When we started The Neighbor's Cat, our goal was to visit and review every cat cafe on the planet. We wanted to promote 'cat travel' and shine a light on these small businesses making the world a better place for cats and people everywhere!
It's still our main focus, but over the course of the past year, we have found ourselves evolving into vocal advocates for cat rescue and adoption, especially the cat cafes that feature adoptable felines.
So while The Goathouse Refuge isn't technically a cat cafe, it is doing amazing work caring for kitties waiting for a forever home and we want to promote this worthy cause!
Located in rural Pittsboro, NC, USA, The Goathouse Cat Refuge is approximately 45 minutes drive from the nearby cities of Greensboro and Raleigh. According to the website, they are a '501(c)(3) nonprofit, no-kill animal sanctuary dedicated to providing cage-free care for cats regardless of age, medical issues or disposition until a permanent loving adoptive home can be found'.
I had heard of Goathouse Refuge before, as the founder, Siglinda Scarpa was featured in a New York Times article and on The Today Show. She is deeply committed to improving the lives of cats and has created an incredibly special space to house her furry charges.
When I found out how close the sanctuary was to my partner's family home in nearby Sanford, I made plans to visit on a Friday afternoon in early March with family member, Peg.
The refuge is set back a few miles off the main road, but is easily found in the Apple maps function of any iPhone. After parking, we entered a big gate and followed a gravel path surrounded by peaceful scenes of budding trees and grazing goats. A black kitty appeared and walked alongside us as we neared the main building, our own personal escort!
Inside the main building, there is a sanitizing station and bulletin boards featuring the cats available for adoption.
After a quick glance, we stepped inside a surprisingly large room with colorful walls, tall ceilings and cats. Lots and lots of cats!
It's difficult to describe how I felt when I first walked in as there were so many cute cats that I wanted to squeal with joy, but because several sweet babies came up to us immediately to be petted, I was also a bit heartbroken.
Peg and I spent a great deal of time offering gentle head rubs and sweet words to all those that gathered around us. Compared to cat cafes, these felines were definitely more affection seeking.
There appeared to be over 100 cats in this area, many having an afternoon snooze. They were free to move about the room as they wished, and except for a few in cages due to illness, most of the kitties appeared to be healthy. With that much catitude in one room, a couple of small tiffs broke out between some feisty felines, but overall, things were fairly calm and quiet.
I was impressed at how clean things were, a testament to the dedication of the volunteers that assist at the refuge. While walking around, I met Helen, who was busy preparing a few kitties for adoption pick up, but generously took the time to help answer my questions. Thanks Helen!
Later, as we checked out the back room, I noticed several cat flaps leading to the outdoors.
It was a whole new world, with even more kitties!
There were many gorgeous felines roaming the outdoor, yet fenced-in area. Several followed us around, accepting head rubs and ear scratches when we bent over to offer them.
I was thrilled to see this expansive area custom-built for cats. It provides them a space to get away from people and other cats, as well as express their natural cat behavior such as hunting and scratching, all in a safe environment. And on this particular day, the weather was perfect for being outside!
With all this cuteness, I was smitten at every turn, but there was one cat that completely stole my heart, and her name is Coconut.
With her fluffy tail and soft fur, this adorable girl caught my attention as she followed me around while I snapped photos of the outdoor cattery. So, we hung out and played for awhile.
After we left, I couldn't get her off my mind. Even though I've grown accustomed to feelings of sadness in not being able to adopt my own cat (due to my current full-time travel lifestyle), I really wanted to do something for this sweet girl.
So, as a birthday present to me the following week, my partner sponsored her!
If you are in North Carolina and reading this, please consider adopting Coconut. I would be eternally grateful and I know you won't be disappointed! Click here for the link to her page.
Even if you aren't from North Carolina, consider a visit or donation to support these fine folks and felines.
We are off to Asia for a six week cat cafe tour of Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Hong Kong. But with family nearby, we definitely plan on returning to this amazing place in the summer.
In the meantime, I'll be thinking about my sweet Coconut!
Coconut found her forever home!! She was adopted in April along with her sister.
I love a happy ending, don't you?
The Neighbor’s Cat is the alter ego of Paula LaBine, an itinerant cat lover who writes about cat cafes and rescue/adoption/TNR, and has been featured in Miau Magazine, Katzenworld Blog and The Catnip Times. She is currently on a quest to visit every cat café in the world, 200 in 29 countries so far! Find her at theneighborscat.com or on Facebook/Twitter @catcafeviews.