Big Problems In Tiny Cat Town

Photo Credit: Caboodle Ranch

(ANIMAL WELFARE) FLORIDA — Caboodle Ranch cat sanctuary was raided and shut down Monday morning. Sanctuary owner, Craig Grant was arrested and charged with animal cruelty and scheme to fraud. Grant took in the cats for a fee, according to reports, and after being featured on the Colbert Report and Animal Planet had received more than $150,000 in donations in 2010 alone. A PETA investigator discovered the ailing cats after volunteering at the shelter for five months. The ASPCA has taken over 700 sick cats to a warehouse in Jacksonville where 125 vets and volunteers are treating the animals. — Global Animal
Photo Credit: Caboodle Ranch

The Huffington Post

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seized nearly a thousand sick felines from the Caboodle Ranch cat sanctuary in Lee, FL this week. The ASPCA reports that it is the largest cat rescue they’ve ever done.

Despite the ranch’s tagline “Where cats aren’t treated like animals” and the tiny town built for the cats, authorities found inhumane conditions and very sick cats on the property.

Craig Grant, who opened Caboodle in 2007, was arrested on charges of animal cruelty and scheme to defraud.

He later wrote on the Caboodle web site: “Monday morning a SWAT team came in gun to my head took me to jail on what they said was a misdemeanor charge… I posted bail the same day, but I’m not allowed back at the ranch. I have no idea what’s taking place there.” The bond was set at $250,000.

Five months ago, a PETA investigator worked as an undercover volunteer on the ranch and recorded video of cats suffering from respiratory infections so severe that “they gasped for air and struggled to breathe, drooled, and had bloody mucus clogging their noses.” See the disturbing video below.

According to PETA (link contains graphic images), Grant allowed cats infected with fatal contagious diseases to roam freely through and beyond the ranch. He also attempted to “clean” the cats’ faces by vigorously rubbing their eyes, noses, and mouths with Clorox wipes, PETA says.

The ASPSCA has been seizing cats from the ranch ever since Monday. The last tally was at 700 but still growing.

“This is a tragic situation. Caboodle Ranch was clearly overwhelmed with hundreds of cats in dire need of medical treatment,” says Tim Rickey, Senior Director of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. “The sanctuary had no adoption or spay/neuter programs in place to manage its current population.”

The cats, who are sick with ringworm, feline AIDS, leukemia, and eye infections, are being kept in a warehouse in Jacksonville where 125 volunteers and vets are providing treatment, Tampa Bay Times reports.

Despite the apparent lack of care, Grant refers to his cat residents as his “babies” and says he worked all hours of the night to nurse them to health. He writes on his web site:

I’ve had a number of sick cats over the years. … All these cats were being treated. I either take them to the vets or call to describe symptoms and am told what to do. … I’ve gotten crippled cats back on their feet, ones with liver problems well again … I feel my heart does most of their healing. Night after night I am in the sick ward and work until I can’t stand up anymore. Sometimes grabbing a roll of paper towels for a pillow to sleep on the floor with them at the end of the day.

The image of SWAT teams rescuing deathly ill cats is a long way from Caboodle supporters’ depiction of the ranch as a feline heaven.

The Colbert Report even featured Grant’s facility in 2011, highlighting the tiny cat town Grant built for his residents, complete with a city hall, school, WalMart, and cat-run guardhouse. See the video below.

The Caboodle Ranch photo gallery shows Grant serving up a big turkey feast to the animals on Thanksgiving.

Florida legislatures are currently considering a bill that PETA believes could lead to state animal shelters who euthanize handing over animals to privately-run, no-kill facilities like Caboodle Ranch.

PETA is asking “Animal Rescue Act” sponsors to withdraw such legislation so that more cats don’t suffer under the same conditions.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story indicated that the Animal Rescue Act would force shelters to give animals to rescue groups. That is the interpretation of PETA, who is fighting the bill. The clarification has been made.

Due to the graphic nature of this video Global Animal will not be featuring it in this article. To view with discretion:

More Huffington Post:




  1. Ms. Cross, you should do your homework more thoroughly before posting an article as fact.
    The volunteer did not “discover” ailing cats – she was sent there to find ailing cats and take staged photos and videos and shut the ranch down. Your article leads the reader to believe that all the cats at the ranch were ailing – this was not the case. A number WERE ailing, as is true for a certain percentage of any rescue facility. But the owner is not guilty of animal abuse or cruelty because he was caring for some ailing cats. The charges were trumped up by a few disgruntled people and pushed forward by a political agenda backed by PETA. If you are interested in getting the truth behind the ranch, I urge you to do more research and interview people who have spent a good deal of time working or volunteering there. The “investigator” posed as a volunteer to gain access to the ranch to complete a pursue a hidden agenda, a volunteer who chose, it seems, to take pictures of filled litter pans rather than empty them as she was expected to. A volunteer who took photos of a cat with an eye infection (who later died because she did not respond to treatment) without bothering to mention that the cat WAS receiving treatment, not just left there to suffer unjustly as the timed photographs suggest.

    • Ms. Pollitts, you should get all the facts before you criticize others. The PETA investigator did not smear mucus on those cats faces. She did not pour urine and feces on plywood surfaces that couldn’t be sterilized. She did not infect the cats with giardia, hookworms, roundworms, coronavirus, calcivirus, T. fetus, M. felis, or grain mites.

      The problems at Caboodle Ranch were present long before PETA became involved, and while I don’t agree with some of PETA’s tactics, I’m grateful to them for compiling the evidence needed to persuade the Sheriff to take action in this case.

      The fact is that the majority of the cats were not receiving ANY treatment, or at best, were receiving Craig’s haphazard, do-it-yourself veterinary care that consisted of squirting antibiotics in the mouths of any cat that looked like it might be sick (using the same contaminated applicator), or scrubbing cats’ faces with toxic Clorox Wipes.

      Veterinary documents, inspection statements, court documents, foreclosure notices, photographs, videos, and bank records and tax returns showing extensive fraud are all available for review at .

      Obviously, these are facts that Caboodle Ranch would rather you didn’t see, and that hoarding apologists refuse to look at — but they are, nonetheless, facts. They cannot be denied and dismissed so easily.

    • He sure was set up. I’m from NJ and have spent days at Caboodle as a volunteer. The video was partly staged–the frig was unused and had no electricity. The frig I used was clean. Some cats did have URIs, as do kids in kindergarten, but they were vet treated. Craig worked 12 hour days to care for the ranch. You can not tell from a picture if the cats had been treated immediately before or were about to be treated right after. The vet was there on my last trip, and I know he was there a few days before the raid. So he’s also at fault?
      Now there is a neighbor on a golf cart shooting cats that weren’t taken.
      Why did it take the PeTA agent, and we knew who she was, 5 months to create a damaging video? If things were that bad, you would have seen it immediately.

      There was a quote from a senior ASPCA investigator who said “most of the cats were not in immediate need of medical help.” A lot different from story above. If you want an accurate depiction of the ranch, go to Madison Voice and find John Ovenden’s editorial. He took many hours of video and was never restricted as to where he could shoot.
      If PeTA and the ASPCA really wanted to help the cats, they could have used some of the 300K it’s costing for the raid and improved the ranch. You think cats who roamed free are happier caged in some warehouse in JAX? This was a travesty and there are thousands of people offering help to try to remedy this wrong. I have many personal photos showing happy, healthy cats at CR. PeTA and the ASPCA are no friends of animals and will lose donations. PeTA wanted to influence the FL vote on the proposed shelter law, which they opposed. The Sheriff is up for re-election and wanted to close the ranch. Don’t know the ASPCA agenda, but it was not to help cats.
      One of the saddest aspects was that the county passed a new EAH, Excess Animal Habitat permit requiring many changes made to facilities that wanted to have large #s of animals. i helped break down the permit into a punch list, and Craig and others were working with Animal Control to make sure they did it all right. The county decision was to be this week. So, all along, AC and the Sheriff KNEW this raid was coming, but allowed all the sweat and toil to be expended. How dishonorable. Craig gave up his life to care for the animals. I hope there will be justice for Craig and the ranch.

  2. One last thing-his vet records were taken and the cat houses were destroyed-all his newspaper clippings of Caboodle Ranch stories were destroyed too…why would anyone do that? That sounds like eco terroists to me. SOmething is not right here. Something is off.

    • That is false: the houses were not destroyed.

      But yes, the vet records were seized as evidence. If you’d like to see some of them, has records through 2010. They are wholly inadequate for the care of 700+ cats.

      I have no idea about the clippings, though it’s possible the investigators mistook them for the trash that littered the Ranch buildings.

  3. Hi this is truly sad. I urge people to look into both sides. In time the real picture will come out but I read the journal which can be read here:
    I read the one called Nanettes story and then the one before it called 9am wake up call. What I’m reading is that the sick were being seen by vet and vet has proof. That the refridgerator shown in PETAs video was from a locked trailer. I have read that people began dumping ill cats at the Ranch. That Craig required they all be fixed and had them all up to date on shots. Also Nanettes story is really sad. She moved to ranch a couple weeks prior with her own personal cats. She took very good care of them and they were taken from her. She was told they would not be because she wasn’t being investigated. When she went to get them back-she was told she will not have them for a very very very long time. So here are healthy cats-who have a nice home -and Nanette becomes sort of collateral damage if you will-along with the kitties. Also Craigs personal cat Tommy-he was diagnosed with FIP and Craig had just spent $5000 on his care-he was home with Craig to live out his life-and Craig was giving him meds to make him comfortable. Please just look at the other side to this story. I have a bad bad feeling the media images may not be exactly what they seem. The video was taken from a PETA investigator who Craig hired to clean up. She wasn’t cleaning it seems-also she was there to take care of kitty with bad eye. That cat was being treated too. Theres a cat that is paralyzed-that cat is said to have been dropped off. But ask yourself why was it made to run? The investigator chased the cat to make him run for drama effect.
    I have read of volunteers saying he was doing everything right. Since I wasn’t there I cannot say-at first the videos shocked me but I have since read explanations-I agree there were sick cats-but I read they were all under treatment. Time will tell. would I rather spend my life in the court system for “evidence” in a cage or on the ranch-definitley on the ranch! Cats are living beings. Why should they be held in a cage in some undiscosed warehouse-how is that better??????