Volunteer of the Month, April 2015!

It is that time again, when VOKRA would like to thank a special and hardworking individual in our joyous and wonderful group of volunteers. For this month, we would like to announce that the volunteer of the month is… Lucy Hough!

Lucy

Lucy has been with us for nearly three years now, her first interaction with us being our Walk for the Kitties event back in September 2012. She got in contact with us and started her volunteer placement by being a driver, which included driving kitties to vet appointments, to foster homes, etc. She was also superbly awesome for stepping in to care for kitties in foster homes when fosters were away for a period of time. Seemingly, Lucy has volunteered for VOKRA in every way, including helping with fundraising. She joined our Adoptions Team back in December 2012, and has since then only fallen more in love with kitties and VOKRA. Helping rescue, heal, and shelter 1,800+ kitties a year is truly inspirational for Lucy, and the commitment of all of VOKRA’s volunteers is another reason why she loves volunteering with us.

What Lucy loves about being a part of the Adoptions Team is that the role’s duties are so complex, yet so satisfying. Every adoption application has its own unique chapter, and all applications are bound together to create a meaningful novel filled with miraculous and heart-warming stories. She loves being a part of a kitty’s journey to living a vivacious and fulfilling life. Lucy also loves working alongside the rest of the team, developing a good process and always stepping up the game to make everything work better.

The Adoptions Team also adores Lucy. Our Adoptions Team Lead, Peggy, tells us:

She is nonstop about picking up applications; she manages the kitty waitlist like I have never seen. She cares about the kitties, as well as the people she works with. She is a super team player, organized, and always on the ball.

Fellow Adoptions Team member Jen says:

Lucy is an amazing volunteer and we are so lucky to have her as part of our rockin’ Apps Team! She is always willing to lend a hand to new team members learning the ropes, and she works incredibly hard to make sure that all of our adopters are contacted in a timely manner. There was one week earlier this year, when we had an unexpected flood of applications and I think Lucy picked up 14 in one day! During each phone interview, Lucy is passionate about making sure that adopters are educated with the latest information on cat behaviour and health. 

Not only does Lucy volunteer with VOKRA, she has also adopted two VOKRA cats herself: a kitty named Panther first, then a buddy for him named Yoda Bear. Yoda Bear, previously Motza,  was a VOKRA feature story a couple of years ago. The only surviving kitten of his litter, he faced many health issues and no one thought he’d live. Boy, did he prove everyone wrong!

Lucy says Yoda Bear, now almost three years old, is the best kitty in the world. He has liver disease and dwarfism, but neither of those stops him from being playful, inquisitive, and talkative. Yoda has tons of character and is so much fun. He’s what Lucy describes as the perfect example of why VOKRA is awesome – “a no-kill organization that gives kitties a chance when there is every reason to think that they will not survive.”

Yoda Bear being big spoon, and Panther being little spoon. #CuddlesTime!

Yoda Bear being big spoon, and Panther being little spoon. #CuddlesTime!

While VOKRA inspires Lucy, she truly inspires each and every one of us with VOKRA to keep up all the good and hard work. Thank you Lucy for being part of our Adoptions Team, for being committed to making it possible for kitties to find happiness through tough times. You being here at VOKRA makes us 100% more awesome!

Meow!

Meow!

If you would like to get involved with our wonderful VOKRA team, please visit our website for more information, and apply to volunteer today!

Ask Dr. Waffles

DrWaffles

Dr. Waffles (pictured) is VOKRA’s senior feline health advice columnist. He has had over four years of experience as a cat with health, and is thus fully qualified to advise other cats in their health.

Dear Dr. Waffles,

My tall roommates only change my litter once in a blue moon. Although I do loudly announce each time my business is complete so they can clean it right away, they haven’t quite figured it out yet. It has gotten to the point where it is obscene; I have actually had to tread on my own urine once or twice. This simply will not do. I have tried time and time again with strong telepathy, staring directly into their eyes, to tell them that it is disgusting in there, but they just respond by petting my head or making whiny sounds at me. You’d think this might mean that they understand, but I assure you, it does not.

What is a kitty to do?

Smokey

 

Dear Smokey,

Your roommates have given you no choice. You must do your business elsewhere. I realize this is not ideal, but you must find somewhere that suits you in the meantime. If you would like to make a point, try right beside the box. Personally, I prefer to find another secluded spot, like a crumpled blanket in the corner, or where all the pillows gather on the couch. This way it gets lost in the pillows, like it was never there at all! Truly amazing; it is as if piles of pillows and other mountains of fabric (laundry, for example) were made explicitly for our purposes. You can keep going there with ease until the litter pan is clean once again.

Dr. Waffles

Dr. Waffle’s apparel provided by Business Catual

Meet Judd

Judd was living out on the streets but when he came into contact with VOKRA volunteers he seemed destined for an indoor life in a loving home. When first approached he didn’t growl or hiss and quickly took to having his ears rubbed. Judd is now enjoying living in his foster home with regular meals and lots of attention in a quiet environment which isn’t so big that he loses track of where his two humans are. Judd-wide Above all, Judd wants to keep connected with you, whether you’re watching tv or brushing your teeth. He is very popular with his current and previous fosters for his sweet, gentle nature. Once he knows you, he will want to sit next to you and in the morning he likes to “spoon”. You maJudd-tally notice Judd’s green eyes watching you as he rests his head with his beautiful pink nose on the edge of his basket. He is a curious cat and seems to be analyzing what he sees. He loves being combed and has fun playing with his rainbow string. His ideal day would be spent with you, so someone who is often at home would be perfect for him. Children and their unexpected movements scare him, as do other pets. He would prefer not to share you. Judd had a previous injury which healed but left him unable to jump much, but climbing the staircase on his cuddly paws isn’t a problem so he has a small set of steps so he can get up onto the bed. He’s also waiting to climb into someone’s heart and at last find a permanent home. You can learn more about Judd and how to adopt him here. Post written by Katherine Drabek

Phoebe’s Happy Tail Ending

Amy always knew she wanted to adopt a cat but needed to wait until the time in her life was right. After buying a condo in a pet-friendly building, she came to VOKRA looking for a companion and knew she had found her match with Phoebe.

“I’ve lived with other people’s cats but never had my own,” said Amy, “I wanted the company and I’ve always wanted my own cat.” With Phoebe’s shiny black coat and cute white paws, it was love at first sight. Amy knew that, “Phoebe was just puuuuuuuurrfect for me…She has proven to be just what I needed.”

Phoebe was quick to adapt to her new surroundings, exploring her territory in Amy’s condo and following Amy around to investigate every nook and cranny. Amy finds herself spending a little more time at home now since Phoebe’s such great company! Phoebe loves heights and has a favourite spot on top of the cupboards in Amy’s kitchen where she likes to keep watch. Phoebe stays mesmerized by the bathroom sink faucet, and when Amy turns it a little for her she loves to catch the water with her paw.

Phoebe

Phoebe playing her favourite game.

Phoebe is a true girly girl in that she often hangs out in Amy’s purses and shoes, but her favourite game comes when Amy unloads her groceries and she jumps in the cloth bags. Amy has many cute stories of her BFF (best feline friend), “there are SO many other cute things I could mention, but those are some of the regular ones.”

Overall, Phoebe has added a lot of love in Amy’s life. Amy says it best: “She has me smitten!”

Would you like your VOKRA adoption story featured in our next issue? Email us with the subject “Adoption Story” at info@vokra.ca for more information.

Post written by Kim C.

Meet Two of Our Unsung Heroes

VOKRA is an organization solely run by volunteers and without their endless hard work and dedication we would not be able to help the more than 1800 cats and kittens we do each year.

We’d like to introduce you to two volunteers who others at VOKRA have described as “unsung heroes”. Both Margaret and Tasha volunteer in our Operations Centre and here’s a quick Q & A so you can get to know more about them and what they do.

Margaret

Q. How did you get involved with VOKRA?

A. I had heard about VOKRA several years ago, having met people who were VOKRA volunteers. When I retired in 2013 I finally had time to volunteer myself.

Q. How long have you been volunteering with VOKRA?

A. I started as a driver in the Fall of 2013 and then, in March 2014, I signed on to do two cat care shifts each week when the new Operations Centre opened. Most recently, in December 2014, cat care was looking for someone to take on training new volunteers and I was very happy to be accepted for this role. So now, I do one cat care shift each week and train all the new care volunteers.

Q. What is your favourite thing about volunteering for VOKRA?

A. I really enjoy helping to care for the cats while they are at the Operations Centre and getting to know all the great people who work there. And I get a great deal of personal satisfaction knowing that I’m contributing to these animals being safe and on the way to a loving home.

Q. In your spare time what do you do to unwind?

A. As for me, retirement finds me with time to spend on several activities. I go to fitness classes, play golf (but not very well), take lessons in Scottish country dancing and read as much as I want to.

Tasha

Q. How did you get involved with VOKRA?

A. I saw an interview on TV with VOKRA co-founder Karen and was immediately impressed with VOKRA and the idea of Trap-Neuter/Spay-Release (TNR). Just over a year ago I was ready to adopt a cat and brought home the most wonderful cat, Leroy (formerly named Tattoo) who was trapped as a kitten and had been in the Southlands barn for years and then fostered for a while before coming to me.

Last summer I put in an application to volunteer. I live in Richmond (but work downtown) so I thought the Operations Centre might be too far for a regular commitment so I was waiting for the right position to open up. Well, in September I saw a desperate plea for people to help bottle feed young kittens so I came in three days in a row to help. I was hooked. I signed up for a regular shift at reception the next week!

Q. Describe your volunteer role with VOKRA?

A. I started with one reception shift which grew to two very quickly. After attending a couple meetings and I was asked if I would like to take on scheduling for the cat care team and be a partner to Margaret as Cat Care Team Leads. Of course I said yes! Around that same time I was also asked to manage the ads that go up on the PetFinder website so I now do all these things. Although I’ve had to put in my notice for the second reception shift as I work full-time so I have to find some balance!

Q. What is your favourite thing about volunteering for VOKRA?

A. My absolute favourite thing is the happy endings. I love hearing about a trapped cat whose owner was desperately searching for it, or how a kitten like Pixie, who had a rectal prolapse and endured months of treatment while still remaining basically the sweetest and most gentle kitty, eventually found a happy home with her kitty bud. The stories never get old and I’m such a cry baby about it all. I really should carry Kleenex with me! I recently saw an updated picture of the kitten that I bottle fed on my first visit to the Operations Centre and my heart just melted into a pile of goo.

Q. In your spare time what do you do to unwind?

A. I love to read, try out new vegetarian recipes, walk the seawall which is right by my office, go to the movies and snuggle with my boy Leroy.

Thank you to Margaret and Tasha for all your hard work and dedication! And thank you to the hundreds of other volunteers who give their time to VOKRA each year. If you’re interested in volunteering please visit our website at orphankittenrescue.com/volunteer.

Post written by Phoenix L.

VOKRA Gets a New Home

VOKRA_Operations_Centre_2014_highres_Hennessey

After finding loving homes for thousands of cats and kittens we thought it was about time VOKRA got a new home too. So with the help of our many volunteers we now have a new Operations Centre!

The centre is an intake and assessment centre where cats and kittens are examined, dewormed, de-flead and vaccinated. They are also assessed in terms of their diet, litter box habits and temperament to ensure the best match possible for kitties and foster homes. The centre is the glue that holds VOKRA together and, with more space, we will be better able to care for the cats in our care.

Not only does the centre ensure that cats and kittens have a safe place to stay until they are transferred to a suitable foster home, it also provides informational services. Fosters are always welcome to drop in to make inquires, or just to chat with our lovely volunteers. And now that we have more space we are able to hold events and workshops, such as appreciation events for our volunteers. We now hold our meetings at the centre, instead of having to rent out space at other venues. The centre has been especially beneficial in giving VOKRA the exposure it deserves, from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. VOKRA has grown so much in the past year, not just in terms of numbers of cats and volunteers, but together as a family and rescue organization. And just when you thought we would stop there… we are expanding the Operations Centre.

That’s right, we have taken over the lease of the vacant space next door to the Operations Centre! Once the expansion is complete, hopefully by mid-May of this year, there will be tons of room. The cats and kittens that are healthy and ready for foster homes will have more room on one side of the building, while sick cats will continue to have their own area. It will also allow us to increase the size of the space where feral cats are housed. We are hoping to install two taming cages that will allow our volunteers to go inside and work with the ferals in order to socialize them before matching them with a foster home. This expansion will help VOKRA grow to the next level.

With that being said, we are in constant need of volunteers, especially with this expansion of the Operations Centre. There are plenty of opportunities from daily cat care, to janitorial duties, data entry, adoption counsellors, and to aiding in planning events and informational lectures. The volunteer opportunities are endless and VOKRA appreciates any kind of help offered. Please visit our website at vokra.com for more information and to apply.

Post written by Aurora C.

Andy Loves Alice

In August of last year, Alice and her brother Andy were brought to VOKRA with their feral mother. These tiny kittens were only about seven weeks old and were very sick. They had severe conjunctivitis and pneumonia but, over time, were nursed back to health by VOKRA’s volunteer Cat Care team.

Andy at intake

Andy at intake

Alice at intake, nasty conjunctivitis and pneumonia

Alice at intake

Little Alice was touch and go for a long time and there were several days when we didn’t think she would make it. But she is a feisty little fluffybutt and pulled through.

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The two siblings were finally well enough to go to foster at the end of September. They were lucky enough to head to the caring home of Dawn and Matt, no strangers to kitty illnesses. Dawn and Matt’s beloved 18 year old cat Delilah lived for the last year of her life with a variety of illnesses requiring medications, subcutaneous fluids, and other treatments to be administered regularly. When she passed away early last year, Dawn and Matt decided to foster with VOKRA and share their love and experience with some cats and kittens in need. They are great fosters and, when the chance to care for Alice and Andy came up, they didn’t hesitate. Andy had fully recovered but Alice’s breathing still sounded rough, like upper respiratory congestion, and she still required drops and cream for her eyes twice a day.
Feeling lots better and in foster

The medication helped clear up Alice’s eyes so she could watch late night TV more clearly

Since being in our care, Alice has had numerous treatments but nothing ever seems to clear things up completely. Still, we keep trying! We have worked with our vets to determine the cause of her trouble, testing her for nearly every possible thing: Leukaemia, herpes, bacterial infection–all tests have come back negative. She has been on antibiotics six times. We have changed her litter and food several times and tried giving her antihistamines in hopes that it might be something as simple as allergies. No luck there either. No matter what we do to try to help her, Alice keeps getting better…then getting sick again. She has trouble breathing and, when it gets really bad, she has to breath through her mouth and go back on the antibiotics.
Alice at one of her many vet visits

Alice at one of her many vet visits

Alice has had a nasal flush and an endoscopy. The nasal flush gave her some relief for a few weeks. The endoscopy revealed a partial collapse in her nasal passage. But that doesn’t explain the constant congestion and her breathing troubles. She has had two stays at the emergency vet where she had to have immediate, life-saving, medical intervention in order to get her hydration up and her fever down.
One vet thinks the partial nasal collapse is what is causing the trouble. Another vet is not convinced that is the case. So she’s now been referred to a specialist and we hope we’ll have some answers soon.
Dawn and Matt are as dedicated caregivers as these sweet kittens could hope for. Dawn tells us,
I wash her little face with a warm cloth everyday and I have spent endless moments sitting in the bathroom with the hot steam of the shower running in order to give her a bit of relief.

 But there is not a lot of relief for this poor kitten. Since being in foster with Dawn and Matt, Alice has had:

  • 12 vet visits
  • 4 different vets
  • 6 rounds of antibiotics
  • 3 sedations (endoscopy and spay, herpes swab, bacterial swab and nasal flush)
  • numerous rounds of medication

Despite the strain of all these tests and treatments, Alice is a force to be reckoned with. She is a precocious little girl who finds trouble wherever she can when she is feeling well.

Alice screen climbing

Alice has a zest for life and is absolutely fearless. She isn’t even afraid of the super high-powered hand-vacuum!

You talkin’ to me, vacuum?

Dawn absolutely adores these two special sibs.
Alice and Andy are two of the most affectionate kittens I have ever come across. Alice craves kisses and will thrust her face into yours in order to get one. Andy doesn’t so much love to be kissed as pet and cuddled. He throws himself at our feet in dramatic fits of longing.
Throughout all of her trials, Andy is constantly by Alice’s side and he cries non-stop when she is not near. These two do everything together, including using the litter box! If she goes, he goes too and vice versa. The first time Dawn took Alice to the vet, Andy buried himself under blankets until she came home. And when she finally did, he nuzzled in and literally wrapped his arms around her.
Alice and Andy

Andy is so relieved when Alice returns from the vet

Isn’t Alice lucky to have her brother Andy to love her? She’s also lucky she ended up with VOKRA. We are a no-kill rescue so we will continue to work with our vets to figure out what’s making Alice sick and, hopefully, we can give her some relief soon. But, as you can imagine, doing so isn’t cheap.

The vet costs for this eight-month old survivor have, so far, totalled more than $2600. We are waiting for the latest test results from the specialist but, if those tests come back negative, the next step would be a CT scan in hopes of a diagnosis. The estimate for that scan is over $2500. We have no idea how we will afford that, let alone the cost of treatment should we be lucky enough to finally get an accurate diagnosis. 

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Our vets help us make caring for kitties like Alice more manageable by giving us great rates. They often waive the examination fees and provide us with medications. The amount of Alice’s vet bills would be significantly higher if we had to pay standard rates for everything and we are most grateful to our caring vet partners. But we still desperately need help to pay for Alice’s ongoing medical care if she is to get well. Also, we wouldn’t think of splitting Alice and Andy up, so we will continue to pay for Andy’s food and litter in foster rather than having him placed for adoption on his own.

These kittens didn’t deserve to be born outside, uncared for and exposed to illnesses. They didn’t deserve to suffer without medical attention for weeks before VOKRA got involved. They deserve a forever home where they can live long, healthy lives, and where Alice can receive the medical treatments she needs. Don’t they?

Andy loves Alice

Andy loves Alice

 As special as Alice is, she is not the only kitty in VOKRA’s care who requires extensive and expensive care. Please help us continue caring for brave little Alice and other sick kitties like her by making a donation to VOKRA today. You may not be in a position to contribute time or have the cat care experience to help the way Dawn and Matt do, but your financial contribution of any amount will be so appreciated and will absolutely make a difference; possibly the difference between life and death. We’d love to be able to pay off Alice’s vet bills but, more importantly, we want to be sure we have the funds to cover the future bills we know are looming for her.

Please help Alice keep fighting, adventuring, and snuggling with her brother Andy. You can donate to her online here or, write “For Alice” in the comment field and donate here to VOKRA today.

Alice ready for her close up