Jul 13, 2021
There are cat ladies and then there’s Heidi Systo. A Pratt-trained photographer by day, Heidi spends the bulk of her free time rescuing and socializing feral kittens in the borough. New York City is home to some 300,000 stray cats, many thousands of which are in Brooklyn. Systo, who lives in Bed-Stuy, is one of many volunteers certified in a program called TNRM (trap/neuter/return/monitor), through which she traps stray cats around Brooklyn and arranges to have them spayed or neutered before returning them to their feral environment. From there she monitors the cats and provides shelter as needed.
For Systo, it all goes down adorably on Instagram. A self-described “cat wrangler,” she uses the platform—and her photography chops—to showcase the many cats she rescues, fosters and socializes. At her apartment’s most crowded, she may have up to 10 cats and kittens scattered throughout her small space. Systo also uses the platform to educate people who are themselves interested in getting into rescuing or fostering.
“If I am the difference between [a cat] living on the street and dying an early death, versus, you know, being indoors, being loved and happy and warm for the rest of its life,” she told Cheddar TV, “that I get a lot out of.”