Zoë Knows: Cats & Christmas

Zoë is 12 years old and loves cats. She loves learning about cats and how best to take care of them and has agreed to share her knowledge with us as she learns. When she’s not hanging out with her two cats Libra (age 4) and Spooky (age 14), Zoë likes to read, draw, cook and swim at the beach.

Libra with tree

Zoë’s cat Libra hanging out under the tree

I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t like Christmas, not even my cats. The problem is Christmas can be a little dangerous for them and some of the things they enjoy most are very risky for their safety. So as a cat owner it’s my responsibility to know how to keep my cat safe.

#1. The Christmas Tree

A Christmas tree is one of the most iconic symbols of Christmas, and why wouldn’t it be? You decorate it, put presents underneath it and gather around it with your family on Christmas morning. But you know who else loves it? Your cat. Cat’s LOVE to climb up Christmas trees and pull down the decorations. If you don’t want your cat swatting at your tree, consider not putting decorations on the bottom. The needles of live Christmas trees are poisonous for cats and can cause symptoms like oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea and trembling. Artificial trees can also be dangerous if eaten because of the toxins they release. Make sure your tree is secure so your cat won’t climb it. If you put your tree in the middle of the room your cat might see it as a play structure and will be climb it from all sides. It will also be easy to knock over if your cat does get in it.

#2. Decorations

Cats also love tinsel. If you think putting it high up on your tree will prevent your cat from getting to it, remember cats can climb trees and will if they see something they want to play with. Once a cat gets it’s paws on tinsel they might swallow and choke on it. Decorations such as ribbons are also very dangerous should your cat eat one or if it gets around their neck.

#3. Holiday plants

Don’t you love holly, mistletoe a poinsettias? Well your cat doesn’t. These plants are all very poisonous to your cat. Mistletoe causes vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, erratic behaviour, hallucinations, collapsing and death. Holly causes vomiting, diarrhea and depression. Fortunately, poinsettias are less dangerous. They cause mouth and stomach irritation and sometimes vomiting. If you choose to display these plants, remember to put them in places your cat will have trouble getting too. Also be sure to know the symptoms of poisoning so you can keep an eye out for them.

#4. Visitors

Holiday parties are a super awesome part of the holidays, but they can be quite overwhelming for your cat. Maybe your cat is very social and loves visitors, but it’s most likely your cat will be pretty scared. Have a visitor free room and politely ask your guests not to go in there. Keep a litter box, some food, kitty toys, beds and blankets in the room to make your cat feel comfortable. Close the door as your guests are coming in so your cat doesn’t get out, but afterwards leave the door open a bit. That way your cat can get in and out if he wants to.

#5. Other hazards

Some people like to incorporate Christmas food into their cats diet, but I suggest keeping human food away from them. Especially rich fatty foods which can make your cat sick.

Artificial snow is also always poisonous. I love lighting candles in the winter, but I need to always remember to never leave a lit candle unattended and keep a watchful eye on it. Cats are curious creatures!

Yes the holidays can be a potentially dangerous time, but you can keep your cat safe by following these simple steps. With these tips you can enjoy Christmas without worrying about holiday hazards.

Volunteer of the Month – December 2015

Me and R2D2December reins in the festive season but, just because it’s time to celebrate with all our fluffy kitties and cats, it doesn’t mean we don’t have time to recognize one of our very own. You guessed it! It’s time to say a massive thank you to our volunteer of the month, Christine Rogers!

Christine was introduced to VOKRA in August 2011 when she needed a buddy for her cat, Snuffelupogus. She adopted Quincy and then started volunteering before we opened the Operations Centre. (She actually helped clean all the debris from the metal cages that are now set up in the isolation pods!) Now Christine ensures the kitties have their necessities – food, water, a clean litter box and cage. She takes care of the cats from morning to night, from meowing for food to napping happily.

me and snuffy

Christine and Snuffy

Christine loves volunteering at VOKRA because she knows she’s making a meaningful contribution each time she shows up. What she loves about volunteering other than playing with and cuddling kitties, is working with the other volunteers. She’s grateful to Karen and Maria for dedicating the time to teaching her how to handle cats, not to mention many other volunteers who have also taught her about cat care.

And our volunteers feel the same way about Christine:

“Christine’s an awesome volunteer! In cat care she quietly does everything that needs to be done while ensuring the less experienced volunteers have all the information and help they need. She’s totally reliable, a real team player and is always on the job way before her official start time. She clearly loves the kitties and her dedication to supporting them is very evident. She’s also a good advocate for her fosters and is a knowledgeable, enthusiastic VOKRA representative at events.”
VOKRA Volunteer

It’s a given that Christine has come across numerous cats but, out of all of them, Boo was her favourite foster. She fell in love with Boo at first sight. Boo has long, soft fur and Siamese-type markings and a feather plume tail. The best thing about fostering Boo were the awesome kitty hugs she’d give when Christine would wake up in the morning – front legs on either side of her neck then a kiss on the nose!

Boo's tail

Just look at that fluffy tail!

Christine’s dedication has not gone unnoticed and we here at VOKRA appreciate all her efforts to make the lives of kittens and cats better. So, along with holiday cheer, we send our love and thank you to Christine – may you have the best holiday season and thank you for all that you do here at VOKRA. Stay awesome!

Post written by Aurora C.

The Tale of Two Broken Cats & Four Cute Kittens

Anne Salomon is one of VOKRA’s many dedicated volunteers. Here she tells us what went into the recent rescue of two injured cats and four adorable kittens.

VOKRA received a frantic call and several e-mails the evening of December 1 from a lady who had found a cat with what she described as a broken leg. She also said the cat had milk. I was contacted by VOKRA co-founder Karen Duncan and asked if I could call the finder. I did and the finder told me she and her daughter live in a small townhouse complex in the Newton area of Surrey and they had come across a cat with a broken leg the night before. They’d picked up the cat and put it in an abandoned car in the parking lot with food and water while they tried to figure out what to do.

Mama cat in the car

Secured in an abandoned car

The next day they took the cat to an animal hospital in Surrey for examination. Her left rear leg sticks straight out when she stands up and the vet advised the injury could possibly be an old one. They were also told the cat was either pregnant or recently had kittens. She needed an X-ray, but the finder could only  afford to pay for the exam and de-fleaing so they took her back to the car and gave her food and water again. The cat was purring up a storm, eating well and didn’t seem to be in distress. They then started posting on Facebook about the cat needing help and someone suggested they contact VOKRA. I discussed the situation with Karen and a fellow trapper and, although it was urgent to look for possible kittens, we decided it was too late in the evening to head out.

mama cat with lame leg

Here’s her lame leg

The next morning I attended the site and met the finders and the cat in the car – what a sweet kitty! In my opinion she was not pregnant but engorged with milk, so I transferred her to a carrier and secured her in my car. We then started the search for the kittens in the area where they had found the cat. There were not many places outside to hide so I started knocking on doors and asking if anyone had seen the cat or kittens.

A few people said they’d seen the cat limping around the parking lot at the side of one of the buildings but no one had seen any kittens. The corner unit had a lot of debris outside so we searched that – but no kittens. I knocked on the door and after getting no answer we proceeded around the building and saw the unit had a small fenced in yard. There was an old cat bed there so I lifted the clasp on the tall gate and went in the back yard. I noticed the sliding door was open a bit so I yelled ‘hello’ and a young man showed up. I asked him if they had a cat. He said yes, but it had died the day before. I asked if he had seen any kittens and he said yes, but I’d better go back to the front door and talk to the owner.

I asked the finder and her daughter to go home and wait for me there while I sorted things out. A young woman opened the door and I told her we were looking for some kittens of a black and white cat. She looked confused and said she had a black and white cat but someone had come to the door the day before with a bag containing a dead black and white cat and asked if it was her cat. She had been missing her cat since the evening of November 30 but was too upset to look at the cat in the bag. I offered her my sympathy and told her the cat we had found had a broken leg and recently had kittens. She looked really confused and said her cat had a broken leg and she had four kittens upstairs. It turns out the dead cat was not hers. She went and fetched a basket with four cute and cuddly little four week old kittens.

Black cat 2

This delicate girl must be in a lot of pain

She told me someone had dumped two adult cats at her door a couple of months ago that were purportedly from a drug house. She took them in and fed them and the black and white cat had the kittens. She said they told her the cat had been born with the leg that way. The other cat was a black cat and she went and got it from the living room. This cat was also limping on one of her rear legs and the other leg was swollen. The rear end of the cat seemed completely out of alignment. The woman said it must have been hit by a car as it wasn’t limping last week, but she couldn’t afford to take it to the vet.

We had a nice long conversation about the cats and what was in their best interest. I told her she had done a good thing feeding the cats after they were dumped at her door step and explained what VOKRA would do for the cats. She finally agreed to give them up to our care so I packed them all up and re-united the kittens with their mom; it was a noisy sucking reunion!

Happy reunion More happy renuion
A happy reunion!
I thanked the original finders for all they’d done for the cat and then I went straight to the vet with the brood for X-rays and examinations. The vet determined the momma cat’s injury was indeed old, she as possible born that way or injured as a kitten, and he recommended nothing be done. The black cat however had a nasty hip injury where the femur was pulled right out of the hip socket on the one leg and a partially healed soft tissue injury on the other leg. After authorization from VOKRA it was decided to proceed with the expensive surgery to help this poor sweet soul. I took the mom cat and kittens to VOKRA where they’ll be put in foster care and the black cat will have the surgery in the next day or two.

Black cat 1 Xray of black cat
Her hip is entirely out of the socket so she’ll need surgery

If it wasn’t for VOKRA, the kittens would never have been re-united with the momma and they’d have grown up, un-spayed/neutered and gone on to produced many offsprings. The black cat may eventually have died from her injuries and both cats may have fallen easy prey to a coyote or run over by a car.  So all in all, it was a good rescue day!

Black cat 3

As a volunteer-driven non-profit, VOKRA relies on the support of donors like you to help rescue more than 1,800 cats and kittens each year. The cost of surgery alone for this black kitty will be in excess of $1,000. If you’d like to help us pay for her care, and the care of all the other VOKRA cats and kittens, please donate today at givetovokra.ca.

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Will You Be Our Santa Claws?

Dear Santa Claws,

My name is Noelle and I’m a VOKRA kitty. They rescued me when I got left behind after my humans moved away.

Pretty please for Christmas could I have a mousie to play with? And a cat castle? But most of all I really want a forever home with a warm, soft bed.

My friend Gerry says Christmas isn’t just about getting toys though. The humans at VOKRA’s Operation Centre work really hard to make sure all us kitties are well taken care of. They say food and medicine is expensive. So it would make me so happy if you could help them out too.

So my biggest wish of all is a donation to VOKRA.

Love from your friend,


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“Dear Santa Claws – A VOKRA Tale” 



Wicket as “Noelle”

Workers found tiny Wicket when he was only 2.5 weeks old. He was all alone, cold and shivering. Thankfully they called us and we came to the rescue! Wicket is now safe and sound in foster care and will soon be ready for adoption.


Bell5Bell as “Gerry”

Bell and his brother Dell were living on the street before they came to VOKRA. A Good Samaritan was feeding them but, as it began to get colder, she was worried about coyotes and wanted them to find safe forever homes. Bell is settling into an indoor life and will be ready for adoption soon.

Directed & Edited By: Rachael Clark

Written by: Monique Hoople