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, May 28, 2020


From RAPS volunteer Pauline Chin:
At the door, waiting for attention - KN
Loki, our grey and white friend, arrived 2 years ago from 5 Road after it was found out he was a pee-er.  Contrary to his somewhat disapproving appearance, his personality is friendly, sweet, and playful.  Cats don’t seem to mind him and humans are eager to interact with him.
"Alien kitten"  -   JK
While caged, Loki often reached through the mesh to grab at toys.  We’d be playing with other cats and then a grey paw would pop out and latch onto the toy.  Even other cats, like Dazzle, looked surprised at his enthusiasm.  Inside the cage, he’d scale the mesh and bounce around.  There just wasn’t much room to play.  Loki couldn’t wait to be free!

Loki's favourite pose.    BC
Most of Loki’s time is spent sleeping.  Sometimes, he hangs out with the deck crew.  When he’s in play mode, he turns into a wild thing!  If he spots a favourite toy, he will race up and down the catwalks.   At times, he will fly across the cage-tops in pursuit.
...Watch that wand twitch....!    PC
He faces playtime competition with Baxter and Delilah up top, and from Dazzle and Hannah at floor level.  Once Loki snags a wand, he’ll attempt to carry his prize off someplace.  He has a strong grip, so be prepared to have wands yanked out of your hands.
You know how you sometimes wake up with "bed-head?"
Loki has permanent "bed eyebrows"....   JC
The main red flag that bars Loki from adoption is his habit of peeing outside the litterbox, and spraying the walls.  Rarely is there a cat owner that tolerates such behavior.  People can tolerate sweet and sometimes swatty, but turning walls yellow just isn’t fun.  Around 60% of our cat population are pee-ers. Like Loki, they can all play and spray to their heart’s content without worry.  We just mop up their messes afterwards - and love them anyway.

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Jackie Chappell, Pauline Chin, Brigid Coult, 
Jennine Kariya, Karen Nicholson

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Quarantine Coiffures

During this time of social distancing, we have had fewer people around at the Sanctuary.
Big floofy Ruff needs careful grooming - MW
Many of the regular volunteers are obeying the stay-home instructions, and in the interests of everyone’s safety, there are clear instructions about staying in one area at a time. The med-staff, of course, have to bustle around everywhere, but the other staff and volunteers no longer visit as freely as we used to, and the Kitty Comforters were put on hiatus, to keep everyone safe.
Dell The Lion Sleeps Tonight - LBF
A lot of Kitty-Comforting is about working with new caged cats, or in the pens with the shyer ones. And most of the KCs carry little tidbits around with them to tempt wary cats a little closer.  But many of them also carry grooming tools, and they take the opportunity while visiting to tease out some of the mats that inevitably form on some long-haired and older cats.
Smithy having (another) bad hair day - BC
The mat-King is Smithy. Smithy is part of the feral bunch from Pen 8, and although many of the Pen 8 cats have tamed down quite a bit, Smithy still hisses when he sees us.  He’s also curious about us, though – he will quite often hang around while I’m scooping, and listen while I talk to him.  Smithy has never been good at grooming himself, but, to be fair, he is the stocky sort of cat who would probably find it very hard to get at the back bits.
That was quite a mat! good work, Smithy!  - BC
Some weeks ago we noticed that Smithy was developing a major dreadlock on his chest – the hair had matted solidly and was hanging down in front of him, attached only by a few clumps. Smithy had tried to be his own barber, but the chest beard he’d created left much to be desired. Had he been a tame cat, it would have involved a simple fix, but Smithy defied every attempt by volunteers and staff to help get it off. Several days later, much to our amusement, the dreadlock was found, lying on the ground like a strange, furry creature.
Lying in the sun is OJ's favourite thing.  Grooming? not so much....  KN
Mr Mat in Pen 4 is OJ.  OJ is definitely getting on these days, and with his stubby little legs and stocky body, self-grooming is not in his vocabulary – and he doesn’t much enjoy it when delivered by humans either.  The only time OJ makes a real effort to do anything, is when he bites the hand holding a brush.
Dell in last summer's haircut - MW
Dell, in the pen opposite, is not a fan of grooming either, though he’s pretty good-natured about tolerating it for just a little while.  Dell’s problem is that he has very fine fur that mats very easily – and because he’s had fewer visitors than usual, his grooming has definitely got behind (in more ways than one!)
Once the hot summer weather finally settles in, some of these cats will be treated to a professional lion cut (or some approximation of it), and they will appreciate not carrying a weighty coat around with them.  Like them, I can’t wait to get rid of some of my shaggy (but not matted) fur!

Blog by Brigid Coult

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

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Jim & Frank

The Val Jones corner has seen a variety of uses and inhabitants.
Jim - MW
When it was first conceived, with a bequest from the estate of Sanctuary angel Val Jones, it was simply a couple of cabins in a quiet site – a place for the shyer cats to avoid the crowd (and in those days, it WAS a crowd!), and a nice corner to sit and cuddle with feline friends.
Frank & Jim like each other's company - DW
In 2014 we had a sudden influx of FeLV cats. Feline Leukemia is transmitted in saliva, and cats who share dishes or who groom each other may pass it around. Most small shelters don’t have space to give such cats the isolation care needed for their health and that of others, and it used to be that they were often euthanized. Many BC shelters now know about the RAPS Sanctuary, and most of our leukemia cats come from outside Richmond. There is a vaccine against the virus, but there is no cure, once it is acquired (though sometimes it goes into spontaneous remission). The Val Jones corner got fenced off, with a double-gate to prevent inadvertent escapes from either side, and the leukemia cats had more room to move around.
Frank - MW
Over the next four years the population of cats in the area declined – once cats have the virus, their immune systems are compromised, and in many cases, we don’t have them long.  At the same time, we were seeing an increase in the number of FIV cats coming into our care.  So last year the Val Jones area was sanitized, and repurposed for a group of cats from the New Aids pen, and several newcomers joined the clowder.
Jim posing - LBF
Pops and Jack Sparrow were the centre of this new group, and their mobility issues meant that floor covering was an issue, so we also needed to know that the others were not consistent pee-ers. Because the new pen was just off the main courtyard, we wanted the population to be made up of friendly cats, and there was a little mix-and-match-ing until we got a combination of cats who were confident without being too assertive. Arnie, orange Magnus, Jerry and Tia were considered the best options and the group was joined by Zeus (now adopted) and Pax, two of the adults from last year’s bounty of trapping. Shortly after, newcomers Jim and Frank arrived on the scene, and the population has stabilized there.
Jim on the prowl - MW
The newcomers were very shy when they first arrived from a shelter in Alberta, where their FIV status and wariness with humans made them unlikely candidates for adoption.  Initially they were also very wary with us – Jim had the big bug-eyed “don’t touch me” look – but by the time they’d been in the Val Jones for a little while, they were comfortable with people and confident with other cats. We already had a Jimmy, and we had cranky Frankie (and had loved and lost sweet Franko), so I wanted to change their names – perhaps Hendrix and Zappa? - but they have just remained Jim and Frank (or, as Karen calls them, FrankenJim).  Jim is a big chunk of grey fluff who loves cuddles – he’s quick to leap up on a lap, put paws up on your chest and give head-rubs. His one fault as a cuddle-bug is that he’s constantly on the move; he loves to be held, but he doesn’t relax for long.
Frank - MW
His buddy Frank is a smaller tuxie, with smoke pale fur under a black exterior - also very friendly, though less demanding of attention. A little time with Jim and Frank is usually spent with Jim bunting my face and Frank offering ankle-rubs.
Jim's look of love - KN
In these days of pandemic, with no visitors and fewer volunteers, it’s sad that more people don’t get to meet these two buddies. FIV cats are as adoptable as any – they just need to be in a situation where they don’t fight with other cats, and be monitored for health issues. Many of our FIV cats live long healthy lives, in spite of their condition, and these two would make wonderful companions.

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Loaf Cats

Blog from volunteer Pauline Chin....
You may have come across  the terms loaf cats, cat loaves, loafing kitties, platter cats… the list goes on. The key feature is the way the cat is sitting, which resembles a loaf of bread.
Dusty - MW
The cat will tuck its legs and tail underneath its body, hence the name, loaf. In the classic loaf position, no paws can be seen, through some do a partial loaf with a leg or two showing.  Sometimes, they fall asleep that way with a face plant.  Extra-large loafing kitties look closer to a turkey on a platter.  Our long-haired cats might resemble a big poof with eyes, or a certain fictional alien race.
Jobie - MW
Why do cats sit this way?
Mostly it’s because it’s comfortable.  They can relax, take a nap, stare at you from a distance, but still be on their feet in a second. Most cats refuse to expose their weak spot – the belly.  Think about it.  How tempting is it to give cats belly rubs? In cooler weather, it helps conserve body heat.  Tucking their tail and legs in prevents people from stepping on them, too.  The loaf is also a position for cats to hide injuries;  cats are masters at concealing pain.
Kramer - MW
In this time of quarantine, when baking your own bread seems to be the Thing to Do, feast your eyes on some loafing kitties:
The first kitty loaf many visitors will think of is Jay-Z.  He enjoys loafing around everywhere.  He and several cats favour the spot in front of the fridge.  Given his big, solid body, Jay-Z can easily block paths in the trailer while simultaneously looking cute.
Jay-Z - MD
Buddy prefers loafing at petting level; you'll usually find him in the laundry room or just inside the Double-Wide, where lots of people will be within reach.
Buddy - Jennine
Little Keira Knightstreet is also affectionately known as the Tiny 'Tato
Keira - PC
Our Leo is a big boy, but when he's "loafing", he can fold himself into a surprisingly small space
Leonardo diCatprio - MW
The whitest of cat-loaves, Ollie tucks himself out of the way.
Ollie - MW
Three loaves in a bowl, only Princess's tail overflows a bit.
Spike, SaraLee, Princess - BC
Petunia demonstrates one of the paw variations for loaf pose - rather than with pads on the floor, she curls her paws under her chest
Petunia - KN
Bluebell is one of the cats who combines the faceplant variation with loaf pose.
Bluebell - KN
I believe the ultimate kitty loaf king is… Chimo!  This boy has a toasty orange coat, a white center, and a short, round body, just like the perfect loaf of bread.  He likes to chill and cuddle with everyone.  Chimo would happily leave his loaf position for extra body rubs.  Just don’t touch that belly!
Chimo - PC
Although it’s extremely tempting to sneak in some petting on loafing kitties, I advise against any impulsiveness.  Always let the cat know you’re next to it first and get their permission before physical contact. Surprise the cat and it will surprise you – and, unlike bread loaves, cat loaves can bite back.    Luckily, most of our cats are open to attention - hold out your hand to them and they’ll let you know immediately whether they want your touching.

Blog by Pauline Chin with Brigid Coult
Photos by Pauline Chin, Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Jennine Kariya, 
Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Tuxedo Club - part 2: The Catsino

There are various areas around the Sanctuary where cats who prefer to live “outside” can find warmth and comfort.
Now she's getting frail, this is Calista's favourite spot
in the front courtyard - BC
Often the shyer cats prefer not to be inside one of the buildings, but are willing to compromise by living on an enclosed deck.  When the weather is chilly, they can find warmth on an enclosed shelf, or, if they’re lucky, in a basket or a papasan chair under a heat-lamp.  Once a new cat is released from its cage in the Double-Wide (DW), it will often make its way to the deck, for an area with good hiding places. Draped chairs and shelves, a walk-way around the wall, and the reassurance that there won’t be many visitors gives cats the chance to settle, and eventually allow contact.
The "regulars" are joined by Hickory and Aspen - BC
The favourite place on the DW Deck is on a mattress, built out in an area that overlooks the volunteer tea-room below. The heat lamp hanging over it gives a secondary name to the area – the Cats Red Light District.  Bodhi, Hamlet and Luke were introduced last week as the core members of the feline band PURR .  But volunteer Daphne Jorgensen has been visiting with them regularly, and feels they need to push the boundaries a bit more.   Daphne posts regularly for our Staff/Volunteers closed page, but with her permission, I’ll share some of her musings on the DW deck inhabitants...
You want into this Catsino? - DJ
from Jan 28...  Everyone out there was cozy under the heat lamp. They let me know that life is good in the “Red Light District.” Wow, that’s aptly named. Apparently, what happens in the Red Light District stays in the Red Light District; it’s like Las Vegas.
Hmm, I thought, see no evil, hear no evil; that’s not always good. That’s when I noticed that Jade had followed me out onto the veranda. Oh no, the slasher had arrived. She reminded me that whatever she does to me cannot be disclosed. I looked to the others for support but found a bunch of giant lazy Mafia looking cats with faces that registered nothing. Last week was the ladder incident and now she just drove me off the armchair.
Perhaps I shouldn’t linger too long in the Red Light District. I feel like I just escaped an illegal gambling den
Waiting for refreshments - DJ
from March 17 ...    I checked in with the occupants in the Red Light District in the Double Wide. I let them know that all casinos are shut down. I asked the Hamlet if his casino was closed pursuant to the government mandate. He was eating when I was asking. It looked like his in-house restaurant was still open, contrary to the government order for quarantine.

from April 14 ...   I was visiting the Mafia cats in the Double Wide. It’s business as usual for them. I asked what was new and happening and they let me knew that they are starting a band that will always front line at their Catsino.
Barb & her Boys

Slayers - with Baxter leading -  LBF
They showed me their debut album cover, which is posted. Their band is called the Slayers. Barbara is the lead singer, Hamlet is on electric guitar, Luke on bass, Bodhi on piano, and Bubbles on drums. I asked them if they had a title for their new album and they confirmed they do. It’s called Tails of the Red Light District. Nice and hard core!
These are the songs on their album so far:
- Pandemic Blues;
- Ain’t Got No Kitty Comforters;
- JJ’s Revenge;
- Feed Me Now;
- Don’t Crap On Me; and
- Cat Slaves Are My Bitch.
They’re still working on more material. I asked who their manager and promoter is. Hamlet said they don’t have one yet.
Working on the love ballad album - LP
Hmmm...opportunity for me? But I’m not sure if my values align with theirs. I mean singing about Cat Slaves Being Their Bitch? Well, I might (ahem) resemble that remark.

Quarantine is obviously producing a variety of cultural inspirations at the Sanctuary – we’ll have to see if performers and audience alike are able to maintain interest, or if, being cats, it’s simpler just to find somewhere quiet and enjoy the required hours of snoozing.

Blog by Brigid Coult and Daphne Jorgensen
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Brigid Coult, Daphne Jorgensen, 
Karen Nicholson, Louise Parris

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Tuxedo Club - part 1

Some of our semi-feral inmates can be pretty nervous when there are strangers around.
Hamlet in what used to be Ringo's corner - MW
In regular conditions, the number of weekend visitors increases as the weather improves, and we have to be careful to allow the shyer cats space to get away from unfamiliar faces. The Moore House is closed, and also New Aids - our friendlier FIV cats live in the Val Jones area. We block off several areas for “Cats Only” - the front courtyard section where the ferals hang out, the approach to the office in the Single-Wide, the Newcomers, Pen 8 and Waldi’s Hut,  and the back deck of the Double-Wide.
Hamlet, Bodhi, Luke - LBF
The Double-Wide deck has become the popular gathering spot for the more timid cats in that building, and in particular, for the tuxedos. Grey Bubbles is an honorary tuxie, and there are a few tabbies like Kin and Guthrie who ease in and out of the crowd, but the mattress under the lamp is dominated by black and white fur.
Hamlet at ease - KN
Hamlet arrived in company with Ruff – a pair of ferals who were brought in for their own protection when their territory came under construction. Ruff settled himself in his cage and declined to emerge for almost a year; he’s now become Mr Sociability in the back courtyard. His buddy Hamlet (actually, they weren’t the friendliest of buddies) went in the opposite direction and ended on the deck. For some time he was to be found up on one of the high shelves with Ringo, hiding from human attention; these days he’s more often to be found just inside the door, and ready to accept attention from loving hands.
Bodhi & Luke - LP
Bodhi and Luke arrived about the same time, but from different place; Luke came with Taylor, and once released, the two went in different directions. Black Taylor made for the back courtyard and joined the “who IS that black cat?” crowd. The poor boy has had quite a lot of dental problems, and been in and out of a cage, getting treatment. Luke preferred the comfort of the deck and a more sedentary life-style. He has bonded with Bodhi, who is probably a little older. Bodhi came to us from a hoarding situation and was very wary about contact with humans at first, but the two of them are now ready to approach volunteers, and enjoy some petting.
Luke & Bodhi  - KN
Bodhi, Luke and Hamlet can often be found cuddling together on the big mattress under the heat lamp.  They are sometimes joined by Pancake, though he’s much more social, and prefers to be in the main building, around humans. Sir (who came in as Survivor) will often tuck himself into a nearby basket. Jolene sometimes shares their shelf, but not often the cuddles.  Little Smudge, after quite a lot of medical attention and cage living, had moved himself to the cage-tops in the main-building – warmer than the deck, especially with the big boys hogging the heat.
Pancake, Jolene, SIr  -  MW &BC
When we get our tuxedos together, with their striking markings (especially Bodhi) we think the boys should form a band and call it PURR

Next week: the Red Light Cats band.... (with thanks to Daphne Jorgenson)

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

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Easter Bunnies at the Sanctuary

For the past couple of weeks there has been discussion (at two meters apart) about which of our Sanctuary Cats might substitute for the Easter Bunny, since there was no knowing if Bunnying was an Essential Service.
Huey-bun - did someone say rabbits?
For the most part it came to a draw between two of our manxes – sweet Huey, and shy Cookie Mills. And then on Easter Day there were suddenly Easter Bunnies everywhere!
Cookie Mills-bun - do these ears make my bottom look fat?
Karen Nicholson began as a student volunteer, worked as summer intern, and is currently on the staff. And where Karen goes, her phone goes too, and there is a flow of wonderful photos.  She conveys the personalities, the quirks, the embarrassing moments, and the love.  You will see Karen’s work appear often in the Neko Blog, and on the principle that a picture is worth a thousand words, she contributes an enormous amount to the weekly offering.
Jodie-bun - we are NOT amused!
Cats don’t always appreciate dress-up – but as long as it is simple, many of them will tolerate it. Karen crocheted the rabbit ears, and it was often an easy job to drop them in place, fasten them, point, aim and shoot. A little treat box of dried chicken was often the best incentive.
Tigger-bun - a dignified senior gentleman - but willing to cooperate
The Easter bunny-cats appeared in the staff/volunteer group on Facebook, but for all our blog readers who don’t see that, here are a few of the invading rabbit horde...
Leo-bun - I can be a bunny just as long as I don't have to DO anything
Skittles-bun - make sure you get my good side...
Parker-bun - now you have to get it off without shedding blood
- yours, that is...
Fido-bun - well, OK - if there's chicken afterwards...
Ruff-bun - the last time I saw a bunny, I wanted to eat it.
Lindor-bun - where's the chocolate?
Baxter-bun - bunnies like tummy-rubs too!
Princess Diva-bun - this is really beneath my dignity...
Darius bun - I quite like the attention!
...and the green stuff that bunnies eat!
Thanks for the smiles, Karen - and thanks to all those Oh-so-tolerant cats!
Happy Easter, everyone!

Blog (with very little work) from Brigid Coult

ALL the pictures by Karen Nicholson!