Ending Homelessness: One Trap at a Time

At VOKRA our mission is to end cat overpopulation and homelessness. One of the ways we’re helping accomplish this is through to Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), the process of trapping feral cats, spaying or neutering them, and then returning them to the location they came from. We’ve seen a lot of success with TNR, but much of our time is actually spent on trapping tame strays. Trapping these cats and kittens is the first step towards finding them their furever homes.

When we receive information about a stray cat, we find out as much information as we can to help us determine the best way to trap. We take into account how long the cat(s) has been hanging around and their lingering behaviour – are they coming at a specific time or are they around all the time? It’s important to know if they’re being fed or eating as well. Getting to know as much about the cats as possible is key to making a quick and successful trap. Behaviours such as skittishness or curiosity help us determine the correct method.

At times, it’s as easy as coaxing the cat into a carrier. Other times, setting up a trap is the only way. Traps are usually set up where the cat is being fed and include fresh tuna at the back of the trap. With feral cats, they’re taken to the vet for sedation and spay/neuter, vaccinations, ear and dental cleaning and flea treatment. They recover at our Operations Centre and are then taken back to their original location. The individual who called about the cat will be provided with food and any follow-up care. With tame cats, after they’re trapped they’re taken to our Operations Centre where we check for a microchip or tattoo. We deflea, deworm and vaccinate these kitties and have blood tests, urinalysis and teeth cleaning completed if they’re more than five years old. These tame cats are then ready for a foster home and, when they’re ready, will go up for adoption.

This is “Woody”, trapper Janet Cox‘s trusty wooden trap. She uses it to trap kitties who refuse to go into a metal trap. It always works like a charm!

It may seem feral cats could be more problematic than tame strays, but it’s just as important to trap these tame cats. Owned cats get lost and abandoned, which is a painful situation. If they aren’t fixed, they breed and female cats will usually give birth to their kittens outside or under garages, or amongst junk in a yard. These kittens will then grow up unsocialized by humans and grow into feral cats. If these kittens are also not spay/neutered, the cycle repeats itself and soon a feral colony will be formed. This is why it’s important for cat owners to spay and neuter their cats by five months old, and for the public to call us if they suspect a tame or feral stray who hasn’t been fixed is lingering around their neighbourhood.

Dedicated Surrey volunteers and trappers, Anne Salomon and Mona Boucher know all the tricks to trapping.

Sometimes, our trappings don’t go as planned, as explained here by VOKRA co-founder and trapper extraordinaire Maria Soroski:

Maria will a mitt-full of kittens trapped by Anne.

“I was called out to an industrial area in Burnaby because the business said they heard meowing coming from under the floorboards of the trailer on their property,” said Maria. “Since I couldn’t remove the floorboards, I crawled under the trailer to where they pinpointed they heard the kittens. When I found the area above me between the floorboards, I heard the noise – they were baby raccoons! I got out of there as soon as possible before the mama raccoon got mad.” 

After trapping for 17 years and counting, Maria’s has countless stories. Here’s one of her most memorable ones (for cats, not racoons!):

“At least twelve years ago, I went to a location in East Vancouver where there were three adult feral cats, two female and one male, and a litter of five kittens that were eight weeks old,” explains Maria. “It was January, bitter cold that night with snow that had fallen on the ground. I set traps by the back lane garage for the kittens first and waited in my car to keep warm. Two kittens went in the traps immediately and as I was carrying the two traps to my car, I was suddenly surrounded by the adult cats. They were hissing so I ran as fast as I could to my car with the kittens in the traps while they chased me. I waited in my car again until the remaining kittens went into the traps. The three adult cats were waiting by my car, so I quickly opened the door and ran to the last traps. As I was bending down to pick up the traps, the two adult females jumped onto my back, growling and swatting. I managed to get them off me and got all the traps to my car. The adults were jumping up at my window, so I threw an open can of cat food onto the grass, started the car and drove off as they ran behind my car.”

5:30 a.m. – Maria’s view as she waits patiently for some kittens, who were dumped in a back alley. to decide to go into the trap.

“I’ve never had this happen to me again, but I felt so bad for the cats as they saw their babies be driven away,” continues Maria. “The next night, I went and set traps for all three of the adult cats and took them to the vet for spaying and neutering. They stayed a couple days with us to recover and I let them see the kittens. It seemed to calm them down, knowing I didn’t cook their babies for dinner. The feral adults were returned to their original location and taken care of outside by the person who called us.”

Trapping isn’t an easy job, as we can all now see. It requires dedication and commitment to VOKRA’s mission. The trapping of tame strays is especially important as they have socialized with humans before, making them adoptable into a furever home. However, furever homes can’t exist if we don’t have pet-friendly housing. Global BC covers the issue here, making it clear our housing issues are a big cause for the loss of homes and families for too many pets. Sign the Pets OK BC petition here to help make a difference. Our trapping efforts are rendered useless if these kitties have less and less places to go once they’re ready for adoption.

Thank you to all our volunteer trappers who spend hours and hours watching over traps – be it sunshine or rain, day or night. Due to your efforts thousands of kitties have been taken off the streets and now have homes to call their own!

A mama and four kittens were trapped from under this porch. All the kittens had eye infections, but it was their lucky day. They were transferred to our Operations Centre for assessment and then onto foster care where they received daily treatment. Today mom and kittens are all healthy and have been adopted into loving homes.

Hazel’s Journey to Recovery

Every day the dedicated volunteers of VOKRA go to great lengths to save the lives of homeless cats and kittens from around the Lower Mainland. Little Hazel is one such kitten who may not be here today were it not for our care.

Hazel was born to a semi-feral mom who had recently been brought in to our Operations Centre. Not only was she the smallest kitten in the litter, she was born with one eye swollen shut. It turned out  poor Hazel was born with an eye infection, resulting in ongoing issues with pain and poor vision in her eye.

Hazel didn’t let her vision limitations slow her down though. She played, tumbled and chased her siblings around just like any other kitten. During one particularly active play session, Hazel’s weak eye was damaged and she was rushed to an emergency vet. It was discovered her weak eye was acting as a foreign body and had no chance of recovery, so it would eventually need to be removed.

As the months passed by, all Hazel’s brothers and sisters were adopted while Hazel struggled with recurring infections, leading to her eye being removed at four months old. Unfortunately, her health problems continued and she returned for a second surgery.

After two surgeries, two dewormings, four rounds of antibiotics and many more vet trips, Hazel continues to be a loving, intelligent, playful and overall adorable little ball of fluff. She’s so resilient that even two months of living with a cone around her head hasn’t slowed her down.

Happily Hazel will be available for adoption in the coming weeks. She’s a spirited little trooper who will be make some lucky family very happy. If you have room in your heart and home for little Hazel, keep an eye out for her on our ready-to-adopt page.

And if you’d like to help us pay for Hazel’s medical treatment, as well as the veterinary cost for all the other special kitties in our care, you can donate today at givetovokra.ca.

Why Pets Aren’t Presents

Christmas, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversary. These are just a few of the days in the year when we look to find the perfect gift.

At first blush, giving a pet as a present might seem like an incredibly special and thoughtful gift, whether that be a kitten or a puppy, or a smaller pet like a hamster or a mouse. This is especially true if you know the person you’re shopping for loves animals and would possibly welcome receiving a pet as a gift.

However, giving a pet as a present, even if the person you intend to give it to has stated they’d like one is never a good idea.

People’s personal situations

If one of your friends or loved ones is always saying “Oh, I’d love a cat!” it might seem obvious that presenting them with the object of their desires is a great move to make. However, you should consider why this person who would “love a cat” does not already have one; there are undoubtedly many reasons you might not have any idea about. Perhaps they’re not allowed to have pets in their accommodation or work long hours and have made the responsible decision that pet ownership is not appropriate for them at this time.

They may have allergies or sensitivities that negate their ability to live with the pet they’d choose, they might be financially unable to care for a pet or their personal situation might be in flux and they’re not able to plan ahead sufficiently to consider pet ownership.

“I’d love to own a pet!” doesn’t indicate a meaningful desire to do so.

The choice of pet is personal

Choosing the right pet is a very personal process and every person should select their own animal (or wait for the right animal to select them.) This goes deeper than simply narrowing down what type of animal – cat, dog, bird, gerbil – the person in question would pick and pertains to the choice of individual animal itself.

Even if the person you wish to buy for knows precisely what type of pet and even what breed, age and sex they want, every single animal is different and has its own personality and temperament. They don’t come off a production line in a uniform manner! The potential pet owner should always pick their own pet and find the animal that matches their needs and appeals to them on a personal level, something that can’t be performed for them by a well-meaning third party.

Timing is crucial

As well as all of the other considerations to bear in mind regarding pet ownership, even if someone is actively on the lookout for a new pet, precisely when the time is right for them to get their pet is a personal choice that no one else can make for them. At its most basic, this might simply involve ensuring they have everything they need to take care of their pet and have researched what is involved thoroughly, or that they don’t have any holidays planned soon or any big changes happening in their lives.

But getting a new pet such as a puppy or kitten can also mean the prospective owner might need to take some time off work or rearrange their schedule to accommodate for the immediate needs of their new pet. Only the person planning to take on the ownership of a pet will know exactly when the time is right for them, and even a much-desired new pet can soon become a burden if it’s pushed onto someone who isn’t ready.

Each person needs the freedom to take responsibility for their own choices

Taking on the responsibility of caring for another life is no minor undertaking and it’s up to each and every potential pet owner to make sure they’re ready for this challenge, both in terms of logistics, such as time and money, and emotionally as well.

Again, knowing when someone is ready and making the conscious decision to get a pet and be a responsible pet owner is a personal thing and it’s important every potential pet owner goes through the process of learning, planning and judging themselves to be ready for the challenge. If you present someone with an animal as a gift, they won’t have had the opportunity to do this and both pet and person will suffer as a result.

Pets are not presents and living animals don’t make good gifts. If you know your loved one is looking to adopt, consider purchasing one of our adoption gift certificates by clicking here

Another great alternative is to give a donation in honour of your loved one. You can do this easily by visiting givetovokra.ca. Upon request, we’ll also send the honouree a special card letting them know about your gift.

This post has been adapted from the following article www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/why-you-should-never-give-pets-as-presents

Special Kitten Alert!

Lt. Dan is one feisty young lady. Yes, we said lady.

She was born with twisted back legs, and with everyone thinking she was a boy. But in true kitten fashion, she doesn’t let any of this slow her down one bit!

Here you get a good look at Lt. Dan’s back legs. But, as you can see, she has no problem hopping up!

Lt. Dan came to VOKRA with her mom and three siblings after they were discovered living in a barn. We immediately noticed the problem with her legs, but it wasn’t immediately apparent she was a girl (even after her first vet check up!). So she was loving dubbed Lt. Dan, from Forest Gump fame, and the name stuck.

Recently, Lt. Dan went back to the vet for a consultation and, low and behold, it was discovered she’s a she! The vet has also determined Dan’s hamstrings are contracted, likely due to the way she was positioned in the womb, and she’d benefit from exercises to stretch her muscles. As she grows, we’ll keep a close eye on her to determine whether acupuncture or surgery will help.

The reality is only 25% of kittens who don’t receive human care survive and Lt. Dan is a purrfect example of a kitten who wouldn’t make it on the streets. Unlike many other animal rescue groups, VOKRA is a no-kill organization. This means we will always provide kittens like Lt. Dan with a chance at a happy life.

Your support today will help pay for the cost of caring for all the special cats and kittens, like Lt. Dan, who come through our doors each year. Including veterinary care, medication, food and litter.

Will you help us today?

This holiday season, please give to help care for kittens like Lt. Dan.

 

 

P.S. – By becoming a monthly donor you can show your support for the kittens all year long! Just $10 pays for one kitten to be vaccinated each month, while $45 pays the monthly cost of feeding a kitten.

A big THANK YOU to @wagntrailsvancity for all these great pics of Lt. Dan!

Help Save Kittens this Holiday Season

Little Peach was the tiniest of her litter and she was born with a very damaged liver.

After many trips to the vet, medication and a change in diet, she began to heal, but she’s been left with impaired vision and some mental challenges.

At VOKRA we strongly believe every kitty deserves to have a good life and Little Peach is no exception. She and her five siblings were born on the streets and if she would have stayed there she surely would have died.

The sad reality is only 25% of kittens who don’t receive human care survive. As a volunteer-driven non-profit, we wouldn’t be able to help kittens like Little Peach without your support.

Kittens in our care have a chance at a happy, safe and healthy life. Today, Little Peach lives in a loving home where she’s made new friends with the two residents cats and a dog. She couldn’t be happier!

Your support today will help pay for the cost of rescuing more than 900 kittens each year, including veterinary care, medication, food and litter.

Will you help us today?

This holiday season, please give to help save kittens like Little Peach.

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.

A special thank you to Angela McConnell for Little Peach’s portraits!

Oliver’s Happy Tail Ending

Oliver’s an adorable furball who met his loving family on a snowy day in November 2016. With a fabulous purrsonality paired with charm, Oliver’s fearless, adventurous, clever and sociable.

Moving to Canada from Brazil, Fernanda quickly found herself volunteering with VOKRA to help what she loves most in life – kitties! She had rescued her cat, Tom, from the streets of Brazil and he also came with her to Canada on a 21 hour of flight. However, it wasn’t easy for Tom to settle into his new home. He behaved strangely and cried nonstop. He would stare at two neighbourhood cats all day, wanting to get their attention. It was clear he was asking for a little brother so Fernanda and her husband then adopted Sam, and the two became the best of friends.

As Fernanda got ready to celebrate her first birthday in Canada, her husband got in touch with VOKRA and wanted to give her a new “son” as a birthday present. Visiting the foster home, they met Oliver who was the biggest of the litter. For a kitten of 3-4 months, he was huge! Fernanda fell in love with Oliver instantly, knowing she had to bring him home and grow her family of kitties from two to three. While slightly doubtful about introducing a third cat to the house, Fernanda’s husband encouraged her to adopt Oliver. It was a good idea, as in two days he won his brothers’ love and affection.

As a cat lover, having three beautiful, healthy, smart and friendly cats is all Fernanda could ask for. Of the three, Oliver’s what Fernanda calls a “tick,” as he’s always with her and her husband and loves to sleep and cuddle with them. He’s always found in the laps of all their visitors too. Fernanda is over the moon and happy to share her love of her furballs with her husband.

“Today, my husband, who didn’t want any cats, now calls himself the daddy of three and it’s hilarious to hear him call Tom, Sam and Oliver to sleep in bed every night,” said Fernanda. “We’ve travelled a bit and he says he doesn’t want to travel anymore as he can’t stay away from his kitties!”

Adopting Oliver was the best thing we did in life,” she adds. “He makes my days much happier along with his brothers and we’re not sure if the family is complete. There may be a fourth one day!”

We are so happy to hear how much joy Oliver brings to Fernanda’s family! Thank you to Fernanda for choosing VOKRA and giving Oliver a furever home and a lifetime of love.

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

Clean, clean, clean!

Post written by Aurora C.

Volunteer of the Month – November

Now that snow has fallen upon us, we can safely say autumn is definitely starting to turn into winter. But here at VOKRA we’re never cold because we have so many cuddly kitties to bundle up with. This November, we’d like to celebrate our Volunteer of the Month, a champion cat-cuddler, Anne Salomon.

Anne has always been a cat lover, having grown up with a cat throughout her childhood. After she retired in 2008, she started volunteering with a shelter in Langley as their communications director and helped with fundraising. Taking a short break from that job, she quickly found herself volunteering with VOKRA, helping with trapping cats.

Anne with Little

Anne came to realize how big the homeless cat situation is and wanted to help the best she could. She has now trapped and helped save several hundred cats and kittens! Some rescues that stand out to Anne are Little, Dude and their two siblings. These were day-old kitties found in an abandoned house under construction.

Trapping is hard work, but Anne finds it wonderful to follow all the cats’ journeys on Facebook. At the same time, she faces a tinge of jealousy as all she wants to do is take them all home!

Anne on one of her many rescue missions

“I’m honoured to be on the VOKRA trapping team,” said Anne. “I always know the whole organization is behind us and that we work towards a common goal, to combat the homelessness of cats in our area. I cherish the camaraderie and support amongst the volunteers at VOKRA. The work is very rewarding and addicting, but at the same time, sometimes heartbreaking. There are highs and lows and I’ve learned it’s not just the cats that need our help. We end up helping people as well.”

We’re incredibly grateful for all the help Anne has given – through her time, effort and loyalty – to help VOKRA and the kitties. We’re lucky to have her on our team and the cats and kittens are very lucky to have Anne on their side. Thank you Anne for helping us towards our mission to end cat overpopulation and homelessness.

Post written by Aurora C.

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.