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.

Friday, September 21, 2018

One-Eyed Love

At the Sanctuary, we’ve had our share of one-eyed cats, many of whom hold fond memories for us.
Val, Harry Potter, Fred, Simba - we loved you!
Sometimes the cat has come to us with only one eye; sometimes an infection necessitates the eye’s removal. It’s never a decision taken lightly, but is always one made for the better health of the cat in question.
At the moment we have three one-eyed cats in residence.
Fiona - CP
Fiona is the sister of tuxedo Miller, and of the late Schatzie who once preferred to live in the parking lot. Fiona was the shyest of the three, and still prefers to be out of the way when visitors arrive, emerging from her hiding place at 4:15pm when everyone has been ushered out of the gate.
Fiona with two eyes - MW
As well as her lovely torbie colouring, Fiona was notable for having eyes of two colours, one yellow and the other dark brown.  Last year, showing signs of discomfort, she was taken to the vet, where it was determined that the dark brown eye had a tumour, and immediate enucleation surgery was called for.
Fiona - MW
Fiona sailed through the surgery, and has learned to compensate for the monocular vision loss, managing to negotiate jumps without falling.
Barn-cats enjoying a fishy treat - MW
Pen 7 in the back is known as the barn-cat pen. Browsing through the Neko Blog, I was surprised to note that none of these cats have previously been featured in the blog. They have lived there for almost ten years and are still pretty feral, though some of them will allow touch, and they love their share of chicken or tuna treats used by the med staff to encourage trust. They came to us as a farm-cat colony, and they are obviously related – a number of them are gingers, there are a few stumpy tails, and several of them have a tendency to eye problems.  Med staff take particular care with orange Vera, whose eyes frequently flare up with an infection.
Rodan - MW
My own favourite in the pen is one-eyed Rodan, whose cage stays for eye-treatment, and for occasional colds have left him very comfortable with human contact. Rodan is frequently found at the front of the pen waiting for a volunteer to come and pet him, and he’s the only cat in the enclosure that will lap-sit.
Popeye - BC
Popeye is a newcomer to New Aids, but he has been quick to make himself at home with us.  He is one of the Island cats, coming to us from a shelter in Courtenay. Few shelters are able to give dedicated space to FIV cats (much less FeLV), and we have established a relationship with several of them that allow us to give these cats a home.  AIDS cats, unlike leukemia cats, can live long lives and do not transmit the virus to other cats unless they fight. Several of our AIDS cats are quite adoptable, with the one restriction (common to all RAPS adoptions) that they should remain indoor cats.
Popeye poses for attention - MW
This sweet boy arrived with us bearing the name Sambuca, but with another black Sambuca already in the population, his name was changed. Popeye is a quiet affectionate boy who enjoys petting, and appears to get on fairly well with the other cats.
"I'm so lovable" - VL
All three are delightful cats who would welcome your sponsorship in the RAPS program!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Vicki Lo, Chris Peters, Michele Wright

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Two Old Gentleman Cats

This week's blog is offered by Kitty Comforter Pauline Chin. Pauline introduces us to two old boys who like the DoubleWide cages they were first offered so much that they insist on remaining in them, even though the doors are wide open.
Binx holding court - BC
Many of our cats are long time residents.  Our youngest ones are around 2 years old; while our oldest may be in their twenties. Most of our current cats average between 12-15 years.  They are in various states of health; some need help in the form of daily medication, while others act like playful kittens.  Every cat receives love and attention everyday.  Yes, a perk of the volunteer job is enjoying feline company after the shift!
Binx seeking attention - PH
Binx is a 17 year old black kitty who arrived from 5 Road last year.  His amber eyes make him unique, since most of our blackies sport yellow eyes.   Binx loves a warm lap and quiet time.  He is not as spry as his younger days, as we are reminded by a sign in his cage that reads, "Binx is not an athlete.  Please keep his chair next to the shelf."  If his chair is moved, he looks at us with big pleading eyes, "Someone moved my chair!  How do I get up or down?"  
"Don't move that chair!" - BC
With some coaxing, he does take up a spot on the couch.  He’ll sit up straight, puff his chest out, and make the perfect photo op.  These days, he can also be found on the mattress on the double wide deck.  Binx is friendly and knows his name, but don't expect a warm welcome from the other semi-ferals on the deck. Benji, Jolene, Mary, and Ringo do not enjoy the company of humans.
Deenie says "This is MY box - ask before you visit!" - BC
Another elderly black kitty who arrived last year is Deenie.  He has yellow eyes, a white whisker on each side of his face, and grey-black fur.  He’s about the same age as Binx.  He’s also a homebody, preferring his cage over anything else.  Once in a while, he walks outside and rolls around on the warm tiles.  
That sun feels good on the belly! - KN
Deenie’s backstory involves coming from a household with 2 younger cats who terrorized him, forcing him to hide.  His owners felt this was a much better place for him.  He spent his time acclimating to the place in one of the middle cages.  Apparently, he was so great at hiding in the shadows of a box, he needed a sign that said, “Please feed Deenie”. 
Though he doesn't much like being brushed, he tolerates short attempts on our part to keep his coat from getting too matted.  One privilege our older cats get is… they don’t have to groom themselves; we groom them.  Give him time and the right amount of attention, and the reward is lots of headbutts and paws on the shoulder.  There’s just something magical about being acknowledged by a cat, especially one that may not appear friendly at first.
No matter what age a cat is, they have a place at the Sanctuary to spend their golden years.  Some of these cats really are enjoying the best years of their lives as they’re guaranteed food, shelter, safety, toys, and human attention everyday.  The happy memories we create and the photos we take last our lifetime.  We never know when they’re going to go, so young or old, we treat them like gold.

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Karen Nicholson

Saturday, September 8, 2018

So Shy...

Mama Gali with kitten - waiting for adoption - MW
Of the cats in the Sanctuary, perhaps 70% have feral origins – the others are mostly behaviour- or health-related surrenders.  Popular wisdom says that in order to have a tame cat, you need to make sure that the kitten is handled and familiarized with humans from four to twelve weeks, and that after that it’s unlikely to become truly tame.
Foster-mom Kati handfeeds our orphans - KdG
Feral kittens or kittens born to a feral mother will frequently hiss and attack, or cower in fear; the feral instinct can be strong.  Our wonderful RAPS foster-parents, and the staff at the City Shelter do much to diminish that fear, and most of our kittens go happily to new homes.
Pancake as a kitten - CF
Pancake was one of the exceptions; his feral mama was Autumn, who remained an angry feral for some years; Pancake’s brothers and sisters all tamed and were adopted, but Pancake was so shy that no adoption was possible, and he ended up returning to us.  Three years later, he is fairly comfortable around humans (especially with tidbits) but backs off from much physical contact – he’d rather have the company of his cat buddies.
Pancake is still wary - ML
Like him, many of our feral cats never make the breakthrough to allowing themselves any degree of trust in humans. So it’s an enormous triumph when someone reports an easing of tension in a scaredy-cat.
Keira is not sure about contact - MW
Keira KnightStreet was named for the place under the bridge where she was found about 5-6 years ago. She’s a slightly tubby little black cat with a thin tail who easily fades into the crowd of indeterminate black cats.
Dare I come closer? - BC
Initially she hid under the drapes round the entrance to the DoubleWide, but in the last few years she’s made herself more at home in the laundry room area, and can be found as part of the crowd at mealtimes. Usually she shies away from being touched, but recently the cringing has reduced to a faint tension as she realises that the sensation of being petted is actually pleasant.
You can't see me! - KN
Boop came in with Plum, both of them victims of Manx syndrome. Plum was initially shy, but has settled well into DoubleWide life; Boop hated everybody, bit the med staff who cared for him, and when released, vanished into the same hidey-hole Keira had once used. Once settled there, he started to explore further afield, disappearing into the garden foliage, which was frustrating for the med staff who needed to make sure his bottom was being kept clean.  More recently Boop has been venturing out into the open in the morning and the evening. When I was petting Albi last week – Albi loves to roll over for belly-petting – Boop ventured closer and closer and finally allowed me to give him some gentle touches.
Anything tasty for me? - BC
Donni is another little black feral who has spent much of his time hiding away.  He was one of many cats brought in to us by Donni Derr, and was frequently confused with another little black long-hair, Matt, now at the Rainbow Bridge. Both loved the tuna handouts brought by Donni-human, and Donni-cat adores chicken when it’s offered, crying out for his share. He used to stay safely behind netting or hidden behind drapes on his shelf, but more recently he’s found sitting hopefully in the courtyard, and though he’s not quite sure about being petted, he’s not shy about gnawing with a toothless mouth on a chicken-flavoured human finger.
Pen 1 do-not-touch ferals: Juvie, Buddy and Peanut - MW
We certainly have a large number of semi-ferals who are quite easy with being handled, though they’re not usually good adoption prospects for fear of what might happen if they escaped.  But it is so satisfactory to allow a formerly terrified cat take their time to learn that there can be safety in human touch here at the Sanctuary.

Blog by Brigid Coult

Photos by Brigid Coult, Kati DeGraaf, Claire Fossey, 
Moira Langley, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Ménage à trois?

Walker & Chinook - MW
Pen 5 is best known for its two pairs of lovebirds (or should that be lovecats?) - Adam and May are usually to be found in each others company, and Salish rarely goes anywhere without her beloved Rudolph. But three other cats in that pen are hold-outs from the clowder that was brought in from the Shelter eight or nine years ago, and they are frequently found in different combinations.
Wary Capilano - KN
The centre of the group would seem to be Capilano. Cappy is a very large cat – at one stage he was really huge, but lost some weight due to dental problems, and has managed to keep it off since we dealt with his teeth. We used to call him “The Godfather”. He is not appreciative of humans on his turf; a visitor to the cabin is often greeted by ferocious hissing as he warns you away from the box or basket where he is resting.  Outside the cats’ home, he seems more relaxed, willing to lounge just out of arm’s reach, and he is almost daring enough to approach for a chicken tidbit, though he prefers not to risk being touched.
Walker - MW
He is most often found in the company of blond Walker, who is shy, but not aggressive like his friend. Walker is easily confused with Pumpkin, and he often ventures into the same areas of the back courtyard, though without his big black and white buddy – Capilano rarely explores beyond the area immediately outside the pen. 
Walker and Capilano loving it up - MW
But in the cabin or on a sunny day in the grass, the two can often be found together, either cuddled in a bed or playing together (though “play” for Capilano is pretty ponderous!)
Chinook - MW
The third member of the trio is grey and white Chinook. The most independent of the three, Chinook tolerates Capilano, but is often attached to Walker. 
Walker & Chinook - bookends - MW
The two of them are enthusiastic members of the “We Love Chicken” Club, and Chinook hauls himself up on the feeder’s knee with sharp claws that reflect the realities of his outdoor life.  He is also the most affectionate of the trio, and is quite happy to sit and be petted as long as you will allow.
None of the three are really candidates for adoption, having lived outdoors for so long – and even though you may never get to touch Capilano, all three are definitely candidates for sponsorship.  It’s very satisfying to know that they can live the lives that suit them under the loving care of RAPS.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Karen Nicholson and Michele Wright

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Jasper the Third

It's funny how names repeat - we've had three cats named Jasper, all with very distinct personalities. Sweet tabby Jasper was a front courtyard boy; Jasper II was a friendly black cat with Feline Leukemia.  Our third Jasper came into our care something over a year ago.  We were told that he was picked up as a stray on Bird Road – the lady who reported him to RAPS said that he came to her door and seemed to want attention, but that he didn’t really want to be petted. A trap was set, and Jasper went to the Shelter.
let me out! - MD
Initially he didn’t do very well there; like a lot of newly arrived cats, he was overwhelmed by his surroundings, and refused to eat for a while; with time and kindness his appetite returned, but his manners didn’t. Quite often a newly neutered tom-cat calms down quite noticeably, but the surgery had little or no effect on Jasper’s behaviour, and his aggression made him a poor candidate for adoption.
Deceptive innocence - MW
He was transferred to the Sanctuary and popped in a cage in the DoubleWide so that the Kitty Comforters could have a go at socializing him a bit. We’ve had our share of cats who have come in with a bad reputation, and have learned better ways of interacting with humans – Chimo is a prime example. Jasper seemed to crave attention, but he did it with biting and clawing; you turned your back on him to your peril, and ankles were a favourite target. Once released into the general population, he turned that aggression on other cats, and had to be repeatedly placed in time-out.
Spades: Will you pet me, or can I nip you? - KN
We were having similar problems with a black cat called Spades – also a stray, brought in by a lovely lady who continued to visit her buddy every Sunday.  In the interests of the other cats, we decided that these two needed to be segregated together, and they were placed in the “kitten room” of the Moore House – now that we no longer have kittens at the Sanctuary, it’s a good space to put cats who need room to have visitors.  The Kitty Comforters continued to visit the pair faithfully. For the most part, the two avoided each other, and though there was the occasional clash, both were able to establish their own space – Jasper usually inside, while Spades preferred being out on the deck.  Ankles continued to be targets, and though both cats learned to enjoy using wand toys with their visitors, humans had to be careful about allowing their hands within reach.
Attacking a toy - MW
Recently we found an adoption home for Spades, living as a stable cat where he would receive food and attention, but have space to roam and hunt as he used to. We were sorry to see him go but we knew it was the best thing for him. And rather than leave Jasper living alone, it was decided to try integrating him into the general population again.  This time, he was placed in the front courtyard, so he wouldn’t encounter any of the cats with whom he had previously had confrontations.  For the most part, he has become a loner, not interacting much with other cats – though we keep an eye on how he acts around the more dominant cats like Iris and Puffin.  As you will have seen in last week’s blog, he’s currently making his mark as a gatecrasher, hovering hopefully beside the front courtyard gates. He doesn’t want to escape – he just wants to be on the other side, and if he’s not in the mood to be picked up and returned, he can usually be coaxed into a transfer cage and then relocated.
Waiting hopefully - KN
Jasper is finding his place with us.  Having been less than a year old when he arrived, he’s starting to mellow out of the terrible feline teen years and into adulthood. He’s not a cat to take lightly, but he’s discovering the humans that he can love and with whom he can relax, and he can often be found riding the shoulder of summer student Karen, who is his sponsor and his favourite person.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Meet the Gatecrashers

Our blog this week comes to you from volunteer Pauline Chin, who is a Kitty-Comforter and who supervises the Double-Wide trailer on Sundays during visiting hours. 
For blog readers who are not Sanctuary visitors, a word of explanation: at crucial points in the Sanctuary we have a double gate system – at the front entrance, at the entrance to the back yard, and at the Moore House, Old Aids and New Aids entries.  Most pen entrances are single gates.

Pauline writes:
Regulars know about the one-gate-at-a-time rule when it comes to moving through the double gates to ensure cats stay on their respective sides.  Volunteers are quick to point out if a double gate is left open.  This is important with the front set of gates, as it's the last chance to stop any adventurous cats from escaping the safety of the Sanctuary.
Hurry up and let me through! - BC
On occasion, cats make it through a gate.  Cats have their reasons... It could be curiosity, boredom, looking for a quiet zone... Two popular gatecrashers are Cole and Ninja.  Both are large black cats.  Both can go relatively unnoticed by visitors, simply because they are black.
Ninja - MW
Athletic Ninja should star in his own movie.  Ninja really is a ninja as he really can get around the Back Courtyard at blazing speed, seemingly invisible to humans.  Ninja appreciates the company of humans, but infiltrating the back pens is so much more fun than cuddles. Sometimes he hides in the plants.  Sometimes, he stands near the planters.  Other times, he appears out of nowhere.  We look around... No cats in sight.  All clear.  The pen gate is open for a whole four seconds and a black figure swoops in.  
Doing Ninja moves - MW
Cue the chase sequence.  A volunteer runs around the pen, arms outstretched, trying to grab the intruder.  Scenario A: the volunteer captures Ninja in loving hands and promptly places him outside the gate.  Scenario B: Ninja dodges and dives into the bushes, eluding capture, the volunteer gives up and leaves, defeated.  When we can't win against the Ninja... he sits in the pen until someone else lets him out.  So whose win is it anyway?
Cole likes to be on the other side of a door;
a laundry cupboard works perfectly well!  - KN
Infamous Cole of the Laundry Room arrived over a year ago.  He was huge, heavy, and very particular about who can touch him.  These days, he is leaner, with long legs and a lengthy body - a similar build to our late Bengal Lucky.  He likes the ledge by the window, which is sometimes occupied by Emery.  Cole enjoys some human attention.  He doesn't seek it out, but doesn't mind petting.  He can handle about 3-4 humans in a room, max.  Otherwise, he will go search for a quiet space. His favourite area is the middle gates.  Volunteers have been warned and keep a vigilant eye on him.  It's only when Cole gatecrashes repeatedly in a short time that we have to place him in a timeout.  It's for his own safety; we don't want him to walk out the front door.
Slim - MW
What is it with these black cats?  The grass is definitely greener for black Slim, in the front courtyard. Slim came to us with a reputation for aggression, but in his time with us he has both mellowed out, and put on weight, so Slim is perhaps no longer such an appropriate name. He loves to sneak through the first gate and reach out towards the grass beyond the main entrance – and he loves the visitors who bring cat grass as their offering.  
Jasper waiting to get into Newcomers - MW
The newest member of the gatecrashers club is Jasper.  This brown and white tabby has been moved around plenty.  He’s hyperactive, happy, and loves games.  Play gets rough for us humans when he thinks our hands are toys.  Since moving to the Front Courtyard, Jasper has been making his own entertainment - by rushing into the middle gates and earning himself a red collar. He's been ejected out of the middle gates so many times and now tries for the Newcomers’ room door.

Ninja, Cole, and Jasper are by no means bad cats.  They just have different agendas.  Ever been told not to do something, and it just makes you want to do it even more?  Cats are inquisitive creatures.  We need to feed their minds with new things or experiences.  They definitely know how to train us humans to keep them entertained.  The next time you open a gate, check behind you because you never know who might be there.

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Brigid Coult , Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Acquaintance renewed - Yogi

I try to introduce new cats to the blog as soon as they’ve settled and established themselves.  But it’s sometimes interesting to find a cat that has already been introduced some time ago, and to see what progress has been made.
Claire wrote about Yogi way back in 2012. In those days, he was a extremely shy boy, wary of contact.
Enjoying back courtyard petting - MD
Six years on, and Yogi is a different cat.  He’s a back courtyard roamer, but enjoys being in the Double-Wide; he can frequently be found on the couch as one of the cuddle crowd, or on the shelf by the door, where he can claim his share of fussing. At coffee break he often joins the cats who like to migrate from lap to lap, and he hovers when treats are offered (though he’d rather have crunchies than chicken)
Yogi (L) and Shadrack (R) - MW
He can be easily confused from the back with Shadrack, who also used to be a shy cage-top boy, and is now another Mr Social. Yogi’s distinctive facial markings and white bib make him easy to identify, though, as does, unfortunately, his snotty nose. He seems to be one of those cats who has a constant low-grade cold, and many of us have had the experience of having to go and wash off because Yogi has let loose from the back of the couch with one of his wet sneezes.

Yogi socializes well with other cats; he’s a gentle boy and doesn’t get involved with the more dominant cats like Eli and Licorice; he’d rather snuggle with his quieter buddies.
Yogi with Sandra - PH
Sweet Wobbly-Bob, with his neurological problems, is sometimes a little wary around cats that move quickly and catch him off balance; Yogi is obviously a good buddy with whom to cuddle.
Yin/yang snuggles with Wobbly Bob - VL
Many people tend to look for the big “personality” cats in the back courtyard, like Honey Bear and Ollie; Yogi, with his quieter persona can easily be overlooked, and is well worth cultivating.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Driver, Phaedra Hardman, Victoria Lo, Michele Wright