Volunteer of the Month, July 2015!

With summer in full swing, VOKRA is in amazing spirits and is once again thankful for all the help that comes from volunteers – especially in this heat! They are dedicated, high-spirited, and full of joy. This month, we’d like to dedicate our Volunteer of the Month post to Elaine Lai, a long-running, devoted VOKRA volunteer.

Elaine first started her volunteering at VOKRA in 2010 as a foster. Elaine cared for and saw many kittens off to their forever homes but there was one that didn’t quite work out that way. Apparently Kaleia’s forever home turned out to be Elaine’s house! We call this a Foster Fail but it’s really a success all around, don’t you think?

Kaleia's and her siblings while in foster with Elaine

Kaleia and her siblings while in foster with Elaine

Kaleia, from foster cat to family cat

Kaleia today,  all grown up and happy in her forever home with Elaine

Since Kaleia made three permanent cats at Elaine’s house, there was now a shortage of room for fostering, which prompted Elaine to join Peggy’s rockin’ Adoptions Team to help interview potential adopters. She described this position as “playing matchmaker for adopters to their meant-to-be kitties” and the role is essentially eHarmony, but for kittens and cats! That’s one fun way to describe the Adoptions Team! Elaine loved being a part of the Adoptions Team, being able to help people find their lifelong partners.

When Elaine had to move to Whistler for a work contract in 2013 she was unable to stay with the Adoptions Team. However, she and her inventive self thought of a way to continue contributing to VOKRA despite not being in Vancouver, through raising money for our organization. She started her Knittin’ for Kittens and Crocheting for Cats at VOKRA Facebook page, in which she knitted items to sell. In 2014, the sales raised over $1000! Now, there’s an entire team behind the page, expanding the catalogue for increasing sales.

Cheeky cat bum coasters, as part of the catalogue.

Cheeky cat bum coasters, as part of the catalogue.

Click here to order your own!

Elaine in a sea of donated yarn  – happy knitting!

Elaine in a sea of donated yarn – happy knitting!

Elaine’s involvement with VOKRA does not stop here though. Having recently moved back to Vancouver, she has joined the Donations Team as an appreciation-giver, personally thanking all of VOKRA’s supporters who have donated through Canada Helps. Morgan from VOKRA’s Board of Directors says,

Elaine is amazing. She is my favourite kind of volunteer – one who takes initiative but always checks in to make sure she’s on track. And she always is. She is dependable, creative, committed and has an infectious enthusiasm. I really love working with Elaine and know that our valued donors are in great hands with her on board.

The generosity and kindness of VOKRA’s donors is humbling, and often moves Elaine to tears. Both VOKRA and our kitties appreciate every donation, no matter big or small. Every bit helps, and can definitely make a difference.

Having given so much time and effort to VOKRA throughout the last five years, we really give our biggest thanks to Elaine. She has done so much to help this organization expand, and ultimately help us grow into the best VOKRA we can be. Although it is Elaine’s job to give appreciation, let the roles be reversed this one time to say a huge thank you to you, Elaine! We appreciate all that you do to help us, as well as the kitties. You, empower us. Knit on!

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

Post written by Aurora C

Volunteer of the Month, May 2015!

It is the beginning of May, flowers are blooming and sunny, happy days are slowly outnumbering the gloomy, rainy days. And as it is a new month, we would like to give our thanks to our radiant volunteer of the month – Marion Sampson!

Marion 1

Marion is a key player with our Surrey team and part of the backbone of VOKRA. She first expressed her love for animals and her helping nature by volunteering with the SPCA in Surrey, until it closed in 2005. She has since then picked up as a volunteer with VOKRA for three years and counting, beginning in 2012. When VOKRA Surrey lost its TNR Centre (Trap-Neuter-Return program centre) in 2013 – but was then later offered a building – Marion, at her cost, put the building on her property. It was fixed, re-floored, and newly painted. The renovated space was reborn as The Cottage.

Like a smaller version of VOKRA’s Vancouver Operations Centre, cats that are trapped by Mona, Marlene, Anne, or Marion, are provided a cage in The Cottage with the necessities – food, water, flea treatment, de-worming, vaccinations, trips to the vet for neutering or spaying, attention, assessments on their adoptability and lots of volunteer love before they go to foster. The Cottage has grown immensely within the past year. VOKRA Surrey, prior to the establishment of The Cottage, fostered 75 kitties in 2013, but with the introduction of The Cottage, that number grew to a total of 240 cats in 2014 and an additional 105 cats from the beginning of this year until now. 

The Cottage – comfortably fits up to eight cages.

The Cottage – comfortably fits up to eight cages.

 

Cottage 1

Lucky foster kitty Maybeline gets an accommodation that includes the beautiful view of sunny days through the door.

Of course, the success of The Cottage is not only possible by the effort of one, but of a family. Paul, Marion’s partner, helps with cat care – washing, sanitizing, cat socialization, and assessments – and Marc, Paul’s friend, aids in driving to and from the vet. Go team!

Marion & Paul

Speaking of team, there is no shortage of people willing to sing the praises of Marion. VOKRA Board member and key Surrey team member, Mona, tells us:

Marion fearlessly handles flying ferals and fragile newborn kittens. In her spare time she also picks up, hauls, handles and arranges the sale of donated dog food and cat litter with proceeds going directly to VOKRA. Being on the front line of rescue is not easy and can sometimes be heartbreaking, but Marion never gives in or gives up. Late at night, when I trap a kitty, it is not uncommon for Marion to meet me halfway to pickup the cat wearing only a robe (which really should have a superhero emblem on the back).

Marion in her superhero robe

Marion in her superhero robe

VOKRA Surrey Foster Coordinator, Christine also gushes about Marion:

Marion helps out in every area and, thanks to her, so many cats and kittens have found a new life and a new home. She can always be relied upon to assist with feral cats and kittens and will travel to the hinterlands of the Fraser Valley to save a cat or kitten from its current not-good life to make sure that better will be had at the Cottage. No space left at the Cottage? Marion’s house is open to the most feral of kittens and the workshops which she has given are a testament to how much she cares about the cats and kittens in her care. Seeing her give a bath to a little kitten and the look on his/ her face which says, “What just happened?” is priceless, just like Marion herself.

As with any other cat lover, Marion struggles to pick a favourite kitty as each is enjoyable in different and unique ways. It is no doubt that upholding The Cottage is hard work; Marion is often overwhelmed and stressed due to the number of kitties that need help, but she reminds herself of the difference to the kitties’ lives she has the power to make, with the poem below.

Starfish Story

Marion demonstrates a fierce and admirable will to better cats’ lives, and inspires all of us to continue what we do best at VOKRA. Thank you, Marion, for all that you contribute to this organization. Not one ounce of your effort goes unnoticed. Stay awesome! Kitties, VOKRA, and starfish alike, all say thank you for their bettered lives.

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

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

Compassionate Kids–Kate and Jack

We had some special visitors to our Operations Centre last week. One of our great Cat Care Volunteers, Helen, brought her grandchildren Kate and Jack down to learn about what VOKRA does and, yes, pet some kitties.

Kate and Jack got to sit in the birthday chair!

Kate and Jack got to sit in the birthday chair!

Jack was making a donation to VOKRA. For his birthday this year, he collected from his guests in support of VOKRA.

Thumbs up indeed, Jack!

Thumbs up indeed, Jack!

Pretty great, right? Well, that’s just how these kids roll. Last year, Kate did the same at her birthday party and collected donations for VOKRA too!

Kate the Great on her birthday!

Kate the Great on her birthday!

On their recent visit, Jack and Kate got to see their donations at work. They had a tour of the facilities, heard about how volunteers like their awesome grandma devote time, energy and love to caring for our cats, and also got a lesson in trapping feral cats as our Trappers Maria and Janet were on hand. Hmmm…the next generation of trappers? We’ll look forward to your help when you’re a little older, guys!

Tiny trappers at work!

Tiny trappers at work!

Thanks for supporting VOKRA, Kate and Jack, and for being Compassionate Kids!

Compassionate Kids–Max

We were so thrilled to get a message from a proud mom recently, telling us about her compassionate kid. Max’s Grade 4/5 class took part in a “Young Entrepreneurs” project at his school. They had to design a project, then create and market it including figuring out all the financial costs. Each student choose a non-profit or charitable organization to receive 10% of the money they made. Max choose VOKRA because he loves his cat Jax.

Here is Max and his Aliens in a Jar that he created and sold. Okay, well now I totally want an Alien in a Jar. Looks like this creative little guy has a great future ahead of him! And thanks to his donation, so do more rescue cats and kittens. Great job, Max!

Birthday Max

Thank you so much for supporting VOKRA and for being a compassionate kid. (And for capturing those aliens.)

Where Do Your Donations Go? (Video)

Ever wonder where your money goes when you donate to Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association? Let these adorable VOKRA kitties tell you all about it!

Great big thanks to Jamie Hamilton of Hamilton Design for making this video for VOKRA. Jamie’s family has volunteered with VOKRA for many years and Jamie grew up surrounded by foster kittens so he knows first hand what we’re all about.

Many thanks also to the lovely Bif Naked for letting her song So Happy I Could Die be used. Bif is such a great supporter of animals and we sure do appreciate her.

 

Now that you know how much good your money can do, what’s stopping you from donating to VOKRA?

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