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The Lanai Cat Sanctuary: Combining Nature and Nurture

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
January 8, 2020
Published on

During an incredible trip to Maui, I took a ferry to the Lanai Cat Sanctuary. In an exclusive interview with the Executive Director, Keoni Vaughn, I learned what makes this sanctuary magical and how the Hawaiian Lions transform people's lives, ways we execute humane animal rescue, and how to foster a greater sense of community for all living things. This sanctuary is a must see for not only cat lovers but for those who want to feel inspired by nature, beauty, and the spiritual richess of the island. 

P1040554smallExcerpts taken from The Conscious Cat. For link to full article, see below.

"Imagine a place where you are surrounded by hundreds of cats of different colors, breeds, personalities, and ages. A place where they are free to roam in their natural habitat while receiving medical care, food, and an abundance of love. Now imagine all of this while you are vacationing in one of the most popular destinations in the world: Maui. Yep. This place is real. I found it while vacationing this year."

Lanai Cat Sanctuary: Saving cats while protecting birds

"...My love for cats, combined with the magic of Hawaii, made me feel like I hit the jackpot! I am not alone in my discovery. Thousands of people take the short ferry ride from Maui to the island of Lanai to visit the Hawaiian Lions." 

"The Lanai Cat Sanctuary is home to over 600 rescued cats....Created by Kathy Carroll, her goal was to save cats while protecting native birds. They are succeeding."

Read full article below to see how the sanctuary is truly building a sense of community for felines, birds, pet owners, and community members...


Freedom, safety, and space to interact with humans

"...As I walked through the sanctuary, my senses were filled with beauty, peace, and harmony. Cats slept in hammocks and baskets in trees, played in the high grasses, and waited in their Catfurteria for the next meal..." 

“Our cats are grateful for their freedom, safety, and space to interact with humans if they choose,” Executive Director Keoni Vaughn told me.

"I enjoyed looking over, under, around and through, to see where I might spot a cat. It was like a game of hide and seek. Only the cats knew where I was all along–I had eyes watching me the entire time." 

"These cats are adoptable, and some have flown from Lanai to places around the United States to their forever home. Those who cannot take a special feline home but still want to help can sponsor cats through donations, which is essential for the sanctuary’s existence."


Cats are allowed to be who they are

"Beyond what I saw with my eyes – the environmental sustainability, the senior and kitten wings, the accommodations for the elderly and disabled, and the joy that exuded from the paid staff – it was what I felt that made the most impact."

"Just as labels affect humans, cats can also be targeted with labels, many of which paint a negative picture. Labels such as feral and wild contribute to stereotypes and unfortunately, can be death sentences for some cats." 

Read full article to learn more about the importance of changing our perceptions for the greater good.


Honoring each cat’s unique essence

"In honor of the cats who have passed away, a cemetery was recently built. As I walked the landscape, a huge cross caught my attention. I asked Keoni about it. He shared the story of “Old Guy,” whom the cross memorializes..."

"...Had labels defined Old Guy, the world would have missed a treasured gift..."

"I asked Keoni about one of the greatest lessons he learned from Old Guy. He said he learned how a single cat can bring so many people together. Old Guy taught the sanctuary how to say goodbye, and how to resolve the struggles so many of us have with the fine line between quality versus quantity."

Read full article to hear what Executive Director Keoni Vaughn says he learned from Old Guy and how to use our hearts and relationships with our feline friends to guide the difficult end of life decisions. 


"Wiping tears from my eyes, I reflected on the angst I felt when I went through my own struggles with my dear cat Yochabel’s end of life. While writing Yochabel’s Wisdom for The Conscious Cat, I wondered how to express to others my own ambivalence about life and death."

"...This is exactly what being in the Lanai Cat Sanctuary called me to do. By feeling with my heart, I went home with more than a vacation. I was more certain than ever that finding ways to build a community and really see others for who they are is the best we all can do."


Read full article here:
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