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What Are the World’s Most Unique Cat Rescues & Sanctuaries?


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cats eating at a cat sanctuary

If your cat is lying nearby, it might be tempting to give it a big cuddle at the thought of it not having a forever home. When you think of cats waiting to be adopted or, worse still, not ever finding a forever home, it’s heartbreaking. There’s a misconception about rescues and sanctuaries as being places where cats are left waiting for affection, but in our search for the world’s most unique cat rescues and sanctuaries, it’s clear that isn’t true. So, let’s take a look at these rescues and sanctuaries and their amazing work.

The 6 Most Interesting Cat Sanctuaries in the World

1. The Catboat

De Poezenboot (Dutch for “The Catboat”) was founded in 1968 by the passionate cat lover Henriette van Weelde. In 1987, it achieved charity status and was then known as Stichting de Poezenboot or “Catboat Foundation.”

This floating sanctuary can be found on the Singel canal, and you can adopt some of the cats, but because most of these cats have lived outside for so long, they wouldn’t be happy being cooped up in a house, so adopting out isn’t the organization’s primary aim.

2. Cat World

Cat World exists within Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which is home to 1,600 dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, horses, pigs, and other animals. It can be found in the canyons of southern Utah, and Cat World alone is home to over 600 cats. There are 11 buildings that make up Cat World, all designed with a cat’s well-being in mind.

You can sponsor one of the residents, apply for a cat sleepover where one of the cats will come over for a slumber party, and also adopt one of these well-loved cats.

3. The Cat House on the Kings

The Cat House on the Kings was founded in 1992 by Lynea Lattanzio, who dedicated her life to rescuing cats. It’s California’s largest no-kill, no-cage, lifetime cat sanctuary and adoption center. In total, they have saved over 20,000 cats, and currently, 700 cats, kittens, and dogs live on this 12-acre property.

With the help of 50 staff members, they aim to facilitate the adoption of cats, dogs, and other rescued animals, educate the public on how to improve animal welfare, and offer low-cost neuter and spay referrals. In 2003, the Cat House was expanded to dedicate time and care to FIV-positive cats.

4. Lanai Cat Sanctuary

The Lanai Cat Sanctuary saves and cares for cats and native birds and was founded in 2004 by Kathy Caroll. It is located in Lanai, which is the smallest inhabited island that travelers can visit in Hawaii. In the 25,000 square feet of space, there are plenty of opportunities for cats to explore, and the sanctuary has brought in over 600 cats since 2015.

The Lanai Cat Sanctuary is open to the public every day for a few hours and has become a tourist destination, which is lucky because it gets all of its funding from visitors. Visitors can foster or adopt cats, and there is also an option to “adopt in place,” where you can sponsor a cat if you cannot take one home with you.

5. The Odd Cat Sanctuary

The Odd Cat Sanctuary was founded in 2015 by Tara Kawczynski, and it is located in Salem, Massachusetts. They take cats that might need a little more care than the ordinary feline, like cats with special needs or disabilities or who have been abused or abandoned. They are provided with a home-like environment until a forever home can be found. They are primarily foster-based and rely on donations and fundraising.

6. Tabby’s Place

Tabby’s Place was founded by Jonathan Rosenberg and his wife Sharon in 2003, and the sanctuary is located in Ringoes, New Jersey, United States. It’s a cage-free sanctuary created when the family lost their beloved cat Tabby to cancer 4 months after being diagnosed. Tabby’s Place provides a home for cats that come from hopeless situations. No matter the cat’s medical issues, age, or temperament, they have a home at Tabby’s Place. Most cats are adopted, but those that aren’t are welcome to stay there forever.

The building they live in was designed specifically for these cats and their needs. There are bright, open spaces and continuous fresh air, and they can enjoy everything a forever home offers. Tabby’s Place houses around 100 cats; many of them come from overly crowded animal shelters.

People Also Ask

What Is the Difference Between a Rescue and a Sanctuary?

The terms “sanctuary” and “rescue” can be used quite loosely, but generally, a sanctuary refers to a permanent facility where cats aren’t likely to be adopted or find a forever home. Rescues are like shelters where animals are kept safe until they find that all-important forever home. While not all of the sanctuaries on our list have adoption as their priority, it is an option. So, while they call themselves “sanctuaries,” it’s clear that isn’t all they are.

four cats sitting on kitchen counter
Image credit: Dietmar Ludmann, Unsplash

How Do Cats End up in Rescues and Sanctuaries?

There are a variety of reasons a cat might end up being surrendered. Sometimes their stories are tragic, ranging from abuse to neglect, but sometimes a family feels like it has no other option and turns to facilities like these for help. It could be that you develop an allergy, your cat is going through some behavioral problems you’re struggling with, or you have trouble affording your pet’s care. There are resources for struggling families, so if you find yourself in this situation, check out all your options first.


The people who work and give up their free time to give cats the stability and care that we’ve seen in these rescues and sanctuaries are providing more than just a place for cats to wait for a family; they are actually providing a family for them. Each sanctuary gives the cats in their care the opportunity to thrive and live full and happy lives, and finding a forever family seems like a bonus on top of that!

Featured Image Credit: Perpis, Shutterstock

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