We use the expression “herding cats” to refer to refers to an attempt to control or organize a group which is uncontrollable or chaotic. It depicts something difficult, challenging, and nearly impossible. However on the island of Lana’i “herding cats” is common place – and the volunteers of Lana’i Animal Rescue Center (LARC) make it look simple.
LARC is a great way to celebrate the uniqueness of this small island. I took my allergy meds, drove out past the airport, put on some plastic gloves (to also help with my cat allergy), turned and looked at the gate to LARC. There they were – a complete welcoming committee of kitties brushing up against the fence purring just waiting for me to step inside their sanctuary to cuddle. I’ve never felt so loved as I did that morning as the cats followed me from area to area as if I were the pied piper.
Co-founder Kathy Carroll led Michaela (fellow cat lover!) and me through the shelter and explained the history. The sanctuary was opened in October 2009 and currently is home to 380 cats. It was created in an effort to control the growing cat population on Lana’i. A spay/neuter program was started to reduce future cat over-population, with over 1000 cats going through the program on Lana’i. In cases where the cats cannot be returned to their original location (due to endangered bird populations or other concerns), they are moved to the Sanctuary to live out a pretty posh existence.
The sanctuary has everything a cat would ever dream of! Spacious cubicles for sleeping,a catfurteria, ”pallet palaces” for hiding, and large 8-foot long irrigation pipes for hiding in or chasing each other through and kitty-climbing jungle gyms. The enclosure also boasts long grasses for catching zzzzz’s under and trees for climbing (sadly there are no firemen though).
Volunteering – Something for Everyone
As a tourist or visitor on Lana’i you can visit the sanctuary and play with the cats, as well as volunteer and help out at the sanctuary. And if you fall in love with one you can even adopt! For locals, there is a strong group of cat lovers who volunteer and keep LARC going day to day and manage donations and improvements to the sanctuary. This little morning dose of kitty love was a great way to start my day.
A few pics for the cat lovers out there….purrrrrrrrr…..
Disclosure: I was a guest of Visit Lana’i as a part of their New Media Artist in Residence Program. All views expressed here are my own honest opinions and do not reflect the views of Visit Lana’i.