RAPS is short for Richmond Animal Protection Society, a registered charity and operator of a sanctuary which houses and cares for more than 400 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, November 17, 2017


Merran came in to us last July, the latest in a series of cats trapped by Stephanie at a nearby waste-processing facility.
Shy Merran - DW
Stephanie tells me that there is a resident male, definitely the dominant one, which she calls Tenor; his predecessor, who passed (probably from rat poison) was named Pavarotti. Both cats were predominantly white with black markings, and there are various other Sanctuary cats with that colouring which are probably Pavarotti’s offspring.  When Stephanie first saw Merran there, she thought he was probably a young female, since the cat usually ran to Tenor for protection. The facility is a big area, and Stephanie’s usual pattern is to drive the circuit and see if any cats can be seen, and then to place the traps accordingly. She leaves them in place for an hour or so, and then rechecks.  On this particular day, Merran was in the last trap to be picked up, though Steph and her trapping partner Karen (summer student) hadn’t seen any cats that far.
still suspicious - PH
As a long-haired tabby, Merran’s very unlike most of what we think of as the “cow cats” and Stephanie thinks that there’s not just a resident colony there, but that someone dumps unwanted cats and kittens in the vicinity. It’s a heartbreaking situation, because RAPS will always take in strays, and living in the wild, their lives are usually dangerous and short.
I see you; I don't like you! - DW
Merran didn’t appreciate the fact that he’d come to safety in the Sanctuary, though – in a cage he hissed and cowered, and Leslie tells me he chewed his way through the mesh in short order. He was not happy about being recaptured, because after a second jail-break, he disappeared onto the deck, to wherever he could find cover – behind the couch, hidden behind a drape, crouched between the jugs of litter and the board that tops them.
You can't get me here - KN
And then gradually, gradually, he has started to emerge. He has made his way into the main room of the trailer – usually first thing in the morning or late at night. He prefers it when there’s only one person around, and is still wary, but he is definitely interested in human activity. He has joined the chicken club, hovering hopefully on the fringe when tidbits are being handed out; mostly he waits for something to be tossed his way, but if the pushier cats are not present, he will edge closer and accept a bit from the hand.  He doesn’t seem to interact much with the other cats, though he has been seen snuggling on occasion,
Safe up in the corner - DW
and is quick to back away if challenged, but he no longer constantly looks fearful. The Kitty Comforters are very aware of him, and spend some time checking on him when visiting the SingleWide, and most of us feeding or cleaning in there watch for his presence.
Merran much more relazed - MW
We hope that, with other ferals who have turned the corner and gone on to interact comfortably with us, Merran will be another success story. Gilbert, Bossanova, Pumpkin and many others have been allowed to take their own time to integrate and feel part of the Sanctuary community; welcome to safety, and a home where you are loved, Merran!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Phaedra Hardman, Karen Nicholson, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Friday, November 10, 2017


Traditionally November is a month in which many men grow a moustache as a part of raising funds for issues around men’s health (Movember).  There’s no ‘tache-growing going on around the Sanctuary, but an interesting variety of facial fur markings can be seen.
Digby is one of our relative newcomers, and his moustache marking suits his personality, which is dominant, to say the least!  He’s not afraid to tell other cats where to get off, especially when they encroach into his space.  Digby came in at the same time as Magpie, who has a similar ‘tache, but in reverse – white on black fur. Magpie is a pretty hissy feral, and has not cooperated over having his picture taken.
Smoochie’s little Hitler-moustache belies his gentle nature.  Very timid for a while when he lived in the Leukemia area, he has now a wide variety of human friends. He hangs out with his buddies Bear and Hendrik in the Val Jones area.
Mya - MW
Feline moustaches are not, of course, confined to males. Mya, one of the ferals from the composting facility, has a most impressive Chaplin-type moustache marking. Her late sister, Teagan, was one of the cats with a half-tache, and shy sister Kirstie’s marking covers her entire nose. It’s too erratic to be called a moustache, but she does have a little black chin that might double for a goatee!
Brighton - CP
There’s obviously something genetic here – Brighton and Hillie also came from the same venue. Hillie’s nose is mostly black; Brighton has a much more impressive spread of coloured fur over her upper lip.
Woody - MD
Woody is one of the relative newcomers to New Aids, and like Brighton, his ‘tache has a good spread. Many men who grow their facial hair find that it comes in quite dark; it’s pretty rare to find someone with dark hair and a fair moustache. We do have a few white moustaches in the Sanctuary. Magpie, mentioned above, is a prime example, 
Salish - MW
but so is shy Salish, whose pencil moustache is just visible in her long fur.
Honey Bear - ChrisP
Honey Bear’s ‘tache is as off-balance as he is, with more white on the right side than the left
Comet (MW) & Rocky Slippers (DW)
And these two look almost identical, though as far as we know, they’ve never met. Comet is an assertive lady who dominates the cage-tops in the DoubleWide; Rocky Slippers is a nervous and shy feral boy who hangs out mostly in Pen 1 area and won’t allow anyone to touch him.
This is not taking into account all the cats who have half-taches on one side or the other – Chester, Mischa, and many others
But I think one of my favourites is an implied rather than an explicit moustache – Emily’s dark markings in all her tortie fur always look to me as if she has a little pencil-thin handlebar moustache, though to be sure, it’s stronger on one side than the other!
Emily - PH

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Phaedra Hardman, Chris Peters, Carol Porteous, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Friday, November 3, 2017

Nothing Stops Terry

Terry came into our care a few months ago, and has walked straight into everyone’s hearts.
This is the second ginger Terry to come our way – Terry (I) was a long-term resident who passed only a few years ago; he was one of those ferals who became half-way tame in his last years.  Terry (II) came to us a couple of months ago as one of many cats who arrived with us because the place he was living couldn’t manage his problems any longer. With some cats, like Ollie, peeing problems occurred because that’s what Ollie wanted to do; with other cats, the peeing is symptomatic of a stress situation at home – a new baby, a barking dog, loud arguments...  Terry’s problem is entirely involuntary: he was hit by a car several years ago. For whatever reason, his injury was not treated properly and his pelvis and legs “healed” in a twisted position that left them entirely stiff. Not surprisingly, he has no control over his bladder and bowels.
I talked to Leslie about him and discovered that Terry is actually an immigrant!  He was picked up  following his accident on a road in some middle eastern country – Leslie wasn’t sure where.  His owner had him for some years, but when she moved, her partner said “Him or me!” She was obviously concerned that surrendering him to a regular shelter would mean he would be put down, and she found a private shelter that was willing to take him on.  The shelter had him well vet-checked and was told that there was nothing to be done now in the way of rehab or corrective surgery. He was much loved there, but living with a cat that has no control is very hard on a home.  So Terry came to us.
For the first while he lived in a cage in the SingleWide.  Immediately he endeared himself to all his visitors, enjoying attention from humans (in his cage) and from cats (sniffing through the mesh).
Terry with visitor - DW
Because of his disability he was set up with a small staircase so he could access the upper level as well as the floor. It’s astonishing to watch him climb – he obviously has developed front-body strength, and effectively he walks on his front paws, using his back legs just to help balance.
The higher, the better! - MD
It was decided that he would probably do better where he had more space to roam; the Single-Wide is limited in area, and though it appeared that the other cats were going to accept him, it would be very difficult for him to get away if another cat took against him.  He was relocated to the Double-Wide, and then released, under a degree of cautious supervision.
Terry exploring with Honey Bear,
who is also disabled - DW
Terry loved being out again. He has no fear of exploring, and can be found roaming the back pens quite happily.
On walkabout - DW
Our concern for the behaviour of other cats was, to some extent, justified. Cats, like people, are not always kind to those who are disabled or different in any way. However, Terry is not afraid of a scrap and is quite ready to defend himself! Unfortunately, two other recent newcomers – Licorice and Digby – seem to have taken him in dislike, and Terry is usually caged at night for his own safety. Currently he’s recovering from an injury inflicted by Licorice;  as a recently-neutered male, the latter is probably reacting to the smell of Terry’s pee, which he perceives as a territorial challenge.
Terry is getting lots of love and attention from the med staff and from the Kitty Comforters – but he’s obviously longing to be out and about the back pens again, or mountaineering his way to the top of the cages.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Jenny Reid, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Friday, October 27, 2017

Pumpkin Cats for Halloween

Tradition holds that black cats are the symbols for Halloween – but with an abundance of pumpkins around, this Halloween I’d rather think about the Sanctuary's crop of orange cats.
Pumpkins - DW
Pumpkin is obviously a great name for an orange cat – in fact, I’m surprised we have had only two Pumpkins at the Sanctuary – one a feral leukemia cat, now passed, and our current Pumpkin, who was actually named more for his orange eyes than for his pale orange colouring
Pumpkin - MW
This Pumpkin is mostly an inhabitant of the Newcomers area; he’s an excellent example of a semi-feral cat who appreciates humans bearing food, but is not really happy about all the touchy-feely stuff – he will allow a little stroke here and there, and he’s a long way from being the angry feral that came in to us, but he prefers to stay at arm’s length, other than with specially favoured visitors like Moira.
Simba - DW
The intense orange of a good pumpkin is better echoed in the colouring of a cat like Simba. This sweet boy came to us as one of the first from a closing shelter on the Sunshine Coast; since the pen he was in has been opened, Simba has enjoyed the chance to wander and make new friends. 
Simba - MD
He excels at finding laps and making himself comfortable – and as all cat-lovers know, there’s no better therapy than a purring cat in the lap. Apparently he was initially surrendered as a pee-er – probably a protest against not being allowed outside. Here at the Sanctuary he has outside privileges in safety, and lots of friends to love him.
Simba lap-cat - MD
OJ is not only pumpkin-coloured, he’s also pumpkin-shaped! He is one of the few cats in pen 4 (ferals) who will allow touch, and it usually needs to be accompanied by treats. 
We recently opened pen 2, all the inhabitants of whom had come to us last year from the Five Road shelter. Some of that colony have stayed safely in the area they know, but others have enthusiastically ventured out to explore. Parry is one of those cats, happily visiting with volunteers in the tea-room or poking his nose into the double-wide. His orange friend Pavel is much more wary about passing the gate...
Parry - BC
A long-time back courtyard feline pumpkin is Albi, though his solid-orange coat is a darker shade than Parry or Simba. Another semi-feral, Albi will cautiously allow touch, though he’s obviously not that enthusiastic about it. 
Albi - MW
Another pumpkin-shaped orange cat lives in the Single-Wide; Paylan came in with Mom Marisa (now passed).  After several years living with us, a vet-visit informed us that “he” was “she” and the renamed Sarah Paylan can usually be found tucked away on a shelf. She belongs to the school of cat behaviour that calls for as little exertion as possible – hence the shape! We do have several other orange female cats (statistically, 95% of orange cats are male) but most of them are orange and white, and only Blanche and Paylan are predominantly ginger
Sarah Paylan - DW
The front courtyard also has a good collection of orange cats – sweet Gilbert, shy Lucky, brothers Henrik (in the Val Jones area) and Daniel, as well as orange and white Tigger.
Fall in the front courtyard - DW
But a feature on our pumpkin-coloured cats wouldn’t be complete without a look at the not-so-small Little Orange, friend and protector of Merilee, worshipper of Sunday visitor Allison, and one of the softest-furred cats in the Sanctuary.
Little Orange - MW

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

Friday, October 20, 2017

Food, Fun and Feline Friendship

Precious claims her own bag! - DW
Every Sunday afternoon visitors arrive at the Sanctuary, and many of them bring gifts.  Often, they’re very practical and welcome gifts – a new cat-bed, a couple of bags of dry cat-food, a bag of Fancy Feast cans. More often they are intended for immediate use – the inevitable bags of cat-treats!
Some visitors are known to bring tasty food! - MW
It’s inevitable, I suppose. We want these cats to want to be with us, and for many food-motivated cats, treats are a way of attracting them.  When sweet Gilbert first came to us he was an untouchable feral.  Many Temptations later, he has learned that humans carry good stuff, and are no longer to be feared.
But it’s sometimes hard to get our visitors to see that handing around cat-treats is like having many boxes of cookies open at a children’s party. One or two treats – no problem.  But a handful of them from each of a dozen visitors, and cats are so full of goodies that they no longer want to interact.  Lori brings fish and chicken – good food for obligate carnivores – and many of the cats are already sated.
Little Orange and Latte anxiously wait for Lori to arrive - DW
I usually try to get visitors to restrict treats to just one at a time – just as you would only offer a child one cookie. What I find it’s often more important to teach is that cats love attention from their visitors as much as they love goodies – though what form that attention takes may vary.
Saffron loves bubbles - DW
Some cats are fascinated by bubbles - quietly watching them, or leaping to bat them and watch them disappear
Ninja hunts bubbles - MW
I rejoice in the Sunday visitors – many of them regulars – who “get it”. Some come almost every week, and make a point of sitting quietly with the cats who need a quiet lap and no action. Timmy, Tigger, Leland and several others have all benefited from this gentle approach.
A preferred technique for one visitor
Catnip is a favourite for many cats - though there are some that couldn't care less.  Feline opinion is divided over a preference for drooling over a catnip bag vs. the privilege of claiming the fresh green stuff.
Leland in a catnip coma - MW
Our sweet departed Bobby claimed this plant for himself - DW
Almost as much appreciated is the cat-grass that some of our volunteers grow at home and bring into the Sanctuary.  The back courtyard cats have access to grass in most of the pens, but for the indoor cats and the caged cats, a nibble of greenery is much enjoyed
The SingleWide cats enjoy a cat-grass treat - DW
Scott and Mel go from area to area, calling in with favourites all over the Sanctuary. They encourage play – they always bring fishing-pole toys, and many of “their” cats have a wonderfully energetic session with them, leaping and chasing feathers (and not fingers).
Slim jumping - AM
But they are also able to be quiet and patient when needed; they groom and pet, and sit patiently waiting for the shyer cats to approach. Mel has been doing some wonderful work with timid grey Mischa in the back courtyard.
Mischa allowing a closer approach - MD
This, of course, is the basis on which our Kitty Comforters are selected – noticing the people who are able to be quiet and patient with nervous cats; to groom, or play, or treat on occasion, and never to force interaction if the cat is not yet ready for it. Many of our former ferals will never be ready for adoption, and it’s one of the blessings of the Sanctuary that we are able to allow that, and know that feral or friendly, the cats have a safe home with us for the duration of their lives.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Angelina Mak, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Friday, October 13, 2017

Calendar out-takes

There were two Pico pics - this is the other one...
As the days grow shorter and the colours change, fall traditions are present at RAPS.  Our Fall Gala will take place on October 29, and is a particularly important event for us this year because all the proceeds will go to the funding of the new Regional Animal Hospital.
Traditionally we also launch our calendar for the upcoming year at this event, though all the busy-work of marketing it will occur in November and December.  And traditionally, one of the Neko Blogs for October is reserved for the Cat Calendar outtakes – the pictures that for one reason or another, just didn’t make it into this year’s selection.
we hope that Cookie is being adopted...
Once again, the photos for the Calendar were taken by Michele Wright, whose work you should know if you follow her Feline Friday pages on Facebook.  Michele doesn’t confine herself to cats – she’s done many wonderful dog photos too, and her guineapig Freddie is a seasoned model.  She has a great eye for a picture, framing her subjects with love and a sense of their personality.
Latte has had her share of calendar features...
I always start the selection process by trying to make sure that we have a good cross-section of colours and breeds – black, white, grey, various tabbies, orientals, pairs and groups. Everyone has their favourite sort of cat, but I hope that everyone will find one cat they particularly love in the collection.
Blue is striking, but he’s a loner – very much the cat that walks by himself
We had several black cats make the cut this year, to the point that it was hard to eliminate one to keep the balance.  Bear lost to two other blacks, and to the contender for cover boy
Fuzzy Bear...
Similarly, we had two lovely white cat pictures.  Lumi was the loser here – we loved the softness of the shot that won, and pretty as Lumi is, she’s a cat that will nip if things don’t go exactly as she wants; neither of us had the warm fuzzies for her!
Lumi is a diva...
Michele adores the cats in Pen 2, and in particular Calvin, who is distinguished by the brown smudges in his tabby M markings.  I think she would happily have had a whole Calvin calendar, but I would only allow her one selection – this is one that didn’t make it
Calvin - one of about eight pictures!
One of the things I discuss with the med staff is the health of the cats concerned – it’s very hard when a much-loved cat passes suddenly, but his/her photo will appear later in the year. Of course, there is no way of telling, sometimes, but I’m much more wary about selecting a leukemia cat, for instance.  This year two of our potential models passed without warning just as we were making the final selection. The picture of Vienna was a perfect one for fall colouring, and Salty and Dusty’s devotion had earned them a place as a pair – to lose both Vienna and Salty was very hard on us all.
Vienna in the sunshine
Dusty misses her Salty so much,...
There are still others that I'm thinking we might hold over to another year - though I am sure Michele will have come through with another batch of wonderful pictures by then, and hard choices will once more need to be made.
Please watch the RAPS website for news of the calendar launch; they will be available at both the Sanctuary and the Shelter, as well as online and through some of our pet-store supporters.  It's not too soon to plan your Christmas gift-giving to all your cat-loving friends!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Michele Wright