Aloha, y'all! There is a lot to do in Hawaii, but if you are a cat lover there is one place you may not have heard of that really ought to be on your itinerary -- the Lanai Cat Sanctuary. It's a Hawaiian paradise for felines that would otherwise be homeless and preying on local wildlife. It is a lush and verdant place for them to hang out, visit with tourists, and just be cats.
Lanai is northwest of the Big Island of Hawaii and adjacent to Maui, Kauai, and Molokai. It is also sometimes referred to as Pineapple Island because it was once 98% owned by Dole as a pineapple plantation. It is now owned by Larry Ellison, the founder and chief of Oracle. The remaining 2% of the island is owned by the state of Hawaii.
It all began a dozen years ago when a group of cat-loving and responsible residents set out to capture and spay or neuter the stray and feral cats on the island. They were kept in an old stable until the deed could be done.
This project was headed by Kathy Carroll, a cat lover who had recently moved to the island with her husband Mike, an artist. It was her passion and activism that led her to start the sanctuary on an island with no animal shelters, rescue groups, or veterinarians.
In 2009 the sanctuary was finally established and moved to its current location -- three acres of wild land in paradise. Wild is right. There is running water there and little else. There is no electricity and no paved roads to get there. The only “facilities” available for humans is a single port-a-potty.
In 2014 the sanctuary started plans for expansion and remodel. A high-tech mobile veterinary clinic was purchased. It is capable of providing assessment, x-rays, and even sterilization for the cats. A veterinarian flies in from Oahu twice a month to check the cats out, give shots, and perform necessary procedures.
The staff of the sanctuary believes that the cats deserve the best quality of life possible. It takes in cats surrendered by their owners as well as feral and stray cats. In addition to the small staff, the cats receive copious amounts of attention from vacationers visiting the island.
The sanctuary is officially a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. It is from the donations of these visitors that the sanctuary receives the bulk of its funding.
Ironically the sanctuary also handles endangered birds, some of which are endangered in part due to the cats hunting when they were on their own. The sanctuary takes in about 150 cats a year.
The sanctuary is open 7 days a week to visitors and most of the fabulous felines are available for adoption. If taking one of these cats home to the mainland is a bit too complicated for you then you can “adopt in place.” This means that you pay for the upkeep of the cat right there at the sanctuary. If you choose to do this you can sign up to receive regular updates on the progress of your puss.
Where the cats live and play is an open-air shelter of 25,000 square feet enclosed by a 7-foot-high fence. The area is full of places for kitty play and cat naps. There is a smaller fenced-in area within called the Kittengarten where the young ones are kept until they are ready to join the larger group.
The cats also dine al fresco in an open-air, covered building called the “Catfurteria.” Naturally this is the hottest restaurant in the immediate area and all the cool cats go there to dine. Well, did you ever really know a cat that wasn’t cool? I don’t think so.
Other feline amenities include huge litter boxes filled with mulched needles from the island’s Cook pines. These reportedly don’t smell -- due at least in part to the staff shoveling sh*t all day. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.
The luxurious sanctuary has also been dubbed “The Fur Seasons” due to the fact that the Lanai Four Seasons Hotel sends many of its guests to make the 30-minute drive to visit the sanctuary.
My cat might enjoy a vacation to Lanai, but the closest she is going to get is the occasional times when our neighbor’s son, named Lanai, comes around to visit his mother. If the cat waylays him for attention then, well, that’s her trip to Lanai. Alo-HA!
Images via Facebook