Co-founder Amber’s husband, Adam, a cargo pilot, had the grand idea to “export” cats to transfer partners out of Hawai’i via Aloha Air Cargo, who had a popular route to Seattle. He hit the ground running (or should we say, flying?) by meeting with the powers that be and securing our partnership just a mere months after finalizing our 501(c)(3) status. He coined the program, “Operation Aloha Cat” and through this program, what Good Cat Network became known for, was born.
Operation Aloha Cat, Good Cat Network’s primary program which has flown 500+ cats from Hawai’i to forever homes in Washington State, would not be possible without our partners, volunteers, supporters and donors. The flowchart below shows a simplified version of the process.
We did not invent the idea of transferring adoptable cats from overcrowded areas to locations where they are desired, in fact, most large humane societies with a tendency for over-capacity do this already. What sets our program apart from others is our connection to the colony caretakers and the rescuers. There are many boots-on-the-ground individuals that work tirelessly managing colonies and helping community members by education on the importance of spay and neuter. These people are the lifeblood of the rescue community and in many cases, been in the Maui rescue world for decades. They’ve witnessed the island change, resources diminish and services dwindle.
What also sets our program apart from others is our careful selection of and commitment to our partners. We believe that together, we ensure that the bar is the highest it can be in all aspects of the operation. Like a good marriage, we lean on, improve, encourage and grow together.
Both directly and through our non-profit partner Honi Honi Cats Maui, we connect with the rescuers that need us the most. These partnerships allow us to maximize Operation Aloha Cat so that we can send as many healthy, adoptable cats and kittens as possible within the parameters of the program. Put simply: we make every penny and partnership opportunity count towards getting community cats socialized and flown to forever homes on the US continent.
We want cats to thrive. We want the people that bring a cat into their home to be confident cat parents. We want to enrich, bring joy to, and inspire the volunteers, partners, donors and collaborators just by participating in Operation Aloha Cat.
Operation Aloha Cat is not an afterthought for our organization, it’s what we want to do best.
Our Health Certificate Clinic
November 2021 marked the inception of Operation Aloha Cat. We initially attempted to schedule vet appointments for Health Certificates and Rabies vaccinations for the cats on the flight, which was not only was challenging logistically, but veterinarians did not necessarily have vet appointments available with such short notice.
So, why not host our own clinic to get the cats what they need to fly? That’s exactly what we did. Our Health Certificate clinic is held the weekend prior to the Operation Aloha Cat flight by transforming a barn-kitchen into a well-stocked clinic room and hiring our own veterinary team. We hire veterinarians and vet techs so the cats receive their Health Certificate, vaccinations, certifications and any testing that the transfer partner requires.
Nearly two years later, the GCN Health Certificate Clinic is a well-oiled machine.
The fosters or transport team leaves the clinic with all of the necessary flight supplies so that the cats can be brought to the airport ready-to-go!
The Aloha Air Cargo Flight
Aloha Air Cargo provides careful and compassionate cargo service to Good Cat Network from Maui to Seattle, WA, twice monthly.
They have a caring and compassionate staff who treat the flight cats with the utmost care through the flight process.
The planes are true cargo planes, meaning, these aren’t commuter planes where the cats are down “with the luggage.” Rather, our Good Cats are in their own temperature-controlled pod, all by themselves on a cargo plane.
Flight day for volunteers include bringing the cats to the airport and saying goodbye. Truth be told, it is the hardest part of the process. Flight day for most includes a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from sadness to joy, as the cats go on the adventure of a lifetime and the fosters and volunteers are forced to say, “aloha and hui hou.”