Saving Cats, Protecting Birds

It all began with sterilizing Lanai’s street cats in 2004. That effort was 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 because the island was without an animal shelter, rescue group or veterinarian. The Sanctuary’s founder Kathy Carroll (pictured), a spirited cat lover who had moved to the island with her artist husband Mike led these efforts. Her innovation and activism drove the organization in its early days.

A New Beginning

By 2009, the sanctuary was established as a nonprofit charity and relocated to its current site. The site was a plot of land with access to fresh running water and little else, but it was home. Protecting animals – cats, as well as endangered birds – was the driving force and mission.

In 2014, Keoni Vaughn joined as executive director with plans underway to expand of the sanctuary. Establishing a medical system that would enable each cat to have an individualized care plan was the goal. A high-tech mobile veterinary clinic was purchased. It was used 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. Joseph Adarna joined as Sanctuary manager in 2019 to take over the day-to-day operations. 

In the last few years, the sanctuary has expanded its family of cats and its ambition is to eliminate overpopulation. It rescues cats from protected areas where native and endangered birds such as the ‘Ua’u, the Hawaiian Petrel, ground nest. Cats are also brought in from Lanai City, which is home to 3,000 residents – most of whom work for the island’s two luxury resorts. As a result, the Sanctuary has brought in over 600 cats in the past three years, with last year reaching almost 200.

Funding comes from vacationers who visit the sanctuary and give to support its mission.

Above all, 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. Lanai Cat Sanctuary is governed by a board of directors.

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