The Kittens Are Here!

When sweet Saturna arrived at our Operations Centre she was very pregnant.

Barely out of kitten-hood herself, Saturna soon became a mom to eight gorgeous babies. But eight mouths is a lot to feed, and some of the kittens were much smaller than their siblings, so bottle-feeding was in order.

With some extra TLC, all the kittens survived and are thriving today!

Each year we rescue more than 100 moms, just like Saturna. 

Not to mention all the kittens – last year alone we rescued more than 750 kittens, and we’re sure this year will be no exception. As a volunteer-driven non-profit, we wouldn’t be able to save all of these babies without your help.

All the cats and kittens in our care have a chance at a happy, safe and healthy life. Mama cats are worry free and their kittens will grown up without a care in the world.

Will you help us today?

Your support today will help pay for the cost of rescuing more than 100 moms and 750 kittens each year, including food, litter and medical care.

This kitten season, please give to help ensure families like Saturna’s are safe.

P.S. – By becoming a monthly donor you can show your support for the cats and kittens at VOKRA all year long. Just $10 pays for one kitten to be vaccinated and $25 pays for a flat of canned food. Will you chip in and help today?

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.

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 – January 2019

Some say January is the dreariest month, but at VOKRA we have hundreds of volunteers who continually brighten our days. This month we’re celebrating Sean St. Pierre, a volunteer who brings his heart and soul to VOKRA each time he gets in his car.

Here Sean tells us in his own words why he volunteers with VOKRA:

To be honest, when I was contacted about being selected as Volunteer of the Month I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. Every minute I volunteer at VOKRA is in memory of my two rescue cats who passed in 2015.

Mr. Pickles

Mr Pickles passed on Oct 30th at home in my arms, due to having cancer. He was in my life for more than 13 years and was my best friend and I still think about him everyday. He helped get me through some very difficult times.

Unfortunately two months after Mr Pickles passed, and three days before Christmas, my little guy Ace lost his life due to a tragic accident at the age of two. He was so beautiful and was a major part of filling the gigantic hole left in my heart from the loss of Pickles. I was also injured during the incident and missed six weeks of work. It was during this time when I was off work when I stumbled upon the VOKRA website. At first, I was looking every day for a new addition to bring home, but after some time and discussion with my spouse, we decided that taking on any more cats was not the best move for the time being. We continue to spend our energies on our surviving senior cat Bubba.

Mr. Pickles and Ace

That being said, I still found myself going to the VOKRA website daily and it made me sad that so many beautiful animals were in need of finding the right home. I thought about all the happiness my two rescues brought me and how I could somehow help out at VOKRA. So I checked out the volunteer page….

Due to my super busy schedule with work and chief shop steward duties, I figured starting out as a driver would be best suited for me at the time.

In the two and a half years I’ve been with VOKRA, I’ve done almost 200 rides. Some are just supply runs to fosters, others are rides to get some of our new arrivals fixed, but my favorite rides are bringing cats to their new fosters. It feels good knowing we’re providing a new chapter in these cats’ lives and the fosters always have a big smile waiting for their new temporary family member.

It always tears my heart out when I get the senior cats for transport. I have a soft spot for them. Either they’ve been abandoned or have spent most of their lives on the street and just need a good home. Sometimes they’re beat up and look really rough. They just need a break. Those are tough rides.

I’m hoping there will be a point in my life where I can take on more responsibility at VOKRA, whether it be fostering, cat care or even joining the trapping team. Being a non-profit volunteer-run facility, they really need all the help they can get.

I’m looking forward to the years ahead, not only with the cats but all the wonderful volunteers that I cross paths with.

THANK YOU Sean for all your hard work and dedication and for turning your loss into something positive.

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

Wanted: Vaccination Team Coordinator & Vaccinators

Have you ever dreamt of working directly with cats and kittens? Well dreams do come true because right meow we’re looking for a volunteer to lead our vaccination team, as well as general vaccinators. We’re looking for experienced vet techs and cat lovers with a healthcare background (such as nurses) to aid in vaccinating our adorable kittens and cats.

Vaccination Team Coordinator

This is a time flexible position where you work partly from your own home (appointment coordination) and partly at foster homes (doing vaccinations).

This volunteer position requires 4-6 hours/week for coordinating vaccinations with fosters and vaccinators. During that time you’ll also be doing general administrations work (spreadsheets, database) and ensuring emails are promptly responded to and vaccinations are scheduled within 72 hours. Training will be provided

Vaccination Team Member

As a volunteer on our Vaccination Team, you’ll be provided training, supplies of vaccine and follow-up homeopathic treatments. You’ll be provided training and will be able to buddy up with an experienced vaccinator and practice with guidance on one or two foster trips.

Here’s how the process works – When a foster family signs up to have their fosters vaccinated you’ll receive an email from the vaccination team coordinator. You’re given all the information on the kitties and their foster family (such as where they live) and then together with the foster you’ll organize a suitable time for an appointment. Vaccinating at home, as opposed to making a trip to the vet, can save lots of time since most vaccinations for a litter of kittens take about 30 minutes (each injection only takes about 10 seconds). After vaccinations, you’ll follow up with a homeopathic treatment to help the kitties feel fantastic. And there you go – the cats are protected, the foster family is happy and you’ve saved the kitties a (potentially) scary trip to the vet.

Interested candidates are encouraged to fill out our online volunteer application available at http://www.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