Big Island Polls

What action was No. 1 to deal with feral cats among 2,836 voters in Big Island Now’s poll?

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On Lānaʻi, there is a nonprofit cat sanctuary that houses the feral cats on the island to save them and protect the birds and other wildlife. (Cammy Clark/Big Island Now)

A solution to addressing cat colonies on Hawai‘i Island isn’t simple. In a poll, readers were asked: “What is the best way to humanely address the overpopulation of feral/community cats on the Big Island?”

The question drew 2,836 votes.

Of the seven actions listed in the Big Island Now poll, an eradication program was the most popular, garnering 1,108 votes.

But if you combine the votes for the five life-saving choices, it would win with 1,665 votes.


Only 54 people voted to not do anything and “let nature take its course.”

About 50 people showed up at the Queens’ Marketplace parking lot on April 18, 2023, in protest against the new rule against feeding the community cats. (Tiffany DeMasters/Big Island Now)

On Lānaʻi, there is a nonprofit feral cat sanctuary, which saves cats and protects birds.

Many of those commenting on the poll expressed issues with cats being predators to Hawai‘i’s native birds. Douglas Kerr commented: “Feeding cats simply increases the population of bird killers. Cats kill native birds mostly for sport because that is what they do.”

“Although I am firmly for trap/spay & neuter/release program, I also believe that, as in the past, the humane euthanasia program is integral to restore a balance to the population,” Don S. commented.


Many people supported the trap, neuter and release option. One Facebook user wrote: “Bring back affordable spay/neuter coupons. Stricter laws regarding dumping/abusing animals. This is a HUMAN issue. People dump them. We have to get to the root cause to solve the problem. If we want to save the native wildlife and fauna we need to reassess development. Most of the endangered/protected species like the nēnē are starving because we are developing on Their land.”

Another Facebook user commended nonprofit ABayKitties and their work on taking care of the homeless cats.

G and B wrote: “The solution is a combination of all the above. Find a way to secure the feeding stations from Nēnē until the cats can be trapped, neutered and released to sanctuaries, while having a mass adoption and education campaign.”

The full results of Big Island Now’s Poll #9:

  • Island eradication program: 1108 (39%)
  • Continue trap-neuter-release programs: 867 (30%)
  • Cat sanctuary: 397 (14%)
  • Round them up and take to shelters: 190 (6%)
  • Continue feeding and watering stations 137: (4%)
  • Mass adoption campaign: 74 (2%)
  • Do nothing; let nature take its course 54: (1%)

The question was spurred a couple weeks ago after the Department of Land and Natural Resources ordered real estate company Alexander & Baldwin, owner of Queens’ Marketplace, to remove longtime feline feeding and water stations from the Waikōloa shopping area.

On April 18, a group of 50 people went down to the marketplace and argued with conservation officers about how starving the cats was inhumane. Two people were ultimately cited by state conservation and resources officers for “prohibited take of endangered species” by putting bowls of cat food on the ground.

The mandate came after the state confirmed a complaint that nēnē (Hawaiian goose) were “observed consuming the cat food and regularly spending time among the feral cat colony, which has resulted in harm to nēnē.”

Nēnē are endangered and also the Hawaiʻi state bird, so protecting them is a priority of the state.

There is an overpopulation of animals in general on Hawaiʻi Island. The shelters are at maximum capacity and there are cat colonies throughout the county, either abandoned or taken care by animal lovers.

At the behest of Gov. Josh Green, Dawn Chang, Chair of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, came over to the Big Island to speak with ABayKitties, the nonprofit primarily responsible for feeding the cats in the Waikōloa shopping area.

No resolutions were immediately made in addressing the particular situation in Waikōloa.

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