Article on us in Courier today


Lisa Smedman, Vancouver Courier
Published: Wednesday, June 10, 2009
It's a story with a tragic beginning, but a happy ending. It's a story that's all too common--except for the happy ending part.
Last weekend, I adopted two kittens from Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue. The kittens are a brother and sister pair, brown tabbies with white feet. The only way to tell them apart--when they're not streaking across the living room, tumbling together in a ball of fur and flailing paws or doing Tarzan swings on the curtains--is by their faces. The female, Keelie, has a pink nose with a smudge of white above it. The male, Bolt (as in lightning), has a brown nose.
The female has the name given her by the woman from VOKRA who fostered her. The male has a new name, chosen by my seven-year-old son. I'm pretty pleased with his choice, actually. I had to talk him out of Shadow, the name of the neighbour's dog. Imagine, I told my son, if we stepped out back and called, "Shadow, come!" and the neighbour's dog showed up. Or vice versa, with our cat charging over to the neighbour's house when they called their dog. Fortunately, my son's a pretty logical kid.

I'm just thankful he didn't choose the name Mittens. Or Boots. Or anything else I'd be gritting my teeth about for the next 20 years. But I digress.
The happy ending is that two kittens have a loving, permanent home. The tragic beginning is that they lost their mother when they were just one day old. The mom cat was struck by a car on the road and, despite her injuries, crawled back to her litter of four. There, she died.
Like a loving mother from any species, her last thoughts were for her babies.
The story brought tears to my son's eyes. To my eyes, too. The mom cat will never know the heroic efforts of the SPCA driver who rushed her four kittens to VOKRA in the middle of the night, or of the volunteers who kept them alive. The round-the-clock bottle feedings of kitten formula. The wiping of tiny kitten bottoms with a wash cloth--to simulate a mother cat's licking tongue--necessary to help very young kittens poop and pee.
Thanks to several weeks of tender care, first by Karen Duncan and then by Elizabeth Downey of VOKRA, the kittens survived. Like imprinted ducklings, they now think humans are their mommies. The male kitten suckles my son's fingers, purring and contentedly kneading his hand with tiny white paws.
"You're his daddy now," I tell my son. He beams with pride.
My son's learning responsibility. He tops up their food and water, ensures that neither kitten hogs all the food, and lets me know when their litter box needs changing.
Some jobs, it seems, are still mom's department.
Across Vancouver, hundreds of other kittens will be looking for their own happy endings this summer--or for happy beginnings, in the care of someone who can foster a litter for those essential first few weeks.
(Fostering cats is something I just can't do. I tried it once, and wound up on day two deciding to permanently adopt the cat we were just going to nurse back to health for the local SPCA "for a couple of weeks." That was Solly, our Persian, since deceased and still missed.)

Kitten season is in full swing, Duncan says. And despite previous media reports to the contrary, she said, it's "huge" this year. "All of a sudden they're all having kittens."

VOKRA has 88 cats and kittens who need homes now, and another 36 currently in foster care who will need homes in a matter of weeks. To make matters even more dire, VOKRA is also scrambling to find homes for many of the 30-plus cats--all orange, all fluffy, ranging in age from kitten to about eight years of age--who were seized last week from a home in Port Moody where two unspayed and un-neutered cats caused a population explosion. The cats aren't feral, are in good health, but are "somewhat shy," Duncan says.

Posted by kduncan on June 10, 2009 @ 12:00 AM

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