Pat Frederick wakes at 6 a.m. to begin preparing bowls of cat food. A few hours later, she’s making the rounds to colonies of feral cats near her home in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood.
Out comes Olivia and Simon, Beautiful and Sunny, Tracy, Chad, Manny, Opal and Buttons. All told, Frederick feeds more than 80 cats in 11 different colonies.
“I am the cat lady. I’m not ashamed of it,” Frederick told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I love them.”
Frederick caught the attention of newspaper staffers after a photo of her feeding cats went viral.
The 59-year-old grew up in the Philadelphia area, but spent most of her professional life in Chicago, the Inquirer reports. After a diagnosis of congestive heart failure forced her to leave her job, Frederick moved back to her parents’ Germantown home.
Now she spends her days caring for community cats. She has trapped dozens of cats and brought them to the vet to be spayed or neutered before being released back to their colony. Frederick pays for the cats’ food out of her own pocket, or with donations from friends, neighbors and other cat lovers. She even cuts her own hair so she can use the savings to buy more cat food.
“If I didn’t have the cats, I would have been overcome by depression,” Frederick told the Inquirer. “They help me emotionally. I have a purpose. I believe they know I love them, and that helps me.”
*A version of this story was published in Alley Cat Action, Volume 28, Issue 3, Spring 2018