Thursday, March 1, 2012

Around The World In 80 Cats #1: Hawaii

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.

Feral cat at Kakaako Park

Feral Cat at Kakaako Park

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.

Lana'i Cat Sanctuary (Click here for more pictures from the sanctuary)

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!



Rachel Shubin said...

Wow, I love this idea Stephanie! It is so cute and I will have fun reading your 79 other posts! I think that it is really cool that there is a large feral cat population in Hawaii. Now I know how to get my parents to take me there.

Heidi Shaulis said...

Great idea and Hawaii is the perfect choice on this cold rainy day. Love the Hawaiian Maneki Nekos!

Unknown said...

I'm enjoying the kitty in the basket.

MaryMatthews said...

Brilliant idea Stephanie! A friend of mine volunteered for a week at the Lanai sanctuary and said it's beautiful. There are awesome feral cats living in Dubrovnik too.

Catsparella said...

@Rachel Thanks so much for your wonderful feedback! I'm really excited about writing the next 79 posts, ha! :) p.s. Take me with you!!

Catsparella said...

@Heidi Thank you so much! Yep, it definitely perked me up after the yuck week we've been having here!

Catsparella said...

@sassyNPunk There's another picture of him here:


Catsparella said...

@Mary Wow! What a small world! I had never heard of it before, but was happy to discover it and hope to make it there myself one day! Your friend is so lucky! :)

Thank you for your lovely feedback, I really appreciate it!

Sytske said...

What a brilliant idea! Will look forward to the other 79 cats from all over the world. I went to Maui last year and met this beautiful lady at the Ulupalakua Ranch.
If you ever go to Hawaii I can really recommend Maui. As tip for featured spots in the world, don't forget the Netherlands :-)

Catsparella said...

@Sytske Thank you! What a gorgeous kitty, thank you for sharing! Of course I will include the Netherlands! :) Are there any kitty related spots there I should know about?

Sytske said...

There are plenty of cat related spots in the Netherlands. One certainly worth mentioning is Dierenthuis (dieren=animals, thuis=home). This is a permanent cat and dog shelter for old or sick cats and dogs or for animals with behavior issues. They even have a separate shelter for cats with aids or FIV.
1,500 (!!!) cats and dogs live happily together in a cage free facility. The caretakers live on the grounds and care for their animals 24/7. This is a non-profit organization, they rely on gifts and donations. I've visited Dierenthuis many times and it is mind blowing to see so many cats and dogs live together. The site is in Dutch only but you can browse pictures via this link:
If you want more tips, lemme know.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to Africa in August, thanks to my love of cats! I'll be volunteering with big cats such as lions, leopards and cheetahs and small wild cats like caracals and servals. They sanctuary I'm volunteering at is also home to almost 30 domestic cats and we're welcome to let them come and sleep on our beds at night - yay!
P.S. Don't forget to include Australia! ;o)

Catsparella said...

@Sytske Thanks so much for the tip!!

Catsparella said...

@The Purr Diaries Wow!! I'm so jealous! What an amazing trip, I can't wait to hear all about it! :)

I'm definitely going to include Australia because it's somewhere I've always wanted to go - I was actually going to ask you if you knew of any cat themed things I could write about!

kellypea said...

I enjoyed this and love cats, of course! We went to Kahuai several years ago and on our way to Waimeia Canyon saw many of the feral cats you've described here roaming through the foliage away from everything -- unsettling to see when there was no evidence of food or shelter like you've shown. Sweet things!

Anonymous said...

Is the "Around the World in 80 Cats" your book? I want to buy it on amazon or Barnes & Nobles.

Cat and DOG Chat With Caren said...

this was CATABULOUS!!

I had missed it during the week so glad you had it in your Saturday post.

My husband and I honeymooned in Kauai when we got married in 2006. I could kick myself that I didn't know about that bookstore then.

It is no surprise to me that Hawaiians love their cats. The "Aloha Spirit" is REAL...the people are amazing, you can feel the love that is abundant (at least in Kauai)...I always say when I win the lottery, that is where I am moving!

Looking forward to the rest of this series!

Catsparella said...

@kellypea Thank you! Poor babies :( They are working on it, but it's still a real problem.

@Anonymous I wish! Maybe one day :)

@Caren I will come visit you! ;)

Cristian said...

This was a terrific story. We saw so many feral cats when we visited Hawaii last. They were so gorgeous and big. We felt bad though as we knew that their life spans were a lot shorter than indoor cats.

Next time we visit, we'll definitely check out the wonderful cat sanctuary they have there. Didn't know about it before, thank you.

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