Latest News Releases


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October 10th, 2013

1000th Cat Adopted This Year Gives Thanks

“Mellow Yellow,” the Orange Tabby Didn’t Start Out Mellow


Vancouver, BC – – This week the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Associaton (VOKRA) adopted out their 1000th cat of 2013, just in time to find “Mellow Yellow” a new home for Thanksgiving. “Mellow Yellow,” was living on the streets of Vancouver throughout the winter of 2012-2013. He went from being a high-strung street cat to a relaxed companion through the care of a loving foster home and was adopted 10 months later.


“When I trapped Mellow Yellow in January he had the typical startled response of a tame cat forced to live outside” says Maria Soroski, VOKRA co-founder and trapper. Mellow Yellow was living near Knight street and Kingsway, being fed by a resident who was happy to see the orange tabby rescued. The temperatures regularly dipped near and below freezing overnight during Mellow Yellow’s time outside, and he is very lucky to have at least had someone to feed him.


“Mellow Yellow didn’t really live up to his name when he arrived” says his foster, Leah Weiner. Since being homeless and living outside in the winter, Mellow Yellow would be quick to agitate, which is common for tame cats who have been abandoned. He would sometimes bite and scratch, without warning. “A previous foster was afraid of him,” recalls Weiner, “and at first I was too!” Weiner was up for the challenge of helping Mellow Yellow to trust people again, so over the next few months she engaged in careful play therapy with him, as suggested by trapper, Soroski. “He eventually got the hang of it,” says Weiner, “now he wants to be everybody’s best friend, and greets guests by the door.”


“It was tough to choose from all the sweet cats,” says adopter, Laurie Buckley, “but this little guy showed so much personality in his photos we just had to meet him.” Buckley adopted Mellow Yellow after going through photos and bios of cats on the VOKRA website, then meeting him at his foster’s home. As the 1000th adoption this year, Mellow Yellow is a perfect example of hundreds of VOKRA kitties who have been rescued from the streets, cared for in a foster home, and adopted into a happy family. “Sometimes we call him ‘Mr. Yellow’ because he’s such a gentleman!”


VOKRA is a no-kill animal rescue association run entirely by volunteers since 2000. VOKRA is a registered charity and depends on donations to fund its operations. Learn more at www.vokra.ca

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September 17th 2013

Fourth Annual "Walk for the Kitties" Walkathon to Raise Funds for Rescued Cats and Kittens


Vancouver, BC-- The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) invites Metro Vancouver animal lovers to participate in its fourth annual "Walk for the Kitties", a 5km walk at Jericho Beach on Sunday, September 22. Participants can register to walk online at

http://www.vokra2013walkforthekitties.eventbrite.ca.



The "Walk for the Kitties" is an annual fundraising event benefiting VOKRA, a no-kill, non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue of cats in the Lower Mainland. Run entirely by volunteers, VOKRA relies on community donations and adoption fees to pay for quality food, litter, and medical bills for the abandoned cats and kittens that it rescues. Last year VOKRA rescued more than 1,800 abandoned cats and kittens from the streets of the Lower Mainland. The animal rescue group is aiming to raise $50,000 at this year's walkathon.



New this year, participants will be greeted by two of VOKRA's dedicated volunteers, Miss BC pageant winners Patricia Celan (Miss Charity BC 2013) and Elisabeth Yoon (Miss Greater Vancouver 2013). Following the walk, food and refreshments will be available for purchase from VOKRA's food truck partners Big Dogs Street Hots and BikeCaffe Canada.



Date: Sunday September 22, 2012
Time: 10 am
Location: Jericho Beach, 1300 Discovery St.

For more information or to register or donate online, please visit:

http://www.vokra2013walkforthekitties.eventbrite.ca.
Cash and credit card donations will also be accepted onsite.


About VOKRA

Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) is a no-kill, non-profit, registered charity dedicated to the rescue of cats in the Lower Mainland. Founded in 2000 out of the need to care for abandoned, bottle-feeding kittens, VOKRA has grown rapidly, from approximately 150 kittens and adult cats per year to more than 1,800 in 2012. VOKRA works to reduce uncontrolled breeding in feral cat colonies, while also actively finding foster and forever homes for the growing number of homeless cats and kittens in the Lower Mainland. VOKRA is reliant on and always grateful for the support of the community. Visit

www.vokra.ca.

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July 20th 2013

Kittens Missing from Crab Park, East Vancouver

The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA) was called to Crab park 149 E Waterfront Rd, Vancouver on Sunday where they rescued a nursing cat. "The mother cat full of milk was abandoned in the park without her kittens" says Karen Duncan president of the kitten rescue. We are asking the public for any information leading to where her kittens are so we can reunite them as soon as possible. No questions asked. Please call the rescue at 604-731-2913.

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July 19th 2013

VOKRA Takes In Over 47 Cats and Kittens in 2 Emergency Rescues

Vancouver, BC – The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) has taken in 47 cats from two sites in June alone, on top of their usual intake, all on the heels of losing their Surrey location TNR transition shelter. It is now July, and the number of cats in their care is climbing fast; VOKRA is in desperate need of donations, fosters, and adopters.

“We were put in contact with a farm where a growing population of cats and kittens needed to be sorted out,” says Karen Duncan, VOKRA president. When VOKRA got on the scene they found 27 kittens between five and six weeks old, many of them with eye infections or colds. “Twenty-seven tiny little tabby and white kittens who were mostly ill, “says Duncan “it’s heartbreaking.”

The kittens were picked up by VOKRA volunteers and kept overnight by Huntington Heights in Abbotsford. They were then split between five different foster homes. “By housing the kittens in foster homes we are able to more effectively deal with illness without allowing it to spread to healthy cats” say Duncan, “it took a lot of organizing and dedicated foster homes to nurse all the cats and kittens back to full health.”

The cost for 27 kittens in care is over $3000 to have them all spayed and neutered, and then approximately $50 per month including food and medical care to treat eye infections and colds. C.A.R.E.S and Huntington Heights Haven have generously partnered with VOKRA to provide assistance with the cost of spaying all of the female cats, and VOKRA is working with the farm to arrange for an ongoing plan to control the farm’s cat populations.

“We are happy that we were able to step in and help,” says Duncan, “two cats can easily turn into thirty cats in less than a year. We need people to realize that they must spay and neuter their pets. “If it is a case of wild cats, we can easily humanely trap and get them into the vet.” Says Duncan, “rescue is costly, but the alternative is tragedy for these animals. Spays and neuters would have cost far less when it was two cats rather than twenty-seven.”

On the heels of the Abbottsford farm, came a call that required the rescue of 20 more cats and kittens from a family whose un-spayed and un-neutered cats had bred out of control. “It always comes down to a lack of spaying and neutering,” says Duncan.

VOKRA lost their Surrey TNR centre in May. The centre acted as a key transitional location for cats and kittens in that area, who are recovering from illness or spay/neutering before being transferred to a foster home or released, if feral. Without the centre, they have run out of space to take on any more cats. With the two emergency rescues back-to-back they are in danger of running out of money. Any donations, foster homes, or families looking to adopt would be integral at this point to ensuring that VOKRA can continue their ongoing rescue efforts.

VOKRA is outstandingly devoted to the care of cats and kittens of all ages and health issues. VOKRA has no central shelter and a network of over 250 foster homes for their cats and kittens. Knowledgeable foster and adoption teams keep track of each cat and are able to help match them to potential adopters. “Since the cats and kittens are in caring foster homes, they become very social, even those rescued from severe situations outside. The fosters are also able to monitor their personalities, and often know if they are good with kids, dogs, and other cats.” says Duncan.

VOKRA is a strictly no-kill animal rescue association run entirely by volunteers and donations since 2000. Learn more at www.vokra.ca Last year over 1800 kittens and cats were helped by VOKRA. Our 2014 Walk For The Kitties is on September 22nd, please register to walk with us at vokra2013walkforthekitties.eventbrite.ca/

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May 7, 2013

Surrey Animal Rescue Group Facing Uncertain Future

VOKRA Surrey losing operating facilities after city pound relocation

Surrey, British Columbia - The Surrey branch of the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA), a 100% volunteer-run organization dedicated to the rescue of homeless cats in Surrey and surrounding municipalities, will be left without its operating facilities after the City of Surrey Animal Resource Center's upcoming move to a Cloverdale location. VOKRA currently runs its Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program from a building at the Animal Resource Center's 6706 152nd Street site. The group is desperately seeking the help of the local community in finding a suitable new space in Central Surrey to continue its operations.

The goal of the Surrey branch of VOKRA is to help curb the numbers of homeless cats found on Surrey streets. Since it began operations in this area in early 2011, more than 900 cats have been spayed and neutered by VOKRA.

"We are absolutely devastated to be losing our Trap-Neuter-Return centre," said Christine Johnson, Surrey VOKRA volunteer. "We are very thankful that the City has allowed us to operate from its Animal Resource Center on 152nd Street for the past year. Since we started our work in Surrey, our volunteers have been able to help over 900 abandoned cats. The loss of the TNR centre will mean an immediate halt to our work."

VOKRA's Trap-Neuter-Return centre is where cats that are humanely trapped from the streets are first brought for assessment and care. Cats are then taken to a vet to be spayed or neutered, tattooed, vaccinated, and treated for any other medical issues. After a short stay in the TNR centre to recover from their surgeries, cats are returned to site if it is safe to do so, relocated to a barn if it is not, or placed in a foster home if the cats are tame and adoptable.

TNR stabilizes the feral cat population in a cost efficient and effective manner by preventing further reproduction, while also improving and protecting the lives of the existing feral cats and pet cats that are allowed to be outdoors.

The group is seeking a building with at least 20' x 15' space in Central Surrey that offers access to electricity, running water, and 24/7 access. Ideally, a washroom facility would also be available.

Alternatively, if a parcel of land can be made available, VOKRA will fundraise to place a suitable building on-site.

Community members and businesses that can provide building space, land or donations are encouraged to contact VOKRA at surreyvokra@live.com

About TNR in Surrey

TNR, Trap-Neuter-Return, is a proven, cost efficient and effective approach to managing the feral cat populations that are found in most urban and rural communities. After being humanely trapped, cats are taken to a vet where they are spayed or neutered, tattooed, vaccinated, and treated for any other medical issues. Following their recovery, the cats are returned to their colony, where volunteers continue post-return feeding and monitoring. If there is no caretaker, or if the site is unsafe, then the cats are relocated to barns where they become "rodent control technicians". Kittens and tame adults are not returned, and are instead adopted out to homes. TNR stabilizes the feral cat population in a cost efficient and effective manner by preventing further reproduction in cat colonies, while also improving and protecting the lives of the existing cats. Not only is TNR the most humane practice for handling feral cats, it is also the only practice that works. VOKRA has had a long, successful track record of addressing the feral cat numbers in other cities. Vancouver and Burnaby have been "under control" for a number of years now with very few calls received regarding feral cats. By contrast, VOKRA's Surrey branch receives numerous daily calls from citizens to help trap homeless cats. It is estimated that there are over 12,000 free roaming cats in Surrey.

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November 29th 2012

VOKRA Adopts out 1000th Cat This Year, Has Taken In Nearly 1800

Vancouver, BC – The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) currently has a record number of cats and kittens in their care. While the number of cats being rescued by the organization is on an increase, donations and adoption numbers are not matching the increase in need.

“We are running out of foster homes and funds and we need good homes for over 250 that are available now, not to mention the ones almost ready for adoption and those flowing in” says Karen Duncan, founder and president of VOKRA. Last year VOKRA rescued over 1400 cats and kittens. This year they have rescued 1785 as of the end of November, and the calls just keep coming in.

“There is a problem with the lack of affordable pet-friendly housing in Vancouver, and there is a problem with people not spaying and neutering their cats,” says Duncan. “The SPCA are not taking surrender cats, as they are filling the shelters with cats and kittens from the interior. We see a huge jump in the numbers of people begging us to take on their cats when they can find no options and a huge increase in the numbers that are found starving or worse on the streets. This year’s late summer weather is now causing us to fill with pregnant, nursing cats and orphaned newborns. We are 100% volunteer run, strictly no-kill, and rely on donations. If donations don’t start coming in and people don’t start adopting these cats I don’t know what we are going to do."

With an adoption fee of $125 for an adult cat, $175 for kittens, and a reduction if you adopt more than one, the adoption fees for VOKRA’s cats and kittens don’t even come close to covering the cost of caring for them while they are with VOKRA. The fees cover a check-up, shot, worming, and spay/neuter. “Our operating costs are over $400 000 a year,” says Karen, “and that is nearly all spent on veterinary care, spays and neuters, and food.” 5% is spent on fundraising, and another 5% on travel, administration, and promotion.

VOKRA is outstandingly devoted to the care of cats and kittens of all ages and health issues. Despite having no central shelter and a network of over 200 foster homes for their cats and kittens, a detailed record is kept on each one including health and behavioral information. “When you adopt a cat or kittens from VOKRA, you get all the information that we have about them,” says Duncan, “since the cats and kittens are in caring foster homes, the cats become very social, even those rescued from severe situations outside. The fosters are also able to monitor their personalities, and often know if they are good with kids, dogs, and other cats.”

VOKRA is a strictly no-kill animal rescue association run entirely by volunteers and donations since 2000. Learn more at www.vokra.ca

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August 29th 2012

VOKRA Responds to Recent Stories: Kitten Torture Video

Vancouver, BC – The Vancouver Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) is heartbroken by the tragic circumstances brought to light last week with the announcement of a cell phone video allegedly depicting the violent torture and abuse of a kitten by a Vancouver man. They are also saddened by the recent news from Surrey of kittens who were found abandoned in a cooler on the side of the road.

Many may be thinking what they could possibly do to prevent such a horrible crime. The solution is simple: have your pets spayed or neutered. Organizations like VOKRA rescue thousands of homeless cats and kittens every year, with a careful selection process for fosters and adopters of each cat and kitten. While the idea of having a litter of kittens may seem cute, VOKRA advises that thousands of homeless kittens are born each year, and many of them don't survive, end up living on the streets reproducing, or are given away free to homes that do not give appropriate care.

“Every month I get asked by Vancouver residents to help trap and rescue homeless pregnant cats that have decided to settle in their neighbourhood, and we have constant litters of kittens,” explains VOKRA cat trapper, Maria Soroski. “Everywhere we look there are kittens, and yet people still breed cats and there are still always offers of free kittens in papers and online. As long as people keep allowing their cats to have more kittens, more kittens will be vulnerable to falling into the hands of an abusive person.”

“Our volunteers have created a very hands-on adoption process, and do their very best to ensure cats go to loving homes,” says Karen Duncan, president of VOKRA. “A situation like this sickens us. Animal's lives are important, and where they go matters. As a community we should not allow these things to happen, and we should not allow them to happen without consequence. Our cruelty laws need to get stronger so people can be held to account properly for actions such as this..”

VOKRA is a strictly no-kill animal rescue association run entirely by volunteers and donations. They are having an annual walk on September 23rd to raise money for the over 1400 cats and kittens they rescue every year. Learn more at www.vokra.ca

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June 5th 2012

Turkish Street Cats Get a Second Chance at Life

Vancouver, BC – Local independent cat rescuer brings 5 Turkish street cats back from a journey to Avsallar, Turkey and hopes to give them a second chance at life by adopting them into loving homes with the help of VOKRA.

Sara Ahmadi, a vet assistant Hastings Veterinary Hospital in Vancouver, left her home for a month to join her friend and rescuer, Manuela Wroblewski from Germany who had been in Turkey two years helping the hundreds of homeless cats and dogs in Avsallar. “Each day, we walked for up to 6 hours feeding and spending time with each dog and cat we saw,” Ahmadi writes in her letter posted on VOKRA’s website, “the situation was much worse than I ever could have imagined and the photos I had previously seen online did not come close to the real nightmare that the animals face each day of their lives.” Ahmadi raised $2000, the means to bring the airline limit of five cats; cats that she knew would have very little chance if left on the streets of Avsallar. She brought them to Canada and had them treated by her employer, Hastings animal hospital. The cats are now healthy, loving, and VOKRA hopes to help find the loving families they so very much deserve.

There were many perils for cats living in Avsallar. Ahmadi heard too many stories of cats being abused by locals. “A local man had captured all of the other cats in the area and had thrown them into a canyon,” Ahmadi writes of finding one of the cats, Chanel, miraculously safe. Another cat, Fistik, was “left in front of the veterinary hospital door to die overnight covered in blood with a broken pelvis and two broken legs.” Despite their hardships, the cats are gentle. Fistik, a calico with bright green eyes and a tri-colour face “loves to cuddle at night and spends the day playing with her toys and exploring her foster home.” Mimi, a beautiful tabby with a white bib “loves to be held because she feels safe for the first time in her life.”

Some of the cats need some extra gentle attention. Chanel, who had escaped the local who had thrown other cats into a canyon is a sturdy little tabby who “still cowers when I try to pet her but is slowly learning to trust me and has even started to purr for the first time since I have known her” writes Ahmadi. Madonna, while still fearful, “shows affection by rubbing her head on my hand and has the sweetest voice you will ever hear.” Ballerina, the fifth cat, is “friendly and playful” writesAhmadi, though she is recovering from having her leg amputated. She was left at the door of the veterinary hospital in Avsallar with skin and flesh missing up to the bone.

Photos and the stories of the cats are on VOKRA’s website at http://www.orphankittenrescue.com/blogs/2012/06/article345/

“We are happy to help Sara in her selfless efforts to get these beautiful animals adopted” states Michelle Carrington, adoptions manager for VOKRA, “the situation in Turkey is just so dire, and we know they can find the right homes here in Canada. With their rich history and loving personalities they will enrich the lives of five very lucky homes.”

Ahmadi raised $1750 while she was in Turkey through a Facebook page. The remaining travel, medical and food expenses are coming out of Sara’s pocket. Adoption fees for each cat is $150, all of which will go back to helping the street cats who remain in Turkey.

VOKRA is a strictly no-kill animal rescue association run entirely by volunteers and donations. They operate in Vancouver, BC but also work with rescues across BC to help homeless cats and kittens. Learn more at www.vokra.ca

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May 16th 2012

Cat Mom and Kittens Rescued near Metrotown Mother’s Day Weekend

Vancouver, BC – Though spay and neuter campaigns have become household knowledge, many still choose not to fix their cats, resulting in litters upon litters of homeless kittens. This Mother’s Day weekend the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) successfully removed a cat and her three kittens from a busy construction site near Metrotown Mall, adding to the hundreds of kittens without homes currently in Greater Vancouver.

Maria Soroski, one of VOKRA’s expert cat trappers got a call on Friday from Metrotown Security. The cats had been found at the site when they began to regularly trigger the security alarm system overnight. “The momma cat was being a good mother and found a safe haven away from Vancouver’s huge coyote population,” explains Sorosky, “but a construction site is still a dangerous place for kittens. It’s lucky the kind people who work there found them.” The construction site was heavily protected by high, locked wooden fences, so it is unclear as to how the pregnant cat found her way in. “It’s sad,” adds Soroski, “that in the malls across Canada and North America there are pet stores that have their kittens shipped in from kitten mills, while out here outside there are homeless cats and kittens left unwanted and alone.”

Maria set a trap on Friday night with some food, and by Saturday the mother cat had been trapped. The cat welcomed the rescue, and responded to Maria with trust. “She was obviously someone’s pet who had been lost or abandoned and had not been spayed” states Soroski. The kittens did not respond to the trap, but were lured out by staff at the site, who caught them by hand and played with them until Maria was able to make it back on the scene.

The cats were found by Metrotown Security hiding with her kittens under one of the construction site’s portable offices. With no food readily available to her, while trying to nurse kittens, she had been hunting birds and mice; whose remains were littered around her hideout.

The mother cat and kittens are all now under the care of VOKRA. The mother is awaiting being spayed and looking for a new forever home. One of the kittens has already been adopted by a Metrotown staff member who was involved in finding the kittens.

“This is why we do what we do” says Karen Duncan, founder of VOKRA, “there are cats and kittens who come in to us, the SPCA, cat sanctuaries, and numerous other hard working organizations in Vancouver every single day. It is important we educate the public to always spay or neuter their pets. It is also imperative to avoid supporting the inhumane practice of kitten mills, and always adopt. Never buy from a pet store.”

VOKRA is a strictly no-kill animal rescue association run entirely by volunteers and donations. Learn more at www.vokra.ca

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August 16th 2011

Rescued healthy kittens euthanized the same day they are found, highlighting need for spay/neuter program in interior BC

Terrace, BC - A nursing mom and two kittens arrived at VOKRA (Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association) on August 5th 2011. The kittens were found by a homeowner who took two of the four kittens in the litter to a shelter in hopes of them being adopted, but they were euthanized the same day they arrived.

Four kittens were found in a homeowner Cindy’s yard who were the offspring of a known stray cat. The homeowner managed to rescue two of the four kittens. “I took the kittens to the local pound in hopes that they would be adopted into a family home. Little did I know the shelter was so over-crowded the kittens were euthanized the same day with no opportunity for adoption.” The two shelters in Terrace alone euthanized 700-800 cats a year due in part to a lack of spay and neuter programs for cats both feral and tame. That is when *lastname she called Cam Bellamy, a local animal rescuer and advocate who contacted VOKRA. “The fate of homeless cats in the north has always been dire,” explains Bellamy. She heard about VOKRA when networking with other rescues in BC. “They have been very supportive of our efforts to save as many cats as we can.” Led by Karen Duncan, VOKRA rescued over 1400 cats and kittens in 2009 alone.

“Costs of spaying and neutering cats can often put the procedure out of reach for many hard-working families in interior BC,” explains Duncan, founder and head of VOKRA. “In accessible interior clinics, spaying and vaccinations for one are approximately $300, and neutering with vaccinations to be $230. With the closest SPCA low-cost spay/neuter facility being a 7 hour drive away, simply asking that pet owners take initiative to spay and neuter their pets is not often a viable request when the homeless animal population is already at such a high.”

“There are animal control facilities in Terrace, “adds Bellamy, “but neither of them have the room or resources to deal with large numbers of homeless cats and kittens. There are no trap-neuter-release programs in northern BC.” Trap-neuter-release programs are programs where fully feral cats who are not adoptable and not able to become re-domesticated are trapped, neutered or spayed, and then released back to their original location. “Programs like this are a kind and humane way to reduce the stray animal population” stresses Duncan.

The cat and two kittens were re-located to VOKRA in Vancouver through Hawkair Airlines, and VOKRA would like to thank them for their generosity. (www.hawkair.ca)

The mother cat is a polydactal (a cat with 6 toes known occasionally as Hemmingway cats for the author’s fondness of them.) One of the kittens is a tabby male, and the other a female black and white. All three are available for adoption through VOKRA.

VOKRA is a strictly no-kill animal rescue association run entirely by volunteers and donations.

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