This Hawaii Cat Sanctuary Is Home to More Than 600 Kitties

Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

What’s better than vacationing in paradise? Paying a visit to purr-adise at Hawaii’s “Fur Seasons” resort, as the Lanai Cat Sanctuary is affectionately called. As People reports, the nonprofit sanctuary provides shelter to about 620 stray cats on the small island of Lanai. (And yes, you can visit, play with, and even adopt any of the adorable residents.)

The felines live on a piece of outdoor, fenced-in property that’s roughly half the size of a football field. They have cubby holes, baskets, and other structures to climb in and on, and according to executive director Keoni Vaughn, they have plenty of space to sprawl out.

“The average person who’s not a crazy cat person thinks, ‘Oh my God, [the sanctuary] has got to be gross and stink'—but it’s the absolute opposite,” Vaughn tells Mental Floss. “The two compliments we get the most are: A) It doesn’t smell, and B) It doesn’t feel like 600 cats.”

Expansions are currently underway, and the sanctuary will someday have the capacity to hold up to 1200 cats at once.

Keoni Vaughn with cats
Keoni Vaughn, executive director of the Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

The sanctuary was founded by former nutritionist Kathy Carroll, who set out to tackle the island’s feral cat problem. She began by capturing, neutering, and releasing the cats. However, those plans changed when she learned about the plight of the island’s endangered birds, which are hunted by wild cats. As a win-win solution, she established a sanctuary where the cats would be happy, and the birds (including the ‘Ua’u, or Hawaiian petrel) would be out of harm’s way.

The sanctuary was formally established as a charity in 2009 and now receives about 200 new cats per year (roughly 50 of which are adopted annually). The center also receives about 12,000 visitors each year, which is “almost four times the human population” of Lanai, Vaughn says.

Although most of the cats are feral, about 40 percent of them become socialized, thanks to the steady stream of visitors. When the sanctuary opens its front gate to visitors at 10 a.m. each day, about 40 cats line up to compete for human affection. “It’s like they report to work. They’re conditioned,” Vaughn says. “When the first guests come, they’re meowing and everything because they know they’re going to get treats.”

Although the sanctuary is free to visit, the staff appreciates donations. This goes toward microchipping, spaying, and neutering the cats, as well as flying in a veterinarian from Oahu twice per month. Cat lovers can also support the sanctuary by “sponsoring” a cat, which means they’ll receive monthly updates and photos of one of Lanai’s kitties in exchange for making a monetary donation.

Scroll down to see more pictures of the sanctuary, and for more information about how you can help, check out the organization's website.

A cat in a basket
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

A cat drinks from a fountain
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

Cats on a wooden structure
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

[h/t People]

A Stranger Things Fan Is Selling Epic Demogorgon Dog Costumes on Etsy

Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, and Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things.
Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, and Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things.
Netflix

Stranger Things is great at placing the truly terrifying alongside the absolutely adorable. One minute we are gushing over Eleven and Mike’s teen romance, and the next we’re jumping off the couch at the sight of those possessed by the Mind Flayer.

No matter how seamless the Duffer Brothers' Netflix series is in weaving together these moments, it seems like it would be impossible to make the Demogorgon cute. But somehow, one crafty fan has done just that.

Etsy shop ThatCraftyFriendShop has created Demogorgon headpieces that fit perfectly on your dog’s head.

People reports that the headpieces range in size from extra small (for 5- to 10-pound dogs) all the way to extra large (for dogs over 75 pounds). Prices range from $25 to $75, depending on the size of your four-legged friend.

These wool and felt doggy costumes are perfect for Halloween, or even a Stranger Things watch party while you continue to binge and re-binge the third seasonwith a decked-out doggy by your side.

[h/t People]

Georgia Beachgoers Saved a Pod of Pilot Whales That Washed Ashore

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A day at the shore quickly turned into a rescue situation for beachgoers on St. Simons Island, Georgia this week when a pod of pilot whales washed ashore. Beaching can be disastrous for whales, but thanks to a group of first responders and volunteers, most of the stranded marine mammals were returned to safety, USA Today reports.

Spotting whales off the coast of Georgia isn't unusual, but what occurred at St. Simons Island the afternoon of Tuesday, July 16 was out of the ordinary. The pilot whales had swum so close to the shore that they had become stuck on the sand—and there were dozens of them. The animals could have died from dehydration at low tide or possibly drowned if the tide covered their blowholes.

Fortunately, the beachgoers watching the situation unfold acted fast. They waded into the sea and manually pushed the small whales back into deeper waters where they could swim freely. First responders from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also aided in the rescue effort.

The heroic volunteers weren't able to save every whale. Two of the mammals became incapacitated and had to be euthanized. But according to the Glynn County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, the majority of the whales swam away unharmed. "This has been an unusual occurrence, but events like these can really show the level of care and support from our community," the agency wrote on its Facebook page. "Thank you to everyone that helped those that couldn’t help themselves today."

Beaching is a rare event that still isn't fully understood by scientists. In the case of these pilot whales, which travel in pods, one sick whale may have swum too close to land and led the rest of the whales to danger. The DNR plans to conduct autopsies on the two whales who perished.

[h/t USA Today]

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