The cats in the Goathouse Refuge are feline good in Siglinda Scarpa's care.
Scarpa founded the Goathouse Refuge, a cat sanctuary where animal shelters and community members can bring abandoned and lost cats to a safe and warm temporary home.
The refuge started as a nonprofit in 2007 and has placed over 2,500 cats into permanent homes. The sanctuary currently holds about 250 cats and finds a home for about 25 to 45 cats a month.
“As soon as we became as a nonprofit, it was like an avalanche, the animals started coming in and we got more and more and more occupied by the animals and how to take care of them,” Scarpa said.
She said the sanctuary provides for the needs of the different types of cats. For example, they have separate housing for terminally ill cats and pregnant cats. They also have an infirmary and are now planning on having a retirement home for their older cats, she said.
Karyn Engle, the Goathouse Refuge’s operations manager, said along with home checks, they also do screening and application processes.
“I love it here, I think it’s like a really innovative concept of how the cats live,” she said. “They get a more normal, natural life, versus living in a cage until they’re adopted.”
The nonprofit gets their cats from shelters all over North Carolina and in many different states. Because of Hurricane Harvey, they'll get eight cats from Texas.
Scarpa said shelters are killing thousands of animals. Many people don’t know a lot of animals that are euthanized are not sedated, which makes the process very painful, Scarpa said.
“We do home visits and and we go visit the family,” she said. “We want to know where the kitties are, where they go, and we influence them and tell them what they need to eat and the cat litter they need to use.”
Scarpa said the nonprofit survives on donations and selling her pottery also helps with money.
“Remember, that every penny you put down is going to help these cats," she said. "Because nobody here is making money, everything goes to the cats and sometimes we have big bills to pay and we have a very hard time doing it."
Cindy Bell, the adoption manager, said people are surprised when they come and see the cats walk around freely and getting along with each other.
“What makes the shelter unique is that the cats are granted so much freedom and they are given excellent vet care that they don’t get in primary shelters,” she said.
Bell said that even if they don’t get adopted, which they normally do, the cats still live a fulfilled life because they have food, shelter, vet care and companionship.
Engle said her job is a labor of love, and though she won't get rich doing it, she will sleep well knowing she helped some cats.
“Everyone should come visit, you can see what it’s like when you’re here and the kind of opportunities that the cats are given,” she said.
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