This is the ultimate destination animal sanctuary!
Located .06 miles past the airport on the small island of Lanai, Hawaii, is Lanai Animal Rescue Center, or L.A.R.C., a no kill cat sanctuary. L.A.R.C. shelters around 380 cats. The “enclosure” is created in an outdoor setting, using the natural environment to build on and around. Started mostly from volunteer labor, L.A.R.C. has flourished into a functioning 501- c(3) non-profit. They are always looking for volunteers, especially on the 2nd Sunday of the month.
The layout of the sanctuary was planned well. As you enter, there is a small fenced area where guests sign in and place booties over their shoes. This area is also security in case a cat sneaks past you on your way into the main area of the sanctuary. As guests sign in, the cats begin to gather at the main entrance awaiting all the petting and attention they will soon be getting. It is amazing how friendly and curious these cats are. For the well-being of the general population of cats there is a quarantine area, a sick ward, a transition cage and a few other staging areas, which are separated “enclosures” for new or sick cats.
The space has plenty of hiding areas, baskets hanging from trees and baskets on the ground in rows for sleeping. Wooden pallets lying in the tall grass create hideaway areas too. It is peaceful out in the open air with felines purring at your feet, head butting your leg for attention. Guests can come to the sanctuary anytime from 11am to 3 pm. There is a feeding station and outlying litter areas. For a place with so many cats you would expect there to be an overwhelming smell, but there isn’t. The animals are so friendly here that you might decide you need a furry companion. Or you might decide to “sponsor” one that steals your heart. L.A.R.C is always looking for “furr-ever” homes for their “Hawaiian Lions,” as they call them. Even if you can not take one home, this place is definitely worth a visit.
Founded in 2008 by Kathy Carroll, L.A.R.C. was (and still is) a labor of love. Many years before, she recognized that there was an overpopulation of cats on the island and decided to organize a quarterly TNR program (Trap, Neuter, Return). She organized volunteer vets and volunteer community members to trap the animals, spay or neuter them, give them dewormer and flea treatment and release them back where they had been trapped. Because of her efforts the cat population on the island of Lanai is infinitely smaller than what it could be today. Since the sanctuary was built many of the homeless and feral cats around the island have been relocated to the sanctuary. Yet, it is amazingly calm at the sanctuary. There is an occasional cat fight, but most of the felines have found a way to survive together, after all… they do live in a kitty paradise.
Directions once on Lanai: Take Kaumalapau Hwy west out of Lanai City past the airport. Turn left at the second dirt road on your left. There will be an engraved rock that says “Kaunolu.” Take this turn and stay to the dirt road on the left and drive up. You will see the gate to L.A.R.C. on the right side of the road less than a quarter of a mile up the road. L.A.R.C is open from 11 am to 3 pm daily.
If you would like to help this sanctuary from afar or you would like to learn more about the programs and adoptions that they provide, visit www.lanaianimalrescue.org.