Lanai Cat Sanctuary

How the Lanai Cat Sanctuary got its start.

It all started in 2004. One Tuesday, an injured kitten was brought to Kathy Carroll by a friend, who had hoped Kathy would be able to help. Since a vet only came to Lanai every Sunday, Kathy hopped on a ferry to Maui to take the kitten to the Central Maui Animal Clinic. Homeless cats were running around Lanai and there were no spay or neuter programs. After speaking with the vet on Maui, Kathy decided to help the stray cats on the island by taking initiative and setting up Lanai’s first spay and neuter program. Once every quarter, a vet team from Maui would come over to spay or neuter the homeless cats that Kathy and her team found on Lanai.

In 2006, a colony of Hawaiian Petrels, an endangered seabird, was discovered on the island. Native birds are deeply honored and respected as a vital part of Lanai’s natural resources and the Hawaiian Culture. One of the reasons the birds are endangered is predation from animals like cats. After this discovery and speaking with a fish and wildlife expert, Kathy believed they could help save the cats and protect the birds at the same time. She came up with the idea of an open-air, cageless cat sanctuary. The Sanctuary would reduce the population of roaming cats and helps protect the birds. This way, the native birds and cats could coexist in harmony.

Lanai Cat Sanctuary grounds

Through intervention, collaboration, teamwork and management, in 2006, Kathy Carroll founded the Lanai Cat Sanctuary to help save cats and protect birds on Lanai. Originally, the Sanctuary started as a small rescue effort for a handful of cats at a horse stables near the Koele Lodge. Today, the Lanai Cat Sanctuary has over 460 cats that are free to romp and roam in a newly expanded 25,000 square feet outdoor paradise. According to Kathy, the cats have the best sunset view on the island, where they are overlooking the western part of the island.

The sanctuary is open to visitors and has become the number 1 rated tourist activity on Lanai. Guests can brush and pet the cats and watch them play on various structures throughout the large playground. Many guests have even fallen in love with cats, adopted them, and flown them back to their homes across the country. Roughly 95% of all of the adoptions are off island and out of state.

More than 90 volunteers have donated their time over the years to make the Lanai Cat Sanctuary what it is today. A vet team from Oahu comes to the Sanctuary two times a month to help take care of the cats, so they are happy and healthy. The Sanctuary serves as a model of stewardship and responsible management of homeless cats and inspires others to consider new solutions for homeless cats in their communities. Dozens of groups come to study the Lanai Cat Sanctuary’s model.

Lanai Cat Sanctuary

A large part of the success of the Sanctuary is due to the determination, hard work and compassion of Kathy. After 12 years of remarkable work, Kathy retired from her position at the Lanai Cat Sanctuary in February. While Kathy may have retired, she continues as a Board member at the Sanctuary.

The Lanai Cat Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community service organization. They welcome visitors daily from 11 am – 3 pm to play with the cats.

For more information about the Lanai Cat Sanctuary, visit their website:

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