LIHUE — When Janet Barrall boarded a recent Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle from Lihue Airport, she had a couple extra furry passengers along for the ride.
Those kittens came from Judy Dalton, a Kauai resident who has been trapping, neutering and adopting out cats for the past 20 years on the island.
They are two of about 100 cats that Dalton has transported off the island under the care of passengers on their way to Seattle, where a rescue shelter pairs them with their forever homes.
“I pay for the fares, the flights for all the kitties, myself,” Dalton said. “It’s worth every penny to me to know that they’re getting a good home.”
She started the project in 2016 and works independently on the project by connecting with people who are on their way to Seattle before they board their flights.
“When I first started doing this, I was able to find homes for them right away. Then it got so that I didn’t get any calls and it became more difficult,” Dalton said.
So, she scored a spot outside of Walmart to help re-home the kittens that were passing through her care, and found a space outside of Petco as well.
But, that wasn’t enough to even scratch the surface of the number of cats Dalton needed to re-home, so she decided she’d foot the bill for sending them to the Mainland as often as she could.
Alaska Airlines generally has the lowest cost for transporting animals, and that’s why Dalton specifically asks to connect with people who are leaving the island for Seattle on Alaska Airlines flights.
She connects with prospective passengers through craigslist.com, by word of mouth, and by putting a sign by her car advertising the opportunity.
Dalton says the kitties have had a lot of luck in Seattle.
“I sent two kitties off Tuesday and then two on Friday. Those two arrived Friday night and the next morning they were adopted,” she said.
While most of the cats that Dalton sends across the Pacific are destined for an animal rescue, she also helps those who inadvertently fall in love with one of Kauai’s feral felines while on vacation.
“It’s happened before where a visitor is here and they fall in love with the kitties that are hanging out around their condo or whatever,” Dalton said. “If they want to adopt them and take them back with them, I’ll assist.”
Dalton can catch the cat and lend the visitors a carrier for transport, meeting them at the airport before they board their flights.
“I invite visitors, if they see a kitty they want, please call me, I’ll assist you,” Dalton said.
Info: Judy Dalton, 482-1129