Seattle shelters are taking in cats from Maui. Here's how you can help
Furry friends from Maui are looking for new homes in Seattle.
Thirty-five cats hitched rides out of Hawaii with Aloha Air Cargo in coordination with the Good Cat Network; Seattle Humane received 17 cats and kittens on Thursday, and the others went to The NOAH Center on Wednesday.
"We unloaded them yesterday, brought them into the shelter, got their intakes done and made sure to move them onto the adoption floor as fast as we could," Seattle Humane spokesperson Brandon Macz said. "And already, we have a number of prospective adopters lined up for them."
More are on their way.
Darlene Rayhill is co-founder and executive director of the Good Cat Network, a nonprofit that works with Seattle shelters to reduce the number of community cats on the islands and find them homes in Washington state.
She said the group is preparing for two more flights to Seattle in the coming days. Seven kittens are going to PAWS here in Washington on Sunday, and 26 more cats will take off for Virginia next week.
"Washington state is really stepping up to help the people of Maui, and especially the animals of Maui," Rayhill said. "We are overwhelmed by love and aloha thousands of miles away."
Rayhill said the cats now flying to Seattle and elsewhere were already adoptable when they were on Maui.
"We are not flying out anyone's owned animal," she said. "These are all cats that have been in foster for several weeks, just waiting for their homes."
The Network further clarified online: "All of our cats are from colonies or the streets, scanned for microchip information to ensure he or she is not an owned pet, assessed, and brought into foster before being considered for local adoption or flown through our transfer program, Operation Aloha Cat."
Adopters specifically looking for a Maui cat or kitten from Seattle Humane should look for special "Maui Lifesaver Rescue" stickers on their online profiles. In-person shelter visitors can also ask to be directed to the Maui cats' room.
Brandon Macz advocated for the newcomers, noting Hawaii cats tend to be very friendly.
"The thing about Hawaii cats is a lot of them come from outdoors, these community cats, these kind of colonies of cats, so they've had a lot of socialization," he said.
And while he didn't want to play favorites, Macz is particularly fond of 3-year-old Chester.
"Hawaiian cats tend to be a little long and lanky, which is pretty cute for me," Macz said, "and he's one of the longest and lankiest cats I've ever met."
Rayhill noted a special cat in the bunch, too: 10-month-old Malie (pronounced mal-E-ay, which means calm and mellow).
Her foster family was evacuated from the Kula fire on Maui, leaving Malie in need of a new home. Good Cat Network volunteers stepped in.
"I only knew her for a week," Rayhill said. "But my personal experience with this little kitty, she was just so sweet."
The foster family didn't get a chance to say goodbye, but Malie arrived safe in Seattle on Thursday.
Both Chester and Malie were adopted as of Monday morning, according Seattle Humane's blog, which features a list of adopted animals.
"There's a lot of emotion wrapped up in all of this," Rayhill said. "We're so grateful to have our lives and everything. But all of these little kitties affect our lives in so many ways. ... Most of these cats are rescued from the areas that have burned, so they were rescued just prior to — I mean, they could have been in that fire."
According to the Good Cat Network's website, the group typically sends just about 30 cats a month from Maui to their continental partners. In a blog post on July 25, before the wildfires, the Good Cat Network celebrated the more than 500 cats it had sent to Seattle thus far. Because of the fires, though, those efforts have ramped up, in part to make room for an influx of cats that have been displaced. Similarly, Rayhill said, the Maui Humane Society is flying out animals, too.
"We're all focused on trying to get as many adoptable animals off island," Rayhill said. "So, as these rescue efforts continue, we will all be available to take in [more animals]. There are animals that are injured. There are displaced animals. We're all just trying to work on creating that space."
The Good Cat Network is accepting donations for additional cat-carrying flights.
Donors can also give to the Maui Humane Society to help treat injured pets and reunite them with their families; an estimated 3,000 pets are lost or missing in the wake of the wildfires.
Update notice, 9:08 a.m. on Monday, 8/21/23: This story has been updated to reflect Chester and Malie have been adopted.
Update notice, 1:50 p.m. on Friday, 08/18/23: This story has been updated to include new comments from Darlene Rayhill.