Jacksonville’s Catty Shack Ranch provides homes to big cats for decades in an effort to save the lives of its inhabitants and educate as many visitors as possible on the various big cat species and the occasional "odd ball" at the Ranch.
All images courtesy of Catty Shack Ranch
Jacksonville, Florida is known for a lot of things; a bustling downtown atmosphere, a tranquil beach, an eclectic Riverside historical district, a Naval Base, even an NFL Football team. But nestled in amongst the lush trees and rural grounds off of Starrat Rd. on the north-east side of the city, lay something slightly unexpected and roughly 8,000 miles out of place. Gigantic paws pace back and forth in the dirt, while numerous bodies sway and stretch in the sun all hoping to get a better view of the exotic and illustrious great cats in front of them at Catty Shack Ranch. The tour guides voice focuses the group as they listen in on the delivery of quick facts and loving anecdotes about their personal favorite residents.
Jacksonville’s Catty Shack Ranch has been providing "fur-ever" homes to big cats for decades. Founder Curt LoGiudice has been involved with animals since the eighties, and has since taken it upon himself to open this big cat sanctuary in an effort to save the lives of its inhabitants and educate as many visitors as possible on the various big cat species and the occasional odd ball at the Ranch. Encompassing the humble 10 acres of land that is Catty Shack Ranch, reside a total of 48 animals- 25 tigers, 5 lions, 8 cougars, 4 leopards, 2 bobcats, 2 foxes, and 2 coatimundi all call this Ranch their home. And though, the ranch has adopted a no breeding policy, all cats born on the grounds prior to this rule have remained at the ranch. Because Catty Shack Ranch does not breed their animals, if a male and female share an enclosure, one of the inhabitants must be fixed. It’s not that lion and tiger cubs aren’t perfectly adorable, but rather that they are expensive to care for and there is already limited space at the sanctuary. No animal has ever been bought, sold, or even traded at Catty Shack Ranch for the sake of adding new feline faces to their menagerie. But when a new resident is added, determining the current and future living arrangements of the cats requires careful planning and consideration.