Giving cats an extra lifeline

Stefanie Bergmann during the shoot of her video at the clinic in Khayelitsha.

A Hout Bay resident is attempted to put an end to cat cruelty by stepping in and helping an animal clinic struggling to stay afloat.

From cats being burnt alive to cats being used for witch craft rituals, the townships have seen some of the worse cases of cat cruelty.

The Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha has seen it all and highlighted that many believed there were cultural superstitions about cats.

Paw Members are being called upon to help the animals coming through the doors of the Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha.

“We have seen very bad cat cruelty cases. Two years ago, a woman set a cat on fire in the middle of the road. We’ve also had some cats with severe burn wounds after boiling water was thrown on them,” said Marcelle du Plessis, the fund-raising and communications manager for the clinic.

Along came German-born Hout Bay resident Stefanie Bergmann, who started volunteering there nearly a year and a half ago, focusing on the homeless cats at the clinic.

“I started working with the cats, socialising them and helping the distressed cats become used to people … abused cats trust again. I also helped give happy cats a lot of play time. I started sharing the cats’ stories and finding them safe homes,” Ms Bergmann said.

A young boy who rescued a kitten and another two boys who walked over 10 kilometres to deliver the cats to the clinic were stories that inspired Ms Bergmann to become involved.

Between April and October, the clinic roughly lost around R136 000 from cancelled and bounced monthly debit order donations due to Covid-19. The clinic had also racked up nearly R1.1m in increased expenses and lack of income-generation activities since the lockdown started.

“We also expect that corporates who have been hit hard will not be able to donate into the future,” Ms Du Plessis said.

It was for this reason Ms Bergmann decided to become fully involved, becoming an ambassador and patron at the clinic, supporting the organisation through Covid-19.

“Thinking about the clinic closing its doors makes me so scared for all those animals. The clinic is so important because there’s an estimate of 300 000 animals in Khayelitsha,” she said.

The clinic provides full veterinary services to the community and Ms Bergmann said without the clinic, the pets would not receive the treatment required when the animals are sick or injured.

She decided to make more of an impact, recording a heart-warming video, showcasing her relationships with Lilly, a feral cat deemed “unadoptable”. Lilly was healed and placed in a perfect home. Ms Bergmann also spoke of her experiences volunteering at the clinic and helped hundreds of cats in the community.

Ms Bergmann signed up as a Paw Member, donating R100 per month to support the clinic, as part of their #PawMember campaign for survival, which aims to sign up as many as 1 000 Paw Members.

“I hope that my video will inspire more people to sign up as Paw Members so that the clinic can help more community pets,” Ms Bergmann said.

• The campaign already signed up 400 Paw Members. If you can be one of the 600 Paw Members still needed, you can sign up at or contact for more information

• To view Ms Bergmann’s video, visit the Mdzananda Facebook and Instagram pages.