#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.

 

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

Volunteer of the Month – June 2017

Frankie

With the sun shining (sort of), our volunteers are looking forward to a busy June as we head straight into kitten season! We appreciate how hard our volunteers work to ensure each kitty lives the best life they can, and this month we’d like to celebrate Yana Sabanskis, our Volunteer of the Month!

Yana became involved with VOKRA around eight years ago when she worked at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. There, she was familiarized with the faces of VOKRA – Karen and Maria – through their regular visits to restock supplies. She took the opportunity to understand our non-profit organization and the way we work to continuously provide the best care for kitties. Yana helped out with recycling and other odds and ends and, when our new Operations Centre opened in 2015, she continued recycling twice a week. Along with helping out at our Centre, Yana adopted from VOKRA and also fostered several cats, in which she has made strong, yet adorable memories with.

“The first kitty I adopted from VOKRA was Sammi, an 11-year old pure bred Chocolate Himalayan,” explains Yana. “He adapted very quickly to my other cat, Molly, who I had found in an alley in the West End. After Molly suddenly died, I was asked if I could possibly foster a semi-feral 2-year old. I was up to the task and took on Tommy. He really was a challenge, living in the bathroom for about a month. I slowly introduced him to Sammi by taking food and Sammi into the bathroom and leaving them together. Sammi was very docile and performed a miracle so, about a week later, Tommy followed Sammi out of the bathroom and stayed with him wherever he went!”

After Sammi passed away, Yana took in little Paula, a geriatric kitty found in an alley in the Downtown Eastside. “She was an absolute joy to welcome in our home,” said Yana. “She slept on my shoulder and only ever wanted to be loved. She was with us for almost six months before she fell asleep one night and didn’t wake again.”

The next cat that came into their home was Frankie, an 18-year old geriatric kitty who came in from the cold and needed a home. “He joined us for two years until he died,” remembers Yana. “He was so grateful to be inside and insisted on sleeping in my lap, on my shoulder or on my head. He was a large cat and would not compromise his needs, so I accepted him doing whatever he wanted.”

Yana goes on to say, “When Frankie passed away, Tommy decided I was his new pet and we’re now bonded, so much so that he sleeps on me at night! During the day he is elusive, but at night he is a cuddle monster!”

Yana has helped VOKRA in so many ways and her connection with all the furballs she cares for is one we admire. We can’t thank her enough and are happy and appreciative to have such a wonderful, kind-hearted person in our organization. You’re the best, Yana!

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.

Volunteer of the Month – May 2017

April showers bring May flowers…right? While it has been a rainy April we’re sure hoping for the sun to shine for everyone in May! But at VOKRA we’re lucky because we get sunshine everyday from all our lovely volunteers and it’s time to celebrate our Volunteer of the Month – Marlene Smith!

Marlene has always been a cat lover, having been involved with several cat rescue organizations. She joined the VOKRA volunteer team more than four years ago at an adoption event. She fostered a few cats here and there for a couple months, but decided not to continue due to her resident cats being less than amused by the lack of attention they were receiving. However, over the years she’s picked up short-term fostering again until longer term fosters can be found in Surrey or Vancouver.

Working from home, Marlene takes on many tasks at VOKRA. She enters health and medical information of kitties into our database, handles calendar distribution in Surrey and organizes community and fundraising events. As well, Marlene assists with the collection of donations, preparing tax receipts and documenting payments for online auctions. The volunteering doesn’t stop there! Marlene has also administrated and reported on two spay/neuter grants for VOKRA in Surrey.

“It was a learning experience and brought me in contact with people from many walks of life,” says Marlene. “This involved speaking with cat owners, setting up vet appointments and driving to and from vets to meet surgery times when an owner didn’t have transportation. In addition, I was trying to find carriers, washing carriers and delivering carriers for transport to and from the vet.”

Marlene truly is a hard worker, helping with emergency pick-ups and driving calls for injured cats or kittens that need a fast trip to the vet or our Operations Centre – no speeding tickets so far! She also prepares adoption papers in Surrey and meets with adopters. It’s a great way to meet people and share the information VOKRA provides during the adoption process.

Marlene is happy to volunteer with VOKRA, along with all the great volunteers who are associated with our organization. We too are over the moon to have Marlene as one of our volunteers. So, this month, we’re celebrating Marlene Smith as our wonderful Volunteer of the Month! Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to VOKRA!

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.