by Elisa Black-Taylor
Cat heaven or cat lovers heaven?
Good morning readers. Can anyone tell me how many cats are in the photo above? I don't know, but it's great to see so many cats together. I'm not sure if this is cat heaven or cat lovers heaven. Perhaps a bit of both. Today I'd like to tell you about Caboodle Ranch located in Lee, Florida.
Caboodle Ranch is a non-profit cat rescue unintentionally founded by Craig Grant in 2003. It is home to more than 600 cats who permanently reside there. This is their forever home after coming from a world that just didn't see them for the magnificent cats they all are.
This cat heaven has been mentioned a few times on pictures-of-cats.org and a donation made to it from PoC. A place like this deserves another visit. I love to spread good cat news and this is one of the best.
I loved reading Craig's story on how Caboodle Ranch came into existence. He started out with one cat (don't we all) named Pepper. Pepper wasn't his cat. It was his son's and they were living in a two bedroom condo. Craig's son left him in care of this one cat who happened to be pregnant. After the kittens came along and he spent time becoming a future cat-man, Craig learned not everyone loved cats. Complaints started coming from his neighbors and he realizing after finding one of his cats had been shot with a B.B. gun it was time to find a new home.
His new love of cats took Craig to his son's property where he built a shed for the cats, and then on to what is now Caboodle Ranch. Since that time, his project has grown into the most amazing cat habitat I've ever seen.
Caboodle Ranch is located 100 miles west of Jacksonville in Lee, Florida on 30 acres of woodland. Craig and his 11 cats moved there the day after Thanksgiving in 2003. He bought an office trailer and built cat beds inside to make this a comfortable shelter for his cats. He also moved the shed he'd built at his son's place onto the property and made a cabin out of it.
The cats didn't go for the officer trailer idea. The cats all wanted to sleep with Craig in his cabin! So he moved everyone into the office trailer since it was the larger of the two.
By the spring of 2004 he was the very happy owner of 22 cats. Some came from shelter cages where they'd spent the majority of their cat lives. Others he found at construction sites he worked on as a contractor.
It's here the cats make their home in the middle of 100 acres of wildlife. The cats are protected from wildlife by a 7 foot heavy duty chained link fence that surrounds the first 7 acres of the ranch. This will be extended as funds provide until the entire 30 acres are enclosed.
Craig is trained to provide veterinary care to the animals. He can administer medications, IV fluids and vaccines. Every morning at feeding time he does a head count and checks to make sure his large family is in good health.
Before I tell you about the cat village, I'd like to tell you a few things about Craig and Caboodle Ranch and how they operate. Cats from all over the U.S. are flown into Florida and Craig picks them up from the airport (always after 7 p.m. due to the heat). Anyone who wants to turn over a cat is expected to pay a $150 fee, but half of the fee can be paid in cat food. For those who don't have the money, volunteering at the ranch is an option. Craig says he can always use help in feeding and caring for the cats.
It takes more than 100 pounds of dry cat food per day, plus 5 cases of large canned food per feeding. Please see their website page on ways to donate to their organization. Purina helps all they can, but food and money donations are always welcome.
One method of donation listed on their site really caught my attention. The ranch purchases cat food from PetSmart and Wal-Mart and suggested sending them gift cards from these stores. I'd never thought of this idea and think it would be a great idea to use with local shelters.
Craig has been approved to care for his furry residents by both the Tallahassee Humane Society and the Tallahassee/Madison County Animal Control. The two organizations have visited Caboodle Ranch and assures the public he isn't a cat hoarder. All of his animals are up to date on shots and very well loved.
There is no set maximum number for how many cats can live there. Craig does make sure all cats who live there are spayed/neutered and up to date on shots. No cat will be turned away. There are over 600 cats there now (Sept. 2010) because of those sent there, plus all that Craig has rescued over the years.
Craig also has a plan put into place to run Caboodle Ranch should he become ill and no longer able to spend the hours necessary to maintain the ranch.
Now for the part I can't wait to show all of the cat lovers out there. I wish I could live and work there because this is truly cat heaven. Craig has built a cat village. These cats are so lucky! The first photo for this article is all of the cats at a Thanksgiving dinner. These cats and the people who care for them are awesome.
I've listed the YouTube page link at the end of this article because there are many Caboodle Ranch videos there. Happy watching. Invite your cats to watch with you.
Animal Planet has even jumped on board to showcase this wonderful cat haven. The premiere episode of their new show Must Love Cats is about Caboodle Ranch. This will be on TV in January 2011.
There is a fundraiser being held for a cat infirmary. The actual building is $4800, with another $3900 to get it up and running. So far $2500 has been raised for this project. This building will give Craig a place to sleep with the kitties who are sick and need him most. Right now he has to hunt down the cats needing treatment and this would give him more control over caring for the sick. Have any of you ever tried to find a sick cat in the dark? Craig has. The infirmary building would make caring for the sick kitties so much easier. More on this project can be found here.
I hope the readers at PoC will pass the word around about this wonderful man and his cat family. I've included lots of references to this great cat community. Not as homework, but for entertainment and knowledge.
Caboodle Ranch is truly a remarkable place founded by a remarkable man who quickly grew to love cats once he had one of his own.
Have a great day everyone!
Elisa wrote an updating page on this subject: Caboodle Ranch Heaven or Hell - you might like to join the debate. There are a lot of comments!