Having a heart for strays: Student saves the lives of 350 street cats
In Riga, the capital of Latvia, the plight of homeless cats on the city's streets is a big problem. They breed uncontrollably and no one feels responsible for looking after them. Most of the animals fall victim to horrible diseases and, due to inadequate veterinary provisions, they often don't reach adulthood. But help is at hand — 21-year-old student Zanda Indriksone has made it her life's work to save as many cats as possible.
It all began two years ago with a cat that Zanda found in the middle of the street while on her way home from school. The little furball was mostly skin and bones and almost blind due to the pus encrusted on his eyes.
"I couldn't simply walk on and abandon the little cat to his fate! That was how it started," Zanda explains.
"The first thing I do is take the cat to the vet so the vet can check the cat's health and determine the cat's age," the young student adds.
In the last two years, the young woman has saved 350 cats from certain death. Today, she is a member of Cat Care Community, an organisation that that looks after the re-homing of stray cats and builds wooden houses for street cats, so they can survive Latvia's hard winters.
On the hard life that cats face on the streets of her homeland, Zanda says, "Humans domesticated cats and, therefore, I believe that we have a duty to help them — otherwise many of them will die. It is no secret that Latvia has a problem with street cats, but it's our responsibility to do something about it."
Meanwhile, Zanda has built a proper network, firstly to look after the rescued cats, and finally to re-home them. Considering the vast numbers of homeless cats in Riga, this is no small task.
Over time, she has also learnt how to treat the animals, under the guidance of vets who support the work she is doing.
But the costs of medical treatment and upkeep for the strays are very high. Any pet owner, whose animal has been seriously ill, knows how high the medical bills can sometimes be. And this is money that the economics student doesn't have.
A friend and supporter of Zanda's has now set up a donations page because spring time means a lot of newborn cats on Riga's streets needing help.
In this video, you can see how grateful Zanda's cats are to her for rescuing them.
People like Zanda make changes in this cruel world. They make a bad place better and act to alleviate the suffering of animals, rather than increase it. And for that, we should be grateful too.