We wish everyone a very Happy New Year and look forward to another 12 months of bringing happiness to all our little furry friends! Of course that happiness doesn’t come about without the help of our many volunteers. Kicking off the new year, we’d like to give an appreciative shout out to our January Volunteer of the Month Claudia O’Hearn!
Growing up, Claudia was taught to love nature but was never allowed any pets other than spiders and frogs. As she became and adult having a pet didn’t find into her lifestyle until she moved to Vancouver with her husband Tim. An encounter with a neighbourhood cat helped her decide the time was right so she told Tim they were getting a cat – it was finally time to get a kitten. They adopted a four-month old tabby that was “free to a good home” and so Claudia’s love of cats began.
After moving to Burnaby, one spring evening a white cat peeked into their dining room window. Claudia was unsure of what to do so she posted on Facebook and was lead to Janet Cox and VOKRA. Janet taught Claudia how to trap and together they were able to capture the white cat which they named Snowy. Snowy turned out to be very feral so, after getting him fixed, Claudia let him outside and tried to feed him until he hopefully moved on. Thereafter, more and more strays began showing up at their house and Claudia was able to trap a few. And, of course, how could you trap all these kitties without falling in love? White Paws, one of the cats Claudia trapped, was just too peculiar she couldn’t give him up so she became what we call a “foster fail”!
“Claudia was extremely eager and motivated to learn how to trap and easily learned the dynamics of trapping,” said Janet Cox. “It was apparent she was a huge animal lover. I’m very impressed with the fact she ordered an insulated cat enclosure for Snowy to use after he was trapped. A few months later I found out Claudia had decided to volunteer with VOKRA. She helps VOKRA in any way she can and has helped trap other cats, as well as foster them. She also helps out by picking up and dropping off supplies for other fosters that aren’t able to pick up from our Operation Centre.”
Not long after Claudia began trapping, she and Tim volunteered to foster a mom and her two kittens over the summer holidays. They’ve been fostering on and off ever since. Although Claudia and Tim find the kittens insanely cute, it’s the older cats that are the ones that capture their hearts the most. According to Claudia, they’re a lot easier than kittens and it’s extremely rewarding to see a cat that behaved feral when stressed out become a cuddly purr monster once it’s settled in foster care.
“Over the past couple of years my fellow volunteers have become friends and now I consider VOKRA as family to us,” said Claudia. “One of the best things is all the support we get when it’s needed. Tim and I joke that we have Maria Soroski (VOKRA co-founder) on speed dial! But I can’t tell you how many times she’s helped us with advice and by being there for our foster cats, whether it’s at our house, at the Operations Centre or at the vet.”
Claudia also credits Tim with being a big part of her volunteer work. Not only does he support her volunteering, he also does the occasional driving and helps with fostering on a daily basis. He loves all their foster cats but it seems his heart is the fondest when it comes to their senior fosters like Shandy, Shyane and Muffin. Shandy’s story is one of Claudia’s favourites. He was critically ill a year ago and they thought they might have to give up on him. But today he’s thriving and Claudia will always treasure the experience they had caring for him together with Maria and the vet.
Claudia’s been trapping, fostering, driving and doing regular litter runs for the past few years. She loves that she’s able to be involved in various ways to make the lives of kittens and cats better. And she always has a laugh when friends and family come to visit – it never takes too long before someone asks “How many cats do you have now?!”
VOKRA would like to give the biggest thanks to Claudia and Tim for being amazing fosters to our kittens and cats. VOKRA would not be the same without you – thank you and may this year bring more fluffy cats and joy!
post written by Aurora C.
If you’re interested in volunteering visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.