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Reasons to love the Lanai Cat Sanctuary

Nestled within the pineapple plantation island of Lanai sits an animal refuge for furry, four-legged friends. The origin of this feline rescue began when state officials started to notice the feral cat population continuing to grow, while the native and endangered birds began to decline.

“Protected birds and cats can co-exist through intervention, collaboration, and management. From the mountains to the sea, cats found island wide, including those captured in remote bird nesting grounds, are brought to live in a safe cat sanctuary where they enjoy life as ohana to ensure the perpetuation of the island’s endangered birds,” Keoni Vaughn from the Lanai Cat Sanctuary said.

On a recent visit to the 3-acre garden of Kitty Eden, perfectly constructed for over 600 cats, I realized they are doing some very innovative, creative and amazing things there. Not only is admission free, but you can also stay as long as you like. It’s an animal lovers dream – lounging with the friendly kitties, feeding them treats and petting them are just a few of the reasons to visit.

Here are a 7 more:

  1. They utilize pine needles from the famous Norfolk Pine Trees on Lanai to create an earth-friendly, compostable and easy to clean kitty litter. Because the venue is all outdoors, garnished with rosemary and open-air there is no scent of pets at all and it’s easy for those with allergies to visit too.
  2. You might notice a white and black cat who looks a little different. At first I was hesitant to photograph this “Old Guy” for fear that they may not want to show him, but in fact they are proud to showcase this cancer survivor. Thanks to the cat rescue they were able to save “Old Guy” from cancer which was affecting his ears, nose and face. He is now living cancer free and living his best life in purradise.
  3. Everyone knows cats love to climb trees, here they encourage it by crafting specially made tree houses and pedestals for the kitties to climb, sleep and rest. You may spend your time there looking down at the ground, but you may want to look up too.
  4. There’s no veterinarian on the island of Lanai so they fly a doctor, along with two vet techs, over to the sanctuary from Oahu twice a month. They also have a mobile clinic on-site created just the kitties.
  5. 95% of adoptions (50 a year) are off-island. The non-profit doesn’t charge a fee. They simply ask the adopters to just cover expenses. Their manager will take the cat on the ferry, hop in a car, drive to Kahului, stay overnight in a pet friendly hotel, then take the cat to the airport.
  6. They go through 85 pounds of cat food a day and all the supplies have to be shipped or flown in. Lanai is such a tiny island that not all the resources are available there so they do what they can to get everything shipped over as often as needed.
  7. Lastly, you may not know it but this pet rescue is the most popular visitor attraction on the island — with over 10,000 visitors a year. This means they are helping to support Lanai’s island economy and the 3,000 local residents who live there. (Ears clipped means they have been spayed or neutered.)

The Lanai Cat Sanctuary is open 365 days a year from 10am-3pm.
For more information visit them online via

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About Olena Heu

Olena is Executive Editor, Food & Lifestyle at MAUIWatch. The founder of Olena Heu Communications, a social media, digital marketing, consulting and freelance writing company, Olena holds a BA and MA in Communication and Speech from Hawaii Pacific University. An adjunct professor, lecturer and motivational speaker Olena is also an award winning journalist, writer, photographer and avid traveler.

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