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, October 22, 2020

Banshee & Domino

***spoiler alert...
Domino & Banshee - JK
Most of the Moore House cats are too senior to do anything as undignified as running and playing.  And yet, in the last few months, one could often hear the sound of kitty feet running around or toys being pushed across the floor. Wasn’t it supposed to be quiet in there?

Domino - PC
Not while Domino and Banshee were around!  This pair of young cats have been in foster care with a volunteer for a year, followed by a few months in the Moore’s side room,   They just celebrated their first birthday in August.  Domino and Banshee were part of the massive group of black cats that had been trapped in Richmond a year ago.  While most of their siblings and relatives were adopted out, they remained behind because they tested positive for Feline Leukemia. Looking at their high activity levels, you’d never know they have FeLV.  After several confirmation tests, they have now joined the other FeLV cats in the private playground.  

Banshee birthday-boy - LBF
Big, handsome Banshee loves to chase balls around the room.  Just toss a toy and watch him go.  Despite the name, he’s not a screamer (thankfully).  He’s the bigger cuddler of the two. Banshee takes a bit of warming up, or he’ll hide beneath the chair.  Once he approves, he’ll come over for pets and leg rubs.  Oddly enough, he doesn’t mind being held.  Banshee has a funny light coloured spot on his nose, which looks like a permanent booger.  He also has a knack for sitting on his toys and blocking the door to stop you from leaving.

Domino - PC
Fluffy girl Domino spends her time in the cat tree, on the filing cabinet, or any high place.  She enjoys all types of toys and things that look like toys.  Domino is notorious for destroying anything stringy.  If you have hoodie strings or loose shoelaces, she’ll turn those into playthings, as well.  She plays hard.  She likes rough petting, too.  But she dislikes sharing.  And that’s when the tortitude comes out!  Domino makes chasing her brother a hobby.

Banshee - LBF
She and her brother are both shoulder cats.  They will not hesitate to leap onto your shoulders when you’re in range.  It’s fun, unless you’re cleaning, then it increases the challenge.  When there are no humans present, the pair will either play or bird watch.

Domino - ready to jump - LBF
Now they’re in the FeLV area, there are plenty of things to explore, places to play, and cats to interact with.  At a year old, they are the youngest of the group.  With their bold personalities, they’re competing with Dexter, Bear, and Smoochie for attention.  Volunteers will have the advantage of being able to sit down in a chair with them and relax or to watch their antics.  Domino and Banshee will have fun in the courtyard section of the pen, where the back area offers the biggest bird watching window ever!

Banshee - PC

We would love these two sweethearts to find a home – whether permanently or in fosterage. The biggest condition is that they should never come into contact with non-FeLV cats; the usual RAPS rule of “keep them as indoor cats” is an even more vital one than usual. Having leukemia cats is not for everyone – but potential adopters should know that the virus is not not contagious to anyone other than another cat, and it doesn’t necessarily mean a shortened life-span – we’ve only recently had to say farewell to old Ooly at the respectable age of 18, and she’d lived with us for more than ten years. Banshee and Domino are an energetic loving pair of siblings who will be happy with us – but who would be even happier with their own humans to give them constant attention. 

Domino - KN

STOP PRESS!  As this gets ready for the electronic equivalent of going to print, we have the exciting news that Banshee and Domino are in fact being adopted, and will very soon be going to their furever home - not to a volunteer, as is often the case, but to outside adopters who heard about them, met them and fell in love. It is so exciting to know that we have people who understand the challenges posed by Feline Leukemia, and are ready to face them and adopt anyway.  
Good luck, little ones - live long and prospurrr.....   💕

Blog by Pauline Chin, with Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Pauline Chin, Jennine Kariya & Karen Nicholson

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Aristocracy Among Us


We have a great many cats at the Sanctuary who are senior because they have lived much of their lives with us, but most of the cats in the Moore House – also known as GeriCatrics – have come to us as seniors, and often from a situation that indicates that they might not deal well with a bunch of other cats.  Some are clearly made for this situation. Joey, who we have just lost, was blind. Baby is very arthritic.  Jimmy was a Cariboo fires survivor and is still nervous around people. Smoky, though not elderly, hates all other cats and most humans.

Jimmy & Baby - KN

But some cats come to the Moore House and blossom. Bangles has become quite sociable. Rufus looks wonderful for his age. Shaggy is everyone’s love. 


Earl Grey is a blossomer.  He came to us last year, feeling sad and rejected – at around 18 years of age, his family surrendered him for “inappropriate urination issues”. The sad fact is that as we get older, we all get less bladder control, and peeing in the wrong place is common with senior cats. Sometimes there is a physical problem, sometimes the cat is feeling stressed, sometimes it’s just being old. Most people, faced with an elderly family member, don’t rush to put grandpa into care – they try and find out what’s wrong first. Sadly, Earl Grey didn’t have that sort of family.


Given time in the big corner cage, he accepted attention from staff and volunteers, he allowed himself to be coaxed to eat, and would occasionally come down to sit on a lap – but he was a reserved cat, and obviously mourning what he’d lost.


A year later and he is relaxed and at home. He likes to be out on the deck when it’s warm, and enjoys the attention of visitors. He tends to establish himself on the back of the couch in a raised position that indicates clearly that you are a level below him; he likes a little petting and grooming, but will settle in the lap of only a selected few.  


He doesn’t interact much with the other cats – he’s not aggressive in any way (well, he doesn't like Baby much!) , it’s just that they’re not worth noticing. He is clearly among the aristocracy of cats, whether he was named for the Earl Grey who was a British Prime Minister, or for the tea named after the Earl. 


Many of the volunteers end their day with quiet time among these sweet senior cats. It won’t be in fancy china, but I must remember to take my cup of Earl Grey tea over to the Moore House next time, to share it with his Lordship.  

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Melanie Draper, Daphne Jorgenson, Karen Nicholson

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Algy - Journey...


Algernon – Algy for short – came to us in the last few months from the Meow Foundation in Alberta. We don’t know if he was a feral or a stray; he’s actually dealing quite well now with human contact, so he was probably the latter.  But in his original shelter, he was obviously anxious, exhibited through asthma and over-grooming. That may have been caused by being shut in, or too many cats around him; now that he has room to wander, we’re seeing much less of that.  More seriously, he was pretty aggressive, and in danger of being euthanized because of it. Meow Foundation reached out to us, and he made the long trip from Alberta to the coast.

Algy wearing a onesie to hinder over-grooming - KN

When he came to us, he still carried his original name, but someone didn’t like it, and renamed him Journey in the records. However, a number of the staff and volunteers still call him Algy, and the name frequently has to be clarified.

He loves resting on the table - MW

Algy is a sturdy manx cat, with the broad face and jowls of a late-neutered tomcat. His taillessness is right on the edge of Manx syndrome; he’s not actually incontinent, as some of our other manxes are, but he’s one of the cats that needs his backside checked, and an occasional cleaning.


His originating shelter dealt with his aggressiveness by putting him on anti-anxiety meds, and when he arrived, we had to wean him off them gradually. Now med-free, we’re beginning to see the cat he really is.  He’s not very social with other cats, but neither do they seem to bother him, and he is quite willing to interact with humans, especially when they let him understand that he can set the pace for contact.


He is one of the regular greeters at the gate to the back courtyard, though I think a lot of the intensity of his greeting is the hope that we might let him through the gate. That’s common with a number of cats – it’s not so much the hope of escaping as simply the desire to be on the other side. Jasper and Cole are our regular gate-crashers, and they just want to poke around a bit before they’re returned to the back again.  Algy is also reluctantly cooperative with being redirected, though he never quite gives up hope.


He’s not ventured on laps, as far as I know, but can frequently be found exploring the table as volunteers share a (distanced) coffee-break, and he seems to enjoy a little petting and attention.


This is one black cat that you won’t mistake for any other one at the Sanctuary!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Karen Nicholson, Lisa Peters, Michele Wright

Thursday, October 1, 2020


 Admire, but don’t touch!


Actually, that’s probably not quite fair to BeeBoo – you can touch her, very carefully and briefly, or let her do all the touching, but you have to be very cautious. We’re working our way through a BeeBoo’s Victims Club...


Aggression in cats is one of the reasons they sometimes get surrendered – and very often it’s human-caused. In BeeBoo’s case her family said that she’d never been good with strangers, and though obviously she coped with the humans she knew, the arrival of a very tiny, noisy human who took all the attention was not a happy experience for this cat.  Already angry and stressed by her perceived displacement by the baby, BeeBoo did not do well at the City Shelter and was transferred to the Sanctuary.


She actually came to us with the name BeeBee – but we already have a BB (blogged a couple of weeks ago) in the DoubleWide, so her name was adapted.  There is certainly no way we can confuse the personalities of the two cats!


BeeBoo had always been an indoor cat, and when she came to us, she was put into the SingleWide, into an indoor environment. She spent some time in her cage, and even when it was open, she defended what she regarded as her territory.  Warning signs were placed – we found that visiting her was best done with minimal contact – sitting and talking with her was generally acceptable, but touch could easily go too quickly.

Now that BeeBoo is out and about, we all need to be a little more wary. It’s second nature to reach out and pet a furry back, but even our experienced staff have received their BeeBoo markings. Usually we put a collar on an aggressive cat – the current back courtyard biter is a handsome tabby called Benji and he wears his collar with pride. But nobody really wants to think about the process of getting a collar on BeeBoo – besides which, a collar on a long-haired cat inevitably means tangles.  In any case, she is a pretty distinctive cat – not easy to mistake for another one.


She has the markings of a Snowshoe cat – the white paws, the inverted (but sketchy) V on her face, and the blue eyes. But the typical Snowshoe is affectionate and attention-demanding;  BeeBoo is definitely not affectionate with either people or cats, and though she appears to solicit attention, it only takes a few touches before she smacks hard!   She really dislikes other cats; she will tolerate humans if they will play with her – and she does love to play (at arm’s length!)


We have had cats who have needed medication to deal with their anxiety –the late and much beloved Leland, when he first came in, was one, and I will be introducing Algy/Journey next week. In extreme situations, we give them a degree of isolation – the late “grumpy old ladies” of the Manager’s office did much better away from the other cats. What she really needs is a home of her own with a very cat-savvy person who is willing to commit to not having other cats – we’ve had our share of angry cats who changed with adoption (see Buster).  But for now, BeeBoo seems to be settling, and though APPROACH WITH CAUTION remains the warning, we hope that she’ll soon feel more comfortable with us.


Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Joanne & Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Kenji & Allen

Right now it feels like the Sanctuary is full of little black semi-ferals!

Allen (left), Kenji (right), Dawn (front) - LBF

Black cats, of course, come to us with a handicap – even at the City Shelter, people can pass them over because they don’t take time to get to know the personality behind all the black fur.  In some ways, the pandemic has been good for the Shelter adoptables, because the staff there do take time to learn the quirks of each cat, and will make recommendations based on personality.  Adopters come for a meet-and-greet with a specific cat rather than a “pick one of these” session – so black cats get equal time.

Kenji on the climbing frame - KN

At the Sanctuary, though, many of our black cats are feral, or semiferal at the least, and getting them habituated to human contact can be hard when a) they would rather hide, and b) so many look alike, at first glance!  

Allen is getting braver - KN

Kenji and Allen came to us in April a year ago, trapped near the home of a retired volunteer whose house seems to send out welcome-cat vibes, as we have often brought in cats from that area.  In fact, it’s not that far from where we did a major trapping effort last summer, bringing in 50+ cats and kittens from a situation in which someone was feeding ferals without calling to get them spayed and neutered first!  

Kenji's worried face - LBF

These two arrived before the crowd, but may well have been part of the same family – they are a bit older than most of the more recent ones, but there is definitely a family resemblance – perhaps Zeus (former Val Jones area, now adopted) was the father.  In fact, there were three of them: first named Kingsley, Kuma and Kenji  - but Kingsley’s name was changed to Allen, and Kuma proved to be FIV+ and is now one of the very shy boys in New Aids.

Shy Kuma, in New Aids - KN

When Allen and Kenji arrived, they were caged briefly and then released in the front courtyard. They promptly discovered the sheltered courtyard we call The Old Rabbit Area, and the basket-beds high up – and disappeared up there.  Occasionally they would emerge for dinner or a little feline socializing, but mostly we saw Allen’s slightly worried face watching from the basket, and Kenji lurking behind the shelf curtains.

Allen watching the wand toy - LBF

A year after their arrival, and both have relaxed a lot.  Though they’re not really tame, they are at least willing to visit with humans. Kenji loves to play, and has frequently joined in acrobatics over wand toys;  both are venturing away from the “safe zone” and exploring the other side of the courtyard, and the climbing “ship” that so many of the cats love.  Allen’s little white chest-blaze is a useful signal to differentiate him from other short-haired blacks like Beetle and Salem.  

Melon making friends with Kenji - LBF

Kenji also has a little blaze, but if that's not visible, I find I have to see him with other long-haired blacks before I can be sure who is who. Lancelot, Twining, Benny, (Devil-Child) Dawn and Kenji can easily be mistaken for each other, and behaviour is often a better key to identity than looks. Kenji is a little larger than most of the others, and is becoming more relaxed with his black buddies, though it can still take a while to coax him out of hiding, initially.  Kitty-Comforter Lisa has made something of a project of these two boys, and we hope that, with time, they will come to know that they are in a safe place, and need not fear human attention.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen & Karen Nicholson

Thursday, September 17, 2020


BB came to the Sanctuary about a year ago.
Anxious newcomer - LBF

Anxiety is an emotion with which many of us are familiar, and we don’t always know what has caused it. Perhaps we can link it to a specific event, to environmental or social factors. As humans, we can sit with a therapist and perhaps work out what causes it, and perhaps find some coping mechanisms. Animals – cats, in this case – can’t analyse, they just react. An anxious cat may hide, it may cling to its owner or poop on their bed to show its discomfort, or it may lash out, and show aggression.

If I close my eyes, perhaps you'll go away...   - KN

BB was surrendered as an aggressive cat. We understood that she had been acquired as a kitten, and we don’t know what happened in her first three years, but her owner found her impossible to manage, and we agreed to take her into our care.
What is this strange place?  -  LBF

Like all our new cats, she was caged for awhile to give her a chance to acclimate to a new residence. Her cage was marked with caution signs, but the Kitty Comforters would go in and sit with her for periods – not forcing contact, but just allowing her to know that someone was there.  Gradually she relaxed, and the hissing and spitting ceased, though we were still regarded with distrust.  The med staff gave her extra cage time to get used to new surroundings, and we think it was good for her.

JJ - that's my bed you're sleeping in...    BC

For most of the newcomers, once the cage door is open, there’s a period of caution, and then they begin exploring.  BB did not want to explore. Her cage was HERS, thank you very much, and she was staying right there!  Matters were not helped by her neighbour, tuxedo JJ, who was territorial in the extreme, and aggressive with cats and humans alike.  Occasionally BB would venture out and claim another cage;  when “her” cage was repurposed by the med-staff for a newcomer, she reluctantly relocated, and now it’s been more or less assumed that her new cage is actually hers (unless we get a flood of new cats).
You may kiss my paw...   KN

This BB is not the people-friendly girl her predecessor of a few years ago was.  BB1 struggled with health problems, but purred like an engine with the people she loved.  BB2 is something of a Garbo-cat, preferring to be left alone, She is regal without being demanding. She has warmed to people a bit more, and allows gentle petting, but she stays to her restricted territory, rarely venturing outside the Double-Wide or even onto the back deck.

She allowed dress-up as the Easter bunny...   - KN

She’s not a deliberately nasty cat in any way; we don’t see any of the aggression of JJ or Jade, for instance. She’s diffident – some cats, like Orlean or Horatio, will demand attention, and be miffed when they don’t get it. BB is often happy to receive petting as the volunteers clean cages, or do the feeds, but if it’s not the best time, she doesn’t get all snippy about it!  It’s too bad – she sort of fades into the background.  We remember the troublesome ones, the demanding ones, but the well-behaved quiet ones can easily be overlooked.  Time for a Kitty Comforter campaign for BB!


Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Brigid Coult & Karen Nicholson

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Leona and Star

Leona - MW
Two little feral mamas came from Vancouver Island where they were trapped in a colony to be TNR'd. The rescue found out they were both pregnant, and they were sent to separate foster homes to have their kittens. Once all that was done they were spayed and were going to be returned to their colony, only to have it found that the caregiver had disappeared leaving the colony unattended, and unsafe. They decision was made to find them a new place to live, and they came into our care.
Star practicing being an owl - KN

They may have been trapped at the same time, but having been fostered separately, they were not treated as a bonded pair, and were put into separate feral pens.  Star went into Pen 4, at the back, where there was lots of space, places to hide, and a variety of cats she could ignore or get used to, at her own pace.  Leona was estimated to be the more potentially tameable of the two, and was put into Pen 4, along with all the little “mythology” cats; we knew that these guys would have frequent visitors as staff and volunteers worked at taming them, and hoped that Leona would take the hint.

Watching with caution - MW

In Pen 4 many of the feral cats have remained very feral, in spite of the encouragement of grey Ranger;  who, having come to us as a very hissy feral boy, has now reconciled to human contact, and even appears to welcome it.  When Ranger was obviously having a good time with treats and toys, it wasn’t entirely surprising that other cats in the pen would do the cat-curiosity thing and investigate. So far, though, Star is remaining aloof and not ready to join in cat-games.

Star says "No closer!" - KN

Leona, in Pen 6, decided that she wanted nothing to do with this clowder of cats in her space. She’s not aggressive in any way, but she doesn’t want to live on top of them and has claimed the corner nearest the gate as her own. For some time she would cringe away when a hand reached towards her; she didn’t actually go and hide, but she was obviously not comfortable, and we didn’t push her.  Gradually the thought of being touched was less scary, the bum would go up in the air, and she would occasionally fall over on her side and offer her belly for rubs.   Occasionally she has allowed herself to be picked up briefly, but she never wants to be held for long, and we let her set her own pace.

the flirt...   KN

Star is a hidden feral; Leona is on the edge of breakthrough, and the volunteers working in those pens are very much aware of the two of them. Neither cat will ever be likely to be truly adoptable;  a feral start like this is very hard to overcome, and unless they bond with someone, they will likely always be happiest in the space they know.  But there are lots of other little semi-ferals around, and with us they can take their own time, without pressure, to settle in their Sanctuary home.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright