What Do You Do When You Inherit 18 Cats?


Written by Jane Denny, Creator of The Pride, The Award-Winning Reality Cat Cartoon & Art Director at The Mad Hand Arts, Graphics & Design

I’m not that crazy cat woman. Even if every cat in Queens says I am… I have (excuse me, had) two cats. Just enough to drain my pocket book, just too much for my asthma — just enough.

Until the horrible day in May 2009 when my mother, Dottie, passed away, and I inherited her falling down house and somewhere in the area of 18-22 cats: two indoor girls that my Aunt Betty thankfully took home with her,and +/-18 ferals in the yard that Mom had (reluctantly) inherited several years before from an elderly neighbor who passed.

With chronic cat-allergic asthma, a freelance artist’s income ($0), and the sands racing through the hourglass of my life (leaving ZERO time for the art which is my calling), I am the least suitable person on earth to inherit this menagerie. And the weight of the responsibility, on top of the crushing grief of my mother’s death, then my father’s death a few short months later, was asphyxiating.

Any sane person in my shoes would sell the house immediately, pocket the money and run away to the Caymans. But the only interest I would have gotten in that old pit would have been from developers who would tear it down. Which would have been fine with me. Except….

This Was My Mother’s Dying Wish

They count on me for food each day.

…. what about the cats? My mother’s dying wish was that they be taken care of. Her yard is their home.Most of them were born there. It’s the only place they know. They’ve eaten every meal of their lives on her back step. They’ve never had to fend for themselves. Some of them have never been out of the yard. Their “habitat,” if you can call it that, has already shrunk (on account of the encroaching development) from all the connecting backyards on our block a few years ago, to only five. The house directly next door to mine went to developers last year, and what was previously a single family home with a yard full of tulips is now a 4-story building that extends all the way to the back property line, cutting the continuous yard space in half.

A sale of my house (which is the heart and hearth of their turf) to anyone would cost these cats their way of life. Sale to a developer, and the bedlam of demolition, would drive them into the street where they would encounter…who knows what. A shattering ordeal at best, +/- 18 tragedies at worst.

Within a few disheartening phone calls I was completely disabused of any notions of cat relocation.Every agency you think would handle a feral cat relocation, doesn’t.Adoption is impossible. They’re feral. Or, more accurately, just feral enough to be unadoptable, just tame enough to be dependant. A very unfortunate combination for them.

I Can’t Turn My Back on Them

I see their sweet faces out there, the grass up to their noses on a summer day, or sprinting through the snow in January. I’m not that crazy cat lady. But neither am I the monster that’s going to turn their world upside down, toss them out to a cruel, unknown fate in the street.

I had a local TNR group come out and help me trap, neuter and spay all the cats (well, not all the cats – we can’t catch Bangs). And I bought them three insulated shelters for the harsh days of winter.

With the small amount of money Mom left, I did a minor renovation of the house. Until the miracle that rescues us, I am operating the house as a short-term vacation rental. Dottie Jane’s NYC Vacation Rental opened for business in June 2010. It is NYC’s first cat-centric vacation rental house. It’s mission: No Cat Left Behind. We’ve earned multiple five-star ratings on TripAdvisor.com and HomeAway.com, and I am routinely complimented on the stylish renovation and the heartfelt mission. The cats can be seen out back at any time of day, enjoying the sun, peeking out of their insulated shelters, having a snack, or chasing leaves.

But there are constant threats from the development next door. A few of our cats have gone missing. Garnet turned up with a broken leg. Little Cindy is always sick. I worry about them constantly. And I’m physically exhausted. I live on pills and puffers. And while the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons have been booked solid at the house, the Winters are consistently barren.

From November through March, I chew my nails to the quick and spin my wheels in an endless, sleepless loop of worry: Where is the money going to come from? How am I going to pay the mortgage? I should sell before I lose everything. Will I ever be able to work? What am I going to do with all these cats?

I can’t do this indefinitely. They need to be rescued. I need to be rescued. They need to be relocated to a sanctuary that’s safe for cats with kind people who can give them what I can’t. In the meantime, they need to eat. (There is a “chip-in” for the cats here)

Brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase


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Shelter Can’t Bear to Euthanize One-Eyed Kitten & Find Angels to Help

Woman Races into Street Wearing Pajamas to Save Box of Newborn Kittens

Shadow Walkers: Help Cats Hiding From Violent Attackers


Photo credit: Pavlo Vakhrushev | Dreamstime.com


Paulo R
Paulo R1 months ago


Paulo R
Paulo R1 months ago


Paulo R
Paulo R1 months ago


Patricia Welch
Patricia W4 years ago

I pray the Universe finds a way to send aid to your cats - and you. You deserve everything good to come your way. Thank you for being you.

Angela Padovani
Angie P4 years ago

Jane, you and your mom sound like wonderful, caring people. Thank you for saving her cats. Sorry I don't have the means to donate, but I hope someone will be able to help you out.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Treasure and live with them

Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

Thank you, Jane, for your caring, compassionate heart. Kitty lovers are so proud of you.

Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Bettina Galo
Bettina Galo6 years ago

I live in Uruguay, South America, between two big giants Argentina and Brazil. I have five dogs that consider children and I came to have 10. I know what is going through your situation because he had no resources economically into debt and had to feed them and to keep them well. My collaboration and despairs me is to hear your story on my Twitter and get others to support you. I heartily wish that they can be together and rehouse all those who are ill to recover. I ask God puts in your hands the solution for you, your condition and accommodation for all these kittens. A hug.

Jane Denny
Jera Denny6 years ago

Hi all, it's Jane that wrote the original 18 cats article. I am so happy to report that we finally got Cindy to the vet. She was trapped tonight, and is awaiting treatment at a local cat hospital. They will treat the open wound on her leg and test for what may be causing her weight loss. Also, Charlie has been seen three times since this article ran for his stomatits. He finally had to have several teeth removed. The doc thinks that will be a cure. And two more new cats were TNR-ed. Your combined donations made all this possible. I still hope daily for evac and relocation for these cats - now more than ever as aunt Betty, their daily feeder, is 86, severely anemic and less able to make the daily trip up the hill. The doctor wants to hospitalize her but she won't go. I don't know what I will do if/when I don't have her to rely on for feeding the cats every day. Please continue to circulate our story and send suggestions for relocating these cats. Thank you all so much. Jane xo