Craig Grant doesn't like cats. But that all changed when his son moved out, leaving his cat Pepper behind. And just when Craig was getting used to having one cat, he found out Pepper was pregnant. Five kittens later, Craig was ready to adopt them out until his son said they must stay with their mother for 8 weeks. "It wasn't long before the kittens were swinging from my curtains," he notes on his website.
The cats started to be a problem for Craig. Not only were neighbors complaining but the cats were being harassed, like being shot with B.B. guns. A newspaper advertisement led him to a tree farm 100 miles away from his Jacksonville condo.
He wasn't quite ready to give up his home, with its short walk to the beach and close proximity to his work, but he immediately fell in love with the tree farm and bought 30 acres, where he quickly erected an office trailer as a cat shelter. It had pet doors, padded shelving for long cat naps. The sanctuary is in the middle of 100 acres of wildlife.
Craig moved there himself in 2003. By that time he had 11 cats, after adopting both strays and abandoned cats. By 2004, he had 22 cats. As you can tell by these pictures, he now has quite a few more than 22.
"We [currently] have 660 cats, we have barely touched on the first 5 acres of the 30 acres of land," says Craig. But that many cats in one location comes with serious concerns. Outdoor cats definitely affect bird populations to the measure of being an invasive species.
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All of the expenses for the sanctuary have come out of Craig's pocket and he even travels 250 miles roundtrip to work many times a day to keep the cats safe and cared for. Because each cat costs about $550 a year to tend to, and that is without extraneous vet bills. For all cats are spayed or neutered, and their shots are kept up to date.
And while Caboodle Ranch is beyond cute, it is also hard work. Craig puts in 14-plus hours a day. The ranch's biggest challenge is finding dedicated volunteers. The novelty of the sanctuary surely attracts visitors, about 30 or so each month, but they don't always stick around.
But don't go to Caboodle Ranch looking for a pet. The cats are not up for adoption. "The reason the cats are there in the first place is that there were not enough homes [for them]. The cats at the ranch have their forever home now. We prefer people adopt cats from humane societies, animal control etc, where those cats are on death row and are in desperate need to be saved," says Craig.
Check out his Facebook page here.