I was renting a two bedroom condo by the beach with my son. It had all the comforts and conveniences of home. Nice furniture, a short walk to the beach and close to work. Then my son moved out on his own for the first time. He left his cat, Pepper, with me because he couldn't take it with him. I didn't like cats but I agreed to keep him. I wasn't used to being alone and I guess Pepper wasn't either. We slowly began to get along. A couple months went by and I found out Pepper was pregnant. Oh great, now what? She had five kittens. I wanted to give them away because I didn't want my beautiful home destroyed, but my son told me they had to stay with their mother for 8 weeks. Over that time I learned that every cat had his own unique personality and it wasn't long before the kittens were swinging from my curtains. I didn't care. Something had changed... I didn't want to give them up.
But with six cats, complaints started from the condo owner and the neighbors. I knew I had to look for other places to go. They weren't safe in the neighborhood.
I found a B.B. lodged in the side of one of my cats and another was bitten by a pitbull that I know was set loose on purpose. Something had to be done.
I wasn't sure what to do at first, so I built a shed in my son's yard and lived in it for a while. Then I found an advertisement in the paper from a realtor offering five acre partials on a tree farm; owner financing, low money down and low monthly payments... the problem was that it was 100 miles west of Jacksonville.
I drove out to see it and I loved it. Over the next months I bought five more partials. I now have 25 acres.
I cleared a small area and bought an office trailer as a shelter for my cats. I put in a pet door and padded shelves for them. We moved out there in November of 2003, the day after Thanksgiving. By that time I had 11 cats. I had taken in abandoned and stray cats from the neighborhood and areas that I work as a contractor. I had 22 cats by the spring of 2004.
I moved the shed out to the property and made a little cabin out of it. I thought it would be for me, but many of my cats wanted to sleep next to me... so I moved back into the office trailer where we had more room.
I no longer have any of my old furniture; material items aren't important to me any more. My cats have made me happier than I've ever been. They truly are the best friends I've ever had.
Caboodle Ranch is now a permanent sanctuary for cats who have been kicked around by heartless people. There are many sad stories between all the cats I've taken in. Some almost starved to death, some of them wounded strays. I've seen many locked in cages for months in animal shelters and have taken in some of those too.
Cats should be able to roam free, and at Caboodle Ranch, that's what they do. We are in the middle of 100 acres of wildlife. The cats follow me through the nature trails that I put in and maintain, they climb in tree forts that I've built and hide in underground dens I've dug for them.
All cats have been spayed or neutered, all shots are kept up to date and I keep regular visits to the vet for each of them. I traveled the 250 miles round-trip many times a week to work and back again to keep a safe haven for them to live. Every one of my expenses had come out of my own pocket and I do with very little so I can give them a happy life, but it isn't always easy. Since "retiring", I sold the business to my son and now work 7 days a week at the ranch, usually putting in 12 hour days, but I am happier than I have ever been, surrounded by so much love!
Thank you for your time and interest,
Founder of Caboodle Ranch