Volunteer of the Month – October 2018

Paul with Spitfire

October’s the month of Thanksgiving and we couldn’t be more thankful for all of our volunteers. Without the hundreds of individuals who give thousands of hours of their time each month, VOKRA, quite simply, wouldn’t exist. One of those volunteer is our Volunteer of the Month October – Paul Breland.

Paul began volunteering with VOKRA in the spring of 2013 and, since that time, he’s fostered 16 litters, including 15 moms and 67 kittens.

Paul started volunteering after being sent a link to a webcam run by a kitten foster for Purrfect Pals in Seattle. After watching him foster a mom and kittens for a while, Paul thought it looked like fun and there was no reason why he couldn’t do it.

“I had been going through my own kind of midlife crisis at the time, wondering what I was doing with my life besides working and playing PC games,” said Paul. “Helping kittens is a way to do something more meaningful with my spare time.”

As a foster of moms plus their kittens, Paul’s main focus is ensuring the kittens grow up to be healthy, friendly and well-trained. If the kittens are around a week old when they arrive, it’s mostly a matter of making sure mom is well-fed and her litter scooped. As the kittens grow, Paul gets them used to being around people and being handled. He watches for any sign of ill health and weighs them frequently to ensure they’re going in the right direction. At around five weeks old Paul helps transition them to eating wet food and using the litterbox. As they near adoption age, he then submits pictures and bios for the website and answers questions when potential adopters come to view them.

“Obviously, my favourite part of volunteering is getting to sit in a room surrounded by kittens!”, said Paul. “But aside from that, the best part is seeing how happy the adopters are when they pick up their new furry friends. Many have left in tears they’re so happy to be adding a new family member (or two or three).”

It’s hard for Paul to pick a favourite story out of so many, but when pressed he said fostering the “Shovel Kittens” is one of the best. “They were discovered on a cold, rainy November day when their mom was trying to shelter them under a shovel leaning against a house,” explains Paul. “When they came into my care, they were really hissy and didn’t like attention at all. But after weeks of socialisation and handling (and a bit of reverse psychology!), they discovered they loved attention and became purring lap kitties.”

It’s even more difficult to pick a favourite kitty out of the 82 he’s fostered so far, but Paul must go with Hurricane and Spitfire, two kittens he just adopted from his most recent litter as company for his 10-year-old girl kitty. Outside of family bias, one kitty who stands out is Dusty, adopted by a couple of Paul’s friends earlier this year. He’s a friendly little black floofball who became a little brother to another VOKRA kitty. He helped fill the void of a departed kitty and has become a huge part of their lives.

“Another one of my favourites is Elle, a dilute torbie who was over-the-top friendly and loved being held,” adds Paul. “She also went to a family who was having some tough times and immediately lifted everyone’s spirits.”

THANK YOU Paul for all the time, effort and love you put into ensuring all the moms and kittens in your care are set up for success! We can’t wait to hear more stories from the next 16 litters!

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

Springtime at Ops

Forget fall; it’s springtime all over again at our Operations Centre. Spring the kitten, that is. This little feline has been getting her fair share of attention here at Ops, with playtime and cuddles galore.

Sweet Spring’s mom was one of the many cats in Vancouver who aren’t spayed or neutered, leading to a lot of unwanted kittens for her owner. VOKRA staff and volunteers helped to spay Spring’s mom, and they’re now working hard to get Spring and her brothers and sisters ready for forever homes.

With her big amber eyes and attractive Bengal-like brown and yellow markings, Spring’s sure to be a hit when it comes time for her to be adopted. But there’s a problem. Spring’s the runt of the litter and she’s been having organ troubles. Her kidneys in particular show some congenital difficulties. Not so long ago, Spring was really nauseated and couldn’t pee or eat. Everyone at Ops spent a lot of time helping with her treatments and giving her some much-needed love.

Right now Spring’s back to her regular self. She loves to chase plastic ball toys around her kennel and afterwards scratch her small nails on her cardboard ramp or snuggle up to her many admirers.

As a no-kill rescue, our volunteers strive to give a fighting change to every cat, including kittens like Spring, whose health problems could have led to her euthanization at other centres. Everyone at Ops is hoping for a long and happy life for little Spring, with a loving friend to take care of her. There may be some colder weather ahead for this tiny kitten as she may still need some special care. But we’re all in her corner and won’t let her down.

Kittens like Spring 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 afford to rescue all these cats and kittens.

Please help us help kitties like Spring this September 16 by joining us for Walk for the Kitties, presented by FirstMate.

Eventbrite - VOKRA Walk for the Kitties 2018

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 16? You can still donate today!

Why We Walk for the Kitties


Oshi’s a tiny kitten with a big heart.

He was born the smallest of his litter and was discovered living outside with his siblings. They were all very thin when they were rescued so the first task was to try and fatten them up. All the kittens quickly transitioned to eating out of bowls, but not Oshi.

Oshi’s development has been much slower than his brothers and sisters. At 10 weeks old, he’s half the size of his brother TJ and until recently he refused to eat on his own. Oshi also has trouble pooping so his foster parents need to keep a close eye on him and sometimes help him out. (This includes giving him a bath on a regular basis!)

If Oshi hadn’t been rescued it’s almost certain he wouldn’t have survived on his own. Kittens like Oshi 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 afford to rescue all these cats and kittens.

Please help us help kitties like Oshi this September 16 by joining us for Walk for the Kitties, presented by FirstMate.

Eventbrite - VOKRA Walk for the Kitties 2018

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 16? You can still donate today!

Want more Oshi? You can follow him on Instagram at @DailyDoseOfOshi.

#FosteringSavesLives

This bunch of semi-feral kittens needed lots of socialization before they were ready for adoption.

Cats and kittens are ready for adoption when they learn to trust and accept us humans. As many of the cats in our care come from the streets they’ve often had limited or negative experiences with people. By caring for them in a stable and safe home environment, our foster moms and dads are helping to charge their view of humans, which is life changing. Fostering allows these cats and kittens to grow and transform into confident kitties who will then find their forever homes.

As each cat or kitten is unique, the way foster parents socialize with them is different. For example, feral or semi-feral kitties see humans as potential predators and so they’ll run away and hide. They may hiss at you when you try to pet them or lash out by swatting or biting. In this situation the caregiver must be slow and patient. You start by sitting wherever they are – close but not too close – and make sure you have some tasty treats. As you have food, they’ll start to associate you with good things. The more they see you as non threatening, the more they’ll warm up to you. Eventually, with patience, love and persistence, an adoptable kitty emerges.

Fostering’s not only a positive experience for the kitties, but also the foster parents! It’s very rewarding to help cats and kittens get adopted. A little time and patience goes a very long way and watching them grow and learn to accept and love humans is an extraordinary feeling. Foster parents not only have immense love for kitties, but also the desire to put time and effort into giving them the best life possible. Unconditional love is given to each cat and that love changes their lives for the better.

Clawdette’s one of the 26 kittens Erin’s helped save so far by fostering.

Erin, a long time foster parent, shares a memorable story:

“My very first foster turned into my very first foster fail! I took her on while living in Australia. I had some extra time on my hands, so I asked the vet clinic close by if they had a sick or higher-needs cat that needed fostering. They were so happy since they just had a feral kitten brought in. She was extremely hissy and completely terrified of humans, so they needed her to go somewhere else aside from the vet clinic. I brought her home and got her settled into the bathroom. After hiding under the sink in the bathroom for the entire first afternoon through to the night, the next day I went in there to stay with her and do my own thing while being with her. After doing that for the morning, she came out from under the sink, crawled up on my lap, had a bath, curled up on my lap and went to sleep. I knew at that moment that I would not be giving her back at all, ever. The rest is history!

She is very much attached to me (and only me) and not great with other animals. But because of my experience with her we’ve gone on to foster 26 more kittens since then. She was my introduction into fostering and paved the way for all these other kittens to come and be a part of my life. I’m grateful for every day that we have together! And seeing how she has grown from an incredibly hissy and terrified kitten to a much more confident and happy cat, has shown me just what fostering can do for a cat. It is a life changer for them!”

Sarah, a long-term VOKRA foster parent, has fostered two “pee kitties” so far. These are kitties who pee in inappropriate places for seemingly unknown reasons. After checking with a vet to make sure there are no underlying medical issues, she goes through all the other potential reasons, such as stress and anxiety, disapproval of the little box shape or litter type, habits or any other thing she can think of. She notes all the occurrences of inappropriate peeing and the surrounding circumstances to find the patterns and modify the environment as needed. She’s just like a detective!

With one foster, all the kitty required was a larger box with deeper litter. With the other kitty, Zoey, all she needed was to have all enticing soft items, such as towels and bath mats, off the floor so the only target for pee was the litter box. All these “pee kitties” simply needed was a person with the patience to understand what they want and the willingness to create a consistent environment for them.

Sarah weighs in on why being a foster parent is an amazing opportunity:

Ziggy’s one of Sarah’s former “pee kitties”. Happily she was recently adopted and now has a new forever home.

“I started fostering when I was living on my own after having moved to Vancouver by myself. I grew up with cats and adding a cat to my home seemed like a no brainer! However, as a student, I was unsure about my long-term plans so fostering allowed me to have a furry companion without committing before I was ready. It’s also so rewarding to see them improve and go off to new homes with excited new owners! And, of course, I feel like I’m helping with the larger problem of cat overpopulation and reducing strain on VOKRA as a rescue organization so that their main focus can be on those cats with greater medical needs while healthy kitties can enjoy the comfort of a home rather than a shelter environment. It also allows me to help teach others about the importance of fostering and how much fun it is!”

Fostering saves lives and we have more than 350 foster parents to thank for that! Many of our kitties need to socialize with humans and learn to accept them before being adopted and our foster homes offer the best opportunity for them get the fresh start they need. One at a time, fostering produces a transformed, adoptable kitty ready to find a loving furever home!

At VOKRA we’re always looking for new foster parents to help save more lives. We provide all the food, supplies and other equipment necessary to our foster homes, as well as ongoing support and advice. You simply provide the care, attention and love.

We have a variety of fostering situations as we take in orphaned kittens, feral kittens, pregnant mothers, mothers with kittens and adult cats. Each year we need temporary homes for more than 1,400 kittens and cats! If you’re interested in learning more about fostering, please visit our website at vokra.ca/fostering.

Raindrop and Steveston each grew up in difficult circumstances and came to us as semi-feral cats two years ago. They met in foster care where they became fast friends and are a great comfort to each other. They’re both still very shy, but we’re hoping an accepting and patient adopter will come along and open their heart and home to them.

Help Cats this Holiday Season

Jorje showed up crying in the rain looking for a warm and dry place to stay.

When he arrived at VOKRA he was starving, had hair loss, rotten teeth and severe dermatitis. He also suffers from moderate kidney failure requiring daily medication to manage.

After initially going into foster care, it was discovered Jorje had ringworm, a persistent skin fungus, so he was brought back to our Operations Centre for treatment. While nursing him back to health, our volunteers found Jorje also has food allergies, which we manage by a raw diet of either bison or beef.

Because his ringworm was particularly difficult to treat, Jorje stayed at our Operations Centre for almost a year. Now he’s back in foster care where he’s doing well and hopes to be adopted one day. But the reality is, at 12-years old and with his all his health problems, the likelihood of Jorje being adopted is slim.

Jorje’s foster mom reports he’s quite the cuddle bug and he’s even learning some new things. Apparently you can teach an old cat new tricks!

At VOKRA we believe all cats deserve to have a safe and happy life, regardless of their challenges.

Even if Jorge is never adopted, he still has a loving future ahead of him. With the devotion of our fosters and volunteers, at VOKRA kitties will always have a home until their last days.

Your support today will help pay for the cost of caring for the more than 40 cats we currently have in long term care, including veterinary care, medication, food and litter.

Will you help us today?

This holiday season, please give to help care for cats like Jorge.

 

 

P.S. – By becoming a monthly donor you can show your support for VOKRA all year long. Just $10 pays for one kitten to be vaccinated each month and $25 pays for a flat of canned food.

 

Volunteer of the Month – December

It’s December and the end of the year is almost here! Time has surely flown by and we’ve accomplished more than ever this year, and it’s all thanks to our hundreds of volunteers. This holiday season we’re taking time to celebrate our December Volunteers of the Month, Pat Penner and David West!

Pat and David initially discovered VOKRA when they wanted to add to their family of two senior, rescued cats. They adopted Cowboy and Arthur soon after, making it a gang of four. They met Brenda, who was Arthur’s foster, and she encouraged them to foster kittens after their senior cats passed away. While saying no at first, they soon agreed to foster Errol, Sheldon and Millie. Lo and behold, they fell in love with these kitties right away. Here Pat and David tell the story of these three kittens:

Sheldon and Millie

“Errol was quickly adopted by the receptionist at the North Shore Veterinarian, who fell in love with him when he got neutered, but Sheldon had on-going health issues that we needed to support – respiratory problems, an enlarged heart and under-developed kidneys. Millie appeared healthy and was bonded with Sheldon, so they had to stay together while we resolved Sheldon’s problems. After months of seeking treatment for Sheldon, we’d fallen deeply in love with both him and Millie, so we decided to adopt Millie and apply to permanently foster Sheldon. Unfortunately, when we took Millie to the vet for a final check-up it was discovered she had a herniated diaphragm and many of her internal organs were in her chest cavity. Through working with Tasha B. at VOKRA—who is a fundraising super star—we were able to raise the funds to have surgery for Millie at Canada West Veterinary Specialists and she’s now a healthy and happy adult cat.”

Arthur

On top of fostering, Pat and David started driving for VOKRA in the summer of 2016. They’ve transported kitties everywhere from Richmond to Lion’s Bay (during rush hour!) and often pick up equipment to drop off at our Operations Centre. Pat and David share their first ever driving experience with us:

“Our first foray into driving was an action-packed Sunday—one of the hottest days of the year—where, directed by Anne Salomon (November’s Volunteer of the Month!), we picked up nine cats and kittens in the Surrey/Langley area, including entering a flea-infested trailer to pick up two adult cats and two kittens. By the time we reached Ops we’d safely picked up four kittens that were left in a box at a vet office, one adult cat that had successfully been treated for a broken hip and two flea-infested adult cats with 2 kittens. Anne called us the Kitty Choo-Choo, as a joke, but it really felt that way!”

Cowboy

Alongside driving, David has joined the Reception Team and has been filling a weekly reception shift at our Operations Centre. Pat, with her background in HR, has also now joined the Volunteer Recruitment Team. She’s spoken to all types of people from all walks of life and listens for “clues” as to their suitability during phone discussions. Regardless of their backgrounds and circumstances, one thing they all have in  common is love animals, have heard about VOKRA and want to join the organization.

At VOKRA, we recognize the hard work each of our volunteers put in to better the lives of the kitties in our care. Pat and David have devoted so much of their time and efforts to helping this organization grow and to ensuring all cats and kittens get the care and love they deserve. We sincerely thank you, Pat and David, for helping VOKRA work towards achieving our goal of helping all kitties and for being two lovely, dedicated individuals we all love working with!

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!

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

Camela & Ballo’s Happy Tail Ending

written by Katherine Drabek

This is a story about two sisters who were reunited after having been separated by adoption. After they were found by VOKRA the two sisters transitioned from life in a vacant lot to being fostered in my apartment. I named Camela because of her camel coloured chin and Ballo was named for the opera “The Masked Ball” because of the amazing colours of her face which made her look as if she were wearing a mask. After a few months with me Camela (now Batila) was adopted by a wonderful woman named Ashley and then her sister Ballo (now Nars) was left alone in foster care after their white brother Briar was also adopted. The sisters are tortoiseshell and talkative. Camela would sit at the kitchen door, cock her head and chirp comments while I was cooking.  As a foster kitten she was like a little floor buffer in that she would roll around while chasing string or a ball. Camela ate pieces of mango and even tasted peanut butter.  Ballo would run toward me with a ball in her mouth and pointedly drop it at my feet with a beseeching sound. She had an amazing preternatural wisdom about her and would stay calm in situations in which other cats would have been afraid.

After some weeks Ashley came back to adopt the second sister, Ballo. Now reunited, they enjoy bird watching and napping with the elderly, 15-year old third cat in the household. A one-eared dog has since joined their household and the sisters have benevolently accepted him. They sometimes watch a tap dripping and will hide under bedclothes if they judge guests to be too loud. Ballo has occasional seizures but in her wise, accepting way comes to the kitchen when she hears Ashley opening the pill bottle for her daily medication. Her sister grooms her after a seizure in a nurturing and calming way. Camela continues to chirp at her owners and enjoys bird watching through a window with her sister. That these sisters are living together again gives me great peace of mind. As sad as it was to say goodbye to these special and lovely creatures, I know that they have now a wonderful home and that VOKRA’s loving care of cats, beginning with rescuing the homeless ones like these once were, ultimately leads to passing that love on through the families who later welcome them.

If you are considering becoming a VOKRA foster volunteer I highly recommend it. I’ve never had more fun as a volunteer.

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

To learn more about fostering visit vokra.ca/fostering and to learn more about volunteering visit vokra.ca/volunteer.