The Goathouse Refuge has many incredible cats in need of loving homes.

Behind the Scene

Special Stories of Special Cats Your Support Helps


Tax deductible donations and gifts of goods to help run the refuge are always welcome.

Behind The Scene

Welcome to Behind the Scene!

Many of you know me, I am the founder of Goathouse Refuge and I have been working to make it better and better for 22 Years…. what you don’t know is that I have worked for many years with many great people who helped out as much as they could and I am working now with a wonderful group of dedicated people who are the core of Goathouse. Our new “Behind the Scene” page will let you know who they are and what they do… how indispensable they are, how good they are. We will update you with new projects, photos, stories, and also post articles of vast interest, funny stuff, painful things… moving things.  I have even started a blog!





Many people do not know how the Goathouse Refuge came to be, nor how many caring individuals have supported it, contributing so much of their time and resources to make it the saving place it has become.  In this short space, our founder, Siglinda Scarpa, tells of how the Goathouse Refuge became a haven for both cats and people.

In the mid 1980’s she wanted to leave the hustle and bustle of the large city to live in a place where she and her two cats felt safe and she could build a pottery studio. A visit to rustic hills of Chatham County, North Carolina was all that was needed to make her decision.  Finding a listing for a property just put onto the market, that had a big barn like irregular house in the middle of the woods and a very old dilapidated southern farm house whose resident was a goat.  Literally a Goathouse Refuge! Siglinda thinking, it was perfect—so perfect that before the purchase was finalized , planted a quince tree on the land in celebration of the discovery.

As neighbors became aware of Siglinda’s love of animals, word spread and every so often someone would visit and ask if she had room or a home to take their cat or dog. She also became aware that North Carolina is one of the few states in the nation that allows shelters to regularly euthanize excess pets of time or their limits.  Siglinda being aghast at the idea of a litter of kittens or puppies being gassed or otherwise put to death abhorrent.  Thus, she adopted or fostered these animals.

One day a woman from Alley Cat Allies called asking if she had room for animals displaced by Hurricane Katrina survivors who may very well be put to death.. Of course, she said yes, and six cats joined her family with Ma Mao and Passera.  It did not take long before more calls came in about animals heading to a kill shelter, and soon the population added another 19 cats from a deceased owner who left a bequest in his estate to care for the cats.  Arrangements were made for Siglinda to take them and using the funds from the will was able to install fencing to give them safe outdoor access.  The dream she had as a little girl growing up in postwar Italy, to be with and help animals was quickly becoming a reality. As the number of cats grew, so did the work involved to care for and feed them.


Over time she realized that to properly care for and feed all of the animals that found their way to this magical garden spot in rural Chatham County the Goathouse Refuge needed to become a non-profit organization to raise the funds needed for all the animals calling the Goathouse Refuge home.  Before long, the shelters learned of this magical refuge for cats and animals the flood gates opened.  Over the years, the Goathouse Refuge has grown to include more animals whether it is their forever home or temporary while they seek temporary care and love before finding their forever homes.

Siglinda, a woman on a mission, has put the fruits of her life’s work and countless hours over 30 years into nourishing and sustaining the Goathouse Refuge. This includes her inheritance from her family in Italy. Hiring many people to work here and help care for the animals. Policies and procedures have been instituted, a board of directors has been formed, and there are many volunteers that spend countless hours helping with the care, adoption and fundraising that the animals and their temporary or permanent home requires.

The next 30 years for the Goathouse Refuge she and the volunteers hope to see it continue to provide a refuge, both permanent or temporary, for the cats that need a home.  Provide a place for people to come visit and socialize with the cats and if able, adopt them. To help foster more knowledge and understanding of cat health, behaviors, medical needs, nutrition, and cat personalities to educate both potential families for the cats and cat professionals alike.  To provide a means for a cat caregiver to find a home for their cats should they know longer be able to provide a home for them. And So Much More.

This year of COVID induced distraction and economic hardship is threatening the very existence of the Goathouse Refuge, just like many charitable organizations.  Unlike some non-profits the Goathouse does not directly shelter, feed or educate humans.  It cares for animals and primarily cats.  Here at the refuge each animal is an individual with feelings.  Each animal can feel the pain of loss and loneliness as we do.

Animals that come here and respond to this haven, blooming in surprising ways and revealing personalities and behaviors most of us could never imagine. Then there are the humans who come to visit, almost all find comfort here and sustenance for their souls.  In addition to the care and compassion all who come here find, many humans find an outlet for the love they cannot feel or express elsewhere.  This too is the beauty and a saving grace of the Goathouse Refuge.  Please help us continue this work of mercy as we weather the financial winter this pandemic has brought us.  At this point the Goathouse Refuge really does depend on your support and generosity.

To honor this legacy and to help us build for the future, please consider donating now or become a monthly sustainer.

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Helena Openshaw
Jeff Vojta

Board members.

Special Stories of Special Cats Your Support Helps



Tiny Tina

Tiny Tina had her surgery and was released from Quartet Specialty Hospital last night. She will remain on pain medication and is staying in Siglinda’s house where she can be constantly monitored. She received a pin in the tibia breaks in both back legs and mesh skin to hold the recentering of the breaks together. She has tongue depressors on both legs as splints, held in place with sparkling purple bandage fabric! An incision had been made in her hip that had numerous stitches for the realignment of the break in her pelvis and she is wearing a green mini cone. She was put in her cage and settled in nicely. She is to see a vet in 15 days to have her bandages replaced and to give them  a chance to see how the healing is progressing. We will let you know how that goes with a future update. We are so thankful for your support in making this happen for her. You can see all the updates on our Facebook page

“Dear Goathouse Rescue family,
We thank you for entrusting us with Tiny Tina’s care. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for Tiny Tina!
~ The Quartet Surgery medical team
Please find attached our clinical summary for Tiny Tina:”  clinicalSummary_AN155171_CN490531_S10582



9/15/20 UPDATE

Now three months later, Tiny Tina had her surgery and is recovering. Her foster father fell in love and permanently adopted Tina. Her new dad is a musician with a drum set and Tina likes to play the kick drum! She is able to be a kitten, full of life, and hopefully a long playful life. Thank you all for making this happen.



May 29,2020


You will be loved and all your hurts will be healed now sweet boy.

This sweet and very affectionate boy was recently owner surrendered to a shelter at 3 years old, 7 lbs, and is FIV positive. He was brought in with painful, enlarged red pads on all his feet. Miele was abandoned when he desperately needed someone to care for him and fortunately the Goathouse was able to take him in.

You can see the pictures below of when he arrived at the Goathouse, and after pictures from getting medical treatment. We wrapped his feet in a mixture of raw honey and a paste of prednizolone…. and he is still on doxycycline. He gained almost two lbs and he is not anemic anymore. Miele is happy to walk around the house and the porch! A very happy cat and happy to get all the affection he can find….



Will you help us continue to make a difference for cats like these?


May 15, 2020

Dear Goathouse Refuge Staff,

I hope this message finds you, your loved ones, and the cats healthy and well during this crazy time. I adopted McKinley from The Cat Tales Cafe, where I volunteer, last September. I’ve been wanting to update you for a while now and am so sorry it’s taken me this long! This will be novel so I apologize in advance.

I first met McKinley at the end of August 2019 and took the attached Bow Tie picture. I sent it to everyone I knew because, a cat in a bowtie! And a handsome cat in a bow tie at that. Katy told me how shy he was and that everyone was hoping he would find his home through the cafe. McKinley stayed on that shelf for my entire shift but he let me pet him for thirty minutes straight. His purring then, and now, is not like a motor but more a grunting! Two weeks later I returned to the cafe and McKinley was still there. There was something about this cat that made me want to give him a home. I had just moved to Carrboro for a new job at UNC  a couple months prior after staying with a friend in Charlotte, who has 7 cats. I didn’t have cats growing up due to allergies so those 7 were my introduction to cat care, behavior, and getting used to being around them.

It took only one week from filling out the application to bringing him home. I brought him home on my 40th birthday: Friday, September 27th. My original plans of celebrating with friends over margaritas and tacos turned into sitting on my kitchen floor with this new cat (who was hiding behind my bicycle because he had not yet found the bedroom) and eating a slice of birthday cake. McKinley slept under my bed that entire next day. I don’t have children but I would check on him hourly out of nerves to make sure he was okay and still breathing!

Very, VERY, slowly McKinley has become less shy but is still cautious. He curls up against me at night in bed but runs away when there’s a knock on the door. He gives the best stink eye of anyone I know and makes the best biscuits. McKinley does NOT like to be picked up (it took me an hour once to catch him and get him into his carrier for the vet) and requires the bathroom be empty with the light off to do his business (he screamed at me once to get out of the bathroom because it was his turn. I wish it was recorded). McKinley is not a Lounge In the Sunlight cat but the opposite, under the couch until dinner time for him.

McKinley is affectionate on his terms and in his own way. Being a first time cat owner, having a cat with this behavior is humbling and is continuously teaching me patience. Through Facebook comments after his adoption, I learned his origin story how he and his litter mates were fostered by a former Goathouse volunteer who passed away, and then was returned to the Refuge to later be passed over. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend and volunteer. My uncle passed away from cancer in October and it sucks. I was told her birthday was around mine and I like to think she had a part in bringing McKinley and I together.

I’m sad to report he no longer is wearing the bow tie! I regrettably took it off in October when he lost weight following the transition and it was hanging around his neck getting in the way. I still have it though and am hopeful one day he will let me put it back on! I wasn’t looking to adopt a cat so soon to moving here but the universe had other plans. Despite his off-putish attitude, I know he loves me in small ways every day. And I love him right back. Thank you all for loving him. It isn’t something I’ve forgotten and I promise to update you more often!


May 5, 2020

All of these happy endings and second chances would not be possible without donations from YOU.

Such as was with Jackie Sparrow. She is a sweet, adorable little girl who was shot with a gun in her eye. She had her surgery, her eye removed, and was pampered for 2 months at the Goathouse with special food, fluids, anti-nausea and Vitamin B12. She finally started to gain weight, recovered nicely and then was adopted from Cat Tales Cat Café!

May 5, 2020


Layna was adopted in the summer of 2016. Layna used to spend a lot of time outside, near the back of the refuge, which is where she got shot by someone from the neighboring shooting range that was open at the time. She was shy but once she got to know and trust you, she was incredibly sweet, and she even drools a little when she purrs. She always struck us also as a smart cat.

Her new mom wrote:
Goathouse came to Layna’s rescue more than once. When she was picked up by a shelter with her newborns, deemed feral and going to be euthanized along with all her kittens, Goathouse saved her. When she was intentionally shot twice by some horrible person, and anyone else would have given up on her, Goathouse saved her. They saved her because they knew no matter how unlikely to be adopted she was, or how difficult her situation was, that her life was worth something. And she’s worth everything to me!


May 5, 2020


The Goathouse Refuge is a no-kill shelter that serves two important roles: a stopover for cats on their way to permanent homes, and a permanent shelter for cats that just need a place they can call their own regardless of age, medical issues or disposition.

You may remember Abner. This beautiful, sweet boy with glorious green eyes who loves to be around people and would show off by rolling around on the ground in front of them, but just in that moment when they would reach to pet him, he would get a little over excited and kind of jump out of the way, only to immediately begin again rolling on the ground and being a tease. Abner needed a loving family to help him bridge that last little gap. Abner came to the refuge at 2 months old in 2008 and lived here for 11 years and 3 months! On day 4120 Abner went to his forever home! Experienced cat owners who understood patience, cat communication/body language and the need to allow the cat to bloom and bond 100% at their own pace over time.

May 2, 2020


She came to us in 2014 with a broken pelvis and foot from a trauma that had already healed misaligned. She had to have an emergency C-section because her kittens were unable to pass through her pelvis, and this is why she limps and has arthritis. Wendy was adopted in 2016 and then sadly returned four years following because one of the adopter’s dogs became ill and started to attack Wendy, which was a very traumatic experience for her and caused her to become defensive and/or fearful around other cats and dogs. Wendy isn’t particularly fond of being held, but she does love people and is otherwise a very sweet and affectionate girl. She just needed to find her forever family and your donations helped us take care of her until that happened.

Last year she was adopted by the perfect family and they write:
She seems to have adjusted just fine. She loves to just lay on top of us and she gets up on my desk when I’m studying and just lays between me and my laptop lol. Shes eating ok and loves the wet food we feed her. She has even gotten used to the regular guests we have over and sleeps on their laps too if she gets the chance. We got a few toys that she occasionally plays with but she still loves her scratch pad.

May 1, 2020

Blue Belle

She came to the refuge in 2008 after being abandoned in a carrier. Blue Belle lived at the Goathouse for 9 and a half years before being adopted at the beginning of 2018 at the age of 13. She has a very special relationship with the youngest son in the family and it brings us tears of joy to see.

Her mom writes:
To say she is spoiled may be an understatement! She loves laying in front of the fireplace and has a bed in our living room and her own personal tent upstairs lol. She is very comfortable here and she loves to crawl up in the sun or in front of the fireplace on cold days. She typically sleeps With our 15-year-old son and his room overnight but loves to cuddle up on anybody any chance she gets. She is such a SWEET girl and she knows she has a good life! She brings us a lot of laughter and lots of snuggles at night, she loves to knead on our bellies before settling in to sleep a bit. We have the deck gated in so she gets to sit out there during nice days and take in the air and nature, she sometimes begs to go out there! We are so grateful for her and I know she feels the same! We are so blessed to have her, she always has to stretch out her arms to be sure she is touching as many of us as she can at one time!


Omero and Cheetah

Do you remember our 2 special kitties Omero, who is blind, and Cheetah, who had only partial use of his hind legs due to a trauma to his spine suffered two months prior to being brought to the refuge? It was a long road but these cats are doing so well, are best friends and as happy as can be. Cheetah has even been able to start walking some on his back legs due to daily physical therapy. Neither cat lets their physical differences prevent them from zipping around and doing cat things. They would not have survived a shelter in their condition and the Goathouse was able to give them a real quality of life they deserve.


April 4, 2020

One and a half years ago you let me drive up to NC from Florida  just after hurricane Florence and adopt an orange and white cat that lived in your office named Marissa.  I love my little girl…now over 14 years old.  I can’t thank you enough.  She sleeps with me every night, stays on my bed each day watching Animal planet, steps down to use the litter box, gets fed sitting on the bed, and when down using the litter box goes on walk-about around the house. Thank you so much for letting me adopt her.  Now that I have to teach using distance learning I get to spend more time with her.  I retire after next school year and will be able to become a full time cat(4) and dog(1) mom.  I recently told the parent of one of my students she needs to Google Goathouse Refuge and watch the videos.  She wants to become a rescue some day.  My house would not be complete without my Marissa.  God bless you, and please stay healthy (you and your volunteers)for the kitties as well as each family.

November, 2019

Hello Goathouse!  I adopted Marissa about 14 months ago after Hurricane Florence.  Marissa is doing so well!   She has been with me for over a year now and is a loved little girl at about 14 years old.  I love her more and more every day.  She gingerly climbs on top of my chest each morning to say hello.  We snuggle a little and she gets petted on the forehead where she likes it most.  Thank you so much for my sweet baby!!  Marissa is one of my many blessings….only 4 cats and 1 dog are included in those blessings.  I wanted to let you know that at Thanksgiving time and always, I am thankful for my little girl.  I often refer to her as my pumpkin pie with whipped cream because of her coloring.  Since adopting her I have started volunteering at our Humane Society.  We are no kill.  Our county shelter just recently went no kill as well.  Yay!!  Thank you again for the blessing of Marissa!

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