Maui wildfires: Hawaii cat sanctuary struggles with drop in donations after disaster

The animals are safe, the finances are not.

Full Screen
1 / 9


Lanai Cat Sanctuary

MAUI, Hawaii – A cat sanctuary in Hawaii is struggling to care for its hundreds of animals after the wildfires in Maui last month caused tourist travel to the islands to plummet.

The Lanai Cat Sanctuary is located on the island of Lanai, across the channel from Maui. It is home to 676 cats, cared for by a small full-time staff and an army of volunteers. They say visitors fuel the business.

The sanctuary says 95% of their visitors usually come from Maui. They would most commonly travel over by ferry from Lahaina Harbor on Front Street, which was destroyed in the Aug. 8 wildfires.

KPRC 2 Executive producer Tiffani Lupenski Hawaii cat sanctuary photos (KPRC 2)

Out of respect for the losses of the people who live on the West side of Maui, tourists were asked to reschedule their visits. Many hotels and businesses do not plan to re-open until Oct. 8, at the earliest.

On the Lanai Cat Sanctuary’s website, they wrote this disaster is affecting them even more than the pandemic. Our typical 100-plus visitor count has dropped to less than a handful per day,” according to the site.

KPRC 2 executive producer Tiffani Lupenski Hawaii cat sanctuary photo 2019 (KPRC 2)

KPRC 2 executive producer, Tiffani Lupenski, has a home in Maui and has been a longtime supporter of the Lanai Cat Sanctuary.

When she first heard the news about the wildfires, her immediate reaction was, ‘how can I help?’

KPRC 2 executive producer Tiffani Lupenski Hawaii cat sanctuary photo in 2019 (KPRC 2)

This week, she traveled back to her home in Hawaii to evaluate the damage and help bring awareness to our viewers in Houston about how the recovery process is going and how people on the mainland can continue to help.

“Seeing the wildfire damage on Maui first-hand has been heartbreaking,” said Lupenski. “There are such enormous needs right now at every level, from human to animal. If we can do even a little bit to help alleviate the suffering, that’s what we want to do.”

Lupenski will join us live on KPRC 2+ NOW at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21 to share more about the recovery efforts happening on the island.

Go here to make a donation to the Lanai Cat Sanctuary.

About the Authors:

Award-winning storyteller and investigative journalist, streaming expert, rabid Houston Texans fan, patron of all things cat.