I'm not going to lie, one of the deciding factors on going to Lanai, besides it being beautiful and uncrowded, was the chance to go to a cat sanctuary.
Here's where people say things about crazy cat ladies. But I don't care! Cat ladies (and men) unite! For a cat lover, an outdoor space where 620 fluffy residents are cared for and can live out their lives safely is a kind of paradise. And a cat sanctuary in paradise? What more can a cat person ask for?
Lanai has a lot of feral cats. They are living their best lives in a place where they have no predators, it's warm, and there's a lot of food and water. As I hiked up to the highest point on the island, I encountered some workers setting live traps. "What are you catching?" I asked. "Cats!" they said. Apparently these felines prey on endangered ground nesting birds. Hence, the cat sanctuary.
When you pull into the cat sanctuary, an employee greets you and opens a gate. The place is off the grid, but the cats don't care. You won't see most of them: they are hanging out in the tall grass or in the many houses and hiding places. But plenty of them come up to you. Some will jump on your lap or sit by you to be petted. A whole posse will come running if you have treats.
Some of the cats wear collars. A worker explained that they used to put collars only on cats who had medical issues, but visitors would come and put collars on their favorite ones, so they could identify "their" cat when they came back. I find this really cute. "My" cat is called Mimi; he's fluffy and hangs out by the front gate.
The cats are all available for adoption: a lucky ginger was getting ready to go to Seattle. There is no adoption fee, but the cats have to be checked by a vet before leaving the island and then there's the cost to transport them back. Some people choose to "adopt in place," paying a yearly amount for their chosen cat. There's no cost to go to the sanctuary, so they rely on donations.
It's easy to spend a few hours here. Most visitors come over by ferry from Maui and take a shuttle. Since I stayed on Lanai and rented a jeep, I went there twice. Some people even get married at the cat sanctuary, but I'm not THAT crazy of a cat lady...or AM I?
If you want to learn more or donate to the kitties, check it out here. If you're going to be in Maui or Lanai, it's worth the trip!