Deep within the woods of downtown Pittsboro, there is a place that cat lovers can only dream of: The Goathouse Refuge. The Goathouse Refuge was founded in 2007 by Siglinda Scarpa to provide all types of cats with food, shelter and warmth. The refuge is a non-profit, non-euthanize organization, run mainly by volunteers.
One of those volunteers, senior Hannah Holloway, has spent over 100 hours helping out.
“My mom and I found out about it because Siglinda was on the Art Studio Tour since she was an artist,” Holloway said.
Scarpa’s art is one of the many reasons why the refuge is popular. She uses the money she gets from customers to pay for the refuge’s expenses and to pay for any of the health issues the cats are having.
The volunteers are very hands-on with the cats. Besides feeding and cleaning their cages, the volunteers also play with them, which can lead to attachments.
“There was Mandy, a grey cat, who was kind of anti-social, so they had me pet her a lot so that she would get used to humans,” math teacher Leah Jackman said.
Jackman volunteered at the refuge, but she also adopted her cat Paco from there around three years ago. Jackman says that the refuge is amazing.
“They provided a lot of space for the cats, and the people who volunteered there enjoyed their jobs, and the cats seemed really healthy,” Jackman said.
Despite its strong following, not everyone is a fan of the refuge. A year ago, “Independent Weekly” published a controversial feature on the refuge, saying that the place was overcrowded and that the kittens weren’t taken care of properly.
“Siglinda has a hard time saying no, so it’s definitely overpopulated. But she’s trying to do the right thing. How can you say no to one cat and yes to the other?” Holloway said.
Jackman has similar views, though she does admit that there are sometimes problems among the volunteers.
“There’s always a struggle with people who try to help out and overstretch themselves. It’s a finite area on that cat refuge, and there’s a finite number on how many cats you can take… keeping that balance of providing equality life for cats and saving as many as possible is a challenge they are working through.”
Blair Schemmer, a senior, says that she enjoyed her experience at the Goathouse. She first heard of the Goathouse through the Second Bloom thrift shop. Schemmer had only good things to say about the refuge and the people running it.
“As soon as I walked in, I saw kittens and I told myself, ‘Alright, I’m going to love it here.’ It just takes a true heart to take in that many cats,” Schemmer said.
— Katie Goodrich