The Goathouse Refuge, is home to over 200 wonderful cats and kittens who are “looking for love” in forever homes, holds regular Second Sunday Cat Cafés to help introduce them to prospective adoptive families. Each month features a different color or type of cat; November featured our black cats. Tabbies, orange cats, calicos, mother cats and others will get special attention.
Unlike Asian and European cat cafés, no admission is charged and volunteers serve up Goathouse Refuge-branded coffee and various pastries. The social time with visitors and volunteers allows visitors to be oriented before entering the refuge. In the refuge, there is a large building with “bunk beds,” cushioned baskets of many sizes, heated floors with quilts on them, and special kitten rooms. The main building opens to a 1 ½ acre fenced area with trees, climbing structures, many small shelters, and hammocks for sunning and napping. There is also seating for humans- to create laps for snuggling, social kitties. The volunteers explain the adoption process, educate visitors about how to best care for the their new kitty, and suggest specific cats that the visitor might be interested in based on age, color, disposition, gender- whatever kind of kitty the adopter is looking for is at the Goathouse Refuge.
In many cases, however, it is the kitty who picks his or her new family: because the Goathouse is largely cage free (we only cage our kitties when they need medical care or during dinner time if they are on a special diet), the cats can show their true personality and seek out visitors whenever they want, and will stubbornly follow their new mom or dad around until they finally realize this is the kitty for them.
The kittens are housed separately in a building called the ‘kitten-cabana’ – an alltime favorite for anyone who has visited the Goathouse. In the cabana, kittens play and run freely and they love nothing more than to climb on top of visitors and get and give some love. The Second Sunday Cat Cafés are not just for prospective adopters. The Goathouse welcomes all visitors who are willing to spend some quality time with our cats. They help us keep our cats happy and well-socialized!
The refuge was founded in 2007 by Siglinda Scarpa, a ceramicist/potter/poet and visionary from Italy, who came to rural North Carolina to open a pottery studio. The property had a resident goat when purchased, hence the name “Goathouse.” Saddened by the high rate of euthanasia at public shelters and the cruel methods used at some of these ‘shelters’ (the use of gas chambers and heart stick is unfortunately not illegal in North Carolina), she created a no-cage, no-kill sanctuary where cats that were dispossessed or scheduled for euthanasia would live in large rooms, where they could roam and play without restraint.
The cats are well cared for, and receive high-quality food and on-site medical care, with specialty veterinary care as needed. No cat is refused due to age, illness or disposition. So, in addition to an ever changing population of adoptable adult cats and kittens, the Goathouse also offers a forever home to a colony of about 50 feral or semi-feral cats. Scarpa networks with a large number of other rescue, spay/neuter, and animal transport groups to provide safe and loving homes for even more animals than the refuge can currently support. About 20 cats are adopted each month- about 1,300 since the refuge was founded.
The needs for fundraising, donations, and volunteer effort to keep the refuge going are unending. In addition to events that promote adoption, fundraising is in non-stop. Scarpa’s impressive gallery on site houses her pottery, lovely sculpture, dinnerware, amazing teapots formed with inspiration from nature, and her famous clay cooking pots which are sold and also used for large multi-course Italian dinner-fundraisers. Most of the proceeds from the gallery help support the refuge.
Volunteer teams plan and hold lively meals, concerts, and auctions- several a year. The signature event, drawing on Scarpa’s Italian heritage, is the Venetian Carnevale in early spring: costumes, cats, music, and traditional treats are enjoyed in a family-friendly celebration to support the refuge. The Goathouse coffee served at the Cat Cafés is also sold at the refuge and on the website (whole bean or ground) in Expresso, House Blend, Decaf, and Dark Blend.