Saigon's sweet old cat lady

Thanh Nien News

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An 80-year-old woman in Ho Chi Minh City cares for 50 stray cats at her home. She's done the job for almost half of a century, zing reported.
Photos credit: Zing.vn
At 80, Le Thi Quy runs a stall selling fish sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, and fermented bean curd at Da Kao Market in District 1. The other vendors at the market call her “Stray Cat Quy."
Quy says she and her husband settled in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in 1954, but after a few years, they divorced. She adopted a daughter, who later married and left Vietnam for the US. “Since then, I've earned a living at Da Kao Market and made friends with lost cats and dogs.”
Every morning Quy opens her stall for three hours. At around 10 a.m., she closes it and wanders around fresh food stalls to ask for shrimp heads to feed her cats.
She also sets aside part of her lunch for the stray cats in the market. “I have rice for one meal per day; if I’m hungry later, I'll have instant noodles. I buy rice and food mainly for the cats,” Quy said.
After having been fed by Quy for many years, stray cats from all over the market come to her place around noon for lunch.
Quy's fellow vendors have taken to bringing her cooked rice, fish and meat .
Once she collects enough food, Quy walks to her home at No. 91 on Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Binh Thanh District.
She gets up at 5 a.m. every day to do chores and feed the cats before heading to the market. Every month, she walks to Ba Chieu Market, about 2.5 kilometers away, to buy goods for her business.
Located deep in the alley, Quy’s house is a bit of a mess.
She says her most valuable things (as money goes) are an old TV and a fan, but the things she cherishes most are the cats she's adopted over the years.
Cats are everywhere in Quy’s house. She says she does not have the heart to turn them away, even if they are sick.
Quy says she does not know exactly how many cats she has taken in, but she names each of them and can remember where they came from. The oldest of them has lived with Quy for nearly 20 years.
Besides food collected at the market, Quy also cooks rice and buys food for the cats. She spends some VND100,000 (US$4.65) on the animals every day, even though she earns less than that from her stall.
According to Quy, many people give her money or food to feed the cats, and her adopted daughter sometimes sends her money. “I save money to take care of the cats.”
Some people tell her to sell or rent out the house to have more money and a better life, but Quy has refused for fear that her cats will become homeless.

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