07/28/2011 at 02:00 PM EDT
"All I ever wanted was a cat, and my mom wouldn't let me have one," says Lynea Lattanzio. Now in her early 60s, Lattanzio has not just one cat but nearly a thousand of them.
Lattanzio is the founder of Cat House on the Kings
, a no-kill, no-cage sanctuary and adoption center in Parlier, Calif., that has been dubbed the largest cat rescue on earth. Her sprawling facility currently provides care for more than 700 cats, employs 25 people and is the only sanctuary of its kind on the West Coast.
With that many felines frolicking around 12 acres of land, each day brings a new cat catastrophe that Lattanzio and her staff must solve – whether it's wrangling a vicious tomcat or finding homes for a batch of kittens that someone has left at the sanctuary's gate.
With more cats comes more responsibility, as well as the need for additional pounds of cat food and litter, but Lattanzio is unfazed. She actually hopes a TV special (airing on Nat Geo Wild
July 30 at 10 p.m. ET) will get her sanctuary the exposure it needs to expand.
Think she's crazy? Lattanzio has an answer ready for her critics. "I tell them I'm eccentric-slash-masochistic, which is a nice way of saying I'm crazy," she tells PEOPLE. "I have to be crazy. Normal people don't do this."
Click the video to watch a clip from Nat Geo Wild's The Lady with 700 Cats