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.

Volunteer of the Month – November 2018

As the last rays of autumn sunshine give way to the rains of winter, we always know things will be bright at VOKRA because of our hundreds of dedicated volunteers. This November we’re celebrating Grace Cullen, a volunteer who shares her love with the kitties who need it most.

Grace has been caring for stray cats for at least the past 15 years in South Vancouver. She took in Niko, who had a damaged leg, Kit Kat, who’d been hit by a car and lost an eye and several others with varying illnesses and injuries. Luckily, she has a large house with several rooms so she can isolate a cat when needed.

Up until recently, Grace had five of her own cats and was also feeding strays in the neighbourhood. After feeding a stray she named Zozo for two years, she was finally able to catch him when he became very ill, and brought him to VOKRA where he’s been in our care for the past several months.

Grace was introduced to VOKRA by a friend and started helping out with the recycling. Grace was visiting Zozo daily and started visiting other cat residents who needed some TLC. She’s developed a special relationship with Tinka, who has a variety of issues, but runs to the door when she sees Grace arrive. They discuss philosophy and world issues together, as well as play string and have treats.

Grace has a special affinity with all animals and, when visiting the cats at our Operations Centre, she purposefully takes on those who need extra attention; besides Tinka, there’s Carmine and Ben, Scotty and Dancer and many others.

THANK YOU Grace for all the love you show the kitties, both indoors and outdoors. We know they love you just as much as we do!

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. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Volunteer of the Month – September 2018

With Walk for the Kitties just around the corner, we’re grateful for all our volunteers who make everything we do possible. At VOKRA, we receive no on-going funding so we rely on donations, adoption fees and fundraising initiatives to help us pay the bills. One of the people who works hard each month to raise much needed funds is Debbie O’Connor, our Volunteer of the Month for September. Here Debbie tells us in her own words why she volunteers with VOKRA:
I began volunteering with VOKRA four years ago as part of the gift card fundraising team. Before this time our cat, Kessey, seemed lonely and we decided to look for a friend for him. One of my co-workers recommended VOKRA to us and, after looking through the available cats, we chose Ziggy (originally known as Littlefoot) in June 2014. Ziggy’s been a great companion for Kessey and has brought so much happiness into our lives. We wanted to find a way to “give back”, and I’ve always loved to fundraise at work, so I began to help with the VOKRA gift card program.
My duties with the program include replying to emails from gift card supporters, preparing spreadsheets and submitting the order to our supplier. I also process banking transactions and order cards from other retailers. These duties were made easier because of my work in the finance department with my regular job. When I lived in the Lower Mainland, I would help process the order, mail the cards or have them ready to pick up at the Operations Centre, which was usually done twice a month. Now I’m retired and we live on Vancouver Island so I’m not involved with the physical handling of the cards.
Managing the gift card orders was a challenge in the beginning. In my first month we had the Walk for the Kitties event and I thought it would be a good idea to have a 50/50 draw. I remember Charis and I running around selling tickets and then frantically counting all the money so Karen could announce the winner. Shortly after this was our annual Great Grocery Stock-up promotion which turned out to be incredibly hectic – we had more than 70 orders in a two week period. The end result was a profit of $2500 for VOKRA and each year our profit increased due to the amazing support we receive throughout the year.
It’s rewarding to know I can do something to make a difference. I’m proud to be part of the entire team of VOKRA volunteers. I’ve never met such a dedicated group of people who care so much for our furry friends.

THANK YOU Debbie for all your hard work and dedication to VOKRA! The amount of time and effort you put into helping with the gift card program is truly 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, especially in the summer months. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Volunteer of the Month – August 2018

As a volunteer-driven non-profit, VOKRA wouldn’t exist without our volunteers. Currently we have more than 400 volunteers working hard to ensure the kitties in our care get everything they need and are adopted in loving homes. But how do we find all these volunteers? That’s where our volunteer recruitment team comes in. This month we’re celebrating one of our volunteers who helps us find volunteers – Raj Johal. Here Raj tells us in his own words why he volunteers with VOKRA:

 

At the beginning of university, I wanted to get involved and volunteer to not only get experience but to meet others and make an impact. With me wanting to pursue a career in medicine the first thing that came to mind was a hospital. I started volunteering there but felt I couldn’t contribute towards anything significant or make any sort of meaningful impact. Thus, I started searching again and stumbled upon VOKRA. I had always loved animals so as I got to learn more about what this organization did and how they achieved it I knew it was the right fit and I wanted to be a part of it.

I was also fortunate enough to have gotten the position of recruitment coordinator allowing me to talk to a wide range of individuals. This is undoubtedly my favorite part of being a recruiter as I get to talk to and hear from people of different cultures and backgrounds. I’ve now heard countless stories about how cats or other animals have made a difference in people’s lives which I find to be truly inspiring. All these volunteers and their mutual love of animals and passion for helping is why I believe VOKRA has been able to do such a good job. The fact I get to play a part in introducing them to our organization is instrumental for me and something that always makes me smile.

In terms of my role, I started off as a recruitment coordinator and then in conjunction was also the team lead for over two years. I’ve really enjoyed both roles, as a recruiter I’m responsible for screening volunteer applications which involves interviewing volunteers and ultimately placing them in positions that fill our needs, but most importantly makes them happy. As a team lead, I was responsible for coordinating with other team leads to determine volunteer needs, making and refining volunteer positions along with applications, recruiting volunteers via postings and presentations, and finally ensuring our team was a cohesive unit that worked hard to fill all these gaps.

Over the years, I’ve formed many memories  I believe have shaped me into who I am today. The one that stands out is from last year when Shoaib, one of our recruitment coordinators, and I did a presentation at a senior care home. The purpose of this presentation was to recruit new volunteers. I don’t remember now how many ended up applying but what I do remember is this story of an older lady with her cat. She talked to us at the end about how having her cat was such a huge support network for her when she was severely depressed and without any family or friends. It just goes to show that not only are we helping cats but also indirectly making a positive impact on people. It makes me very proud to be a part of VOKRA when I hear how highly people think of this organization!

I am now volunteering as a recruitment coordinator while Michelle leads this team to hopefully become even better and efficient. However, I have learned a tremendous amount in my time here and met many altruistic individuals. I believe these to be a key part of why I got into medical school and something that I’ll always remember now that I embark on this journey!

THANK YOU Raj for all your hard work and dedication through the years. We’re so proud you’ve succeeded in being accepted into medical school at UBC and have no doubt you’re going to be a fabulous doctor!

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, especially in the summer months. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Volunteer of the Month – May 2018

The May sunshine is shining a spotlight on our Volunteer of the Month, Nicole Neifert!

Nicole has been described as “The Original VOKRA Surrey Volunteer”. For more than 10 years she’s spent countless hours helping to get homeless and abandoned cats off the streets.

“I first met Nicole in 2008 when I started trapping for VOKRA,” said fellow volunteer Mona Boucher. “She was dropping off a cat she had trapped at the vet hospital.  Back in those days we didn’t have a postop space so feral cats were set up in kennels at trapping sites to recover from spay/neuter before being released.”

Eventually Nicole built an insulated and heated shed in her backyard to house cats recovering from spays/neuters and a host of other ailments and injuries.

Amy, Hans & Itty are just a few of the cats in Nicole’s life.

“Many times we’ve had cats stacked to the ceiling after a night or several nights of trapping and she never complains,” says Mona. “Over the years hundreds and hundreds of cats and kittens have come through her shed.”

As Nicole has a veterinary background, she’s a natural fit to care for the frailest, injured and sick cats trapped in Surrey. She’s seen miraculous recoveries and a fair share of heartbreak, but over and over again she puts her heart on the line to care for the cats in the greatest need.

Although Nicole doesn’t trap much these days, from time-to-time stray cats in need of help find their way to her yard.  She’s also quick to respond when there’s a cat in distress – up a tree or caught in a space where they can’t get out.

“Like most of us involved with VOKRA, a few cats have stolen Nicole’s heart and moved into her home,” said Mona. “Some of them are still with her today and some of them have crossed the rainbow bridge. She cares for her own cats and the rescued cats while simultaneously working and caring for her husband and two children. She’s an inspiration.”

In Nicole’s own words, “Everyday little things are done and add up to huge changes. Colonies fixed and fed, homeless strays warm in a bed again, lots of full bellies and raising the care and awareness of owned and stray cats. I’ve entered abandoned houses and left with cats and fish, I have dug up the dirt under concrete stairs to get an injured kitty, stood below a tree and prayed for the tree guy and the cat, a friend got stuck in a recycling bin while helping me get some kittens that had fell in, loaded my car to the bump stops with free cat donations, driven thousands of kilometers, scooped millions of poops, and cleaned just as many kennels. All of these things have accumulated to amazing changes in so many lives, including my own. It is an honor to be recognized but it is a gift to be part of VOKRA. I’ve been supported by so many amazing ladies.”

“I’ve learned so much from Nicole over the years and I look forward to many more years and many, many more kitty lives changed for the better,” said Mona. “Nicole is simply awesome!”

We couldn’t agree more! THANK YOU so much Nicole for your dedication. VOKRA was built through the hard work of volunteers just like you and we can’t thank you enough.

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!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

It Takes a Clowder*

*Clowder = a group or cluster of cats.

When Karen Duncan and Maria Soroski founded VOKRA back in 2000 it was headquartered in the basement of Karen’s Victorian home in Kitsilano. The plan was to care for very young, mostly bottle-fed kittens and, as often happens, things didn’t go according to plan.

Karen & Maria with longtime volunteer Shelley

Back in the day, VOKRA had a “staff” of approximately 10 volunteers and averaged 150 rescues a year. By 2008, that number had increased to 800 cats and kittens and in 2014 that number jumped to more than 1,800. After finding loving homes for thousands of cats and kittens it was about time VOKRA moved out of Karen’s basement and got a new home of its own. So in 2014 we opened our Operations Centre.

Since opening the Operations Centre (a.k.a. Ops), VOKRA has been very lucky to have an amazing amount of truly dedicated volunteers join us and help save the lives of cats and kittens.

Volunteers at our Ops making sure kittens are flea-free

Today, VOKRA currently has more than 400 volunteers working hard either behind the scenes or at Ops. We also have more than 550 foster homes, currently fostering or available to foster.

Just at our Operations Centre alone, there are an average of 168 volunteers a week! Here’s a quick snapshot of what it takes to make Ops tick:

  • Cat Care, Operations Support and Maintenance – 125+ shifts per week.
  • Medical Team – 17 volunteers
  • Reception – 20+ shifts per week

Our Operations Centre is also very busy with a large number of fosters who pick up food/supplies/medications for their foster kitties.

There are also hundreds of VOKRA volunteers “behind the scenes” who make things happen. We currenlty have 261+ volunteers on 48 teams, including:

Our event volunteers are always out in the community

Volunteer Recruitment- Adoption Counsellors – Adoption Contracts – Foster Coordinators – New Foster – Homes Interviewers – Kitty Health Checks – Medical Research – Foster Kitty Vaccination – Cat Behaviourism – Monitoring Health in Foster Care – Post Adoption Health Support – Vet Lab Reports – Fundraising – Events – Volunteer Committee – Communications – Photography – Kitty Biographers – Finance – IT – Database Administration – Foster Website – Trapping – Barn Placement – Drivers – Southlands Barn (where elderly feral cats and disabled kitties live) – and more!!!!

There never seems to be a shortage of cats to rescue

Sometimes it seems like we’re all chasing our tails trying to keep up – we’ve grown in leaps and bounds and, at times, are still going through growing pains. But we’re all here for one thing – the kitties.

Thank you to each and every one of our special volunteers who are a member of the VOKRA clowder. We wouldn’t exist without your dedication and support. Each and every one of you make a difference in the lives of kitties each day.

We’re always looking for new volunteers! If you’re interested in volunteering, visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.