Rescue Group of the Week - March 12, 2012

Siglinda Scarpa with one of the Goathouse Refuge's kitties

The Goathouse Refuge in North Carolina

The Goathouse Refuge is a nonprofit, no-kill animal sanctuary dedicated to providing care and finding homes for dozens of homeless cats. Founded by Italian-born sculptor and potter Siglinda Scarpa, the refuge is located near Pittsboro, North Carolina, in Chatham County, on a 16-acre farm.  The shelter is dedicated to providing cage-free care for cats regardless of age, medical issues or disposition until a permanent loving adoptive home can be found. 

The Goathouse Refuge is the only no-kill animal shelter/humane society in Chatham County licensed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Veterinary Division.  In addition, they are one of the largest licensed facilities of this kind in the state of North Carolina.  “We take pride in the fact that the care of our animals and the maintenance of our facilities meet the strict standards of the North Carolina Animal Welfare Act,” says Scarpa.

All cats are spayed or neutered, de-wormed and examined by a local vet. The sanctuary provides daily care, including animal and human socialization, while seeking animal placement in “forever” homes.

The Goathouse Refuge was a long time coming for founder Scarpa.  She developed a love of and compassion for rescue cats early in life.

“When I was a little girl my father, who sometimes worked late at night, came home with a little gray tabby cat wet and cold and put him under the blankets in my bed. I warmed him up and kept him on my heart until he started purring and for the rest of the night. There was where he slept for the rest of his life. I called him Muci.  He’d become sick when he was just about one year old and all my bicycle trips to the veterinarian didn’t save his life. He probably had distemper. The pain of his death was so devastating that I started to bring home and care for as many cats as my mother would allow me to bring into the apartment. I loved animals, especially cats, and many shared my life. Many are not here anymore, but I remember them all.”

Scarpa formulated a dream then of one day having her own sanctuary for cats.  “In my dream, no cat would be euthanized unless it was suffering with no hope of recovery. The Refuge would be a place where even cats that were unadoptable could live in comfort, with the care, attention and love they deserve. No cat would be refused due to age, illness or disposition. The ultimate goal for each cat would be adoption into a loving home”

Scarpa’s dream started to come true a bit at a time.  About 15 years ago she started taking care of cats that people just kept bringing to her pottery studio.  She had about 30 cats, and that number continued to grow.  Then five years ago she decided to incorporate and apply for 501c3 status as a non-profit. 

The Refuge is designed so that cats can spend ample periods of time living comfortably, awaiting adoption. Cats are cage free and live in large rooms where they can roam and play without restraint. Cats also are given human attention and interaction, along with high-quality food and on-site medical care.

Though still in its infancy, the Goathouse Refuge has placed many cats and kittens in forever homes and more then forty are permanent residents there. One building has been dedicated for their home and more construction and improvements are planned.

For more information on the Goathouse Refuge, to make a donation or to see photos of the beautiful cats waiting for adoption, go to