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Coriza Vermeulen - Helping township and feral cats for a living

Coriza is part of C.A.T. (Cat Assistance Team), which aims to sterilize and provide assistance to cats along the Garden Route. We joined Coriza on a cat rescue operation on a drizzly Thursday morning and had the chance to experience what it’s like helping cats in a township outside George. 

“My husband thinks I’m mad. Like, ‘Why do you do something like this all the time and get no pay? Why use your own car?’ But it’s just something that, once you start, you can’t stop. Because you see the amazing difference a little bit of volunteer work can do.

“My daughter brought a cat home once and that was it. I mean, I didn’t grow up with cats and the little thing just amazed me. It also started with Rita (the founder of C.A.T.). I learned so much from her. And then I thought, ‘Why didn’t I start earlier?’ The thing is, I never even noticed cats before. You know when you go to restaurants there are always feral cats around. I never thought about the needs of these cats that I would see.Now, whenever I go to a restaurant, I’m always looking for cats. When I don’t see any, that’s weird to me now.

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"My husband thinks I’m mad. Like, ‘Why do you do something like this all the time and get no pay?'"

“I’ve been with CAT Garden Route for 4 years now. I started when my youngest daughter went to university. They actually helped me a lot. My daughter was a very busy girl, she kept me very busy but then, eventually, I had nothing. So doing this has helped me a lot, emotionally too. I mean, what else could I do? I’m not a coffee shop lady! Things that I feel matter, it gives me a sense of joy. When I go out and help these cats, it feels like I did something today, something rewarding, not just doing nothing. There’s a real sense of accomplishment there. My kids are raised now and I’ve worked, so this gives me something to do.

“There was a  ginger cat that was very dear to me. He was bitten by dogs and he eventually came to me, he was hurt badly and I brought him to the SPCA. They actually said they will help him but it’s going to cost, so I asked everybody for money and eventually, we got enough. He was eventually saved after spending two months at the SPCA  and a friend of mine adopted him. He is so awesome, his name is Tripod because of his three legs and he made it! 

“One of the houses we visited this morning used to have a cat and his eye got hurt, so I brought him in to the vet and the eye had to be removed. We ended up taking him in and found a home for him in Cape Town with some lovely people. Cape Town is the most pet-friendly place. The cat is named Luna now. Stories like that make it worth it.”

To be volunteer or donate to C.A.T., call 072 425 5843 or email them at info@catgardenroute.co.za. 

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