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, executive director of the Lanai Cat SanctuaryLanai 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.

Lanai Cat Sanctuary

Lanai Cat Sanctuary

Lanai Cat Sanctuary

[h/t People]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Reason Dogs Are Terrified of Thunderstorms—And How You Can Help

The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

Deafening thunder can be a little scary even for a full-grown human who knows it’s harmless, so your dog’s terror is understandable. But why exactly do thunderstorms send so many of our pawed pals into a tailspin?

Many dogs are distressed by unexpected loud noises—a condition known as noise aversion, or noise phobia in more severe cases—and sudden thunderclaps fall into that category. What separates a wailing siren or fireworks show from a thunderstorm in a dog's mind, however, is that dogs may actually realize a thunderstorm is coming.

As National Geographic explains, not only can dogs easily see when the sky gets dark and feel when the wind picks up, but they can also perceive the shift in barometric pressure that occurs before a storm. The anxiety of knowing loud noise is on its way may upset your dog as much as the noise itself.

Static electricity could also add to this anxiety, especially for dogs with long and/or thick hair. Tufts University veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, who also co-founded the Center for Canine Behavior Studies, told National Geographic that a static shock when brushing up against metal may heighten your dog’s agitation during a storm.

It’s difficult to nail down why each dog despises thunderstorms. As Purina points out, one could simply be thrown off by a break from routine, while another may be most troubled by the lightning. In any case, there are ways to help calm your stressed pet.

If your dog’s favorite spot during a storm is in the bathroom, they could be trying to stay near smooth, static-less surfaces for fear of getting shocked. Suiting them up in an anti-static jacket or petting them down with anti-static dryer sheets may help.

You can also make a safe haven for your pup where they’ll be oblivious to signs of a storm. Purina behavior research scientist Ragen T.S. McGowan suggests draping a blanket over their crate, which can help muffle noise. For dogs that don’t use (or like) crates, a cozy room with drawn blinds and a white noise machine can work instead.

Consulting your veterinarian is a good idea, too; if your dog’s thunderstorm-related stress is really causing issues, an anti-anxiety prescription could be the best option.

[h/t National Geographic]