RAPS is short for Regional Animal Protection Society, a registered charity and operator of a sanctuary which houses and cares for nearly 500 homeless or abandoned cats in Richmond, BC, Canada. The Neko Files is a celebration of the sanctuary and all those who live and work there.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tea-room Tabby Royalty

The back courtyard at the Sanctuary is home to several tabbies, and Stella is the queen!
Stella on her favourite throne
A large-boned girl with a certain presence, she can usually be found holding court on top of the cat-tree just outside the Tea-room;  if the weather is less pleasant, or the humans are meeting in there, she will claim the top of one of the shelves or the table.
The tea-room table becomes the throne
There she seeks attention with conversation and the odd waving paw. She doesn’t want to lap-sit, and she spends as little time at floor-level as she can manage, but she likes to be noticed and acknowledged.
We are not amused...
Stella came to us a few years ago when her family situation changed, and the stress caused her to become a pee-er, as sometimes happens with unhappy cats. She was even unhappier, initially, when she was surrendered to RAPS and brought to the Sanctuary.
Anything can be a throne - it's all in the attitude...
But time has done its work, and Stella is well settled with us.  She’s not much into the company of lesser cats; she’s not nasty about it, like Parry or Licorice – they’re just beneath her notice.
In the summer the throne is framed in floral offerings
Occasionally, a visitor will confuse her with Sophie. Sophie is  not a queen, she’s a spoiled princess, and things have to go her way at all times. In token of this, she wears a collar to remind people that she can sometimes be a bit nasty if she feels we’re not paying the right attention to her. Behaviour like that is beneath Stella’s dignity.
Sophie smirks - I can swat before you touch me...
Sophie is one of the cats who came to us from Five Road several years ago, and spent time in Pen 2 with Calvin, Chase, Celeste and Zivko for tabby company.  Even before the pen was opened, Sophie was eager to be out, and she, Parry and Taffy have relocated themselves from Pen 2 to the Tea-room.
Approach with caution - even outside...
Sophie wants attention but it has to be just so. Reaching to touch her is risky, but she is often ready to leap up on your lap. Better still, she likes the game of jumping on your chair just as you are about to sit down. Touch has to be around the neck and ears but not down her back; teeth and claws come into action quickly if you don’t read the body language correctly.  She definitely doesn’t like the other cats!
Queen Mothers enjoy floral tributes too
The third Tea-room tabby is Jody – and most of her time is spent on a shelf in the bathroom.  If stella is the Queen and Sophie the spoiled princess, Jody is the elderly, and slightly confused, Queen Mum.  She is very much a loner, though she adores human attention and will lick the petting hand as long as it is allowed. 
Jody says "Somebody pet me!"
Occasionally we will hear despairing wails that are characteristic of a geriatric cat who doesn’t quite know where she is; a little petting, and all is right with Jody’s world again.
These three tabbies could not be more different in personality, but they’ve chosen to share the same space, ignoring each other (and most of the other cats) with varying degrees of grace.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Michele Wright

Thursday, January 10, 2019


An introduction to a new cat - from volunteer Pauline Chin

Amongst the new arrivals sitting in their cages, I come across the name, Fido. What, a dog's name? A name search defines Fido as “a generic dog's name” and “trustful or faithful”. More curiously still, the little fellow has no litterbox in his cage. The floor is covered in towels because he is known to pee everywhere. 
It seems he was abandoned by his owners and left to fend for himself outside the home where he had lived.  Neighbours saw his predicament and started taking care of him.  They eventually reached out to RAPS and now he’s here.
Fido appears to be a grey cat with a large bone structure who has lost weight and muscle mass.  He has striking green eyes.  His big, white feet have been stained yellow by urine.  Judging by his feet and bones, he must’ have been heavily built in his prime.  His ear tattoo tells me he’s at least 14.  Reaching through the cage to give him cheek scritches is enough to calm him down.  His constant meows are demands for human attention.
I’ve been warned he can leak at any time.  Sitting calls for extra protection.  In this case, it’s a big towel and a garbage bag.  He seems to truly appreciate the close contact.  Understandable as not every human will want an incontinent cat on their lap.  Five minutes later, he’s still a cuddlebug and dry.  Five more minutes and he’s still happy and dry.  I check his cage over the course of 2 hours and it’s dry and clean.  Definitely an improvement.  Fido also drinks a lot of water for a cat.  Strangely, he has used his food bowl for a toilet.
Cats have all sorts of reasons for “inappropriate urination”.  Medical reasons aside, cats might pee elsewhere if the litterbox is too small, too dirty, in an undesirable location, has undesirable litter, or if someone is blocking access.  Some felines do it more for fun, when they’re upset, insecure, or want to claim ownership.  Sometimes it’s a quick spray, other times it’s a whole bladder’s worth.  Around here, we’re used to cleaning up puddles and wall stains.
It'll be interesting to see if Fido learns to fully control his bladder, if he dribbles as he travels, or if he is more selective where he goes.  Eli, Licorice, Terry, Ollie, and Delilah are notorious for spraying territory.  Through no fault of their own, late manxes Sweetpea and PeeWee were famous for leaving people with soggy feet.  Our star, Honeybear, also sprays and creates droppings as he makes his rounds, but everyone loves this bizarre boy.
Personally, I prefer to give Fido the name Pinot Gris.  He is grey coloured, unique, a sociable guy, and a pun on pee.  If not for his incontinence, he would make a great cuddle buddy.  Cheers to a new friend!
Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Pauline Chin, Brigid Coult, Jennine Kariya, Michele Wright

Note from Brigid: Fido is now out of his cage, and peeing enthusiastically everywhere to establish his territory! Though he can't really be said to be helpful, his chatty personality and his desire for attention has quickly made him a favourite!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Buddies on the way

An unlikely friendship - but one that helped them both...   CP

Tiger is a 7 year-old boy, surrendered to us for a peeing problem. Medical checks tell us that it’s not physiological – he’s just one of those cats who’s got out of the habit of using a litter-box.  He’s a beautiful boy with classic tabby markings, and right from the beginning he was friendly with people who visited him.  We hoped that the peeing problem might go away, and that he could eventually be adopted out, but no such luck – either it’s hardwired into him now, or he is so easily stressed that it’s his way of coping with things.
The smell of pee, of course, is one of the ways that a cat marks its own territory, and Tiger has claimed the cage he was placed in as his space – even though the door has been opened for some time, he is reluctant to wander too far, and constantly returns to the place he feels most comfortable. He’s not a food-motivated boy, but one who enjoys gentle petting, and a human that will allow him to roll and have his belly stroked.
Sprocket came in to us  about the same time as Tiger as one of a pair of feral cats caught in north Richmond by Stephanie, our most experienced trapper.  They are probably about a year old.  His brother Rocket (also orange) tested positive for feline AIDS, and is now living in the New Aids pen. Both were very shy; when startled, Rocket will fly around erratically, and we’ve learned to move very gently around him. Sprocket was caged in a corner of the DoubleWide, and for several weeks remained hiding in his carrier.  The med-staff worked with him, and eventually he learned that humans were worth purring for.
Once the Kitty Comforter team set to work, Sprocket decided he was on to a good thing. Though still very timid, he would sit within reach and allow gentle petting; for a while we had to be very wary because we wanted to keep him caged, and he would sit a little too close to the door for comfort.
Eventually Leslie decided that cage-time was no longer necessary, and his door was opened. Being a cat, he promptly decided that this was where he really wanted to be, and for a while longer, we continued to serve his dinner to him. But obviously, when humans weren’t around, Sprocket started exploring, and was often found in the cage opposite his own.
And then he vanished.  There was some concern – had he gone out on the deck with the ferals? Had he somehow got past the main door? When we have new cats around, it is kept closed, but experienced paws have learned to open it for themselves. With some relief, we found that Sprocket had not gone far – he’d braved the diagonally opposite corner of the DoubleWide and found Tiger’s open cage.
For some time we consistently found the two of them together. Occasionally they snuggled; mostly they lay separately, but each obviously took comfort in the other’s presence. The older, steady boy, and the younger, still easily startled feral made a good pair.  And gradually Tiger was completing the Kitty Comforters’ work, and letting his buddy know that he was in a place of safety and one where humans are not to be feared.
Sprocket & Tiger paws - MS
Both cats have moved on now - each one has gained confidence from the other's presence.  Tiger has remained in the DoubleWide - he likes warmth and comfort. But he's no longer confining himself to his original cage area, and he's often found buddying up with Pancake.
Sharing a shelf with Pancake - BC
Sprocket has made his way into the great outdoors, and is usually found in the Newcomers area with the other shy cats. Kitty Comforters and regular staff and volunteers are watching for him, and making sure he remembers that we aren't to be feared.
Sprocket outside - KN

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Vicki Lo, Karen Nicholson, Lisa Parker, Chris Peters, Molly Sjerdal, Tanisha Vincent, Michele Wright

Monday, December 31, 2018

Gone in 2018 - but still loved

Merlin (Jan) was a resident of the leukemia area   (MW)
One of the things that always seems to come with a New Year is a retrospective of the one just past – and inevitably that includes recollections of the big personalities and celebrities who have died during the year.
Jake (Aug) waiting anxiously for visitor attention   (MW)
At the Sanctuary we try to focus on the positive – to think of the love that has been shared with our cats, and of the fact that many of them have lived longer and healthier lives with us than they might otherwise have done.
Gunther (Feb) was one of our sad-eyed tabbies     (MW)
But we grieve their passing, even when we know that that final trip to the vet is the most loving gift we can give them at the end.  And that journey is always made with a loving hand to ease the last moments and let them know just how much we cared for them.
Romeo (Jan) liked to be in the tea-room where he might beg human food.   (DW)
There are many conversations full of memories – remembering Romeo and the Timbits, Splotch and his shift from feral to lover, Gregory and how bonded he was with our beloved Dell....
Abby (June) was a small cat with a big personality  (MW)
Here are just a few of the friends we lost in the past year.
Orange Daniel (Oct) is greatly missed by his buddy Cloverleaf    (MW)
Bengal Jinx (Feb) was surrendered for peeing - but we loved her  (MD)

Front courtyard Jinx (Dec) loved her sunbathing    (MD)
Handsome Simba (Aug)  took every opportunity to snuggle  (PH)
Kiddie (Nov) has gone to be with his sister Sadie    (MW)
Bonnie Boy (Nov) knew how handsome he was!   (MW)
Emo Pickles' (Sept) flattened ears belied his loving nature   (PH)
Sweet Peppercorn (Oct) loved to have attention from humans   (MW)
We don’t have a finite amount of love to share – every cat that walks into our hearts leaves a little bit of itself there, but there is still much love to be given to the newcomers who continue to come into our care.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Phaedra Hardman, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ho Ho Meow

Through the Christmas season, the Sanctuary decorations are up mainly for the humans, and with treats now firmly curtailed, cat-feasting is restricted to healthy stuff like fish and turkey fragments.  There are certainly a few more toys around to play with, but when volunteer Alice brought a tiny Santa hat in with her, the cats' reactions varied. 
Squeekers is infinitely patient with the weird things humans do, and he always looks so handsome!
Tyson was very laid-back about the whole thing.
Cinnamon Bun Lincoln appeared to be enjoying himself, and posed very patiently.
Even shy little Keira KnightStreet got in on the action!
Dexter decided he'd rather play with it than wear it.  He feels he's sufficiently good-looking that he doesn't need a hat to make himself look better!
Michele brought in a Christmas Mouse for her Feline Friday picture-session, and got some wonderful shots.  Georgie is telling the Mouse what she wants for Christmas...
Little Mama found someone smaller than herself to cuddle with.
Silky definitely approved of the Mouse's company.
On behalf of all the Sanctuary Cats, Leo wishes everyone a very merry Catmas!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Alice Lai, Karen Nicholson, Tanisha Vincent, Michele Wright

Thursday, December 20, 2018


Two years ago this month we accepted a young black cat into the Sanctuary – his name was Slim.  He had originally come to RAPS as a stray, and was adopted out from the 5 Road Shelter, but was returned within the month with concerns about his aggression – concerns that were initially borne out in his first days with us.  Only the med staff handled him for the first week or so, and when the “med staff only” notice was removed, volunteers were reminded to proceed with caution as they cleaned out his cage and offered food.
As with most new cats, he remained caged for about a month, getting used to the attention of new people, and the sight and smells of a whole lot of strange cats.  Often in this period we have to cover the bottom of the cage door with a towel, so that the visual stimuli are not too much for the caged cat, and so that passing cats don’t pee into his territory.
Again, as with most new cats, when his cage door was opened, Slim remained inside for some time, taking comfort in surroundings that had become familiar to him.  We all remember what it’s like to be a new kid in school (further back for some of us than others!) - it’s rare that a new cat will acclimate quickly, though some welcome the human attention, though wary of the felines
Finally he started venturing out. We warned visitors to let him be, but both Kitty Comforters and cleaning/feeding volunteers gave him lots of attention, and though initially wary, he soon began to respond, and to look for petting.
"Will you pet me? - CN
Nowadays Slim is very much a member of the Connor House colony. He enjoys visits in the front courtyard, but doesn’t venture very far afield.  His name has ceased to suit him – he’s become a very chunky, solid boy, but an affectionate one.  Like many of the cats who come in with an “aggression” label, attention to his body language, and allowing him to settle at his own pace, has produced a cat that is quite easily handled, with awareness. Eli, Puffin, Lumi and many others have taught us that the label is often a product of ownership that didn’t respect the cat’s space and need to be alone;  just as with some humans, there are many cats that don’t want to be touched too much, get easily overstimulated, and certainly don’t want to be picked up. We have to remind visitors of this, and it’s one of the reasons we no longer allow young children to visit on Sundays.
With people who respect his space and timing, though, Slim is a sweetheart, and might be a candidate for adoption, to the right person who could offer him a home alone – though it’s likely that we wouldn’t put him through the stress of a move to the Shelter. In a place he knows, with people who love him, he would probably do very well.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Caitlin Norman, Michele Wright