With little more than money from her monthly pension, Maureen Geride sets about her daily routine of feeding some of the inner city’s feral cats.
For the past 16 years, Ms Geride, a CBD resident, has made it her single-minded focus to provide these animals with a meal, fresh water and, of course, a bit of much-needed TLC.
Says Ms Geride: “I used to work at a business in Gardens and one day, in 2001, a feral female cat came on to the premises. She eventually gave birth to four kittens. I then had her and her female kittens sterilised. This was when I started feeding and trying to care for these cats.”
While this might have kicked off her current altruistic undertaking, her love for felines was inculcated from a very tender age.
Ms Geride, originally from Port Elizabeth, says: “My mother loved cats. She absolutely loved them. So I grew up around them. In fact, she died shortly after her cat died. I really believe she lived for her cats.”
As she lives in an apartment block in the city centre, Ms Geride is not allowed to own any pets of her own. Fortunately, for the city’s stray felines, the care she would have given her own furry companion is now bestowed on them.
“They’re my children,” she smiles, as she bends down to feed the black cat she feeds every day at 3pm behind the Centre for the Book.
Given the nature of her undertaking, loss becomes something of an ever-present reality.
“Yes,” she says, “I have lost a few. Some get sick and die, some get knocked down and some just disappear.”
Getting enough money to do what she loves is also something she has to contend with.
“Some people have donated food before, but mostly I do this out of my own pocket. I somehow manage,” she says.
“I’d rather stay away from restaurants so I can afford to feed them. They really need this love and attention.”
* If anyone would like to donate cat food to Ms Geride, call her at 072 692 4087 or at 021 423 2732.