My human was out of town from Thursday until Monday. I did not find out what she was up to until she came back smelling like hundreds of cats! She went to Jacksonville, FL to check out the adoption event the ASPCA was having for hundreds of kitties who were rescued from Caboodle Ranch in late February. Ever since February, they have been staying at the old Jacksonville animal shelter, which ASPCA volunteers fixed up especially for them.
The cats were at the shelter for so long because they were part of the evidence for the upcoming cruelty case of the owner of Caboodle Ranch, and also because the custody of the cats had to be decided. Many of the nearly 700 cats could have found homes sooner because once the evidence was recorded, most of them could leave, but Caboodle Ranch fought for custody for months. Eventually the judge, after hearing testimony from both sides, decided that Caboodle Ranch was not able to care for them, and awarded the cats to the sheriff of the county where the Ranch was located. The sheriff, as is usual in these large rescue cases, handed the custody over to the organization caring for the cats, which in this case was the ASPCA.
Why didn’t the judge think that Caboodle Ranch could care for these kitties? I won’t go into a lot of details here because it is a very sad story, but when the cats were taken away, evidence showed about 95% of them had some sort of illness and hardly any of them were getting treatment. Anyone who does rescue knows that something as simple as a URI, left untreated, develops into something awful and life-threatening. Cats lost eyes and developed chronic problems because they were not taken care of. The percentage of FIV+ and FeLV cats was much higher than you would normally find among this many sanctuary cats — and many of them developed these terrible diseases while they were at the ranch. Most of the cats were once house cats and were not used to living the way they did at Caboodle Ranch. They starved because other more dominant cats would not let them eat enough, and they were starved for affection too because there was only one person and a handful of part time volunteers watching over them. There were a lot of other things wrong with the way the ranch was being run too, and it was just not something that could be fixed, so the cats needed to find real forever homes.
There is a lot more to this story, but I bet you would rather meet some of the cats! Most of them were up for adoption this past weekend, some at the temporary shelter in Jacksonville, and others at events held by Cat Depot in Sarasota, FL and the Humane Society of Pinellas. My human just had time to visit Jacksonville, and she had a hard time taking photos of some of these kitties because they were so friendly, they kept getting too close to the camera. This black kitty below was one of those:
The shelter was huge and made up of six different wings, or wards. Most wards had a long row of runs that were half indoor and half-outdoor, and the cats had lots of room to move around.
This sweet-faced orange cat loved that mousie toy and was carrying it around in her mouth.
Each of the runs had a basket with a toy and treats so people could interact with the cats.
Except for Ward A, with the barn cats, or ferals, that is — the chain link in front of each of their runs had a big palm frond to offer them some privacy. They were up for adoption too, for people who had farms or land where they could be happy. My human managed to get her camera lens around the frond to photograph these handsome orange guys.
There were three smaller wards that were really just rooms with large cages — they housed the special needs kitties: cats with FeLV, FIV, or other chronic conditions that would require extra care. Many of these kitties acquired their illnesses while they were at Caboodle Ranch, and would carry the scars of their time there for a lifetime.
As you can see from his medical chart, this guy is FeLV positive. He kept reaching through the cage bars in an attempt to touch my human and her camera. He was fun!
My human fell in love with this special needs girl because she reminded my human of the cat before me. She was very sad that because of her issues — not to mention being in Florida — she could not take her home.
There was one especially nice volunteer standing in front of a Ward and she looked at my human and said, “You haven’t photographed any of my cats.” So of course my human had to go inside — it was the ringworm ward, so she had to wear booties. When the cats were first rescued from Caboodle Ranch, a whole large ward of runs was full of cats with ringworm. Now there were only a few left in the small room. Most of the cats had some sort of medical issue, which is why it was taking so long for the ringworm to be cured. Like the special needs guy below.
My human could tell that the nice volunteer really loved him and wanted him to get a home. In fact, this fluffy guy had a couple of girl cats he was friends with and she really hoped that maybe they could all find a home together.
Although the adoption fees were waived for these cats, the ASPCA spent a lot of time with the humans who wanted them. All humans were interviewed and counseled before going in to find out a) if their home was really right for a new kitty, and b) what kind of cat would fit best in their home. There were also volunteers in each run who talked to the potential adoptees about the different cats’ personalities, and who got to know the humans a little better too. When a kitty finally got chosen, the human would finish up the paperwork and volunteers would give them more information, coupons, an adoption package and a name tag for their new kitty. My human noticed that a lot of families came to adopt.
About 300 Caboodle kitties found homes that weekend. The ASPCA will find homes for all of them. I will keep you posted!