When Craig Grant first moved to a remote tree farm in 2003 to set up a sanctuary for cats, he was taking care of 11 felines. Now his Caboodle Ranch
, located just 50 miles outside Tallahassee, Fla., is home to almost 500 of them.
Over the last seven years, Grant has taken in more than 660 unwanted cats
from around the country. This past week alone he welcomed castoffs from Michigan, Ohio, New York and his home state of Florida. But while he continues to keep his ranch open for felines in need, that growing population does not come without its own set of challenges. Grant works 14-hour days, seven days a week; and he only recently gave himself two days off during Labor Day weekend – his first "vacation" in four years.
It's no wonder he's looking to hire someone to help him full-time. "I have six volunteers right now, just part-time people," he tells PEOPLEPets.com. "I just want somebody [full-time] to clean real good and not be allergic to the animals."
Grant initially financed the entire cost of running the Caboodle Ranch himself. These days, the nonprofit cat village subsists on public donations, which he says "come at a decent rate" (about $60,000 in 2008) -- a boon for an operation whose operating costs add up to roughly $6,500 per month.
A big chunk of that budget goes toward healthcare for the cats, including a twice-daily application of a flea-control medicine called Revolution – a necessity with so many animals in one place. "Health issues are the biggest challenge," Grant says. "Otherwise, they transmit diseases."
Despite these concerns, Grant stays upbeat about the future of Caboodle Ranch, which has the seal of approval
from the Tallahassee Humane Society and Tallahassee/Madison County Animal Control. Only five of the property's 30 acres are currently being used to house the cats, who live in a variety of trailers and kitty-sized buildings
. But as funds – and hopefully manpower – increases, Grant has a grander vision: "I want to build a castle out there. We have big plans."
To make a donation to the Caboodle Ranch, visit its official website
. Read more about needy cats on PEOPLEPets.com:Kittens Tossed in the Trash Recovering in Foster HomeCat Shot 30 Times is Doing Well and Waiting to Be Adopted