Cat napping at the Four Season's Lodge at Koele
I've been wanting to start a new weekly column for awhile now, but was waiting until I came up with the purrfect idea that I could commit to over an extended period of time, and still be able to find a way to keep fresh and interesting every week.
Inspired by a longtime feature in Bust magazine called "Around The World In 80 Girls," I decided to give it a go. Since I've had a great time covering cat themed travel destinations like Tokyo, Key West, and Rome in the past, I thought this column could stay along those lines - but also simply highlight some gorgeous travel destinations, featuring pictures of kitties. I'd love to hear from you if you have your own cat-related vacation pictures or experiences that you'd like to share, or even if you just have a suggestion for a destination you'd like to see featured in the future.
For the inaugural edition of "Around The World In 80 Cats," I decided to go big, and picked a spot off my bucket list that I don't know much about, and that would help brighten up this dark, depressing winter week. Pack up the cats, and let's go: We're off to Hawaii!
As you probably already know, Hawaii is the 50th U.S. state, and the only one made up entirely of islands. Hundreds of small ones, in fact, and eight "main islands" - including Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi.
The tropical paradise is home to over one million (lucky) permanent residents, but its "diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches and oceanic surrounding, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike." Well, I think It's time to add "cat lovers" to that list!
Feral Cat House
If you visit Hawaii, it's likely you'll come across at least part of their large population of feral cats. According to the Hawaii Cat Foundation, there are numerous reasons behind this epidemic, including great weather year round, no predators, abandonment by a transient population, and lax abandonment laws. Several organizations, including the Hawaii Cat Foundation and advoCATS, Inc., work to identify and support feral colonies with the help of volunteers, and run Trap-Neuter-Return programs to control overpopulation and maintain good health among the cats.
The Lāna`i Animal Rescue Center (L.A.R.C.) was founded in 2007 as a non-profit community service organization with a mission to assist animals by providing sustenance, foster homes, shelter, adoptions, veterinary care, spay/neuter services, and humane education. In 2009 they opened a spacious open air cat sanctuary, housed in a 14,000 square foot enclosure. (You can watch a great video about it here).
According to the L.A.R.C. website, the enclosure is complete with spacious cubicles for sleeping, "pallet palaces" for hiding, large 8-foot long irrigation pipes for hiding in or chasing each other through and kitty-climbing jungle gyms. The enclosure also boasts numerous bushes, and long grasses for catching zzzzz's under and trees for climbing.
While you're vacationing on the island, visitors are welcome to stop by the sanctuary and visit. In fact, they even have a partnership with the Four Seasons, Lanai "Voluntourism" Program. Through the "Kokua" (Helping Hands) project, you can visit the Kitty Kamp for a "pet and purr" session, or roll up your sleeves and help out!
Cats at the Talk Story Bookstore
If you're looking to grab the purrfect book to help unwind during a lazy day at the beach, the Talk Story Bookstore, located in Hanapepe is the only secondhand, new, and out of print bookstore on the island of Kaua'i. In addition to being home to over 60,000 books and locally made gifts and crafts (and they offer ukulele lessons, too!), you're also likely to encounter some of their friendly resident cats, who make themselves right at home wherever they please!
Hawaiian Maneki Neko
When I go on vacation, it's always important for me snag a souvenir that I couldn't get anywhere else in the world (hence my beloved Mt. Fuji plush I got at the Fuji Visitor Center in Japan). In that spirit, I'm totally obsessed with these Hawaii-centric Maneki Neko figurines! Instead of beckoning with their paws, the traditional Japanese symbols of good luck are sharing the "Aloha Spirit," and are even ready to hit the beach with little surfboards of their very own!
Know of any cat-themed travel destinations or have some cool kitty vacation pics you'd like to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!