The Ukrainian retiree caring for dozens of cats

STORY: Dressed in a bright pink tracksuit and laden down with bags, Natalia Pasternak tours her bombed out neighborhood in northeastern Ukraine looking for cats.

The 68-year-old retiree has been taking care of some 100 cats and kittens since the invasion.

The district where she lives bore the brunt of Russia's shelling of Kharkiv, a city which had a population of 1.4 million people before many were forced to flee.

Some of the cats she visits belong to families who asked for help, while others are in abandoned and destroyed buildings.

"They are defenseless, so when people leave them behind, they get no food. I don’t know (why I care for them). This comes from my early childhood, I have been like this since I was a child."

To afford the cat food she brings, Pasternak has been doing odd jobs like mending clothes on the side.

Her relatives and other volunteers have also been helping.

The cats rely on Pasternak but she also needs them for company.

She is the only person left in her bombed-out building, and she's been living in the basement with a dozen of her feline friends.

"Cats accompany me all the time, I can’t keep them away. When other cats come, they are restrained, but mine climb on me like locusts."

"It feels wonderful, I don't need anything else. They understand everything, but they don’t reply, they simply don’t reply."

Moscow calls the invasion a "special military operation" to demilitarize its neighbor and root out nationalists.

Ukraine and its Western allies say that is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting