Orange is the New Black

Oh my goodness. Just look at these adorable little fuzzybutts! Two healthy, playful little orange siblings, one boy and one girl. Can you even handle the cuteness?

 

But a week ago, these kittens didn’t look like that. They’d just been rescued by VOKRA, they were so flea-ridden they were anemic, and they were so thin you could see every rib and vertebrae in their tiny bodies. There had been three kittens. One of them died. These little babies were at risk of suffering the same fate.

We de-flead them.

In you go, little buddy!

In you go, little buddy!

During bathing, fleas make a run for it to escape the water, often heading for the eyes

During bathing, fleas make a run for it to escape the water, often heading for the eyes

Poor skinny baby

Poor skinny baby

We started to treat them medically as well as work on beefing up their immune systems.

You have betrayed me, cruel human. You put the medicine in my eyes.

You have betrayed me, cruel human. You put the medicine in my eyes.

Orange 13

And then they looked much better.

All clean!

All clean!

Much fluffier after a good bath

Much fluffier after a good bath

They are now being fostered with their mama, a shy, scared Tortoise Shell who is making wonderful progress too. She hasn’t had a lot of love in her life before but is soaking it up now and will even roll over and let her foster family rub her belly!

Cozy and safe with mama

Cozy and safe with mama

We rescued two more cats from this site and suspect there may be more. There certainly would have been a lot more if we hadn’t got these five as the adults weren’t spayed or neutered. They are now.

Beautiful Kat Blanchett has been adopted into a wonderful home

Beautiful Kat Blanchett has been adopted into a wonderful home

Stan is a gentle giant who loves to snuggle with everyone he meets

Stan is a gentle giant who loves to snuggle with everyone he meets

Between the fixes, medication, vaccines, food and litter costs and more, these cats and kittens have cost us hundreds of dollars. Last year we took in over 1800 cats and kittens. You do the math.

We need your help to rescue and care for kitties like these and the thousands more we will take in over the coming months.

Will you make a donation today to help us do that?

There are lots of donation options available: monthly giving (just $10 a month adds up to a great donation), corporate matching gifts (is your company on the list of those who will double your donation?), or one-time donations ($20 will pay for 4 bags of litter). Visit our donations page and our online store for all the details and help us save more lives today.

Donate for me?

Donate for me?

What’s that? Okay, sure, watch the video one more time before you do. We understand.

Behind the Scenes at a Spay Day

This month, we teamed up with Paws for Hope and Scottsdale Veterinary Hospital in Surrey to provide a day of free health checkups and spay/neuter services for 30 cats from low-income families in that area. With the formation of the new Surrey Community Cat Coalition and the great outreach work that group is doing, word is starting to get out about the cat overpopulation crisis in Surrey. Initiatives like this “Spay Day” are important steps towards solving that crisis.

Our low-income support services are somewhat small due to our limited resources but we recognize this as a key area to focus on to help end the suffering of cats in our communities. And let’s not forget the humans! We know how much positivity cats provide their owners with. They are a source of love, acceptance and companionship, things that everyone deserves to have, no matter their economic situation. We at VOKRA are all about responsible pet ownership but we also understand that finances can sometimes challenge even the most responsible pet lover. We would love to be able to support more events like this, helping address cat overpopulation at its root and curbing it where it starts.

On September 28th, VOKRA volunteers gathered up our carriers, picked up the 30 eligible cats and took them to Scottsdale for their vaccinations. On November 2nd, we picked up the cats again and took them in for their spay/neuter surgeries before returning them that same day to their grateful owners. Great effort, team! A special word of thanks is due to our amazing volunteer Laura who continually goes above and beyond to support low income pet owners and their feline friends. Thank you, Laura! We are so lucky to have you.

Take a look at some of the beautiful cats, the hardworking veterinary staff who donated their time and services, and our amazing team of volunteers in action!

 

Mittens gets an exam before her surgery

Mittens gets an exam before her surgery

Whiskers is a formerly feral kitten. His owner used food to socialize and tame him.  Whiskers was a sweetheart and even gave our volunteers kisses!

Whiskers is a formerly feral kitten. His owner used food to socialize and tame him. Whiskers was a sweetheart and even gave our volunteers kisses!

 

Dr. Shawn Llewellyn of Paws for Hope gets ready for a busy day along with five other veterinarians, technicians and our VOKRA volunteers.

Dr. Shawn Llewellyn of Paws for Hope gets ready for a busy day along with five other veterinarians, technicians and our VOKRA volunteers.

Tigger is here for his vaccination booster.

Tigger is here for his vaccination booster.

Tigger is too young for surgery but we'll bring him back when he's five months old to be neutered.

Tigger is too young for surgery but we’ll bring him back when he’s five months old to be neutered.

Dr. Irene O'Brian getting kitties ready for their surgery.

Dr. Irene O’Brian getting kitties ready for their surgery.

Dr. Chris Armstrong begins an ovariohysterectomy/spay on one of the female cats.

Dr. Chris Armstrong begins an ovariohysterectomy/spay on one of the female cats.

Getting inked! The final step before the recovery room is an identifying tattoo in the ear for each cat.

Getting inked! The final step before the recovery room is an identifying tattoo in the ear for each cat.

Kathy Powelson, Executive Director of Paws for Hope, is interviewed by Global TV news along with Alannah Hall, Chair of  VOKRA's Board of Directors.

Kathy Powelson, Executive Director of Paws for Hope, is interviewed by Global TV news along with Alannah Hall, Chair of VOKRA’s Board of Directors.

Check out the interview here!

http://globalnews.ca/video/1649919/stray-cats-in-surrey/

Thanks to Paws for Hope, Scottsdale Veterinary Hospital, and VOKRA, 30 cats are now fixed and won’t be contributing to the overpopulation problem. Speaking of contributing, you can help us provide more services like this and improve the lives of Lower Mainland cats and their owners by making a donation to VOKRA.

With your help we can end the suffering of cats and kittens due to overpopulation in Surrey.

Please click here to visit our website and donate today!

 

Meet the Calendar Girls and Boys of VOKRA!

Hey everyone! Apologies for the lack of posts as of late. It was a crazy kitten season and the days just got away from me. I’m guessing your life is busy too and you might know how that feels. If you do, maybe you need something to keep better track of your days? I don’t know, something where the days were laid out in an organized manner, perhaps with photos of beautiful cats and kittens to enjoy while you’re trying to remember when your mother-in-law’s birthday is again? Boy, do we have something that will help you out!

It’s the ever-popular VOKRA Calendar

and the 2015 edition is ready for presale right now!

Our dedicated Dania, volunteer and foster extraordinaire, has worked her tail off once again to put together a beautiful fundraising calendar for VOKRA. Thank you, Dania!

VOKRA 2015 Calendar Cover Boy Sadler

Photo by Just Cats Photography

This year’s cover boy is Sadler. He is a tame cat who was either lost or abandoned but managed to survive on the streets for months with his gentle nature intact. A nice woman fed him for a while but called VOKRA when it seemed obvious no one else was caring for this handsome guy. We took him in, got him the vet care he needed, connected him with an awesome foster, and fattened him up a little with healthy eating and lots of love. Here he is on the cover, all cleaned up and ready for adoption. But there’s even better news–Sadler HAS been adopted! Since the calendar was printed, this adorable guy has found a loving home with a couple who absolutely adore him. He loves to nap on laps and play the sneak attack from behind the couch game. Who doesn’t love that game? We are so happy for our wonderful supermodel Sadler!

VOKRA 2015 Calendar_June only_Page_1

Photo by Martin Godwyn

Also featured in this year’s calendar is Lua. You may already follow this special girl on her Facebook page. Lua suffered a crush injury to her lower spine when she was very young. Acupuncture, laser treatments, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy helped restore a large part of the nerve network, so she has significant movement, although she cannot walk. Being able to go outdoors (in a safe, cat-fenced area, of course) is really important to her and she is famous for hunting dragons in her yard. At least she swears that’s what she’s doing, brave girl! Lua brings great joy to all who know her and she’ll certainly bring you joy in the month of June.

VOKRA 2015 Calendar_March only_Page_1

Photo by Roham Sheikholeslami

Dino’s mom, Fuzzy, was a feral cat living on private land. People in that community cooperated with VOKRA to have her and her kittens humanely trapped. Fuzzy was spayed and then returned to her home territory, but Dino and his three siblings adapted to life with humans and now live in their forever homes. Some of VOKRA’s foster parents are very skilled at gently “taming” feral and semi-feral kittens. It’s a unique talent. VOKRA is grateful for the people who lend us their talent and I think it’s safe to say, so is Dino! I’m already looking forward to seeing that cute face every day in March, aren’t you?

These stories and photos are just a taste of what this year’s calendar holds. It makes a great holiday present, stocking stuffer, hostess gift, or one of those presents you have wrapped up and tucked away for when people drop by and you don’t have a gift for them. I’ve always thought that was a good idea but never done it. Perhaps this is the year. VOKRA calendars for everyone!

Calendars will be shipped in early November so get your order in today by visiting VOKRA’s online store. You’ll be getting a great calendar but you’ll also be supporting the work VOKRA does to rescue cats and kittens like Sadler, Lua, Dino, and many, many more.

Order today!

Thank You, Jacqueline

VOKRA is sad to have lost a friend last week, but not as sad as her best friend Marley is.

Jacqueline worked in cat rescue before most of us even knew what it was. She was a trapper and a rescuer in East Vancouver, known and loved by many, both human and feline.

Most recently she fostered a very special cat for VOKRA. We don’t know his background but, when we found out about him in 2012, Marley was a stray cat. He had been living outdoors but a nice elderly woman befriended him, fed him and let him in her house when it was cold outside. When Marley’s friend passed away and the house was sold, VOKRA was called. We had Marley neutered and found him a loving foster: Jacqueline.

Marley

At first Marley was shy and afraid but Jacqueline’s love eventually helped him come out of his shell. They were a great match and enjoyed spending lots of time sitting quietly together. Marley decided he liked being petted and Jacqueline was pretty good at it so it worked out great.

Marley

There was only one problem; Jacqueline had terminal cancer and knew she didn’t have long to live. Her wish was to see Marley adopted into a forever home before she died.

We did our best, showcasing Marley in ads in the Georgia Straight, promoting him on our website and spreading the word. A couple of potential adopters came to meet him but decided he wasn’t the cat for him.

On August 1st, Jacqueline collapsed at home and passed away that same day. Sadly, she did not get to see Marley get adopted.

Eight year old Marley is now at our Operations Centre where he is grieving the loss of his friend. We can’t blame him. We are trying to find him a foster home with no other cats, kids or other animals where he can be loved and taken care of in the way that Jacqueline cared for him. Better still, we would like to fulfil Jacqueline’s wish and find him a forever home. He’s been through enough and deserves a safe and comforting place to live out his days. Until then, we are doing our best to comfort this sad guy. All of our hearts are heavy.

Thank you, Jacqueline, for being a friend to so many of us and for rescuing so many cats, especially Marley. You will be missed but never forgotten.

Marley is Waiting

We are desperate for a loving home for this deserving guy.

If you can foster or adopt sweet, shy Marley, please send a message to

foster [at] vokra.ca 

Isabella Steps Up

We have the best volunteers in the world. We can’t scientifically prove it but we can share some of their stories with you and let you see for yourself!

Like Isabella.

Isabella got her first pet cat last year and found out how great caring for fabulous felines can be. So when she had to do a high school project that involved some community volunteer hours, she chose VOKRA. Now she volunteers with us every Saturday doing Cat Care and we love her.

Because Isabella is 15, she needs to be accompanied by an adult (until she’s 18) so her mom volunteers too. Making time to volunteer isn’t always easy for this busy family but they make it happen because it’s important to Isabella. Why? Well, I asked her that. She said,

I think it’s really important because if you don’t step up, you don’t know who will. You need to take the first step. I was kind of nervous coming in, I’m like, a 15 year old kid…I felt nervous about doing anything wrong. For VOKRA there are always new cats and it’s nice to know you’re helping.

And help she does. As a Cat Care volunteer at our Operations Centre, Isabella feeds cats, cleans their living areas, and, of course, plays with them. She loves how the cats meow at her when she arrives, how they all want to be loved, and how grateful they are for the time she spends with them.

She says her favourite thing about volunteering with VOKRA is seeing the unique personality each cat has. She finds it so interesting that no two cats are ever the same.

What’s her least favourite thing about volunteering with VOKRA?

Nothing! Except I wish I could do it more.

Isabella started keeping a list of her favourite VOKRA cats on her phone but abandoned it when the list got way too long. She likes to follow up once the cats go to foster, viewing their profiles on the VOKRA website and watching for those profiles to disappear which means the best thing for a rescue cat; they’ve been adopted.

But Isabella is not just an awesome VOKRA volunteer, she’s got big plans for her future too. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that this big-hearted teen wants to help humans as much as she helps cats.

I want to go to law school. I feel like I want to fight for social justice because I like to help people. Helping your community in any way you can is important.

It sure is, Isabella. Thank you for all that you do. We are so lucky to have you on the VOKRA team!

Isabella

If you’d like to volunteer with us (doesn’t the Poo Duty Roster behind Isabella entice you?), please fill out an application on our website. We need people to help with cat care, admin and reception duties, trapping, driving and more. Why not step up and help out some kitties too?

Olivia and Daisy–Wobbling Their Way Into Your Heart

There are certain conditions that can be a death sentence for a rescue cat. Being a “wobbler” is one of them. The official term is Feline Cerebellar Hypoplasia and it’s a neurological condition that results in walking and balance problems. Even though they are as loving and playful as other kittens, most people don’t have the understanding or the resources to care for a CH cat. When they end up in a shelter or are in need of adoption, even the most caring organization can be daunted.

VOKRA has had a number of “wobblers” and has had good success with therapeutic treatments for them. So when we received a call from a small rescue in Lethbridge, Alberta this March, saying they had a litter of four kittens in their care, one of which had CH, and had just taken in another wobbler kitten as well, we understood only too well the likely fate of these babies and the need for VOKRA to help.

Purrfect Endings in Lethbridge, like most rescues, was overwhelmed. They already had three special needs cats in their care, so when they ended up with these wobbler kittens, they knew they didn’t have the resources to care for them, let alone find homes willing to take them forever.

Linda from Purrfect Endings says,

Daisy and her three brothers Sky, Turbo and Noah came to Purrfect Endings Rescue Society from a situation where their mom, Black Cat, was not spayed resulting in litter after litter of kittens. Purrfect Endings Rescue takes in many special needs cats. However, when it was discovered that Daisy had CH we searched for a rescue that had the resources to better accommodate her needs. We were so fortunate to find VOKRA.

We agreed to take the siblings, including wobbly Daisy, as well as the other CH kitten, Olivia, all only a couple of months old. But Lethbridge isn’t exactly a hop skip and a jump from Vancouver. So how to get them to us?

We called our friends at Pilots N Paws. If you haven’t heard of this amazing organization, well, get yourself a kleenex and have a sit down before you read about what they do. Pilots N Paws provides free air transportation to Canadian-based rescue organizations and shelters. They have helped countless abused, abandoned, and injured animals get to fosters, adopters, rehabilitation and medical groups. Check out their website to find out more about their amazing work and how you can become a Petscort!

Pilots N Paws was in. They organized a volunteer to drive our new buddies over 200 kilometres from Lethbridge to Calgary where the cats would then be flown from Calgary to Abbotsford. Everything was a go. And then the weather turned. The flight couldn’t be made. But that didn’t stop the amazing folks at Pilots N Paws. Instead, Russ and his wife Karen loaded up their car full of rescue animals and headed off on the 11 hour drive to Vancouver! Aren’t you glad I told you to get that kleenex now? These are some dedicated folks.

Our heroes!

Our heroes!

Along for the ride was a rescue dog named Chrissie, coming from the Alberta Sheltie Rescue to her forever home in the Lower Mainland. (Disney, are you listening? This has your name written all over it!)

Photo courtesy of Pilots & Paws

Photo courtesy of Pilots N Paws

Safe in Vancouver, Noah and his brother Turbo were adopted quickly. Daisy and Sky went into foster with some of our experienced Wobbler Wranglers, Lee and Sheral. Okay, they do more cuddling than wrangling, but they are the volunteers we turn to when we have CH kitties because they have opened their homes and hearts to special cats like this before. Sky and Daisy quickly made themselves at home and got to work on Daisy’s physical therapy, a.k.a. playtime.

 

Sky & Daisy

Sky & Daisy

Daisy & her toy, Mozart

Daisy & her toy, Hamlet

Olivia, oh sweet Olivia, is with another one of our dedicated volunteers, Jen. Although Olivia couldn’t stand or walk without falling over when she first came in our care, she was playful and determined.

Olivia & her bunny

Olivia & her bunny

First time wobbler foster Jen says:

Fostering Olivia has been both rewarding and challenging. She is a super sweet loving kitty who will purr up a storm in greeting. She loves everyone she meets and they love her too. She tries so hard to do things that would be simple for a “normal” kitty, like eating from her bowl. She knocked a tooth loose recently when she fell and had to have the tooth pulled! She does sometimes get frustrated when she tries to do something and just can’t but she is so determined and full of energy!

Jen and her husband Connor have been working with Olivia daily to build up her motor skills.

Go, Olivia, go!

 

Work hard. Play hard. Nap hard.

Work hard. Play hard. Nap hard.

 

As with all special needs kitties, getting them into our care, while life-saving, is only the first step in the rescue of a wobbler. They require special foster humans who can spend lots of time with them and provide an adapted environment to live in so the kittens are safe. They are in foster care for longer than other cats, putting a strain on our already stretched-thin resources. But they need more still. In order to truly allow these kittens to develop, we need to provide them with specialized therapies.

They can benefit from acupuncture and physiotherapy and we’ve had good success with hydrotherapy to help increase strength, mobility and to support “re-wiring” of neural pathways in the brain. But these treatments are costly and we can’t always afford them. After all the coordinating, driving and volunteering involved to rescue them, it breaks our hearts not to be able to provide cats like Olivia and Daisy with therapies that could help them, and that could mean the difference between them being adoptable or not. But at more than $1,000 per cat, not including food, litter and other necessary supplies, these treatments still remain out of paw’s reach for these kitties. We’re hoping you’ll help.

Not everyone can foster, let alone adopt a CH kitten or cat. But everyone can help us care for them by making a donation in support of these special babies. Please visit our website or click the big DONATE button on the upper right and contribute whatever you can. Let us know that you’re donating in support of the Lethbridge kitties and we’ll make sure your money goes directly to their care. We couldn’t say no to Daisy and Olivia when we got the call about them. Can you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compassionate Kids–Vanessa

You really shouldn’t judge someone by their shoes but, in this case, the awesome shoes match the awesome kid. Meet Vanessa. Her family adopted a VOKRA cat last year, and when Vanessa was planning her 8th birthday party this year, she asked her guests to help her raise money for VOKRA. See, awesome, right? Right.

Vanessa raised over $100 for VOKRA and asked us what was needed most. Then she went shopping! She bypassed Ardene’s and Urban Planet and went straight to the pet store, picking out the most fun toys, the healthiest food and the best scratching posts for our kitties. We loved having Vanessa deliver her donations in person so we could show her around the Operations Centre and we took the opportunity to get a picture of the birthday girl in our birthday chair! (Okay, seriously. Check out the awesome sneakers.)

Vanessa

 

Thanks to you and all your friends for your fantastic donations, Vanessa. And thanks for being a compassionate kid!