Volunteer of the Month – September 2017

With Walk for the Kitties coming up, we’re grateful for all our volunteers who make everything we do possible. This September, we’d like to celebrate Ellen Runnalls as our Volunteer of the Month!

Ellen’s been volunteering with VOKRA for almost six years. Time flies when it’s spent hanging out with cats! She mostly helps enter the cats’ bios and puts them up on the website. However, she’s taken on various other tasks in her “nine lives” as a volunteer that make it all a joyful experience. Volunteering is a great way to meet cats without having to take them all home… unless you do.

Some of Ellen’s favourite things about volunteering include meeting all the cats and getting to know their unique personalities (especially the shy ones); spending time with feral and semi-feral cats to watch them gain confidence while also earning their trust; and meeting the real cat ladies of this world who are all so dedicated and amazing, and without whom so many cats would never get a chance at a happy life.

Ellen dishes on her favourite memories and kitties she’s met:

“One of my favourite memories is a feral kitten “search and rescue” in an East Van backyard with (VOKRA co-founder) Maria, and another is holding a garage sale with Yana,” said Ellen. “I love being able to advocate for black cats whenever possible as they’re some of the sweetest cats around. I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite cat, but it’s safe to say that aside from all the black kitties I’ve met, every tortoiseshell has stolen my heart.”

Without Ellen, nobody would be able to read up on all our available kittens and cats on our site! She’s an integral part of VOKRA and we’re so happy to have a dedicated volunteer like Ellen on board.

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. THANK YOU!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Kittypants and Britches’s Happy Tail Ending

Max (left), Simi (right)

Kittypants is the proud mama of seven kitties. Happily, she was adopted with one of her spotted little kitties, Britches. Gillian fell in love with the two when she visited them in their foster home. Kittypants (now Simi) was a nervous mama, but accepted hellos and pats. Britches (now Max) was a confident kitten marching around the room always looking for trouble.

Since being adopted, Simi and Max have adapted well. While still somewhat nervous, Simi’s become much friendlier and confident. In the beginning, she hid under the bathroom sink, skeptical of her human parents.

Simi hiding under the sink

It’s taken a long time for Simi to trust them and it’s still a work in progress, but now she purrs the moment you pat her and is quite playful. Max is a curious kitten with tons of energy, usually used during playtime or to show Gillian where his food is. Both furballs are gentle, lovely companions who are also easy to train. Simi learned to ‘sit’ in about two minutes!

 

Smitten by Simi and Max, Gillian and her partner love discovering their individual personality quirks. Once Simi realizes she’s getting pats, she always runs over to a good patting spot – carpet or mat – to stretch out as long as she can to receive a full back rub. Max starts purring whenever they talk to him, pat him, feed him, play with him, look at him and pretty much just 24/7.

“I discovered that Simi seems interested in certain types of music,” said Gillian. “When I start tuning my ukulele she perks up and trills. If a soft, uncomplicated melody comes on the stereo, she goes over to the speaker or the TV to check it out.”

Max enjoying a nap

As for Max, he apparently has the cutest and longest meow she’s ever heard in a cat. Gillian has a glass door closing off the kitchen (because a certain spotted kitty likes to lick butter if unattended) and around food or play time Max stands on his back paws and holds onto the doorknob with his front paws. He then lets out what Gillian says to be, “a record-breaking longest meow known to cat or human.”

We’re so happy Simi and Max are flourishing in their furever home with endless pats and playtime. Thank you to Gillian and her partner for giving these furballs a second chance and a loving, fun-filled home.

 

Want to share your Happy Tail? Email us at communications@vokra.ca.

Post written by Aurora C.

Flashback to Kittypants with all her baby pants.

 

We’re Walking for Finn: Because She Can’t

Finn when she first arrived

Finn was trapped along with her mom Pumpkin and brother Henry at a trailer park in Langley. She arrived at VOKRA covered in fleas and with an infection that made her eyes all gooby. It was also immediately evident something was wrong with her back legs. We suspected she had swimmer syndrome, a developmental abnormality making her unable to stand.

Always a little trooper, Finn wouldn’t let her disability get in her way and would wiggle herself around our Operations Centre looking for cuddles, which, or course, she’d always get!

After several different vet visits, Finn was diagnosed with a spinal issue and it was discovered her right hind leg is significantly shorter than her left. To top it off, because she’s semi-incontinent she’s had to battle several urinary tract infections (UTIs), which isn’t uncommon for kitties with her condition. So today Finn lives with foster mom Corin and gets regular physiotherapy to help her get stronger so she can stand in her litter box and hopefully avoid future UTIs.

Finn gets regular hydrotherapy in the bathtub where she can now stand and take some steps. Corin also does both seated and standing passive manipulation with her to help train her muscles and Finn has some supports she uses to help her get around.

“Finn’s very clever and has figured our how to do pretty much everything without walking like other kitties,” said foster mom Corin. “She’s incredibly intelligent and only needs to see the other kitties in our home do something once and she mimics it.”

Along with her increased strength Finn’s litter box habits are improving so she’s currently UTI-free. If she can remain this way, she’ll head back to the vet to be spayed and will have additionally imaging done to better diagnose her issues. Then she’ll be able to start professional physiotherapy and even perhaps acupuncture.

The reality is only 25% of kittens who don’t receive human care survive. It’s a certainty Finn would not be alive today without help. Unlike many other animal rescue groups, VOKRA is a no-kill organization. This means we will always provide kittens like Finn with a chance at a happy life, no matter the cost.

“An empty lap is an invitation and Finn will fill it in seconds,” said Corin. “But behind those snuggles is a bit of a Rambo kitty. She fears nothing, not even the vaccum!”

Finn is just one of the thousands of reasons why we Walk for the Kitties.

Each year, VOKRA rescues more than 1,400 homeless cats and kittens from around the Lower Mainland. We’re volunteer-driven and our work is made possible through the generous support of people like you – our volunteers, adopters and donors. Walk for the Kitties is our largest fundraising event of the year and we rely on the funds raised to help pay for all the things like food, litter and veterinary care our kitties need.

Please help us help kitties like Finn this September 17 by joining us for Walk for the Kitties, presented by FirstMate.

Eventbrite - VOKRA Walk for the Kitties 2017

Can’t make it on September 17? You can still help when you donate today!

You can also follow Finn’s adventures on her Instagram account at @felinefinntastic

Helmut and Heidi’s Happy Tail Ending

Posh (previously Heidi)

Last December, Helmut and Heidi were two feral cats trapped, along with several other cats, from a building in Fort Langley. Scared and uncertain, they started to come around after a few weeks in VOKRA’s care. Cathy visited the pair at their foster home where their foster parents nurtured them through socialization and play. While Cathy originally only wanted to adopt Helmut, she saw how attached to Heidi he was. He would protect her and always tried to get between her and any stranger. Seeing their bond, Cathy adopted the pair into their furever home and they became Beckham and Posh.

Beckham (previously Helmut)

Beckham and Posh have grown since the beginning of the year, doubling in weight, and their fur has improved and they now have very thick undercoats. Beckham purrs night and day and just about turns inside out to be brushed and pampered. Posh has an undying love for her dried sardine treats, constantly weaving through Cathy’s legs begging for some. While petting is still unwelcome by Posh, she enjoys licking Cathy’s fingers and purring.

Cathy is thankful to VOKRA for ensuring the best of care when Beckham and Posh were first rescued, and we’re happy these two furballs have found their loving furever home.

 

Would you like to share your Happy Tail? Email us at communications@vokra.ca.

Post written by Aurora C.

Tom and Jerry’s Happy Tail Ending

Kashmire (previously Jerry)

Marie-Claire and her family were devastated when their beloved cat Cody went missing. After an exhaustive search they came to come to the realization that Cody was not likely to return and it came time to open up their home to another cat.

While on VOKRA’s website, Marie-Claire came across two bonded cats looking for a new home. After being adopted as kittens, Tom and Jerry were returned to VOKRA and they were quite stressed from the change in environment. The bonded siblings were six years old at the time and waiting for that special someone to come along.

Marie-Claire went to visit Tom and Jerry in their foster home. “I had fallen in love with them at first sight and I was so lonely without Cody that I couldn’t wait to have them come home with me,” said Marie-Claire. “We came back the next day to pick them up.”

Boxer (previously Tom)

After some vet care, patience and a lot of love, Tom and Jerry (now Boxer and Kashmire) are fully part of the family and living the pampered housecat dream. “It wasn’t long before they both slept with us, one of either side of me (I am never cold),” said Marie-Claire.

Boxer and Kashmire have become well-seasoned travelers, accompanying Marie-Claire and her family when they travel down south for the winter. They spend their days “helping” Marie-Claire and her family while they work in the home office. Marie–Claire says the kitties are, “very social and always join us when we entertain.”

We’re so glad Boxer and Kashmire have settled in and are so comfortable around people again. Thank you Marie-Claire for giving these sweet cats a second chance at a happy home!

Would you like to share your Happy Tail? Email us at communications@vokra.ca.

Post written by Kim C.

Volunteer of the Month – July 2017

Dania with one of her kitties, Mouse

On the heels of celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, we’d like to celebrate our Volunteer of the Month for July, Dania Sheldon!

Dania discovered VOKRA when she rescued a cat who had been abandoned in a burning apartment; the humans had an illegal grow-op and left her there when an electrical fire started. She thought the cat might like company, so she looked online for options. It seemed to her VOKRA was a good fit as the foster system seemed a much better approach to cats’ welfare than the shelter model. Dania also had previous experience of caring for unweaned orphaned kittens. She has been volunteering with VOKRA since 2005, when she adopted her first three bottle-feeders who had been discovered in a bag in a dumpster.

With Maximus and Thumbelina

Before moving to Gabriola Island, Dania was involved in the day-to-day running of VOKRA as the operations manager. She was in charge of many tasks, such as cat care, bringing kitties to new foster homes, picking up and delivering supplies, fundraising and developing publications such as our Mewsletter and annual VOKRA calendar. Since moving to Gabriola, she’s continued with the calendar through to the 2017 issue, along with facilitating and coordinating the adoptions of VOKRA cats who require safe indoor/outdoor homes that can be found on Gabriola. Dania also represents VOKRA on the Rescue Roundtable, which is a coalition of no-kill rescue groups in  southern BC, sharing education, experience and contacts to achieve the best possible outcomes for animals in need.

“My favourite part of volunteering is spending one-on-one time with cats, particularly those who are shy, frightened, semi-feral or otherwise in need of particular consideration and care,” says Dania. “There is nothing more absorbing, for me, than being entirely focused upon another being and trying to provide whatever will soothe their anxiety. If this means sitting in a room for hours at a time, pretending not to notice a cat while s/he assesses me, I’m up for it. What’s more amazing than the feeling you experience when a once terrified, wary cat decides to trust you? Nothing. That’s the best.”

We’re grateful for all the hard work Dania has put into volunteering with our organization for the past 12 years. She’s helped VOKRA grow and improved the lives of countless kittens and cats. A favourite story that has stuck with her is told below by Dania:

“A little male tabby kitten had been born with his rear left leg significantly shorter than the others. He required ongoing physio, as he also had some spinal deformity either due to or concurrent with the stunted limb. Given his need for indefinite specialized care, it could have been difficult to find him a home, but a family in which the parents were physios heard about him and were interested. As it happened, their boy had a similar condition with one of his legs. His name was Keegan, and he fell in love with this kitten, whom he named Keegan. VOKRA received a note from the mum, who said that this little cat had completely transformed her son’s life; his whole demeanour had changed now that he’d found his buddy, whom he talked to and hung out with all the time and kept up to date on daily events.”

With Lua, a kitty who survived a spinal cord injury. Dania’s written a book about Lua and you can learn all about it here

We thank Dania for helping with the rescue and rehabilitation of cats for the past 12 years and we’re sure the kitties she has saved thank her too.

“There would be no VOKRA if Dania had not stuck with me in my basement in 2005,” say Karen Duncan, co-founder of VOKRA. “We were pretty well done, overwhelmed by the numbers coming in. It was only through her determination and ability to get things sorted and written that we were able to pull through. We were sure we pulled it off with our wonderful glass magic wands which we zipped out every time we ran into a new impossible problem, waving them with desperate hope to find answers. We shared so many tears and much hysterical laughter over this time, and have been great friends ever since.”

Karen sums up our gratitude to Dania pretty well, so we just want to acknowledge and give thanks for every single ounce of work Dania has put into this organization. You have helped VOKRA take off and we couldn’t be happier to have you on our team!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. THANK YOU!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

We’re Walking for the Kitties!

WALL-E’s a typical feisty kitten who loves to run, jump and play. Except for one thing, he now only has three legs.

We were first alerted about WALL-E when we saw an advertisement for a kitten with a broken leg. Obviously we were very concerned so we checked things out and ended up taking him in when he was 8 weeks old. WALL-E’s left hind leg had clearly been broken at some point and had healed in a backwards position.

Here you can see WALL-E’s backwards hind leg

WALL-E didn’t let his leg slow him down one bit, but it was clear something would need to be done. After consulting with a veterinarian it was decided the leg had to be removed.

Today WALL-E’s recovering from his surgery and his foster mom Dawn is trying her best to slow him down. Sometimes she even succeeds! Soon his stitches will come out and he’ll be on his way to finding a forever home.

Kittens like WALL-E are just one of the thousands of reasons why we Walk for the Kitties.

Each year, VOKRA rescues more than 1,400 homeless cats and kittens from around the Lower Mainland. Unlike many other animal rescue groups, VOKRA is a volunteer-driven, no-kill organization. Our work is made possible through the generous support of volunteers, adopters and people like you.

Without your support we wouldn’t be able to pay for the veterinary care kittens like WALL-E need. Please help us help kitties like WALL-E this September 17 by joining us for Walk for the Kitties, presented by FirstMate.

Eventbrite - VOKRA Walk for the Kitties 2017

Walk for the Kitties is our largest fundraising event of the year. This 5k fun walk takes place at Jericho Beach and all funds raised go directly towards supporting our rescue efforts. Learn more here.

Can’t make it on September 17? You can still donate today!