Rasta’s Happy Tail Ending

Monica and her partner Wayne adopted Rasta back in October 2015 as a companion for their 12 year-old Siamese cat MeMe. Monica recently sent us this update to let us know how he’s doing today.

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MeMe and Rasta surprised while having a cuddle

I wanted to give you all an update on Rasta and MeMe – As you can see, they are a very happy couple.

Rasta (we often just refer to him as “The ManCat” because he is such a total man… cat) is an absolute joy. The more comfortable he gets, the sweeter he is. He is incredibly good-natured and patient, gentle and loving to MeMe, adores being brushed, purrs and blows drool all over me when I brush him, and plays like a kitten with his stuffed mice (he has MeMe playing again too; she quit for a while). I often see one of them trotting by with a toy in their mouth, on the way to a playdate of some kind (there is also a gruesome side to this: I often find mafia-like severed pink felt mouse ears or severed tails in my teacup in the morning, or even more grisly, the entire stuffed mouse floating face down in a water dish, the dye seeping out of it… yuck!).

Rasta expanded alarmingly at first, because he was gulping his food so fast and then eating MeMe’s, natural in a former alleycat. My partner Wayne came back from a two week business trip and was horrified at how fat Rasta was – I hadn’t noticed, but he had indeed packed on the pounds and looked like a porky panda bear cub. So, we’ve all been on a diet (to keep him company) and he’s reducing gradually. One thing I’ve found: the more love I give him, the more he is reassured he will always have food and doesn’t need to stuff. The more I brush and cuddle him, the more he actually leaves food in the bowl, instead of shoving it all in his mouth. Love does indeed conquer all! Other than the tendency to rotundness, he is completely healthy.

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Partners in crime

I can’t thank you all enough for your wonderful advice throughout introducing these two. MeMe was tragic, grieving, lonely, miserable and chronically fearful before Rasta ManCat came – now, she is much more social, lets me pick her up and cuddle her (NEVER tolerated this before, even when her mother was alive) and purrs tons. She is a dreadful flirt with him – but he is with her too! He often lays on his side, propping himself up on one elbow and stretching his legs out, with a provocative gleam in his yellow eyes that makes Wayne and I absolutely howl – he’s the spitting image of Burt Reynolds in the infamous Playgirl centerfold!! The dashing moustache completes the picture! I’ll try and catch him on camera for you all next time; perhaps you can include him as the centerfold in the annual VOKRA calendar!

I can’t resist telling this little story. Recently we slept in and were wakened by RastaManCat, clearly hungry, hovering directly over us while we woke up. MeMe (who can still jump to high places) was nearby, on top of a tall chest of drawers and right beside a huge – and precarious – vase of gorgeous flowers Wayne just gave me for my birthday. Wayne has developed an acute sense of Rasta’s personality and immediately began to “channel” him (i.e.  provide a human voice to RastaKitty brain):

“Ahem – excuse me, Madame; so sorry to intrude upon your slumber, but might I have your attention for the briefest moment? It is regarding the non-appearance of breakfast. If you would kindly direct your attention to my lovely assistant who, as you can see, is stationed directly beside your so beautiful vase of flowers, which she is delicately nibbling. You do realize, Madame, that one flick of her curvaceous tail and… well, I’m sure you do appreciate the graveness of the situation. I wonder, Madame, if this might motivate you to hoist your lazy butt out of bed and fill those bowls! Pronto!”

Needless to say, I obeyed. I have also seen him get her to jump up onto the kitchen counter (which he’s too arthritic to do and which is utterly verboten) and push the kitty treat bag onto the floor. She NEVER did this before his arrival!! Seriously, they are dangerous together.

I hope all is well with everyone at VOKRA – keep up the amazing work! A big happy meow from MeMe and RastaManCat!

Addie & Gypsy – Not Broken Anymore

Back in December we told you The Tale of Two Broken Cats & Four Cute Kittens. A lot has happened since then so we decided to check in and see how everyone’s doing today.

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Addie with her lame leg

When we last saw this black and white kitty she’d just been reunited with her kittens and didn’t even have a name yet. Today she’s called Addie and has been living with foster mom Tania since her kittens were adopted in January. When Addie arrived at VOKRA her left rear leg was sticking out so she was taken to a vet. It was determined the injury was old and it was likely she was born that way. After weighing the options it was decided it would be best for her if the lame leg was amputated.

Addie hasn’t let losing her leg stop her and, after making a full recovery, is just as lively as any other cat. Tania says she’s as agile as ever and loves jumping in bed to cuddle every morning. After her first few unhappy days (mostly due to the fact she had to wear a  cone!) Addie has been a loving, happy cat and has even put on some much needed weight. Tania has come to know what keeps Addie happy and to help when there’s a spot that needs to be scratched. Addie is loving her foster home and Tania is thrilled to have a gorgeous green-eyed friend to keep her company.

Here’s Addie showing off:

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Gypsy after her surgery

The last time we saw black kitty Gypsy she was hanging out at our Operations Centre after surgery. When she was rescued her left hip bone was out of it’s socket requiring her to undergo expensive surgery. After her initial recovery, she moved in with foster mom Louisa who says she’s in good spirits and has been since day one. “She’s always social and affectionate even with her injury,” Louisa happily tells us.

Louisa has been helping Gypsy get stronger day by day and has Gypsy eat her meals at the table where she has to stand on her hind legs. This daily exercise has made Gypsy stronger and she’s now an adventurous cat who loves jumping on the couch and window sill. Louisa and Gypsy love to chill out and watch TV and Louisa is so grateful her foster cat is so sweet and lovable.

Addie’s just been adopted and will be going to her new forever home soon! Gypsy will be ready for adoption in the near future so if you’re interested in giving her a forever home please visit vokra.ca/adopt.

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As a volunteer-driven non-profit, VOKRA relies on the support of donors like you to help rescue more than 1,800 cats and kittens each year. The cost for Addie and Gypsy’s medical care is in excess of $2,000. If you’d like to help us pay for their care, and the care of all the other VOKRA cats and kittens, please donate today at givetovokra.ca.

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Volunteer of the Month – February 2016


IMG_2279Time has surely gone by fast – we’re already on the second month of the new year! February is most certainly the month of love and at VOKRA we’d like to extend our love and thanks to this month’s Volunteer of the Month, Tasha Bukovnik!

Tasha’s been volunteering with VOKRA for over a year now, having found a volunteer opportunity with our communications committee via Facebook. Communications is Tasha’s day job, so it was no doubt the committee would be a purposeful position for her. After being on the communications committee for around six months, Tasha was asked to co-lead the integrated communications and marketing team along with board member, Majid Khoury. As someone with a serious Type A personality, her answer was obviously ‘yes’!

As co-leader of the communications and marketing team, Tasha oversees all of VOKRA’s social media activities, coordinates the quarterly Mewsletter, manages the blog, coordinates the development of marketing materials, helps promote events, handles media relations and generally supports other VOKRA teams with whatever they need. On top of all these tasks, Tasha also sits on the fundraising committee. Her main focus on the team is to manage VOKRA’s direct fundraising initiatives and appeals. If you’ve received an email asking for help, the odds are pretty good Tasha’s the one who pressed send! Safe to say, Tasha’s an extremely important member of VOKRA and one we value very dearly. If there were a volunteer of the year, we dare say Tasha would be on top of the nominees list!

Here are some comments from our fellow volunteers about Tasha:

“Tasha has brought professionalism to our online presence. As a result, we’ve achieved more followers, more donors, and just more people loving cats (and VOKRA). Thank you, Tasha, for the amazing job that you and your team are doing.”
– Alannah Hall

 “Tasha has become an integral part of our communications, media, and marketing area. She has modernized and updated VOKRA’s profile so brilliantly. Her fundraising skills and innovative ideas have resulted in a very interesting and entertaining exposure for VOKRA.”
– fellow VOKRA volunteer

Tasha’s favourite part of volunteering is knowing she’s making a difference. During her time with VOKRA she’s helped increase overall organizational awareness, which has resulted in more adoptions and more donations (yay!). She’s honoured to be able to play a part in telling VOKRA’s story and the stories of their amazing and dedicated volunteers. And of course, every cat and kitten in VOKRA’s care has a story of their own to tell; some will make you shed a tear or two and then make you smile from ear to ear.

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“The handsomest guy in the world,” according to Tasha.

Tasha tells the story of her cat, Bran:

“As the ‘mom’ of a rescue cat with cerebellar hypoplasia (CH), I have a soft spot in my heart for all the special needs cats and kittens. My guy came to live with me when he was eight years old after he was abandoned when his previous owner moved out of the country. At that time, he wasn’t in the best shape, but with lots of love, and some treats, he’s now happy and healthy. He has no idea he’s different from other cats and no matter how many times he falls over he always gets back up again. He’s an endless source of inspiration and I can’t imagine my life without him.”

Whenever one of the special needs cats in VOKRA’s care finds their forever home, Tasha’s heart warms and a big smile is put on her face. With that being said, Tasha’s a volunteer that puts a smile on our faces! She’s extremely hardworking, vigilant and always gives 100% of her effort. Thank you Tasha for everything you do, and there are a lot of things! We appreciate your contribution in helping our organization grow and helping our cats and kittens find loving homes. Stay a-meow-zing!

Post written by Aurora C.

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

We Love Feral Cats

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Venus is a current resident in our barn shelter

As we told you recently, VOKRA’s TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) program is a large part of what we do.  Some might say it’s at the very heart of what we do as VOKRA was founded because of unspayed feral moms and kittens who faced harsh conditions on Vancouver’s streets.  Due to our efforts, the number of feral cats in Vancouver has significantly decreased and those left will live out their lives peacefully without having to reproduce litter after litter of kittens.

At VOKRA we love feral cats.  Whether they be semi-feral or full fledged, we recognize they deserve our love and attention despite not having had the good fortune of being born indoors.  We’ve been lunged at, hissed at and bitten, but we know these cats are only doing their best to look out for themselves the only way they know how.  When feral kittens come in spitting and swiping we tame them and they are eventually adopted out.  We’re often able to tame semi-feral adults too, though it takes a little more time and effort.

For the truly feral cats, the most humane thing we can do for them is spay and neuter them and return them back to their location. Sometimes though, that space isn’t safe or is no longer available and that’s when our barn program comes in handy.  In 2006, thanks to the help of a generous donor, we were able to set up a barn shelter for feral cats who couldn’t be returned.  This shelter has become a sanctuary for some of our ferals who are able to live out their lives peacefully with a warm shelter and enclosed outdoor access, along with the care and dedication of our volunteers.

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Karona was a beautiful, wonderful cat with a temperamental heart of gold. She swatted and yelped at us before learning to love us back.

It’s not always easy working at our barn location as volunteers have to trudge through months of heavy rain.  We currently have 17 volunteers, each of whom monitors the health and wellbeing of the cats in addition to chores and socialization time.  Some cats have even been tamed enough over the years to be placed in foster homes and adopted.  VOKRA barn manager, Mairi Graves, describes the cats as her “18 surrogates” and feels lucky to have met them all, including Mr Washington, Pharoah and especially Karona, who we lost too soon last year.

While we’re fortunate to have that space available for some cats, it can’t house all of them.  Thankfully we have our barn placement program, where we find barn owners who are dedicated animal lovers looking for cats they can employ as rodent population control technicians. In return, they agree to provide food, water and shelter.  This program began about six years ago and we have since placed many feral cats in barns across the Lower Mainland.

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A group of feral siblings, some of whom have now been tamed and adopted.

Janet Cox, who coordinates the barn program, looks for barns that don’t use pesticides and have a low incidence of coyotes.  Like adopters, potential barn sponsors are interviewed and VOKRA volunteers drive cats to their new homes as far away as Squamish and Mission.  There’s a dedicated “imprint” time of four weeks, during which cats must live inside a large shelter.  This allows them to become used to their new area and mark it as their own.  After this time, the cats are released and Janet follows up with the barn owners.

Feral cats don’t have it easy by any means – they’ve missed out on the happy lives of many a spoiled house cat.  Most feral cats live a short life on the streets and face a death that’s as harsh as their life.  Our barn program helps alleviate such burdens because, as Mairi says, “they’re wonderful and often misunderstood creatures who yearn for the same things humans do: shelter, sustenance and love.”  As much as we help them, they help us too.

If you’d like to support our feral and barn cat program you can donate here.

Written by Ellen R.

Way back in 2008 a story about our barn cat program appeared on Global TV. Unfortunately the challenges we faced back then are still the same challenges we face today. One of the only things that has changed is we now adopt out more than 1,400 cats per year. Click here to watch the story.

Meet Crystal & Gabby

_MG_8184Crystal and Gabby are a unique mother and daughter duo.

A kind stranger noticed a very pregnant cat in her yard one day so she took her into the house. That night the cat, now named Crystal, had a litter of kittens and in that litter was little Gabrielle, or Gabby for short. The kind stranger wasn’t able to keep the new family because she already had two cats of her own, so she called VOKRA.

Crystal

Crystal

When Crystal and the kittens arrived we began to notice that Gabby was different than her brother and sister. Her back legs were crooked and she walked with a funny wobble that made her fall down a lot. After consulting with a vet she was diagnosed as having something called feline cerebellar hypoplasia (CH). Gabby was born with CH as her cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls fine motor skills and coordination, was underdeveloped at birth. There could be a number of reasons why a kitten can be born with CH, but most commonly it happens when the mother contracts a virus while pregnant or if there was some sort of trauma to the kitten while in the womb. The good news is CH is non-progressive and with some extra care cats with the condition can live a normal, healthy life.

Crystal knows Gabby is special so she spends a lot of time watching over her and she doesn’t like it one bit when they’re separated. In addition to loving Gabby, Crystal loves attention! She’s very affectionate and gives plenty of purrs and kisses. Sometimes she’ll even stand on her back legs so you can reach her head more easily and give her a pet. Despite being a mom, Crystal’s only two and a half years old so she still has the spring of a kitten. This is evident when she and Gabby are playing with the cat dancer, laser pointer and other toys.

Gabby

Gabby

Despite Gabby’s challenges she’s never stopped exploring and playing enthusiastically. And she’s never met a cat tree she couldn’t tackle! For the past several months Gabby’s been undergoing regular physiotherapy with her foster mom and each day her back legs have been getting stronger which has improved her balance and coordination. She’ll never be able to run around the house like her mom Crystal, but no matter how many times she falls over she always picks herself back up again and keeps heading forward.

Crystal and Gabby are looking for a forever home with people who understand and appreciate how special Gabby is. She may need a bit of extra care, but she’ll reward you everyday with love. If you’d like to meet these two and learn more about Gabby’s special needs, please contact your adoption counsellor or fill out an adoption application here.

Written with assistance from Katherine Drabek

We’re raising money to help get Gabby back on her feet. We estimate it’ll cost $2,000 to pay for her specialized diet, a harness to help her get around, acupuncture treatments and all her medical expenses. You can help us reach our goal by donating today.

Cali’s Happy Tail Ending

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Cali adores Robert

It was early 2015 when Roxanne and Robert felt something was missing in their lives. Having had pets in the past, they sensed the time was right to welcome a new member into the family and they knew they wanted to adopt an older kitty.

Cali came to VOKRA as a 10-year old senior cat after her owner passed away. At their first meeting, Roxanne remembers Cali “was very shy. The visit consisted of her giving me stink-eye from underneath a chair and hissing at me. She did allow me to give her a chicken treat. I could see beyond the hissy facade there was a loving sweet girl.”

Cali, now known as Lady Calloway (but still referred to as Cali), now spends her days hanging out at home, lounging on the catio, listening to CBC Radio One and even watching Netflix! A feline sibling, another senior kitty named Ginger, recently joined her.

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Cali and Ginger lounging on the catio

Now an adoption counselor with VOKRA, Roxanne cannot say enough about the joy Cali has brought to her and Robert’s lives. “Cali has served as a very important ambassador to the life I have now,” said Roxanne. “She’s the reason I am involved with VOKRA and, through my involvement with VOKRA, I became a cat nanny with The Cat Nanny. It’s a job I absolutely love.”

And sometimes cats can be the best medicine. “Cali and my partner Robert have developed a special bond,” adds Roxanne. “She completely adores him and is so happy to see him when he comes home from work. Robert had open heart surgery nearly four years ago and he’s convinced Cali is the very best de-stressor and heart balm he could ever have!”

After a series of personal hardships and family illness, Roxanne says Cali, “filled a barrenness, an empty void. She gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. So, I’d say she rescued me.”

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

Written by Kim C.

Wanted: Vaccination Team Members

Zarah_Love_Bunch_Cat_Mom_Kitten_0047_jelger_tanja_WebHave you ever dreamt of working directly with cats and kittens? Well dreams do come true because right now we’re recruiting volunteers for our Vaccination Team! We’re looking for experienced vet techs and cat lovers with a healthcare background (such as nurses) to aid in vaccinating our adorable kittens and cats.

As a volunteer on our Vaccination Team, you’ll be provided training, supplies of vaccine and follow-up homeopathic treatments. Nervous? Fear not! You’re able to buddy up with an experienced vaccinator and practice with guidance on one or two foster trips.

Here’s how the process works – When a foster family signs up to have their fosters vaccinated  you’ll receive an email from the Vaccination Team coordinator. You’re given all the information on the kitties and their foster family (such as where they live) and then together with the foster you’ll organize a suitable time for an appointment. Vaccinating at home, as opposed to making a trip to the vet, can save lots of time since most vaccinations for a litter of kittens take about 30 minutes. Each injection only takes about 10 seconds! After vaccinations, you’ll follow up with a homeopathic treatment to help the kitties feel fantastic. And there you go – the cats are protected, the foster family is happy and you’ve saved the cats a (potentially) scary trip to the vet!

Becky, who’s been on the Vaccination Team for more than a year, explains why she volunteers:

“Volunteering on the Vaccination Team has been a fantastic way for me to help kitties in need. This position is great in the way that I can organize vaccination appointments around my busy schedule. Knowing that I’m ensuring the kitties are protected against some horrible illnesses makes me love being on the team. However, helping maintain VOKRA’s high standard of care for all their cats is not the only great thing about being a vaccinator. Getting kitten time every week is most likely what heaven is like. Who wouldn’t want to go and play with a bunch of 10-week old fluffy butts while protecting their health?! To me, it’s totally a win-win.”

Kitten time every week! Now that’s a dream come true! So if you’re a vet tech or cat lover with a healthcare background and you can accommodate one vaccination appointment per week we want to hear from you.

To apply, email volunteervokra@gmail.com and be sure to include your experience and why you believe you’d be an excellent addition to our Vaccination Team. Don’t hold back, this is your moment  – just remember, fluffy butts and happy kitties. Go on meow!

Thanks to Aurora C. for this post.