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, December 5, 2019

Darius

Darius is a cat with whom everyone falls in love!
MW
We think he has some British Shorthair in him – obviously, we have no idea of his breeding, but he has many of those characteristics: the broad face and stocky body, and a plushy dense coat. British Shorthairs come in a full range of colouring, though the Blue is the desired standard for showing. Darius has classic tabby markings, with the characteristic whorl pattern on his sides.
BC
He came to the City Shelter in early summer, picked up as a stray, but he was so aggressive and angry that it was thought he might actually be feral; in any case, he was obviously not a candidate for adoption, and was transferred to the Sanctuary.  As with many trapped cats, cage life was a bit overwhelming for him – until he discovered that the visits he had from staff, Kitty Comforters and other volunteers, were not in fact so scary, and often resulted in play and treats. Darius became less and less inclined to hide in his box, and more ready to interact with us.
Looking down at us, from a back deck shelf - BC
The initial few weeks in a cage is intended to give cats a chance to assimilate their surroundings, as well as getting used to the humans who will care for them. When the cage is opened, some cats (like Ruff and Sprocket) resolutely stay in their familiar corner until they feel much more confident, while others make a bee-line for the cage-tops or the back deck to put some distance between them and us. Darius was cautious, but it wasn’t long before he watched more confident cats using the door to the laundry room and then out via the cat-door, and he too made his way outside.
KN
Now he felt he had the best of both worlds – the freedom he remembered, but also the human attention with which he had become familiar.  He explored every inch of the back courtyard area, poking his way into open pens, finding toys to play with, and other cats to get to know. He’s a pretty sociable guy – not bonding with anyone else, but not afraid to interact with them. He is often one of the “on the table” cats at coffee time, migrating his way from one person to another and enjoying the attention.
Darius being a lap-cat - KN
As he settles with us, it becomes obvious that he is a stray – a cat who once knew a human home – rather than a feral – born wild and not comfortable with handling. However, we will probably only adopt him under the semi-feral principle of bonding with a prospective owner. Our experience has taught us that unless a semi-feral or very wary cat really bonds with a human, then moving from a place where it is comfortable to a new home is a stressful experience - which is why Darius was as as angry and aggressive as he was when he arrived.
MW
Most of the successful adoptions in this situation take place when a staff member or a volunteer takes the cat – sweet, shy Mischa bonded with med-staff Jess, and has settled well in his new home.  But Mischa saw Jess almost every day; for a  cat like Darius to have a relative stranger take him would be very difficult.
The look of love (or begging for goodies!) - KN
So for now, Darius is a happy cat, with places to explore and other cats with which to interact, and we’ll see if there is a volunteer or a regular visitor to whom he is drawn, and with whom he might find a home, and safety for the rest of his days.

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



Thursday, November 28, 2019

Under the Radar and Overhead - part 2

This is a continuation of last week’s blog by Pauline Chin.

Blackie - PC
Blackie has lived in the single wide for years!  Funny thing is that he hasn’t had a blog entry until now.  He looks like a shiny, mini panther with a thin tail who patrols the shelves.  Blackie doesn’t really jive with the other cats, nor has he joined the dryer gang.  He likes petting when he’s in the mood.  He’ll slap people if they wake him from naps, which happens very frequently.  Serve him wet food and he’s happy.
Traveller - PC
Traveller has chosen the mostly-feral life.  He’s a tad rough around the edges, kind of like black Fable with bedhead.  They both live overhead in the double wide.  While acclimating, he was nearly untouchable and hid inside his carrier.  Nowadays, he’s content enough to quietly watch us from up high.  Unlike most of the ferals, Traveller hasn’t hidden himself on the rear deck.  Being black makes the perfect camouflage!  Perhaps there’s something or someone in the trailer he wants to be near?
Stevie - MW
In Pen 4, this big fluffy boy can be spotted from outside.  Stevie has a lot of rust in his long black coat.  Like most of Pen 4, he avoids humans.  If you peer through the fence, you might just catch him sitting on the porch with his friends.  As soon as the gate is unlatched, the residents make a mad dash for the bushes.  He’s not into playthings, but moves fast.  He’ll come forward if you leave food and back away.  He insists on having a large gap and staring from afar.
Steele - BC
Just occasionally you will find a long-haired black boy in the back courtyard, who ISN'T Lindor or Ruff. If he looks at you in horror, and runs to hide, it's probably (Remington) Steele. We give detective names to the cats who find us; Steele, who cat-burgled his way in to the Sanctuary, likes the safety, but still isn't so sure about the humans.
Kermit - PC
With Pen 8 open, Kermit can be found wandering the back courtyard.  He’s a shy boy with a round face, greenish eyes, and medium-sized body.  He’s never found a replacement for his late buddy, Splotch.  When Splotch was present, Kermit would play, approach, and rub our legs with no hesitation.  Without Splotch’s company, he’s been keeping to himself.  He’s not that enticed by food or toys.  When approached by humans, he’ll stare like a deer in the headlights before taking off.  Unlike the other Pen 8 cats, Kermit has taken advantage of the newly found freedom.  I’ve found him looking at Pen 4 and playing in the long grass in Pen 5.  Hopefully, with all the new arrivals, Kermit will find a good friend with whom he can roam.
Black cat face-off - MW
While it’s not easy to recognize a black cat that prefers to hide from humans, if you take the time to truly know a shy or feral cat, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the positive changes.  My own feral favourite, Luke, (black with a tipped ear) has long passed but I joyfully recall the days when I heard his little feet sprinting towards me from overhead.  When befriending a feral, you might be the only human they share a bond with.  That bond cannot be predicted or forced, but it can mean a radiant world to that small, furry soul.  It’s so special, you could even say, “This is my lucky black cat!”

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Pauline Chin, Brigid Coult,  Michele Wright


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Under the Radar and Overhead – part 1

Pauline sent me the foundation for this blog last month, and it’s taken me way too long to get posted! In fact, she blogged about so many cats, that I decided to split it into two sections...       BC
The majestic Pax - BC
With National Black Cat Day, Black Cat Awareness Month, and Halloween all in the October rear-view mirror, spotlighting some furry black friends is way overdue.  Many new black cats have arrived this year.  They tend to be under the radar and relatively shy or feral.  These are the ones who will likely be seen on a Sunday afternoon.
A Beetle in a Box - PC
Beetle has been making more appearances in the front courtyard this year.  Recognizable by his lynx ear tips, he arrived with his sister, Cricket, in 2017.  He hides much of the time.  Now, he will hang around nearby, socializing with other cats, but just out of reach. Occasionally he takes “out of reach” very seriously, and climbs from the front courtyard glider onto one of the struts that hangs out over the courtyard. He can’t get any further, but he seems to delight in looking down on the rest of the cat-world.
Layla showing her good profile - MW
Inside the Connor House, you might see black Layla - one of several cats that came to us from a hoarding situation.  Her fluffy appearance is alluring and she’s open to pets sometimes.  Layla is quite polite.  Unlike other cats, she won’t get upset if she gets overlooked, nor swat when over-stimulated.  Too many humans and she will look for higher ground and hang out with feral Frisky.  All-black Frisky, with very few defining characteristics, spends all day on the cage top and has zero interest in humans.
Zeus on arrival and after surgery - PC
Beautiful Zeus, fully recovered - KN
Zeus is a quiet fellow picked up as part of a massive trapping effort.  He has a large fluffy head and prefers the cage top.  Zeus didn’t particularly socialize with anyone.  Approach slowly, with your hands visible, and he might allow touching.  He’s still adjusting to his new life in the Val Jones corner, but doing much better since having surgery for entropion – inward-growing eyelashes. Life as a feral cat must have been very scary for him when he couldn’t see properly, and his eyes hurt. His surgery left him looking a little like a werewolf for a while, but now he’s out of pain, he is accepting attention from the volunteers with much less fear.
Handsome Pax - MW
Found in the same area was medium-haired Pax.  Pax is labeled as semi-feral, but has a positive opinion about people.  It didn’t take long for him to purr and enjoy the comforts offered up to him.  He’s an energetic boy, who sometimes earns a timeout for roughhousing other cats. There are some strong personalities in that pen! Pax has a distinctive shaped head that leads us to believe that he is the baby daddy for a number of the kittens trapped in the same place.
Neptune - PC
FeLv+ Neptune came in with Portia and Voodoo all the way from Portland, Oregon.  Portia, who is the calendar cover star this year, is comfortable in the baskets around the outside area of the leukemia area.  Voodoo (now gone) had a tipped ear and preferred the high rafters.  Big black Neptune is still cautious around people.  Sometimes, he’ll allow me to pet his soft coat.  He might choose to sit near me or chill out overhead.  These days, he won’t go anywhere without his BFF, Henrik, and he is also very friendly with his lookalike, Chateaux.  Both black cats are shy around humans.
Cheateaux - MW
Shy and feral seems to be a theme for black felines.  Hopefully, this will help ID the small panthers you might find.  More black cats to be spotlighted in part 2!

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

As Cats Age....

This is Adopt A Senior Pet Month....
Anxious Tikki, when he first came to us - LBF
Any month is a good one to adopt a senior cat, to my mind.

All over the Lower Mainland (probably all over the world) we’re dealing with the aftermath of kitten season, and shelters – the RAPS City Shelter as well – are full of kittens. And as we all know, kittens are CUTE, and people respond to them easily.  What cat-parent neophytes don’t always realise is that they have to get through the equivalent of the terrible teens to emerge with a cat who you can settle down and live with for the next 15-20 years.
Rufus, enjoying the sun - MW
When you adopt an older cat, you know what you’re getting, personality-wise; you’re past the destruction-just-for-fun stage that kittens rejoice in, and you can be pretty sure that if your cat “misbehaves”, it’s either for health reasons, or it’s because something in your life is stressing it. Most older cats have settled to the sleep-most-of-the-day pattern that is so common to cats, and are happy to sit quietly with you – though play-time is welcome (and necessary, to keep your indoor cat active).
ZeeZee has health issues we need to watch - MW
What constitutes “senior”? A cat of 7-10 years is considered “mature” - the equivalent of someone in their 50’s, perhaps. Seniors are those over 10, and a cat of 15+ can be considered a Super-Senior. And like humans, some senior cats are active and engaged into their golden years, while other are getting frail and need more tending.
Kiko's distinctive bass voice can be heard in pen 6;
she can still be a bit cranky! - KN
At the Cat Sanctuary we have several categories of senior cats, some of which are adoptable, while others will continue to do better in our care. A lot of our seniors have grown old with us; they are cats who came in as young ferals, who have gradually acclimated to human care and attention, and are now friendly – but also regard the Sanctuary as their home. They are not cats that we would adopt out unless they made the decision to bond with someone, and even then, a transition to a new home can be stressful.
We recently marked what we think is the 20th birthday
of our sweet Jody - MW
The cats who have come to us as owner-surrenders are often with us because they’re poop-ers, pee-ers or biters!  But we also have cats come in because their owner is no longer alive, or has gone into a care-home – and the transition can be very hard on a cat. Sweet Krissy took a whole year to emerge from hiding, and is only in the last year becoming really sociable with people in general.
Krissy actually loves attention now! - MW
Tikki is still grieving the loss of his home, and the owner who loved him and had to go into care; Tikki is now starting to respond to staff and volunteer approaches, though he does not like other cats coming into his space. It’s good to see him finally venturing out of his “safe” place, and enjoying cuddles with the people he likes.
From being scared and shut down, Tikki now enjoys cuddles - LBF
Baby is an elegant lady in the Moore House, who came to us very angry at the disruption of her life, but who has now settled down to be admired and petted.  She is a little arthritic, but there is medication for that, and she is feeling much better about life.
We love Baby's casually elegant pose! - LP
Also in the Moore House are Rufus and Wink;  each came in as one of a bonded pair, and then had their partner pass.  Wink is still a little wary around people;  Rufus loves attention and he loves to eat!
Tootsie on the prowl - KN
Two other cats in the DoubleWide are senior adoption prospects – both tuxedos. Tootsie had actually been adopted and was returned because she showed a persistent skin infection which is now well under control; she’s a very sweet girl who loves attention and reponds well to petting.  And Survivor – now known as “Sir”, has a sad back-story; his owner died, and nobody in the family was a cat-person. Sir was left in the apartment, with someone coming in to feed him every few days. Unfortunately, the feeder was also not a cat-person, and just tossed food at him and left. As funeral time approached, the family decided to euthanize the cat and put him in with his owner. Luckily one of our contacts was able to say, “Sign him over to us; we’ll care for him”, and Sir came to us.. The poor boy was pretty shut down for a while, but time in an open cage with the undemanding company of Tugboat and Oliver, and he’s now exploring and responding to human contact.  Sir would love to find someone to be his person again.
Survivor - now known as "Sir" - KN
In taking on a senior cat, of course, you take on potential heartache;  anytime we adopt a pet, we know that heartache will come because they live shorter lives than we do, but with seniors it also comes sooner. But balance that against the love they give, and what we can give to them in their final years, and it feels to me like a great bargain.

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






Thursday, November 7, 2019

Ruff - Living Rough No More

Back in April I blogged about a cat who had come to us early in the year, having lived his life as an outdoors feral.
Ruff living rough - WR
Ruff had gone to ground in his cage in the Double-Wide, and though accepting visitors, and gentle petting, was making it quite clear to us that now he was safe, he was going to stay in that safe corner!
The Kitty Comforters continued their efforts, sometimes doing no more than sitting and talking to him, sometimes grooming him gently or offering a little play, sometimes getting in belly-rubs when he felt particularly comfortable.
Watching the action - KN
And then we started to find him in the corridor between the cages – not looking particularly anxious, not looking for a way out, just curious about what was going on. He might poke his nose around a bit, but often he would just sit in the crossroads and look around, mostly ignoring other cats, but enjoying attention and admiration from volunteers.  When he’d had enough, he would take himself back to his cage and back onto his shelf.
The excitement of feather play - KN
Gradually, the visits became longer and longer, and the cage he returned to became the opposite one, also open, but a bit lighter.  Occasionally he would venture onto the Double-Wide deck, which homes many of the semi-ferals;  his “buddy” Hamlet, with whom he arrived, was not pleased to see him, and threw something of a hissy-fit.  The explorations in the rest of the area continued; he was not intrusive with other cats – he just wanted to know where things were.
Venturing out the door - KN
And then calmly he made his way out of the main door and into the back courtyard; not very far the first few times, but as nothing fearful happened, and all his humans cheered him on, he moved further and further. Now he is mainly based just outside the Newcomers area, and has found a comfy shelf to sleep on. Better yet, there is a heat lamp on the Newcomers deck, and as long as he gets there before Blue, he can doze in blissful warmth.
Enjoying the sun  - KN
Using Newcomers as his base, he’s exploring further afield – making his way to the east end of the back pens, and climbing some of the small shrubs there. His original human “mom” has visited him and is so excited to see how he has settled, becoming the placid, quietly confident cat he never felt safe in becoming before.
LBF
His interactions with other cats are on his own terms; he tunes out the more aggressive cats like Jasper, Gizmo and Chester, and just gets on with doing what cats do - investigating, snoozing, occasionally playing. With the chilly fall, all his "floof" is serving him well, and he pokes around at the far end of the courtyard, exploring a little tree-climbing - not from any need to escape, but because he likes to do it (and to have someone admiring him!)
LBF
Ruff is a fulfilment of the dream many of us have at the Sanctuary - to encounter a feral, scared cat, and be part of helping it grow into a relaxed and comfortable feline that knows it's in a place of safety, and that every human here is a potential friend. And Ruff knows who he has to thank for his place of safety - his original caretaker, who knew that we were that sanctuary for him, and his best friend Karen, cat-whisperer extraordinary, who convinced him that here he would know nothing but love.
Kisses for Karen

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









Saturday, November 2, 2019

The RAPS Calendar is Coming

The selections have been made; the captions have been written; the calendar charts are laid out; it’s just back from the printers now, and due to launch in the next few days.
Ollie was featured in the 2019 Calendar, so he has to miss a year.
I’m not going to spoil the surprise, but I’m going to give you a few of the photos that didn’t make it, for one reason or another. They are all by our volunteer Michele Wright, who freelances as Furry Friends Photography
This picture of sweet Pops was one of the ones considered for the cover.  We decided in the end that much as we loved it, the cover photo needed a "pop" more of colour,
Mischa missed his opportunity for the best of reasons - he got adopted!
I always ask Michele for "couple" and "group" pictures.  I love this one of Calista and Jamie - they love each other so much - but I wanted to see more of Calista's face.
The same is true of this one of Shaggy and Chanel, in the Moore House.  Shaggy lost his best buddy Spicer, and it's good to see him making friends with shy Chanel.
We had a lot of orange cats to choose from this year. Sprocket was definitely a contender, but someone else won!  I try to make sure that the calendar has a cross-section of colours and shapes, so that everyone can find a favourite cat somewhere!
There were several possible torby candidates too. Roe is a front-courtyard favourite, and always a greeter at the gates.
Chase appeared in a perfect autumnal photo. Unfortunately, he was also featured in another photo, so someone else got the autumn leaves in the end.
Skittles just missed as well - but these days this former feral spends more time climbing into people's laps than sitting and looking photogenic!
HoneyBear's incredible blue eyes were featured in 2018, so he was eligible for the 2020 calendar. But another blue-eyed boy sneaked in ahead of him...
I'm wary of including some of our fragile older cats, like little Debbie.
There will be three RAPS calendars: the Sanctuary Cats one, one of some of the Shelter dogs, and one for the RAPS hospital.  All of will be available from all our RAPS sites - The Sanctuary, the Shelter, the Hospital, and both Thrift Stores, as well as by purchase though our website. In addition they will be on sale at four of the fall craft fairs scheduled in Richmond.
Tubby Tiger was another adoption success!
Start making your Christmas lists now, and write "RAPS Calendar" by as many names as you can!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Michele Wright