You Might Call Me an Expert in Hiding Cats from Landlords


I have been part of a multi-cat household for as long as I have been alive. We always had at least two kitties when I was a kid. This kitty collecting continued once I got out on my own and into an apartment that only allowed one cat. The following is my often ridiculous journey to finally getting my own place where my kitties could come out of their proverbial closet — and so could I!

In 1992, when I was 18, I got my first very own cat, Mister. He was a chubby orange tabby who enjoyed sitting like a little man and purring loudly. Unfortunately, my grandmother had to move into a nursing home and my aunt stated that grandma’s kitty, Tan-Toe (another chubber who had one tan toe amongst her gray tabbiness), was going to the pound. I certainly couldn’t have that on my animal-loving conscience, so Tan-Toe was welcomed into the household happily. And therein started my 10-year-long landlord-deceiving adventure!

Here is a list of all the places I’ve lived where landlords never knew about what I did to hide my precious fur babies (and myself and my hubby, aka partner in crime) from what would have been certain eviction.

1. Nitro, West Virginia, 1992-1993

I had two cats (Mister and Tan-Toe) in an apartment that only allowed one. I did nothing to hide them and apparently the resident manager didn’t care, as she never said a word. Pure luck!

2. Dunbar, WV, 1993-1994

I got married in 1993, so hubby got in on the undercover action with me. I am to blame for his introduction into the depraved world of kitty hiding!

We had three cats (Mister, Tan-Toe, and Mei-Ling) in an apartment that allowed just two. Luckily, we got Mei-Ling (a registered chocolate-point Siamese with a penchant for snuggling down into Mister’s chubbiness via laying on top of his back) only a few weeks before moving out, so it wasn’t really an issue. Although our landlord wasn’t happy when he found out, he did not do anything.

3. Huntington, WV, 1994

We still had three cats and our apartment allowed just one. We kept the front room, where the windows were, closed to the cats (it had pocket doors to separate the rooms) and installed an alarm system to ensure that the landlord had to contact us prior to entering the residence. It worked like a charm, and the babies still had access to plenty of sunlight and outdoor vistas via the side windows that looked out into our neighbor’s side yard.

4. Huntington, WV, 1994-1995 (apt. No. 2)

We had three to four cats in an apartment that allowed just one. We added Muffins, a pastel tortie I rescued from certain death. I found her in an upright trashcan sitting in a puddle of water, and I almost crushed her with my trash bag!

We also added Wookiee, who was rescued from the local pound when we went to make a donation of cat food. We saw him screaming and clinging to the cage door and couldn’t leave him there. He was a solid chocolate-brown Maine Coon mix and one of the best cats ever.

Unfortunately, Tan-Toe passed away prior to this move. Luck was on our side in this apartment, with an insanely absentee landlord and windows that faced into heavy shrubbery, so we didn’t have to do anything other than lie.

5. Barboursville, WV, 1995-1998

We had five to 13 cats at one time in an apartment that only allowed two. We added Tater (a gray-and-white tuxedo with attitude), Peanut & Pumpkin (two rescues from my college professor’s porch), Kismet, and Kismet’s four kittens: Marilyn, Sabrina, Oedipus, and Winkers.

We rescued Kismet when she was pregnant the night before she was to be put to sleep; we were blessed with healthy kittens and years of wonderfulness with two of them and Kismet herself. Again, we lucked into having an absentee landlord, so we only had to install the security system to avoid unannounced visits!

6. Columbus, Ohio, 1998-2000

We had eight to nine cats (Pumpkin and Mister passed away and Sabrina and Oedipus went to live with their new family) in an apartment that allowed one.

To avoid the cats being seen from outside, we used the handy alarm system in conjunction with stacking foldable lawn chairs against the sliding glass doors of our patio. It looked like an episode of Hoarders on that deck.

We also lined the bottom half of the slider doors with contact paper that matched the color of the deck railing and the building’s siding, for added protection if the chairs were to fall down due to wind or whatever. All worked perfectly!

7. Dublin, OH, 2000-2002

We had eight cats in a townhouse-style apartment that allowed one cat, so the alarm system was of course activated.

My husband also installed wooden shutters on the inside of the ground floor windows. The shutters only covered the bottom half of the windows, so light and air got in fine. When we knew the rental office was closed, we would open the shutters to let the sun in even more for the babies to enjoy. We had a few close calls when we were out of town on vacation, but luckily our pet sitter was able to handle it with finesse and we were never caught.

8. Delaware, OH, 2002-present

We bought our own home and currently have seven fur babies living with us. Muffins, Wookiee, Tater, Kismet, and Winkers have, sadly, all passed away over the years. However, we gained the wonderful Meeko, Gus, Piggy, and Oats during this time. These four newbies were rescued from a bamboo patch. We bottle fed them for weeks and tried to find them homes, but they knew they had already found one with us.

All of our fur babies are no longer in hiding and enjoy free rein of all the windows they can reach.

During our 10 years of renting, we were extremely lucky never to have been caught with our extra kitties. We had some close calls, lots of stress worrying about being caught, and a few damage deposits lost after moving out, but it was 100 percent worth it to keep our family together.

I thank the universe every day that we now own our own home and no one can tell us how many fur babies we can have! I like to think that karma kept us all safe and together over the years. All of our cats are rescues, and they saved us during the many trials and tribulations life has thrown at us over the years as much as we saved them.

Our current fur baby family consists of the following wonderful individuals: Mei-Ling (19), Peanut (16), Marilyn (15), and Meeko, Gus, Piggy, and Oats (all 7-year-old siblings)!

Thanks for listening to my story. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed living it!

Angela Lilly lives in Delaware, Ohio, with her husband and her beloved cats. When she is not snuggling with her fur babies, she enjoys a passion for macro photography (FotoMacro on Etsy), reading supernatural romance genre fiction, and spending too much time online.

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