My husband and I have been living on Maui for nearly a year-and-a half, and took our first long-awaited excursion to Lana'i. The highlight of our day was the Lana'i Animal Rescue Center. Kathy Carroll, the center's Executive Director, was good enough to pick us up in Lana'i City and take us to the cat sanctuary. Upon arrival my husband and I were immediately greeted at the entry gate by a throng of healthy and playful kitties! Kathy stayed with us the entire time--about two hours, showing us the facility, introducing us to all of the kitties (everyone has a name tag, is microchipped, and spayed or neutered), and sharing many kitty stories. We were very impressed with the various "transition" areas set aside for kittens and new additions who need some TLC before being introduced to the colony. The sanctuary currently houses about 360 cats, and everyone has plenty of room to roam, climb ladders up into trees, nest in straw laden wooden cubicles, hide up high on rafters while keeping a watchful eye on other cats and humans (for those shy ones), and to get out of the weather in a three-sided "barn," if need be. The amount of thought and love that has gone into creating and maintaining this facility is clearly evident. Although the LARC limits its population to Lana'i cats, the LARC represents a wonderful model for the other islands as to how such a facility should and can be run, with primary consideration to the health and welfare of the cats. Volunteers take meticulous care in washing the feeding trays, mopping down the feeding platforms, keeping the "latrines" clean and of course, interacting with the kitties. The LARC also has a brilliant program that allows for the adoption of a cat "in place." In other words, if you cannot have a cat at home (allergies, too many cats already), you can select a kitty (or kitties!), to adopt/sponsor on paper for $20 per month unless, and until, that particular kitty is adopted by someone to take home! Before we left we adopted a sweet, tiny, extremely friendly female named "Joy" (we already have three indoor cats), who was being temporarily housed with a new resident, "Spud," to assist with his transition. Spud's next door neighbor, "Resurrection," is also a kitty in transition. Apparently, Resurrection must eat a specific (expensive) cat food due to allergies. The LARC is so committed to the well-being of Resurrection that, upon adoption, it will continue to pay for Resurrection's food for the rest of her life! While it is easy to feel a sense of relief that these kitties are safe in the sanctuary where they can live out the rest of their lives, they would be much better off in forever homes. We were fortunate to meet "Emilio," a beautiful long-haired, red-headed kitty, who was getting ready to leave for his forever home in Northern California after living at the sanctuary a few years. I wish that all of the LARC's "lions" will have such a happy opportunity. In the meantime, I pray that Kathy will be able to continue with her labor of love in caring for these sweet creatures; that every kitty will be adopted in place; and, that each and every one of them will find forever homes with wonderful and loving families. I, for one, will make sure that all of my guests that visit Lana'i make their first stop the LARC. It will be impossible to leave without at least adopting one of these little ones in place! Kathy, many, many mahalos for all that you do for these sweet fur babies!