On Sunday, the Goathouse Refuge in Pittsboro is hosting a “Cat Café” to showcase the most adoptable of around 220 cats and kittens on the property.
The owner of the Refuge says she’s relieved she can hold the event without worrying about the sound of gunfire from a shooting range next door.
“We’re going to have a Cat Café,” said Siglinda Scarpa, founder and owner of the Goathouse Refuge. “So, we have goodies to eat, and good coffee, and lemonade for people coming over to visit our kitties – and hopefully, to adopt them.”
She says the staff at the eight-year-old cat refuge is under extra pressure these days to find homes for the cats.
“I do want to find homes for the kitties as much as possible, because I’m scared,” she says.
Scarpa says that’s because of some of the response she’s been getting from anonymous sources ever since a conflict with neighbors at Range 2A became public.
The two parties started feuding on Facebook after the shooting range opened for business in late May, in the unzoned area of Chatham County, on Silk Hope Gum Springs Road.
“Right now, they are not shooting, because we managed to stop the, with the sheriffs going in and measuring the amount of noise they were making with the guns,” says Scarpa.
It’s at least, a temporary victory. But the owner of Range 2A, Mark Atkeson, has bigger plans for his property. He wants to all utilize 71 acres as a weapons-training complex.
The owner of 2A range declined to be interviewed for this story.
Scarpa says that, as a result of the publicity, the Refuge has received threats, one of which was posted on Craigslist by someone threatening to use the cats for target practice.
She says he’s also received some unwelcome visitors on her property during the night.
Although she’s been accused of being anti-gun, Scarpa says she was ready to deal with any hostile intruders.
“One night, around 9:30, somebody was shooting down towards the Refuge,” says Scarpa. “And I do have a shotgun, so I called the sheriff, and [grabbed] a flashlight, and I ran over there with my shotgun, because I was going to defend my cats.”
Her problems now are mostly financial.On July 28, she posted a plea on the Refuge website and Facebook for supporters to help The Goathouse Refuge gather $10,000 to make payroll for its five staff members. Springtime is typically a time for fundraising events at The Goathouse Refuge, and Scarpa said the gunfire from Range 2A ruined that opportunity.
However, she says that supporters came through.
“We have some wonderful, wonderful supporters that came through and they helped us pay the payroll,” says Scarpa. “Now, of course, we are way down on paying the vet bills, the food bills – we need food for the cats.”
In addition, she’s had to cut down on staff. There are volunteers working there daily, but she could always use more.
In an Independent Weekly story last spring, the Goathouse Refuge was criticized for overcrowding, the health conditions of the animals, and for stifling the free expression of employees. Scarpa dismisses those claims, attributing many of them to a disgruntled ex-employee.
“If they ever would come here and see this place really, for what it is, they could not say anything like that,” says Scarpa. “We have volunteers. We have families. We have people here. We have inspections. And the place is always pristine – absolutely clean. The cats are happy. They are healthy. We have two veterinary technicians on staff.”
Scarpa says that most of the cats at the Refuge come from shelters where unadopted cats are killed by gas or injections.
She says that, with the exception of a colony of older feral cats, most of her cats are adoptable.
“We have a big building that is full of kittens that are jumping and playing around everywhere” says Scarpa, “which is absolutely adorable. You can walk in the building and see them. There is a big bed, and you sit there, and all the kitties come around and play with you. It’s really lovely.”
There’s another “kitten room” for smaller, kittens, and a bunch of cats that are just walking around in the park.
Scarpa says that’s a good place for people to just sit and “have the cat choose them.”
The Cat Café will be held from noon until 3 p.m. on Sunday, at the Goathouse Refuge, located at 680 Alton Alston Road off Route 87 in Pittsboro.
Admission is free, but donations are welcome.