Monday, September 20, 2010

Florida man builds kitty village as sanctuary for homeless cats

Mimi's note: Usually I post a little introduction to my entries; however, this is such eye-candy I'd like you to use all of your time to enjoy!

small cat city hall

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 immediately loved the tree farm and bought 30 acres where he quickly erected an office trailer as a cat shelter. It had pet doors and padded shelving for long cat naps. The sanctuary is in the middle of 100 acres of wildlife.

cat Wal-Mart
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Craig moved there himself in 2003. By that time he had 11 cats -- he had adopted 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.

cat closeup
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"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.

"Whenever you host a large number of domestic animals in one place, responsibility is key," says Jenny Powers at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "You don't want to run into unexpected environmental impacts like high amounts of animal waste in waterways or negatively impacted vegetation or critters." She points out that looking for sustainable solutions before a probem begins is the best way to ensure there's no unintended consequences associated with a good deed.

Craig's website says: "Caboodle Ranch has the seal of approval from the Tallahassee Humane Society and the Tallahassee/Madison County Animal Control. Representatives from both have been to the ranch and both have liked what they've found."

cat village
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The expenses for the nonprofit sanctuary come out of Craig's pocket and donations from the public. Each cat costs about $550 a year to tend to, and that is without extraneous vet bills. All the cats are spayed or neutered, and their shots are kept up to date.

cat city hall
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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.

Caboodle Ranch sign with cat
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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.

Craig Grant with cats
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sprinkles said...

I love this story! Makes me miss my own kitty though. Someday I'll get another one.

Everycat said...

What a wonderful sanctuary for cats. Craig is certainly a very special person, we wish there were more true sanctuaries like this for cats.

Thanks for sharing this story!

Whicky Wuudler

The Creek Cats said...

What a wonderful man and such lucky kitties!

Kea said...

We've known about Caboodle Ranch for a few years at least now, but haven't checked the site in a long time. These village houses are pawsome!

Brian said...

Love it! I wish there were one of those in every city!

♥I am Holly♥ said...

What a thoughtful and wonderful man to do all of that for the kitties! I love it!! Lots of love, Holly and mom

Angel and Kirby said...

I have not checked in with Caboodle Ranch in a long time. Did they ever get the fence around the property to keep out the coyotes?

Anonymous said...

He is an amazing man with an amazing ranch!

Amy and The House of Cats said...

Wow we had never heard of this place - we can't wait to take a look at the website. This is so awesome - thanks for sharing!!

Ayla and Iza, said...

Thats just... AMAZING!

meowmeowmans said...

We saw this, too ... isn't it just amazing?!