TRAVEL
08/05/2016 12:10 pm ET

Cuddle 500 Kitties At This Heavenly Cat Sanctuary In Hawaii

Welcome to the "Furr Seasons."

Most people visit Hawaii looking to spend long, lethargic hours on white sand beaches drinking bottomless mai tais.

Cat people, on the other hand, might have a more cuddly option in mind.

On the small island of Lanai, a little-known slice of feline heaven called the Lanai Cat Sanctuary is home to 495 cats. People fly from all over the world just to hang out with them.

Though there’s a boundary surrounding the 25,000 square foot property, there are no cages within the main area of the sanctuary. The cats ― or “Hawaiian Lions,” as the sanctuary calls them ― have large huts and trees to climb on, patches of grass on which to sun themselves and all the human attention they could ever want.

“I call it the ‘Furr Seasons,’” executive director Keoni Vaughn told The Huffington Post. “It’s 25,000 square feet of open-aired space for the cats to run around and play in, so they’re just kind of relaxing and chilling.”

The sanctuary is open to the public for a few hours every day, and it has become a tourist destination in its own right. For humans with an affinity for felines, it’s worth a trip to Lanai in and of itself.

Every cat is spayed/neutered, microchipped and given a health exam before being introduced to the main population.
Courtesy of Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Every cat is spayed/neutered, microchipped and given a health exam before being introduced to the main population.

Vaughn says people often travel to the island just to visit the sanctuary. One particularly dedicated man flew all the way from Japan just to hang out with the cats for a day. “He even walked from the airport to the sanctuary,” Vaughn said.

Visitors can even adopt or foster if they fall in love with a cat, and the sanctuary helps to facilitate adoptions for Hawaii locals and out-of-state visitors alike. Even if you can’t visit the sanctuary, they have an “adopt in place” program so anyone from anywhere in the world can sponsor a Hawaiian Lion.

If a cat is never adopted, however, it can live out its entire life in the sanctuary.

<a href="https://www.facebook.com/LanaiCatSanctuary/photos/a.123930904375620.15940.120740228028021/633895600045812/?type=3&am
Courtesy of Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Cinnamon, living the life.

The sanctuary is the perfect place for cats in need of a home, but it also serves a second invaluable purpose on the island: protecting endangered indigenous bird populations.

“We started on the premise of saving our native birds on the island,” Vaughn explained. “We focus on trapping stray and feral cats from bird-sensitive areas and then bring them into the sanctuary, so it’s a win-win for both native birds and the cats.”

Until you get a chance to visit Lanai’s kitty heaven, you can sponsor a cat from afar, make a donation to help the nonprofit, or just pore over these adorable photos. Welcome to purr-adise...

Courtesy of Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Courtesy of Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Courtesy of Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Courtesy of Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Courtesy of Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Courtesy of Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Courtesy of Lanai Cat Sanctuary
HuffPost

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