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Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary

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The Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary, Inc. is a 20-acre home to 300 animals located in Caledonia, Mississippi. Founded in 1990 by Kay McElroy, Cedarhill serves as caretaker for abandoned, abused, homeless, and neglected exotic and domestic felines and other animals. Under Kay’s direction, Cedarhill does not breed, sell or exhibit any of the animals as welfare and safety are its primary focus.

Its mission is to provide lifetime sanctuary for exotic and domestic cats, and other animals that have been abused, forgotten, abandoned, or rendered homeless by circumstances. Each animal that enters the gates of Cedarhill will live out its life in a safe, comfortable, and loving environment.

Cedarhill is a non-profit organization (501 3(c)) entirely funded by donor contributions. 

How it all began
It all started with a newspaper ad in the local Sunday paper in 1987 which read:  Six-month-old cougar cub for sale.  $1,000.00.

“Out of curiosity, I went to see it and what I found broke my heart,” Kay McElroy explains. “This little cougar cub was in a small dog pen, very thin with badly infected paws from a botched declaw job. Although he was so despondent, he already proved to be too much for his owner to handle.”

Kay had just moved to Mississippi was unemployed and low on funds.  “I told the guy that I had a 1947 Farmall D tractor that I would trade for the cub,” Kay said.  The seller replied, "No, I want the money!"

Two later he arrived with a trailer for the tractor and the cougar chained in the front seat of his truck.  He left the cougar and took the tractor.

After an exhaustive search for a zoo or animal care facility, she discovered there were none that were equipped to care for cougars.  “I came to the realization that I either had to build an enclosure for him or have him euthanized,” said Kay.

So she built her own secure, fenced-in area and named the little guy Zack. She researched the best care, food and medicine needed to improve the cub’s health and contacted local veterinarians to help administer health care.

“Zack was the beginning of Cedarhill, which has since become my life's work and greatest challenge,” explains Kay. 

Word spread and Kay later welcomed a Siberian tiger named Big Al and a leopard named Sparkles. It was at this time Kay quit her full-time consultancy work, closed a medical billing business and poured her heart and savings into creating Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary, Inc. Kay incorporated Cedarhill in 1990 and obtained nonprofit status in 1992. 

Cedarhill today
Cedarhill has grown to welcome many species and is now home to 300 abandoned, abused and homeless horses, pot-bellied pigs, wolves, birds, dogs, wolves , lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and domestic cats.  In 1998, Cedarhill received distinctions of accreditation from The American Sanctuary of Sanctuaries, The Association of Sanctuaries and the Mississippi State Game and Wildlife Commission.

Kay leads a trusted and talented team of 11 full-time and part-time employees who extend their time, energy, care and love to the Cedarhill animal family—365 days a year.  The staff brings rich and varied backgrounds, work and life experience and educations. All share a love for animals.  Among the staff are dedicated domestic feline and canine caretakers, grounds caretaker and director of operations.

Cedarhill relies on the talented veterinary staff at Mississippi State University for exotic animal care and special needs as well as local veterinarian clinics for routine care.

Kay has become a leader in the animal sanctuary community. In 1994 she wrote and distributed a book titled Nutritional Needs for the Exotic Feline in Captivity. She has also become a resource to exotic animal caretakers in other countries and developed plans for habitat in Thailand for 8 tigers that had been raised in shipping crates in 1995.  Kay wrote the Exotic Animal Act of 1997 that was passed into law in the state of Mississippi.  The law prohibits canned hunts, exotic animal auctions, established state registration requirements and caging standards. She continues her work with ASPCA on developing animal cruelty laws for the state of Mississippi.

Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary, Inc., is 100% donor supported by the generous contributions of more than 1500 donors.  Among its donor family are community and youth groups that have donated their time and skills to help with projects and construction throughout Cedarhill’s 20 arces.  A 501 (c) (3), Cedarhill receives no government funding. 
Help Make a Difference

Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary
144 Sanctuary Loop
Caledonia, Mississippi 39740
United States

Contact: Kay McElroy
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