What to do with feral cats at Ke Nani Kai Condominiums? This has been an ongoing issue for several years at the West End condos. Now, it appears that a minority group of owners that wanted the cats removed has won the most recent battle.
Following a binding arbitration ruling, The Board of Directors for Ke Nani Kai will remove all cats from the property. The decision, dated Feb. 20, gives owners 60 days to find new homes for the cats or the Board will remove them. It is unclear if the Board will euthanize the cats as a final option.
The feral cat population at Ke Nani Kai has been already reduced from 50 to 18 since 2011 and continues to decline. The cats provide effective rodent control and they have all been spayed and neutered through the efforts of condo’s Animal Control Committee (ACC). A survey of condo owners in 2011 showed that almost 70 percent of residents support the property cats.
For these reasons, this decision leaves the condo’s cat lovers scratching their heads. The cats, on the other hand — many of whom have lived on the property for 15 years — may soon have to find new sand to scratch.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen to these cats and the people here are having fits,” said Jody Canady, one of the condo’s cat lovers.
Behind the effort to remove the cats are Paul and Janet Kennedy. On the other side are Jody and Darryl Canady who have been caring for the cats for more than 18 years at Ke Nani Kai. The Canadys said they have spent almost $30,000 caring and feeding the cats over the past 12 years.
“Why should Ke Nani Kai be subject to the whims of five or six individuals who feel that what has been done here is suddenly wrong when it was accepted to solve the problems of mice and rat infestations?” asks Darryl Canady.
The Canadys even claim that the Kennedys donated $200 to the ACC when it was first formed. “They don’t care about the cats or the people who take care of cats,” said Jody Canady, about the Kennedys. “This is retribution for other things. The cats are not a nuisance and people are upset about this. They are going to take them all away; these cats — we’re all they know.”
The Canadys have been involved in two other legal actions against Ke Nani Kai. Condo owners Jim and Nancy Bevill successfully sued the Board for conducting a pattern of harassment and intimidation against them. Jody Canady testified on behalf of the Bevills in that case. Another case involved solar panels that were installed without the proper Maui County permits. The Canadys complained about the glare from the panels, which raised awareness about the lack of permits for the project.
Back in 2002-2003, the condos had an explosion of mice and rats “of biblical proportion,” according to the Canadys. Rodents were found in beds, in the pool and running all over the property. Jody Canady said she was even bitten by a rat while sleeping in her bed. This also created a problem with telephone and cable TV wires getting eaten by rodents, to the extent where wire pairs per unit have been reduced 35 percent by the rodents.
In response, the ACC developed a cat colony management plan. The cats were all spayed and neutered and given their proper shots. A feeding station was established on the far end of the property. Even the phone and cable utility companies supported this plan, said the Canadys.
The arbitration between the Board, the Kennedys and the Canadys stipulates that the feeding station will be phased out by April 20. Individuals may find alternative placements for the cats or adoptive homes. The board will enforce these rules by citations, penalties, fines and removal. This ruling also applies to peacocks and wild turkeys that wander the property.
But since the Ke Nani Kai bylaws do not allow pets, none of the condo owners can adopt them. If no pets are allowed, how can the Board regulate feral animals, the Canadys wonder.
The Shields Foundation, a national animal protection organization that also supports the Molokai Humane Society, has donated $5,000 to the KNK Board to help with the removal. The problem for the older cats will be adjusting to a new home even if one is found.
“The property cats also keep the feral cats off the property,” said Maribeth Steiner, a condo owner. The Canadys also expressed concern about the property being overrun by feral cats if the property cats are removed. Steiner added that the Kalaupapa community is now trying to create a cat colony modeled after Ke Nani Kai’s colony that has been in place for 30 years.
“I’ve been here when it’s been run over by mice,” said Steiner, “it’s horrible!”
Like the Canadys, Steiner believes this movement to eradicate the cats was started by one couple, the Kennedys. The Board gave in to the demands of the Kennedy’s to avoid a lawsuit, according to Steiner and the Canadys. “If we cave in to frivolous lawsuits where does it end?” questioned Steiner.
Two phone messages were left for the Kennedys, one at their condo at Ke Nani Kai and in Alaska where they now reside. The calls were not returned.
Another owner, Sandy Stokes, also expressed concern about the rodents. “We’ll have no control over what happens.”
Kathy Goltscher, another owner who happened to be lounging by the pool on Saturday, agreed that the cats were helpful and not a nuisance. “I never saw the cats, ever,” she added.
“My big concern is what happens if they (cats) are not here,” said condo owner Karen Crisp. “Rat borne illnesses are much more serious than anything a cat can carry.” Getting rid of the property cats, said Crisp, “was an ill-informed decision.”
The Canadys do still have a legal option. The arbitrator told them the case can be opened. The hope is that even if cats are banned, the existing cats can remain if a clause is added to the arbitration ruling allowing them to be grandfathered in. Given that they have already spent several thousands of dollars on legal fees, the Canadys are unsure if they can afford to pursue legal action.