Sushi and Kimchi’s Happy Tail Ending

Would-be cat parents Ella and Mario de Torres were scanning the VOKRA blog when they came across an Adopt Me article featuring two cute kitties in search of a forever home.  After a quick read, Ella and Mario realized they’d found their cats!  Soon Trixie (now Sushi) and her son Mike (now Kimchi) were on their way to a new place.

There was no doubt in Ella and Mario’s minds they’d made the right choice. In their foster home the two cats were coming out of their respective shells, with the small mom meowing chattily and her son showing a marked fondness for pats and playtime with strings and sticks.

But now after eight months with Ella and Mario, Sushi and Kimchi are showing their true and adorable colours. Ella has many “meow-versations” with chatty Sushi. “She sounds like a trilling pigeon!” said Ella.

At first, though, Sushi needed a bit of time to get used to her new home. Ella describes the first few months as being “like a cha-cha – we’d feel like we were making progress, but then something would spook her and she’d be back to hiding again.”  One such spook happened early on when Sushi’s small paw stepped on a remote control that operated Ella and Mario’s bedroom ceiling fan. “Sushi was so frightened she wouldn’t walk past the open bedroom door!” said Ella. Fortunately, Sushi’s now settled in and has become much more confident and cuddly. In Ella’s words, “She’s a serious lap cat. There are times when I have literally just made contact with the couch and her paw is already on my thigh, demanding a lap to sit on!”

Kimchi too has gotten braver and braver the more time he spends living with Ella and Mario. In fact, the (human!) couple have nicknamed their boy “Explorer Cat” and he continues to lives up to that name, always climbing up to a high vantage point to survey his domain. When Kimchi’s down on the ground, he’ll spend time “zooming,” as Ella put it, running around like a “crazy cat”.  In true cat fashion, the zoomies often come in the early morning when Ella and her husband are happily snoozing!  As you might expect from all that activity, Kimchi likes his food. In the mornings he’ll “meeeeeoooooow pitifully as if he’s starving and will continue to meow until someone opens the bedroom door,” said Ella.

All in all, Ella and Mario are delighted with their new snuggle bugs. And we couldn’t be happier to report yet another happy tail!

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

Why We Believe in TNR

It’s hard to keep track of all the acronyms that exist these days, but in the cat rescue world TNR is a big one. TNR stands for Trap-Neuter-Return and describes the process of trapping feral cats, spaying or neutering them, and then returning them to the location they came from. According to VOKRA co-founder Maria Soroski, it’s the most effective and humane way to help control the feral cat population.

When VOKRA formed back in 2000, Maria had no idea what a feral cat was, which is hard to believe for someone who is such a strong advocate for Vancouver street cats. She, along with fellow co-founder Karen Duncan, began by bottle feeding kittens that had been brought into the SPCA before branching off on their own to create VOKRA.

Maria with one of her (almost) daily catches.

“I had no idea where the kittens were coming from,” says Maria, who wondered what happened to the kittens’ moms. “I assumed they were from owned cats or that they’d been orphaned.” However, as kittens kept arriving from the same addresses, Maria and Karen started to do a little sleuthing. They soon discovered a whole world of feral cats. The mother cats hadn’t been brought in because they were wild – no one could touch them, let alone pick them up and transport them into care.

Maria discovered entire colonies, some with upwards of 50 cats. They were all the moms, dads, aunts, uncles and cousins of all the bottle-fed kittens that had come in. Thanks to the guidance of local rescuers and the resources of Alley Cat Allies, Maria quickly learned to trap and hasn’t looked back since.

VOKRA’s volunteer trappers, spearheaded by Maria, spent eight years trapping seven days a week in Vancouver and Burnaby. It’s estimated there were more than 8000 – 9000 free roaming cats in Vancouver before VOKRA came along. The number of feral cats is now down to less than 300 with the remaining colonies under control. Some of the colonies now consist solely of senior citizen cats, who pass on humanely after living a life on their own terms.

Maria stops at nothing to get cats off the streets

For cats that we can’t return to their original site, we try and find them another home – specifically a barn or hobby farm. Janet, who coordinates the barn cat placement program, says “It’s an alternative option for feral cats that are unable to be returned to their original location for various reasons.” The barns are located throughout the Lower Mainland, from Abbotsford to Squamish, and Janet often drives the cats to their new homes herself. Potential placements are interviewed in advance and the cats are guaranteed fresh food and water daily, along with a safe shelter area. In their new “jobs” as rodent control technicians they have a better life than they would out on the streets.

If the cats are young enough or semi-tame, then we’ll try to socialize them so we can adopt them to forever homes.  “We’re not scared of hissy babies,” says Maria. Armed with gloves, towels, treats, and a whole lot of patient love, VOKRA volunteers socialize kittens in their homes.  VOKRA runs workshops and provides coaching to these special families.  Fosters tell us this is an immensely rewarding part of being with VOKRA.  To watch a kitten or adult cat transform from an untrusting and extremely frightened creature to one that seeks out your affection with headbutts to your hand, and who purrs at the very sound of your voice, is a truly amazing experience.

We respond to as many calls we can and trap feral cats, tame moms protecting their kittens and tame adults that are too afraid to trust humans just yet. Sometimes this involves all-night efforts and sometimes it involves walking into an abandoned house in protective gear so as not to be eaten alive by the swarms of fleas. Whatever it takes – the fate of all cats is important to us and those who were never given the chance to live a safe, indoor life deserve the best that we can give them.

As a non-profit association we rely on the contributions of people like you. If you’d like to support our TNR program click here.

 

Volunteer of the Month – November 2018

As the last rays of autumn sunshine give way to the rains of winter, we always know things will be bright at VOKRA because of our hundreds of dedicated volunteers. This November we’re celebrating Grace Cullen, a volunteer who shares her love with the kitties who need it most.

Grace has been caring for stray cats for at least the past 15 years in South Vancouver. She took in Niko, who had a damaged leg, Kit Kat, who’d been hit by a car and lost an eye and several others with varying illnesses and injuries. Luckily, she has a large house with several rooms so she can isolate a cat when needed.

Up until recently, Grace had five of her own cats and was also feeding strays in the neighbourhood. After feeding a stray she named Zozo for two years, she was finally able to catch him when he became very ill, and brought him to VOKRA where he’s been in our care for the past several months.

Grace was introduced to VOKRA by a friend and started helping out with the recycling. Grace was visiting Zozo daily and started visiting other cat residents who needed some TLC. She’s developed a special relationship with Tinka, who has a variety of issues, but runs to the door when she sees Grace arrive. They discuss philosophy and world issues together, as well as play string and have treats.

Grace has a special affinity with all animals and, when visiting the cats at our Operations Centre, she purposefully takes on those who need extra attention; besides Tinka, there’s Carmine and Ben, Scotty and Dancer and many others.

THANK YOU Grace for all the love you show the kitties, both indoors and outdoors. We know they love you just as much as we do!

As a volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. Thank you to each and every one of you!

VOKRA’s always in need of volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Goodbye Spring

Spring has come and gone, but the memories remain…

Little Spring, the kitten we’ve been telling you about, has very sadly passed away. Her short life, and her close friendship with bestie Hamburgler, were a heart warming inspiration to us all, say many VOKRA volunteers.

“The most amazing thing about Spring was that her spirit was super strong even though her body was so very frail,” says VOKRA volunteer Susan, who spent a good deal of time with this little kitten. “In her short life she taught us to focus on the positive, make the most of what we have and love unconditionally.”

Spring was born with an inoperable genetic defect, a portosystemic liver shunt, a disorder in which a cat’s blood supply bypasses the liver, leading to increased toxins in the blood. Most kittens with this condition die within weeks of birth, so Spring’s relatively long life (she was 5 months when she passed) is an amazing tribute to VOKRA’s good care.

At first, volunteers at VOKRA’s Operations Centre weren’t sure how long this tiny kitten would be around. At a few weeks of age, Spring wasn’t thriving. She crouched in her cage, too nauseous to nibble on her food or even nudge the hands of volunteers who reached in to pet her cute self.

After a vet visit or two, she seemed to recover and our volunteers made a momentous decision. Another adorable feline had just been rescued from life on Vancouver’s streets. This cat, named Hamburgler as he was found hiding under a McDonald’s dumpster, was paired with Spring.

Spring and Hamburgler

At first, Spring was hesitant. Following some much-needed treatments, Hamburgler had become a happy rambunctious kittie, always wanting to play. He pounced on the little kitten, delighted to spot a new playmate.

But Spring soon learned to give as good as she got. On her healthy days, she and her new bestie chased each other around. On not so good days, Hamburgler began to help his friend, supporting her through her struggles.

Susan tells how he used to help make sure Spring was getting all the attentions she needed. “I was encouraging Spring to eat by getting her to lick food from my finger. It was a bit messy so when we were finished, Hammy rushed over and gave her face a good clean!”

Hamburgler even provided comfort on Spring’s worst days, when her health problems necessitated trips to the vet.

Hamburger in his new furever home

“When Spring travelled to the vet she would cry in the car,” says Susan. “But when Hammy started to accompany her in a shared carrier she was quiet and comforted. He even accompanied her on her last journey and groomed her beforehand to ensure she was respectable before they left!”

Hamburgler now has his own happy ending. He’s been adopted by VOKRA volunteer Leanne, who kindly waited to collect her new companion until Spring was no longer in need and then rushed in so Hamburgler would not have to spend a night alone in the pod he and Spring shared.

Leanne says Hamburgler is settling well into his new home, “He’s playing and giving me all the love and licks of affection.”

Spring’s fighting spirit, and her connection with Hamburgler, will linger in our minds for a long time.

In a final message about Spring, VOKRA co-founder Maria had this to say: “No matter what cards you are dealt, you can walk through life with kindness and love.”

Hamburgler says goodbye to Spring

Piper’s Happy Tail

Piper (formerly Sasha) is now singing a happier tune. This little cat had a rough start to her life but luckily she’s found a home, thanks to VOKRA and her adoptive kitty-mom.

Piper and her siblings were found in a ditch, covered with fleas and lesions from the fungal skin infection ringworm. It was VOKRA and vets who stepped in to help, said Eeva Wanders, who adopted six-month old Piper.

At first, the newly healthy Piper was very shy and VOKRA recommended a quiet home for this little kitty. At Eeva’s, it didn’t take long for Piper to come out of her shell. “For all [Piper’s] shyness, she took to me quickly and on the second night she jumped into my lap,” Eeva marveled. “The next morning I woke to her lying on my stomach.”

Eeva herself was delighted to meet Piper. Having lived with cats all her life, Eeva suddenly found herself alone and lonely after the death of her beloved Cairo. “I missed him terribly,” she said. “And I knew only a cat could help.”

Happily, Piper was there to fill this cat-shaped hole. Eeva says that even Piper’s markings seemed fortuitous. “I had hoped to find a silver tabby with a pink nose as I had one growing up. Lo and behold, there she was!”

Now, after six years together, Eeva and Piper are still very much enjoying each other’s company. The formerly shy Piper is “quite comfortable and curious of people and is keen to sniff their hair or ears,” said Eeva. “She LOVES to play and investigate boxes and paper bags. She loves her grey mouse, her felted braids and milk jug rings.  And she plays fetch…but only when she wants to.”

“She truly is an amazing and special cat,” Eeva said, “I’m glad to be owned by her.”

We’re glad, too, that Piper and Eeva have found each other and that Piper now has a forever home where she can be happy!

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

Here Kitty Kitty! 

The rains have arrived and it’s time for all kitties to come in out of the cold. Here at the VOKRA, we work hard everyday to make sure cats who have no place to go have a roof over their head when the weather takes a turn.

Until recently, if you called “here Kitty Kitty” at our Operations Centre you’d have probably been talking to a single cat, an elderly gentleman named (you guessed it) Kitty Kitty.

This poor guy wouldn’t come running in answer though, as he has several age-related conditions that affect his mobility. He’s hyperglycemic and has arthritis in the lower part of his spine. When Kitty Kitty first came to VOKRA he couldn’t walk very well and our volunteers were concerned he was in a lot of pain. Everyone worked hard to find Kitty Kitty the right meds to help him move more comfortably.

Unfortunately, to make matters worse, Kitty Kitty started out not too relaxed in his temporary home and he had a tendency to nip. But after some medical care, and lots of cuddles and chin scratches from the team at Ops, Kitty Kitty started feeling much better. He’s still not the most agile of kitties, but he’s getting around and any volunteer or visitor who came to the back room where Kitty Kitty was staying was sure to be greeted by hopeful eyes and a little paw reaching out.

After Kitty Kitty’s temporary stay, he’s happier and healthier and has now moved on to a new home. Everyone will miss this super senior, but we’re glad we were able to ensure Kitty Kitty stayed warm, dry and loved while he was waiting for a permanent situation to come along.

If you’d like to help us help more kitties like Kitty Kitty, please donate today at www.givetovokra.ca.

Lincoln’s Happy Tail Ending

Nicole and her partner Bayani weren’t considering adopting another cat after their beloved 16-year-old tabby passed away. Even though she was still grieving, Nicole could see how her other cat Lex needed a friend. After a colleague showed her a picture of little Lincoln on our website, she couldn’t help but consider bringing another kitty into her home.

“I was pretty sure when I had seen his photo but it sealed the deal as soon as I met him in person,” said Nicole. “Out of all the kittens I had an instant bond with him…he came right up to me and curled up on my lap and fell asleep! My heart instantly melted!”

Before long, Lincoln became the newest member of Nicole’s household. Slow introductions are advised when introducing a new cat into a home, especially when there’s a kitten coming into a senior cat’s domain. It was hard for Nicole to keep Lincoln separate for those few days, but once he had access to the house he wasted no time making himself right at home.

Nicole and Bayani quickly learned life with a kitten is a lot different than with a senior cat. “My other cats have always been well behaved and not as playful so it’s definitely been challenging keeping up with him!” she said. “Lincoln has a serious case of the ‘zoomies’, so he constantly runs laps around the house. He’ll even leap at doors and run across walls. It’s crazy!”

Lincoln enjoys many comforts in his new home, such as a box full of kitty toys and endless belly rubs and cuddles. By far his biggest quirk is his love for water. He always comes quickly when he hears water running and will even jump in the shower! Lincoln’s also obsessed with people food – especially chicken. Nicole and Bayani have to keep an eye on him when they’re cooking and now have a good system of covering ingredients – but Lincoln still manages to sneak off with a nibble from time to time!

Lincoln’s high energy and big personality have brought a light to Nicole, Bayani and even feline big brother Lex’s life. “Lincoln has a lot of the same traits and habits as my cat Cedes who passed so I really connect with him. His big personality just brings constant happiness every day,” said Nicole. “He’s just really silly and we honestly couldn’t imagine life without him!”

Thank you to Nicole and Bayani for giving a loving home to a kitty in need!

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

MY sink!

MY screen…?