main banner

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Annandale cat hoarders took good care of their 130-plus cats but just got overwhelmed, neighbor says

The cat ladies, Paula and Eleanor, “have been doing cat rescue for years and just got overwhelmed,” said Linda Kozaryn, who lives across the street from the cat hoarders. “These people love animals but are too old to care for the volume.”

Fairfax County Animal Control has been removing cats from 7101 Village Drive, Annandale, all weekend. According to Kozaryn, 115 cats were taken out Friday evening and another 15 to 20 since then. The Fairfax County police were alerted to the problem after another neighbor complained about the smell.

Eleanor and Paula are totally devastated about the break-up of their “family.” Eleanor is fearful that some of them might be destroyed. “They call it euthanasia. It’s really murder,” she said. Kozaryn said the cats from Village Drive will be put up for adoption and reassured the women that they will eventually find good homes.

Eleanor, 78, is a retired federal employee. She owns the house and is staying with Kozaryn until she can return to her home. Paula, age 69 or 70, works for the Navy. She is staying with her son.

According to Kozaryn, the house has been “declared unfit for habitation,” and the county requires it to be totally cleaned—with everything porous removed, such as paneling and wallboards, as well as furniture and clothing—which could cost as much as $10,000. That will be a hardship for them, as “they’ve spent every dime they own on their cats,” said Kozaryn, who also has a lot of cats but nowhere near the number owned by Paula and Eleanor.

“Their hearts are so big, they would take in any cat,” Kozaryn said. People referred to Paula as a “kitten whisperer,” and one woman even drove up from Florida with five kittens she could no longer keep because she knew Paula and Eleanor would provide for them. 

Kozaryn said the women would bring eight to 12 kittens to the PetSmart at Potomac Mills every weekend, where they tried to get them adopted. “Gradually, over the years, fewer cats would get adopted,” so the cat population inside the home continued to grow. It’s gotten harder and harder for the women to cope, as they’ve gotten older and their health has declined. Eleanor said they changed their many litter boxes twice a day.

Kozaryn disputes the report on Channel 7 news that said many of the cats were seriously ill. According to Kozaryn, some were sick, but “it was the equivalent of a cold. It’s easily treated, nothing serious. There were no dead cats.”

“These people took really good care of these cats,” Kozaryn said. They would drive to a low-cost clinic in the Shenandoah valley to get them neutered, and all the cats have rabies tags, she said, noting that the women spent about $20,000 a year at the Columbia Pike Animal Hospital. In fact, when one of the cats had something wrong with one of its eyes, they paid $1,000 to have it removed. “It’s not about controlling animals. It’s about love,” she said.

Despite the trauma to Eleanor and Paula, Kozaryn praises Fairfax Animal Control and the Police Department. “They’ve been incredible. They are kind and patient; they’re very understanding and respectful,” she said. “The whole operation has been so humane.”


  1. This was a well written account of the facts. The Channel 7 and 9 accounts were strictly sensationalized. I have known Paula for many years, she and Eleanor cared for those cats, they devoted hours of their time and money to give the cats the best chance at adoption. Their undoing was refusing to say “no” to all those who dropped off a feline. It would be a miscarriage of justice and a waste of taxpayer funds to prosecute Paula or Eleanor for animal cruelty.

  2. Wow. The smell must have been horrid. But I do feel bad for the ladies. Sounds like they lost control

  3. Very well written article. I feel for these ladies and understand the pain when losing a pet let alone several pets at once. They are sweet for doing what they were doing but unfortunately it got a little out of hand. I wish the ladies luck in repairing their home and coping with their losses.

  4. Thank you for researching the way journalists of old used to do! I agree, this seems to be a more balanced account of the situation than any of the so-called news stories I have seen. I'm betting this is a more accurate reflection of the entire situation including the overall health of the animals and the character of the people caring for them.

    Why, oh WHY don't we insist that animal control agencies provide programs for helping kind people in their communities, rather than demonizing those people? And why do so-called humane organizations feel so ready to judge, rather than PITCH IN and help? It actually isn't that difficult to learn how to effectively clean a litterbox, most average people can do so. And when people are going to the extremes that these people did to ensure animals are spayed or neutered and vetted as often as necessary, why aren't they held up as MODELS and HEROS? Is it guilty consciences that keeps some of us from acknowledging this good work?

    Upper respiratory infections are not fun but they are not "serious illness" and they can be cared for by most owners and caretakers, particularly if you can lower the number of animals in one location -- and I DON'T mean by destroying some of them!

  5. I need to contact one of them. My black cat had been missing for a while and I would like to see if one of those cats that they had rescued and cared for is my BAGIRA whom i continue to miss terribly.

  6. You should contact Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter,, and/or the county animal shelter,
    Good luck!

  7. Its a sad situation. I wish more people cared about anything as much as these ladies cared about cats. Ageing and physical capability is an issue we are all going to have to deal with and many of us have ambitious ideas that we really cannot carry out. Houses too large, too much land, too many animals to maintain as previously done. It is not that easy to just make a change overnight and stop doing what has always been done or move to a new place. I can relate and feel very sorry for the women who tried to do the best they could in their situation. They're reality became distorted from years of being “different” which is not criminal.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Can we stop calling them cat hoarders? It sound so negative when these ladies were NOT collecting animals - they were rescuing them and treating them well.