A Happy Reunion for Oreo!

Oreo (a.k.a. Esther). When she first arrived we thought her ear had been frost bitten. No one ever guessed she’d been in a devastating fire.

All of VOKRA’s little kitties have stories to tell and Oreo’s is one of the most dramatic. Lucky for her, there’s a happy ending to go along with it.

Oreo and her family suffered a terrifying ordeal last April when their home was devastated by a fire. Oreo, an indoor kitty, was trapped inside.

Fortunately, Oreo has a very caring (and brave!) owner who rushed inside the burning building to rescue her. And when this confused kitty wiggled free and ran back inside, thinking it was safe, owner Marcus ran in a second time, finally managing to get little Oreo out of immediate danger.

Thanks to Marcus, Oreo was alive, but she did need oxygen at the site to help her recover. She was also found to have further injuries—burns on her paws and a partly missing left ear—that required a visit to the vet, followed by a large bill.

Oreo (far left) gets some much needed oxygen.

 

At first all was well, but Oreo’s adventures weren’t over. As their house had burned down, Oreo and her family moved to a house more than 10 blocks away. By accident, on the very day she was schedule to be spayed, she got out of her new place and didn’t know where to go. She tried to go back to her old home and became lost.

Marcus searched frantically for Oreo, even going back to his old house and setting up feeding stations. But he wasn’t able to locate her.

Oreo was rescued in December, but there was a twist. Little Oreo had five kittens in tow! The family was brought to our Operations Centre for assessment and, despite living on the streets, everyone was healthy and in good spirits.

Oreo with her kittens.

Oreo (who was named Esther upon arrival) and her new kittens were sent to live with a foster, but not before their adorable photos were put on VOKRA’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Marcus hadn’t given up on finding his beloved pet and he was delighted to spot pictures of Oreo, and even more delighted to find she was well and cared for.

Earlier this month, Marcus and Oreo were reunited and are closer than ever. “She greets me every time I come home,” says Marcus. “She’s so happy now!”

Not all kitties have stories as dramatic as Oreo’s. But, regardless of how they arrived, the kitties in our care get the happy endings they deserve with the help and care of our many volunteers and fosters.

Oreo and Marcus

Bottle Babies – A Full-Time Job

Once upon a time, VOKRA founders Karen Duncan and Maria Soroski were volunteers at the SPCA and they’d see litters of tiny kittens arrive without moms. Karen and Maria quickly became expert bottle feeders and found their services in high demand during kitten season. Eventually, they branched off on their own and VOKRA was born.

It was then that Karen and Maria realized the reason for all the motherless kittens was that no one had figured out how to trap the feral moms. Once they began trapping them, the need for bottle feeding was greatly reduced.

Abu before & after

Keeping kittens with their mom is always ideal, but at times its necessary to bottle feed them. Some kittens may only be fed temporarily until their mom is located or while she’s recovering from illness or injury. And sometimes there will be extra-large litters so we’ll help out the mama cat by topping up the kittens with a bottle. We always try our best to ensure mom is trapped, deploying an arsenal of tricks, such as using the scent of her kittens’ urine or fur to lure her in. But there are times when mom is never found or she has passed away, making it essential the kittens are bottle fed until they can graduate to solid food.

Being responsible for a litter of newborn kittens may involve loads of cuteness, but it’s a full-time job requiring a lot of work!

“Newborn kittens need to be fed every two hours, which means you don’t get a lot of sleep when they’re tiny,” explains foster mom Lea Tkatch. “You need to make sure they’re always warm and, just like human babies, they need to be burped and bathed. And you can’t forget to stimulate their poop and pee just like their feline mom would do.”

Aladdin before & after

Each year VOKRA receives an average of 10 litters that require full-time bottle feeding so we have a small group of volunteers who are dedicated to keeping these kittens alive. Lea has taken on the responsibility of bottle feeding three litters so far and is about to see her latest bunch head off to their forever homes.

“My latest litter of three kittens arrived at VOKRA when they were only a week old,” said Lea. “They’d been found all alone and were taken to a local vet clinic who then called us. They were all very hungry and had bad colds, so their eyes were full of goop. One of the kittens was clearly the runt of the litter and, at first, we weren’t sure he was going to make it.”

Even with round-the-clock care and attention, bottle fed kittens have a lower survival rate than their counterparts with moms. Just like the kittens in Lea’s litter, they’re susceptible to illness which their tiny bodies have a hard time fighting.

Happily, with lots of TLC all of Lea’s kittens pulled through and they’re thriving today.

Jasmine

“We ended up naming the two bigger kittens Aladdin and Jasmine, and the tiny runt Abu,” said Lea. “Abu has almost caught up in size to his siblings and now it’s hard to imagine he was so small when he arrived. All three of them are so sweet it’s going to be hard to say goodbye.”

Because bottle babies receive so much human attention at a young age, they’re almost always very social and adore cuddles. This is certainly the case with her three says Lea, “They constantly want to be with people and run to greet me and my husband when we walk in the door. Aladdin can’t seem to get close enough so often I end up wearing him like a scarf!”

Fostering saves lives and we have more than 350 foster parents to thank for that! In addition to taking care of bottle feeders, Lea also fosters older kittens, moms with kittens and the occasional adult cat.

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.

Joy for Johnathon!

From a cardboard box to cloud nine! It’s a new and much happier life for Johnathon at his foster’s home! This lonely little kitty finally has somebody to snuggle with, thanks to VOKRA volunteers.

It was a hard life for Johnathon as one of Vancouver’s many stray cats. Though a kind stranger was giving the cutie some food, Johnathon’s home was a simple box in the backyard. Worse, he was hurting. After an unknown injury to his ear, this poor little kitty contracted a hematoma, a painful clotting of blood and broken vessels that can lead to tissue damage. Luckily for Johnathon, his feeding friend saw the problem and phoned VOKRA. In volunteers rushed, arranging for medical help and a new home for this little cat.

All better!

What a break for Johnathon! Not only did the sweet kitty get rid of the lump on his ear, but he also got the attention he was obviously craving. Immediately upon his rescue, it was noticed that, even ill, Johnathon was tame and very friendly. (“I luvs hims!” was the verdict of VOKRA co-founder Maria, who spearheaded Johnathon’s rescue.)

Now returned to health and in foster care, Johnathon’s a very cuddly cat, trailing around after foster mom Mika as he tries to get caught up on all the love he’s been missing.

“The moment you sit down on the floor, the couch, anywhere, the first thing [Johnathon] wants to do is curl up on your lap,” says Mika, who started taking care of the fluffy tuxedo early in February. “He’s also very talkative; if he feels he’s not getting enough cuddles, he’ll meow and follow you around until you sit down with him.”

It’s almost a happy ending for Johnathon as he’s close to being forever-home ready. Thanks to VOKRA, a sick and solitary cat has found health and a friend, and he’ll soon find the permanent love he needs.

Johnathon when he first arrived.

Looking Out For Street Cats: Kiyon and Lucy

UPDATE: As of Feb. 28/19 Kiyon & Lucy are available for adoption. You can view them on our website here.

It’s a hard world for homeless kitties, but things are getting better for Kiyon and little Lucy, thanks to the volunteers at VOKRA.

Late last fall, new mom Kiyon was taking care of her very young kittens when she was surprised by a raccoon, a common Lower Mainland predator that can target vulnerable animals like outdoor cats. Kind walkers-by heard the struggle and rushed to help and the kitties were brought to VOKRA.

The attack had a sad ending for three of the little ones, who were too wounded to survive. A similar fate was almost in store for little Lucy who was bitten on the head, face and on her left front leg. Lucky for Lucy there was VOKRA! Volunteer and co-founder Karen started things off, bottle feeding the one-week old and cleaning and medicating her wounds.

Lucy’s paw

Volunteer Andrea stepped up to foster, an experience that involved cleaning Lucy’s hurt paw every day for seven weeks. But even in the midst of treatment, Lucy was bouncing back. She was “playing and purring, happy to be alive,” Andrea recounts. “She was climbing a lot even though she has only two claws on one paw. Just like a normal kitten!”

Poor Kiyon was slower to recover. “It’s hard to describe how Kiyon was,” says Andrea. “She wasn’t interested in being petted, not expressive, obviously scared [and] grieving.”

Kiyon’s a patient mama

Proximity to Lucy was a big help to this caring mom. Despite her shock, Kiyon snuggled with Lucy, licking the kitten’s little face. At Andrea’s house, Kiyon was very protective, watching closely as Lucy’s injuries were tended to. “One little meow from Lucy and Kiyon would stand up and come see what was going on,” smiles Andrea.

And good news! Andrea reports that Lucy recently received a clean bill of health. “We saw a vet and he confirmed her paw is looking healthy!”, Andrea says happily.

Kiyon will take a bit more care, as Andrea notes that mama cat is “still easily stressed out, anxious and figuring out how to live with the trauma she went through.” Nonetheless, progress is being made there too. Kiyon “plays a lot with Lucy and is a very loving mother. She just doesn’t show much interest in humans. I’m working on it!”

It’s tough out there for little cats. Fortunately, there are VOKRA volunteers, helping to keep all kitties safe, warm and loved.

It’s not uncommon for cats to be attacked by raccoons. This is one of the many reasons why VOKRA adopts to indoor only homes and strongly encourages everyone to keep their cats safely indoors.

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.