Will You Walk for Jeff?

Jeff’s a real gentleman and a sweet purr monster.

When Jeff arrived at VOKRA in 2017 he was hungry, thin and dirty. Even though he had a tattoo, the information wasn’t up-to-date so we have no idea what happened to him or how long he’d been on the streets.

During his initial vet check-up it was discovered Jeff’s hyperthyroid, which partly explains why he was so skinny. In order to keep his thyroid in check Jeff needs medication twice a day and periodic visits to the vet to check his levels.

Then, during another one of Jeff’s vet visits, he was diagnosed with kidney disease so he now gets sub-q fluids twice a week and a B-12 shot once a week. (And, for good measure, he’s a picky eater.) Whew! Despite all this, Jeff’s foster mom describes him as “an easy cat who loves cuddles and scratches under the chin or behind his ears”.

It’s very difficult to find someone willing to take on a kitty with health issues, so at some shelters cats like Jeff are often deemed “unadoptable” and end up being euthanized.

At VOKRA we believe every kitty deserves a chance at a happy, healthy life. Whether they’re kittens or adults, feral or tame, healthy or sick – we provide them all with the best care we can. But this does come at a cost.

Cats like Jeff 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 cats like Jeff.

Please help us help kitties like Jeff this September 15 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 15? You can still donate today! 

 

Aryan’s Purrfect Presentation

Earlier this year, the students of Mrs. Kim’s grade 5 class at Westcot Elementary School were each tasked with doing a presentation about a charity of their choice, with the winner of the competition receiving a donation to give to their charity.

Aryan chose VOKRA and he paid a visit to our Operations Centre to interview co-founders Karen Duncan and Maria Soroski. Aryan asked lots of thoughtful questions and got to learn all about how VOKRA was founded and the work we do today. He also got to meet several of the kitties in our care and documented his visit with many photos.

Aryan took everything he learnt from Karen and Maria and created a wonderful presentation highlighting the stories of several of the cats he met or heard about.

We’re thrilled to report all of Aryan’s hard work paid off and he won the competition! We’re very proud of him and grateful he chose to learn about our organization. Congratulations Aryan!

 

Volunteer of the Month – May 2019

This May we’re celebrating Robbyn Gulka, a volunteer who dedicates her time to ensuring our Operations Centre is spic and span. With so many kitties in our care, it doesn’t take long for the mess to pile up. Volunteers, like Robbyn, are vital to ensuring the kitties live in a clean and safe environment while they’re staying at Ops.

Here Robbyn tells us in her own words why she volunteers with VOKRA:

I began volunteering with VOKRA shortly after moving to Vancouver (from Ottawa) in October 2016. It’s hard to believe it’s already been 2.5 years!  I had spent several years volunteering for the Ottawa Humane Society, so when I moved here I wanted to continue with volunteer work in some capacity. I have always been surrounded by cats –  I grew up with them as a child and have adopted cats as an adult.

At VOKRA I work the Ops & Maintenance shift on Saturday afternoons. I undertake a lot of cleaning/washing/disinfecting (dishes, cat carriers, kennels and litter boxes) – as well as laundry and cat trees. I also support VOKRA by regularly mentoring new volunteers. On any given weekend new people will shadow me to review the Ops protocols and procedures. As I’ve been around a while, I’m happy to help in this regard.

The best thing about volunteering is the satisfaction I get from knowing that my time and efforts have a meaningful purpose. Aside from this, I love spending time socializing with the cats and it’s been an absolute pleasure meeting and getting to know the entire VOKRA team.

Rena

This past October, I lost my 16 year old cat, Maeve, to illness. It was a tough transition for me, as we had been together since I adopted her when she was 7. Just prior to her passing, I met Bumble one Saturday at VOKRA. I’m sure many people will remember Bumble. She was born in VOKRA’s care on April 2, 2016 (originally named Lavender) and then adopted by a family along with her sister. The adoption, unfortunately, didn’t work out for Bumble. After more than a year she was displaying behavioural issues and consistently peeing outside her litter box. She was subsequently surrendered back to VOKRA – and this is about the time I met her. Unlike a lot of the cats who arrive at the Ops Centre, Bumble was pretty chill. A little on the big side, she had to maneuver outside her kennel in order to be pet. She loved the attention. I think I was struck by her markings, but also by her stature. Aside from a few extra pounds, she’ very tall and long for a female cat. Anyway, I ended up keeping tabs on her as she transitioned to foster care, and eventually I tracked her down and adopted her in late December. She’s no longer Bumble (although sometimes I affectionately refer to her as such). Her name is now Rena and she has been a treat to have around. She’s a spunky three year old kitty… full of beans and energy. She loves food and her laser toy, and she’s a kneader. When she’s in the mood, she’ll snuggle up with me and knead endlessly. To save my skin, I have to wear heavy sweatshirts or sweaters:)

THANK YOU Robbyn for volunteering and for adopting Rena! All the time and effort you put in at our Operations Centre is very much appreciated.

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.

Volunteer of the Month – April 2019

Spring showers bring flowers – and a big THANK YOU to our hundreds of volunteers!

This April we’re celebrating Heather Rossi, a volunteer who’s dedicated to helping ensure escaped kitties are found. A majority of the cats in our care are housed in foster homes and sometimes they manage to get out. Cats are very clever and sometimes they sneak out an open door or window. If this should happen Heather’s there to help.

Here Heather tells us in her own words why she volunteers with VOKRA:

I started volunteering with VOKRA in the spring of 2010 when I saw a post on their Facebook page. I was hoping for something I could do from home – telephone or computer work. I started out helping with the fundraising team looking for grants to apply for. The first thing I noticed when I started meeting other volunteers was their outright dedication to the cats. This is one of the main reasons I continue to volunteer. VOKRA is such an awesome organization, 100% committed to the cats.

For a few years I helped find barn or farm homes for street cats that had been trapped. I started coming to the monthly meetings and assisted with taking/distributing the minutes and meeting reminders.

One of my favourite memories of my early volunteering is while at a monthly meeting VOKRA co-founder Maria mentioned that she’d received a call about a mom cat and kittens someone had seen near the Port Moody train station. Maria was looking for someone to trap them. I live not far from Port Moody so I said I could, but I didn’t know how to trap. After the meeting, Maria showed me how to set up the trap – at the side of her van on Broadway in the dark! The next day, my kids and I set out to trap the mom and kittens and by supper had managed to trap all four of them.

Because I live in Port Coquitlam and am unable to foster, I had not been able to volunteer directly with cats – until VOKRA arranged to have cats at the Petsmart in Coquitlam. I signed up for cat care there and this was one of my favourite times volunteering. It’s a good amount of work cleaning the kennels and feeding the cats, but the reward was being able to spend time with each of the cats there. I did have a soft spot for Rena, Mouse and Timmy.

I have helped with trapping, driving, fundraising, events – any time there is a need that I feel I can help with.

In 2015, VOKRA was looking for someone to be the main contact for escaped foster cats so I volunteered for this role. When a foster cat gets out of the house I’m the one who receives the email information. I create posters, send information to the lost pet sites, post on social media, etc.. and provide information to the foster and update the trapping and foster teams. I’m always happy when I receive a message that a cat is back safe and sound. I love helping in this way and I can do all the computer tasks, freeing the trapping team and other volunteers to search for the cat.

I am extremely honoured to be associated with VOKRA and the dedicated volunteers.

THANK YOU Heather! We’re the one who are extremely honoured to have you as a volunteer!

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.

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

Come run with us on June 23!

On June 23, Team VOKRA will be participating in the Scotiabank Half-Marathon and 5k run/walk and we want you to join us. It might not change your life, but your support will definitely help change the lives of the more than 1,400 kitties we rescue each year.

Abu – before and after

Kitties like Abu, a tiny orphaned kitten who arrived at VOKRA hungry and with a bad cold. He, along with his brother and sister, needed round-the-clock care and bottle feeding. As the runt of the litter, we weren’t sure if Abu would make it, but with the care and attention of his foster mom he’s thriving today and has gone to his new home.

Whether they’re kittens or adults, feral or tame, healthy or sick – VOKRA provides them all with the best care we can. But this does come at a cost.

You don’t have to be an athlete to join. And few on our team have ever fundraised before either (you only need to commit to raising a minimum of $50). All you need is a love of cats. This love is what unites us as a team and carries us all over the finish line!

It’s super easy to get started. To join Team VOKRA simply click here to register. And, as a bonus, each team member is entitled to a special preferred rate. To get the preferred rate be sure to enter one of the following charity codes in the charity code field at the bottom of the registration page:

Half-Marathon discount code: 19VOKRA21K
5K discount code: 19VOKRA5K

Don’t forget to indicate you’re joining the VOKRA official charity team and add “Team VOKRA” as the name on your bib!

Once you’re registered you’ll receive a link to your personal fundraising page so you can get started right away. And to help ensure you achieve your goal, Team VOKRA will provide you with a motivational emails to help you fundraise. We’ll also invite you to join the Team VOKRA Facebook group so you can connect with your fellow team members. So there’s no excuses! Sign up today and join Team VOKRA!

Be sure to reserve your Team VOKRA spot as soon as possible so you don’t miss out!

Don’t want to run? You can still help when you sponsor Team VOKRA today!

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.