Makai Makes His Way Up the West Coast and Toward a Home

June 6, 2018


In Hawaiian, Makai can mean “toward the sea” or “good looking.”  But both definitions apply to one handsome cat who recently took a trip up the West Coast from Los Angeles to Seattle.

Once a stray cat with a bleak future, Makai fended for himself on the streets of Los Angeles. One day he was taken to Baldwin Park Animal Care Center—one of two L.A. County shelters where the ASPCA has worked since 2013 to help end animal homelessness.  

Makai was transferred to adoptions, but because he was older and looked beat up, he was often overlooked by would-be adopters. 

That’s when Jill Buckley, a recently retired ASPCA employee, stepped in. She contacted FixNation—a non-profit that performs spay/neuter surgeries for feral and stray cats—who in turn contacted Seattle Area Feline Rescue (SAFe), a non-profit, no-kill rescue that saves homeless cats and finds them homes. Despite testing positive for FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), a long-term yet manageable disease that can weaken a cat’s immune system, SAFe agreed to take Makai.

makai in his new home

“Who could resist that rugged face?” asks Shelley Lawson, Development and Communications Director at SAFe. “When Makai arrived, staff was instantly smitten. He was a big, scruffy love bug.”

The five-year-old former tomcat was at SAFe for just over a week when he was spotted by Samantha T. and her boyfriend, John, two self-avowed cat people looking to adopt. The couple had done their homework on rescues and shelters in the Seattle area before zeroing in on SAFe. 

“The people at SAFe really cared and are passionate about cats,” says Samantha, who adds that Makai was the first cat they met.  Despite his “goopy” eyes, dirty ears, nubby tail and FIV status—all consequences of life on the street—they fell in love with him. Upon meeting them, he leaned into Samantha and John and purred, and that was that.

Makai with Samantha and John

Makai is now known as Mack. “He’s built like a Mack truck—he’s a big dude,” Samantha says. “And he purrs like a truck engine.”

Samantha reports that Mack was perfect from the moment they brought him home, and his transition was an easy one.

“I call him my little flower; he opens up a little more each day,” she explains. “He’s settling in quickly. He is very patient—he lets us clean his ears and clip his nails, and he doesn’t react to noises like the vacuum cleaner or blender. He’s very gentle.”

Makai resting

Fond of tummy rubs and food, Mack is putting on some needed weight. Big on table scraps, he’s filling out his lion-like paws and “feels like cashmere—he’s super soft,” says Samantha.

“Mack’s transformation is heartwarming,” says Shelley. “When we see a cat like him go from hopeless to re-homed, we’re incredibly grateful. Once a rough-and-tumble feline with no future, now he's loving life and is adored. His story inspires us to keep saving more cats like him.”

Makai sleeping

“I think cats are wonderful,” adds Samantha, who grew up with felines, canines and even reptiles. “I appreciate dogs, but a cat’s love and affection is so much more selective. If a cat loves and wants to be around you, it’s because they’re making that choice.”

When he’s not napping or stealing table scraps, Mack, who also responds to “my beautiful boy,” is playful and demanding.

“I’ve had a variety of cats over the course of my life but have never met a cat quite like him,” says Samantha. “He’s very much one-of-a-kind.”

The ASPCA is making a difference for L.A.’s animals through four main programs: Relocation, Community Engagement (CE), Spay/Neuter and Primary Pet Care, and foster cats and kittens. Since 2013, more than 26,000 animals like Makai have been relocated from city and county shelters, and nearly 25,000 owned pets have been assisted through CE programs at shelters in Downey and Baldwin Park. Nearly 47,000 cats and dogs have been spayed or neutered at the ASPCA’s stationary and mobile clinics, more than 1,000 kittens are in foster homes and euthanasia has decreased by 40 percent in L.A. County. 

If you're interested in helping cats and kittens where you live, consider becoming a foster caregiver. Visit Meow For Now to learn more and find participating shelters in your area."