What would you do with 500 cats?
Well, build a home for them, of course. Or in the case of Craig Grant, a build a whole city. He’s the founder and proprietor of Caboodle Ranch, a 30-acre city located 100 miles west of Jacksonville, Florida. It’s home to the 500 cats he’s taken in over the last decade. A non-profit organization, Caboodle Ranch serves a higher purpose: it acts as a permanent sanctuary for wounded, starved, or otherwise at-risk felines in the area.
Replete with a City Hall (pictured right) and a faux WalMart, Caboodle Ranch was founded accidentally, to say the least. In 2003, Grant — then no fan of cats — rented a two bedroom condo with his son. His son moved out but left behind Pepper, a cat. And Pepper, unbeknownst to either Grant or his son, was pregnant. When she gave birth, Grant’s son convinced him to keep the five kittens around for a few months, asserting that this spending this early time with their mother was important for the kittens’ development. Grant agreed.
Eight weeks later, the brood had so greatly endeared themselves to Grant that he no longer wanted to give them up. And they had done so much damage to the condo that the landlord wanted the cats gone — so Grant left. Grant, a contractor, found an inexpensive five-acre parcel of undeveloped land 100 miles west of his Jacksonville home and started construction on his kitty city. By Thanksgiving of 2004, Grant had 11 cats on his ranch. And over the last six years, the ranch has expanded to 30 acres and 500 cats.
More pictures of Caboodle Ranch, including the aforementioned “WalMart” and a cat church, in progress, can be found here.
Update (3/29/2012): A year and a half after this issue of Now I Know was published, the ASPCA and local authorities seized hundreds of cats from the ranch, citing inhumane conditions of the animals.
Bonus fact: Off the coast of San Francisco are the Farallon Islands, comprising roughly 150 acres of uninhabited wilderness. No cats, either, but lots of mice, which apparently are not native to the Islands. The island is no sanctuary for mice, either: the federal government is looking to give out a $164,243 grant to anyone who can eradicate the mouse population there.
From the Archives: The Aptly-Named Snake Island: What do you do with thousands of highly poisonous snakes?
Related: Toilet train your cats. You know, so they can live in a real kitty city.