The Paphos cat lady has made a desperate plea for help from volunteers after a bad fall has left her incapacitated and unable to look after the one hundred and sixty or so strays she feeds and cares for every day in the old town.
Gaynor Georgiou, 74, is better known by her moniker and urgently needs one or more volunteers that could give up a couple of hours a day to take over her feeding duties until she is on her feet again, she said.
The cat lover has become a regular sight around Paphos and is popular with both locals and visitors who admire her love and care of the towns cat population.
On Saturday, whilst undertaking her usual daily round to feed the felines, 20 or so rushed towards her and the food bucket, getting under her feet and tripping her up.
“I went down hard, smacking my knee on the ground. I was lying in the street and had to call a friend who came and took me to hospital,” she told the Cyprus Mail.
Georgiou is distraught at the thought of the cats of the town being left without food or care as she has formed a strong bond with all of them through the years. To make matters worse, from the bedroom window of her nearby flat in the old town, she can see groups of them gathering to wait for her arrival.
She is particularly concerned, as a number of the cats are partially sighted or blind.
“I never thought this would happen to me at my age. I am usually so active all of the time and out and about.”
Georgiou met her husband in London when she was 16 years old, married him and moved to Paphos. Since her husband died a few years ago, she credits the cats with keeping her going.
They give her a reason to get up and leave the house every morning, every day, whatever the weather, she said.
An X Ray revealed that she has a fractured knee and badly damaged it in the fall and will visit a specialist on Wednesday, who will carry out further tests to see what course of action will be taken, she said.
Georgiou lives in a block of flats with no lift and is currently bed bound as she is unable to make the trip up and down the staircase.
“I feel very cut off and depressed. Many of my friends are elderly and can’t make it up the stairs and no-one seems to care about the cats. I can’t do a thing, I just really need some help,” she said.
If more than one person steps forward to help her, daily visits to the established feeding spots could be split between them, said Georgiou, who has food for the cats, but added that donations of food are always welcome.
She spends most of her modest pension on cat food each month and the cats rush to greet her when she appears.
Just over a year ago, a local businessman, David Mitchell, donated a car so that she is able to continue her rounds. Her supporters also set up a dedicated website, where people can donate towards the upkeep and welfare of the cats.
In the morning, her daily round starts at the side of now defunct E and S supermarket building where she feeds 12 or so cats and then the other five spots are all in one area, in an area that runs from the Agapinor hotel up to the mosque in Moutallos. These are within walking distance of each other, she said.
All in all, she is feeding in excess of 160 cats and kittens, and rather than the situation improving, increasing numbers of stray and unwanted cats are being dumped in Paphos town, she said.
“As people get to know me, they will just dump cats and kittens in boxes at my feeding spots. It’s been a nightmare- in the last six months the number is really going up.”
In the past couple of months, boxes of cats and kittens were dumped, left for her to find. She takes them to animal charities in Paphos to help as she is unable to look after them all.
She also takes as many cats as she can to be spayed or neutered at Animal Rescue Cyprus, as part of their catch and release programme.
“I hope that I don’t need a new knee and they can fix me, this is so frustrating and I really hope people will come forward and help.”
Gaynor, Cat Lady 97673986