13 Lucky Cats and Maria Robinson-Haynes

Maria Robinson-Haynes at home on Thornhill Road with four of her 13 beloved cats. 

Maria Robinson-Haynes loves cats, and if the 13 friendly, nuzzling kitties roaming around her home on Thornhill Road are any indication, they love her back. Last week, Robinson-Haynes took a break from trapping feral cats for the Orange County Humane Society to sit down for a cat-chat. “I’d always been a dog person,” said the former resident of Alexandria, who moved to Orange County 10 years ago. “I learned quickly how to become a cat person.” She has become so involved in caring for feral cats and advocating for stray and sick felines that she’s known in her neighborhood as “the cat lady,” a label she proudly embraces. Robinson-Haynes pointed out it’s possible to own a lot of cats if you’re willing to put the time, money and effort into caring for them properly. “When you’ve got 13 cats, you can’t mess around,” she explained. (For the record, she also has a little dog named Romeo who reportedly “loves all these cats.”) Tiny, Chelsea, Max, Jeffrey, Cleo, Sugar, Precious, Teddi, Miracle, Destinie, Cali, Mendi and Miki have the benefit of a very clean home outfitted with snuggly beds and numerous perches, including a high-rise kitty condo, and three vigilantly monitored litter boxes. They also have the run of the back deck. Darting through a cat-sized door, the sleek felines lounge in the sun or take cover in various shady nooks, as they please. Before she had wire fencing installed as an enclosure over the deck, Robinson-Haynes got a scare one day when three mischievous kitties figured out how to climb up on her roof. How did she get them to come back down? “I called them with treats—and prayed!”

Hilary Holladay covers education and politics for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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