A kitten taking its first sips (photos: VOKRA)
You & Me BC
December 30th, 2021
The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) rescues, heals, and places cats in forever homes throughout BC.
We talked with VOKRA's Tasha Bukovnik about the work they do, why cats get orphaned, and how you can provide the best care for your cat.
What does VOKRA do?
Tasha: Our mandate's to take in homeless kittens, though we do take in adult cats too. If someone sees a stray wandering around, or if a cat has had kittens in a garden shed we'll look into it and pick them up, care for them, and work to get them adopted into a loving home.
We also have our barn cat program specifically for feral cats, who we love just as much as any other cats. Unlike strays, ferals haven't ever been owned and have spent most or all of their life outdoors without human interaction, making them poor candidates for pets.
VOKRA takes in cats of all ages throughout BC
We'll spay and neuter these cats and find them homes in a barn setting where they still live outdoors, but in a more controlled environment.
Although our traditional operating areas are Vancouver and Burnaby, we take in kittens from all over the province.
How many cats do you rescue on average in a year?
Tasha: We rescue about 1400 cats each year. We make sure they're happy, healthy, and then adopt out about 1200 of them annually.
We get cats of pretty much all types, although specialty breeds are definitely the least common.
Is there seasonal variance in how many cats you work with?
Tasha: There's a traditional kitten season actually! In warmer months cats breed more frequently, so usually around late spring we start getting more kittens coming in.
April to October is probably our busiest period.
What are some of the main reasons cats are being orphaned in BC?
Tasha: Not spaying and neutering is a huge issue. It doesn't take long for two cats to make a lot of babies. And if a cat gets pregnant, some people don't want to deal with all the kittens, so they abandon it.
VOKRA helps cats rebuild after facing challenges
There's also a lot of pet unfriendly housing, in the Lower Mainland especially. Many people are forced to give up their pets when they move into a new place.
What can be done to improve the situation for cats in BC?
Tasha: We strongly advocate for indoor only cats - there are many dangers outdoors and we believe that cats and wildlife are safer when cats are inside. In fact, keeping your cat indoors is a condition you must agree to in order to adopt from us.
We don't go as far as advocating for bylaws that prohibit cats from going outdoors, but we do want people to show self-regulation and make the decision to keep their cats inside.
What are some things people can do to give their cat the best care possible?
Tasha: In addition to keeping cats indoors, we always recommend spaying and neutering. Kittens for sure should all be spayed and neutered at around 4 to 5 months, as cats can get many health issues if they aren't.
Kittens love to play!
Diet is also super important, as poor diet can lead to health problems as cats age -
a high quality wet food is especially recommended.
Kittens and cats also have a lot of energy; they need plenty of stimulation, so play with them regularly!
How can people support VOKRA?
Tasha: We're always looking for donations. Roughly half our annual budget's spent on veterinary care like surgeries and dental care, and it adds up quickly.
We're also looking for people who want to welcome a kitty into their home, especially cats that might not be obvious choice, like senior cats or cats with special needs.
I have two VOKRA kitties at my home, and it feels great knowing they have a better life with me. One of them came from really tough situation as kitten and the other was born in my care, and I love them so much.
Anything to add?
Tasha: We're volunteer run, and are always looking for volunteers. There are many jobs that need to be done, including on our adoptions team.
We also use a foster system and are looking for new foster homes for our cats - we pay for all the costs of care.
To learn more about VOKRA and how to help BC's cats, visit www.vokra.ca
To get in touch with Spencer van Vloten, editor of You & Me BC, please send an email to email@example.com