cats?

  5. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

    Wikepedia defines animal hoarding as: keeping a higher-than-usual number of animals as domestic pets without having the ability to properly house or care for them. This is not the case in this situation.

    If I had a large income or won a lottery, I might consider creating a private rescue, but probably not in my home. I would keep those as separate domains. Even as much as I love cats, I know I would need to have space away from them at times.

  6. Most everything that I’ve ever read about genuine cat hoarders doesn’t read like this article. It reads like a horror story.

    That only thirty to forty of the cats are, now, ready for adoption doesn’t bother me. There could be any number of reasons why most wouldn’t be suitable right now, ie. recovering from an illness, not sufficiently socialized yet. We don’t know.

    But, it’s obvious that the cats are well cared for. A whole lot of money is invested in their care, they look very healthy, and it’s obvious that they don’t live in a dark, dreary shelter in cages.

    Before any judgment is passed, I wish that her adoption rate over the past 20 years was known, so we would know if cats are/were, actually, getting homes.

    I applaud her feral caretaking which has nothing to do with hoarding at all.

    Just from what is known, I would term her a rescuer and not a hoarder.
    However, I think that she should employ a couple of more people to help.

    1. Dee, I agree. I’d like to know what her adoption rate is too. If it’s nonexistent or very low, then I’d suspect hoarding, but even then, I can’t argue against the care she’s giving them. Those cats could have worse living conditions.

      And you’re right, she should have a couple more people to help.

  7. I’d say cat rescue, but I can see why cat hoarding might be mentioned, because those cats who don’t find homes are not going anywhere. If a person is going to hoard cats this is definitely the way to do it, but sadly 99.9 percent of hoarders aren’t like this. The place is not filthy, the cats are in excellent shape. The house looks magnificent. This lady obviously has the money to provide food, shelter, vet care and the salaries and room and board for two employees. I’ve never heard of a hoarder doing that, which makes me think ‘rescue.’ I applaud her husband. He’s one of a kind, and so is she.

    1. I think it is a version of cat hoarding/cat rescue but deluxe cat hoarding if that is a fair description. She could do cat rescue without having 122 cats at home. She could have say 25 and make sure that they are rehomed routinely and keep the number at 25. It got out of hand because people constantly phone her to take cats and she can’t refuse. Sounds familiar.

      1. We can agree to disagree. I think she’s a rescuer. She might be compulsive, but she definitely is capable of providing excellent care to all the cats, even the ferals. I’ve never heard of a hoarder who has employees. Usually they don’t allow anyone in their home until the police and animal control show up. And I have to admit, I’m jealous. If I had money, I’d do the same thing.

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