It all began with sterilizing Lanai’s street cats in 2004 followed by sheltering them in a horse stable in the mountain community of Koele. It was just a small committed group of cat lovers trying to do the right thing on an island without an animal shelter, rescue group or veterinarian. These efforts were led by the Sanctuary’s founder Kathy Carroll, a spirited cat lover who had moved to the island with her artist husband Mike. Her innovation and activism drove the organization in its early days.
By 2009, the sanctuary was established as a nonprofit charity and relocated to its current site – a plot of land with access to fresh running water and little else. Their driving force and mission was to protect cats, as well as endangered birds.
In 2014, Keoni Vaughn joined as executive director with plans underway for expansion of the sanctuary and establishing a medical system of care that would enable each cat to have an individualized care plan. A high-tech mobile veterinary clinic was purchased for onsite care and services including sterilization, X-ray and assessments in a clinic environment. Veterinary teams with experience in shelter medicine were recruited from Oahu and the U.S. Mainland. Mike Hanog joined as Sanctuary manager in 2015 to take over the day-to-day operations. In the last few years, the sanctuary has expanded its family of cats to more than 500 and its ambition is to eliminate cat overpopulation on Lanai. It rescues cats from protected areas where native and endangered birds such as the ‘Ua’u or otherwise known as the Hawaiian Petrel ground nest, as well as, Lanai City, which is home to 3,000 residents – most of whom work for the island’s two luxury resorts. For the past two years, the Sanctuary has brought in over 150 cats per year.
Funding comes from vacationers who visit the sanctuary and give to support its mission.
Lanai Cat Sanctuary believes that cats deserve the highest quality of life possible and an end to suffering. It is a 501c3 nonprofit led by responsible, ethical and experienced leadership in animal welfare and is governed by a board of directors.