THE CAT PET PROGRAM OF KAUAI
By Anne SchumannAs a recent guest at Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville, Kauai, I was pleasantly surprised to find a resort hotel actively involved in a program that supports and cares for feral cats.
Their Cat Pet Program, which currently serves the needs of seven happy, well-adjusted felines, is a notable example of turning a problem into a solution. "Our general manager, Ray Blouin, deserves the credit for spearheading this program," says Blouin's administrative assistant, Loretta D'Alonzo. "We had many feral cats in the area and needed to control their population," she continues. "We also love pets and wanted our hotel guests to be able to enjoy them as well."
And enjoy, they do. Kalani cat has been charming staff members and vacationers for over 10 years and often receives remembrances of gifts and toys by mail. Like Kalani, Loleka and Bali, all the cats are uniquely named, each with their own identities that are featured in a flier entitled "In The Meows," issued to every guest at check-in. Although guests are asked not to feed the cats, many take time to befriend them, especially guests who return annually.
Although the hotel's Board of Directors is supportive of the Cat Pet Program, it does limit the number of cats accommodated by the program. It seems that the resident cats are territorial and aggressive to intruder feral cats, thus keeping out additional cats while eliminating a possible overpopulation problem for the Board.
"All our cats are spayed and neutered," says D'Alonzo. "Once a year we round them up and take them to the vet for shots and a check-up." Of course, the cats have to be trapped in order to get them into carriers, but according to D'Alonzo, it's a gentle process in which the cats are coaxed with their favorite canned food.
While strolling around the hotel grounds, occasionally I'd see a little pair of blue or green eyes peering out through the bushes and I was curious as to why the cats didn't pursue the many birds flitting about. A simple answer for D'Alonzo: "They're fed so well!" she replied, and I could tell she was smiling even though our conversation was by phone.
Hanalei Bay Resort has reason to be proud of their Cat Pet Program and what they refer to as their Feline Family. D'Alonzo notes that a guest from a particular county in California where feral cats are a problem contacted the hotel for information on how to institute a similar program in his community. According to the hotel's mission statement from "In The Meows," it's obvious that the first step is a simple combination of supplying nutritional food and attending to the cats' medical needs. Add in a little love and patience and previously feral cats have been transformed into contented pets.
Anne Schumann, a legal secretary and freelance writer in Albuquerque, recently adopted a 16-pound black cat named Ali from A.C.A.T.
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