Article in Courier today


Crucial cat rescue group disbands

Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier

Published: Friday, July 10, 2009

Sitting in the lobby of the Courier Wednesday afternoon, Kitsilano-based cat rescue coordinator Karen Duncan looks exhausted as she holds two kittens less than a week old.

As she reaches for a tiny bottle of formula to feed the squalling grey bundles of fur, so young their eyes aren't open, Duncan has noticeable red scratches lining her arms. "You caught me on a day I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed," Duncan told the Courier earlier in the day during a phone interview. "I think I'm going a bit nuts."

Duncan, who formed Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association in 2001, has a right to feel overwhelmed. Not only has VOKRA rescued a record number of stray cats and kittens this summer, Duncan and other volunteers are taking on the responsibilities of Maverick Cat Coalition, which is dissolving this month. Maverick Cat was the focus of a Courier cover story published in March, but last week in an email co-founder Cylia Wong said the board is disbanding the group because it's short on volunteers and cash.

As a major cat rescue group disbands, Karen Duncan and the volunteers of the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association have their overworked hands full.

photo by Rebecca Blissett

As a major cat rescue group disbands, Karen Duncan and the volunteers of the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association have their overworked hands full.

The organization's volunteers trapped feral and abandoned cats and kittens, which they then had spayed or neutered. Following their recovery, tame cats were fostered out until a permanent home could be found while feral felines, surviving well on their own, were placed back where they were found and fed regularly by volunteers. Wong didn't respond to email requests for an interview before the Courier's press deadline.

Without Maverick Cat, VOKRA, which on its own rescued 800 cats and kittens last year, is taking on extra responsibilities. Duncan said the two groups shared some volunteers, so they'll attempt to keep trapping. The two grey kittens Duncan held on Wednesday had been rescued just the day before from a fish food factory near Southeast Marine Drive. A worker there told Duncan a stray mother cat and at least two more kittens still need rescuing, so she's planning a return trip.

Besides the almost 100 kittens and mother cats VOKRA has that need homes, there are dozens more in foster care that also need a place to live in a matter of weeks. VOKRA has taken on the care of 40 orange tabby cats and kittens recently rescued from a home in Port Moody. Duncan said the B.C. SPCA won't respond to calls unless stray cats or kittens are contained, so the association contacts VOKRA, which responds day and night.

"Our mandate is to rescue kittens from Vancouver and Burnaby, but now we're getting calls about cats and kittens from Surrey and other outlying areas," she said. "We just don't have enough money to handle them all. It's tricky, we're doing our best but our bills for spaying and neutering are enormous."

Duncan said VOKRA is in desperate need of committed volunteers for trapping and feeding, foster homes and cash. For more information, contact Duncan at or leave a message at 604-731-2913.

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

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