|If you were to create a Venn diagram where one circle was labeled "cheap" and the other labeled "awesome", the middle point where they cross over could be labeled "Vancouver on the Cheap". In other words, this is a weekly series on things to do and places to go in Vancouver that fall into that magical category of being both cheap and awesome.|
Way back when I wrote my very first post ever for Vancouver is Awesome, I gave some basic principles for cheap living. One of those principles stated that if you're trying to live on the cheap, you've got to avoid dependents. Whether human or animal, dependents can cost a lot of money, and no matter how much they repay you in love, joy, and affirmation of the true meaning of life, those qualities don't help replenish your bank account.
Less than five minutes after the article went live I started receiving messages from friends asking if I had forgotten about VOKRA.
Indeed, I had forgotten about VOKRA.
For those of you feeling very confused right now, VOKRA, while sounding like something vaguely Klingon, actually stands for Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association. It is a non-kill society of volunteers dedicated to rescuing cats in the Lower Mainland. Instead of operating out of a shelter, VOKRA has about 100 foster homes where these abandoned kitties are housed, loved, and fed until someone is able to adopt them.
Fostering, it turns out, is the key to having a feline-type dependent on the cheap. it allows you all the joy of having a sweet little cat in your home without any of the cost: food and supplies are provided, as well as any health care needs. You don't even need to make a lifetime commitment if you're terrified of long-term relationships - all you have to promise to to love this kitty until someone adopts it or until you need to give it back.
Meet Boo, Foster Kitty #1
A couple of my friends, who recently took in a couple of foster kitties of their own, were able to give me a first-hand account on the fostering process.
Why did you decide to foster with VOKRA instead of adopting outright?
I love cats. I have a cat-quota that needs to be fulfilled with cuddle time, or I get sad. Our building doesn't officially allow pets, nor did our lack of finances and long-term plans line up well with taking on a cat for the next 15 to 20 years. All I had was love and attention to give and it turns out that was exactly what VOKRA wanted.
What was the process like to apply for fostering?
There was an application on their website. That was followed up by a couple emails and phone calls. They thought they found a good match for us pretty quickly, so we went to meet the kitties, find out about their particulars and give affirmation that we were good to go with the match. They set us up with all of the basic needs (food, litter, litter box, scratching post).
What are they looking for in a foster home?
Love and attention. A safe home where the cat(s) aren't in danger of escaping is also necessary. They also look to fosters to reinforce positive behaviours that the cats will carry into their 'forever homes'.
Do you get to keep them forever?
No, you only keep them until they get adopted by someone else... but you could always choose to adopt them.
Did you get to pick your kitties?
We let them know in the application what kind of cats we would be up to fostering (adult, pregnant, pregnant with litter, kittens, feral) and then met with cats they proposed to see if they seemed to get along with us.
What were your bottom line costs at the end of the day from deciding to foster to getting your kitties settled in your home?
So far, the only thing we have bought for them is a brush, which cost a grand total of $3.50. Over time I'm sure we will make or buy the random toy as their current ones get trashed. VOKRA supplies specifically required food and litter. If you were extra generous/well-to-do you could always buy your own supplies of the approved stuff, but otherwise they give you supplies that you just have to go pick up.
Any extra time commitment besides what's normally involved in kitty care?
Probably depends on the particular cat(s). We have one that we are guessing lost her mom too early, giving her some separation anxiety that needs a bit more attention as she adjusts to our home. The other was found wandering on the streets and his wandering heart wants to go outside, which is something he can't do safely here, so he's adjusting quite vocally at the moment. They are both unbelievably cute though, so it all evens out. They also ask you to send updates to them with photos and about personalties so they can keep the kitties profiles updated on the website.
Anything else to share about the process of fostering a cat through VOKRA?
It may be hard, the thought of giving the cats up eventually, but it is good to keep in mind that this is in place of the cats living in kennels, or worse yet if it weren't for VOKRA, in the pound and probably put down. This is so much better for the cats and allows them to grow up in a healthy environment that preps them for a good life in their future homes.
Meet Chai, Foster Kitty #2!
Reports are that VOKRA is currently seeking more foster homes, so if you're looking for an opportunity to bring a little furball into your home, this could be it. Check out their website for info on fostering, or even adopting.
So it turns out that there are some options for having dependents while keeping your life cheap. If you know of similar options for fostering dogs or other animals, please share them in the comments!