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.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Spencer and Lucy

There are a surprising number of cats around the Sanctuary who are described as “Donni cats”. They date back about ten years or so, when a hoarding situation was brought to our attention, and the collection of cats and kittens came into our care. Their “owner” loved them dearly, but was incapable of caring for them and was forced to move.
Donni & her loves
In the years that followed, she was a regular visitor, always bringing treats, and spending time sitting among her feline family, giving them petting, grooming and much love.  Even through her final illness, she managed to make some visits, and her name is inscribed one one of the benches in the back courtyard.
Spencer - CP
Among the kittens that first came to us were two black-and-white bundles, who were named Spencer and Lucy. Both grew into solid cats, and were among a group that was adopted out about a year later. Unfortunately the adopter had just too many cats for the amount of space, and territorial wrangling led to a certain amount of peeing. Some of the cats came back to us at the Sanctuary, and among them were Spencer and Lucy.
Lucy - MW
Initially Spencer settled down well; it was Lucy who hid in fear much of the time.  Eventually it was decided to try her in a different area, and the siblings were separated. They hadn’t shown much sign of being bonded, and Lucy decided that the tea-room suited her – though she was still diffident about much human attention.
Spencer - MW
In the years since, both have become fixtures among the feline population – and frequent greeters at their respective gates. Spencer is actually the more shy of the two; he’s part of the crowd but not a cat that comes easily for petting. He enjoys it when treats are offered, but prefers not to take them from a human hand – which means that often someone like Jake will nip in and steal the tidbit!  His distinctively flecked right eye colour makes him easy to identify when snuggled in with the other darker cats in the papasan chair outside the single-wide.
Lancelot & Spencer - BC
Lucy has claimed the passage just beyond the gate into the back area, and is frequently found to be greeting visitors. She enjoys attention more than her brother.
Lucy - PH
Both have somewhat dense fur that really needs grooming to stay in good condition; when you put Spencer next to his buddy Lancelot, you notice the difference in appearance. He’s hard to groom, though, whereas Lucy enjoys the attention (if not the comb, so much!).  Visitors and Kitty Comforters - this is your challenge!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Chris Peters & Michele Wright

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Dryer Gang

Cats being the hedonists they are, it’s not surprising to find them curled up in warm places. Most of the Sanctuary’s cat-cabins have ceramic heaters, and even in sub-zero temperatures the outdoor cats have somewhere warm to be. In every building around the Sanctuary there are favoured places that cats choose – mostly related to warmth. In the Tea Room, you will practically always find Sadie face-planted as close to the heater as possible.

In the Double-wide, there’s usually a crowd on the table just inside the door, and another (usually focused on Salty) on the couch. Hot air rises, and there are normally a good number of cats on top of the cages in the Connor. And the papasan chair near the courtyard stairs is always good for a cuddle-puddle as is the one on the Newcomers deck.

But the favoured place has to be just inside the door of the Single-wide, where, as you enter, you are usually greeted by a furry pile.

L to R: Simone, Jenny, Jarod (Yap), Bantam, Belinda, Zoe
with Little Mama up above - PH
Personalities vary, but the core of the Dryer Gang, as they are known, are usually Simone, Bantam and Chickadee. The three of them came from an egg farm (now demolished) and it’s likely they were all related – according to our vet, Simone is older than the other two, and may well be their mama. You’ll find these three on the September page of the 2017 calendar.

Simone is one of those cats that visitors actively seek out.  She is a cuddle-bug, liking to be held upright over a human shoulder, rather like a baby. In her earlier days she would have come under the no-semi-ferals-adoptions ban, implemented after our experience with Jenny and one or two others; now she is older, calmer, and there is a long list of people that would probably adopt her like a shot. However, as with Salty, we have to consider not only her but also all her cuddle-buddies – losing her would seriously affect the dynamic of the group.
Simone and Bantam are very close - MW
Bantam enjoys his share of petting and cuddles, though he’s not as much in favour of being picked up as Simone is. Chickadee is shyer still, preferring that petting is restricted to the cuddle-puddle itself – it’s not so long ago that Chickadee still preferred the safety of the cage-tops
Zoe - always curious - PH
The trio is usually joined by Zoe – older than she looks, but still very active – sweet green-eyed Jenny, Little Mama, and most-recently, Diamond, who we feel is still mourning the loss of her beloved son Garfield. It’s lovely to see her settling in as part of the group, and sharing in comforting snuggles.
Diamond is comforted by Zoe - MW
They, and the many other cats who join them are a delightful group who never fail to draw the attention of Sunday visitors - whether or not the dryer is operating
...so how many cats can fit on a drier?....  MW

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Michele Wright

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mister Valentine

Just as we have what I call the Garbo Cats (here and here), so we also have our share of cats who enjoy each others’ company. Sometime that’s no more than a tendency to stay in the same area; sometimes it’s obviously a family thing. For many years Mr Popularity in the Sanctuary was our beloved Mario, who attracted a large following of ferals who relaxed around him. We lost Mario to cancer a few years ago, and some of his ferals have followed him, most recently, Nellie, who I like to think about as being reunited with him at the Rainbow Bridge.
Couch cats
But Mario’s mantle has fallen to another gentle giant. When Salty came into the Sanctuary, he was deeply bonded with his sister Shelley, but the magic wore off, and the two now live independent lives. Shelley’s a roamer – you’ll find her all over the place. Salty, on the other hand, can usually be found in his favourite place on the double-wide couch, surrounded by a crowd of other cats.
Cinder, Salty & Ridley, Dusty - MW
Salty obviously gives off the pheromone that says “Love me! Trust me!” It’s not quite to the extent Mario had it – with Mario, sometimes everyone wanted to lie on him, and all you’d see of him in the cat-pile was a little orange and white fur at the bottom. Salty likes a little more space around him – but it’s often the same cats who are sharing the couch with him. Cinder is a regular occupant, as is Luigi, and Watson, who was adopted and who we will soon be hearing from, loved his cuddle-buddy.

Watson with Salty - PH
However, the most favoured companions are Ridley, Colin and Dusty. All three are ferals, and all three have become more approachable through their association with Salty.
Holding paws - MW
Ridley can be distinguished among the black cats in the cat-pile by a little patch of white on his chest.
Cuddling in tandem - BC
He’s still a little wary around humans, but with a not-too-full couch, it is possible to sit with the two of them and stroke Ridley without being swatted.
Salty with Colin - MW
Colin’s one of our all-black boys, distinguishable mainly by the elegant lynx-tips to his ears. He has become much more friendly overall; he’s usually underfoot at feeding-time, rising on his back legs to rub against the feeder and make sure he’s not overlooked.

Salty & Dusty snuggles - BC
Dusty and Salty could be mistaken for litter-mates – especially now he’s put on some mid-life weight. She is very wary of human contact – especially when she’s alone – but like Ridley, petting is possible when Salty is around to give her confidence. She follows him around with adoration in her eyes.
Dusty & Salty - BC
Just occasionally, all this togetherness gets to be too much for Salty, and he has to go and sit on the top of a cat tree or in a corner somewhere where nobody else can lie on him.
Salty goes solo - MW
 A little time to himself – and then he heads back to the couch and to his adoring retinue

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman and Michele Wright

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Trio of Torties

For a good while now, the front courtyard has been home to just one tortoiseshell cat – Treacle, who mostly lives in the Hill House, and is beginning to show her age. Suddenly this winter, we seem to have torties everywhere we look.  In fact, there are only three newcomers in the front, but they have made their presence very evident.
KitKat - MW
KitKat came to us in the fall when the Sanctuary was a temporary home to some of the shelter cats while their regular home was undergoing remediation and renovation. She had been surrendered by her family for peeing – probably in a stress situation – and then at the Five Road Shelter she showed herself to be friendly enough, but was obviously stressed by the number of other cats, and, as so many of them do, expressed her feelings once again with her pee. When the time came to return her to the Shelter it was decided that the space we could offer her would be altogether preferable, though she would not be so obviously an adoption candidate.
KitKat - BC
A short period of being penned was followed by a front courtyard release, and a successful one – KitKat has made herself very much at home. Like many other torties, she’s not a big fan of other cats, but she mostly ignores them, preferring the company of humans, especially if they allow her to climb on their shoulders.  We think that this friendly girl might make a good candidate for the adoption list, especially if she goes to a home where she is the one-and-only, and is unstressed by other four-legged company.
KitKat loves shoulder-climbing - DW
Blaze and Toes came to us together from another rescue in the Interior of BC. The siblings had been trapped as young ferals with a group of cats, and were recognized as a bonded pair. As many of our visitors know, ferals can turn the corner and become very friendly. Blaze made the jump, but Toes never really did, preferring to steer clear of humans. Their family finally returned them to the original rescue, who were unable to find somewhere the two of them could be together. We have occasionally taken in cats from this rescue (most recently in a tragic situation with a hoarder who died) and it was felt that this pair might have a chance of settling with us.
Blaze - MW
After a short stay in the big cage in the Hill House, the two were released, and very quickly made themselves at home. Blaze takes her name from the marking on her face – less defined than KitKat’s very clear stripe.
Blaze - BC
Toes is darker, but as her name implies, her blond toes quickly identify her. Both are most active (and interactive with humans) in the evening at feeding time; Blaze quickly comes for petting while Toes hovers at arms-reach.
Toes - MW
Both have established themselves in one of the feral areas (the room with the yellow door), but they also enjoy being tucked away in the gazebo in the middle of the courtyard. Recently Toes took her gazebo passion to new heights.
Toes' adventure - DW
Time will tell if the confidence of other former-ferals will have an effect on Toes’ shyness, or if a feral-savvy home could be found eventually for these two sweet girls together.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Debbie Wolanski and Michele Wright

Friday, January 27, 2017

Update from Pen 6

Last summer I introduced a group of cats who had come in to us and had taken up residence in Pen 6. There has been quite a bit of in-and-out from that pen, and I thought readers might like an update.
The two big black girls, Cookie and Carla, came out of the pen. Crabby Carla was making everyone else’s life miserable, and it was hoped that we might be able to get their weight under control.  They were caged together for a while and then released. Sister-love did not prove a dominating force, and the two split up. Carla has established herself on the double-wide deck with the semi-ferals there; she continues as crabby as ever.
Cookie - MW
Cookie can usually be found in the volunteer tea-room, and appreciates human attention. Both are still large – it’s very difficult to restrict food in the Sanctuary set-up, and we rely mostly on getting large cats moving a bit more. Carla apparently likes to play, so volunteers are encouraged to use wand-toys with her.
Laredo - BC
Old Tana passed in the fall., but in happier news, a few of the original inhabitants have been adopted: Mrs Trotzki, Doodlebug and Rebecca have all got their own homes now, and we couldn’t be happier for them!   We were told that Rebecca and Laredo were a bonded pair, but saw no sign of it, and she was such a sociable people-cat that splitting them up wasn’t hard. Laredo is cautiously friendly with people, but is also known to swat occasionally, and he seems to have settled in with the rest of the Pen 6 inhabitants.
Sophia - MW
Grey and white Sophia went to the Shelter too, but had health problems, which have taken a while to deal with; medical attention has not left her happy to receive other attention, and she does not welcome the prospect of a good grooming, which she needs! She’s now living in the Moore House with the oldies!
Blue - MW
Still with us are Blue, Simba and PawPaw. Blue is not sociable with the other cats, but enjoys human attention on his own terms. He likes to be above and behind me when I am sitting with one of the other cats in my lap,  and he plays in my hair. He’s a lap-cat in a limited way; you can have him on your lap, but don’t touch too much!
PawPaw - MW

Simba - MW
Simba continues to be a greeter and a lover; he adores attention, except for the grooming kind, which, like Sophia, he needs. Some cats just matt very easily, and I suspect Simba may be sporting a lion cut when the weather warms,  Sweet PawPaw proved to be diabetic; now we have his insulin under control he is no longer looking so fragile.
Faith - BC
Other cats from the same source have joined them; they include white Faith, who tends to be the cat who walks by herself – for the first few months of her time with us she preferred to live in one of the outside kennels rather than mingle with the other cats. The cold weather has driven her in, and she’s tolerating them now.  Crackers is a calico, but one with a lot of black in her fur patterning, and cautiously friendly. The two tuxedos are handsome Troy, and the rather older and less glamorous (but very cuddly) Mabel.
Crackers - MW
Troy & Mabel - MW

All these cats came to us from a private shelter which is now closing down, and another six of them have just arrived at the Sanctuary, with the promise of at least a dozen more to come. We’ll be working to make more space for incoming cats – and more space to introduce them in the Neko Blog

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Michele Wright

Friday, January 20, 2017


Ringo came in to us about two years ago; two feral cats were reported not far from the hospital, and med staff Leslie went on the hunt. She managed to trap two unneutered males, one rather older than the other. Both showed the characteristic big head and chubby cheeks of an older tomcat; both were taken to the vet for their surgery and a checkup, and then they were popped in adjacent cages in the double-wide. The older boy, Guinness, relaxed quickly; he allowed the Kitty Comforters to sit with him, and pet him.  He turned out to be diabetic, and his willingness to be handled was a blessing for the med staff who had to medicate him daily. Ringo, in the next door cage, was the opposite; he cowered in the corner, always chose to hide behind the drape, and resisted any attempt to allow contact. Given appearance and relative age, he might well have been the son of the older cat.
Guinness - CP
Sadly, Guinness’s diabetes was too far advanced by the time he came to us, and he passed. Ringo was released, and quickly discovered the back deck area of the double-wide, where he joined the other ferals. For more than a year, all we would see of him was a hunched shape high up on the northwest corner; we knew that he could come down to eat and use the litter-box, but as soon as a human appeared in the doorway, he would scuttle up the ramp, or climb the cat-tree to reach the safety of his corner. Volunteers cleaning the area were careful to make sure that he had a bedding pad there, and water and dry food not far away.
This has been the typical scared-Ringo face for the last year - BC
Recent cold weather has made the double-wide deck not the most comfortable place to be. The south end holds a mattress and a heat-lamp, and there’s usually a cuddle-puddle there, but Ringo appeared to be enough of a loner that he didn’t want to share with other cats. In the last month or so, he’s been braving the cat-door to come into the warmth of the double-wide, especially when there are few humans around. Med-staff Catherine and Phaedra are both feral cat-magnets, and early mornings are a good time for him to feel safe risking contact, but he’s now started appearing in the evening as well.
Phaedra moved very carefully to get this shot.
Last Saturday I fed in the double-wide and then took some quiet time on the couch to cuddle cats. I had put a plate of food on the deck, and had seen Ringo there at floor level; I talked to him as I put it down, but was careful not to make eye-contact. From the couch in the main room, I was in a direct eye-line with the cat-door, and watched Ringo venture into the room. Initially he stayed near the door, popping back into safety whenever med-staff Mollie went past; then he ventured further out.
Ringo ventures out - BC
Dazzle took a swat at him, as did CB Lincoln, but he did no more than jump out of the way.  Salty came to take a nibble at a plate of food; Ringo edged a little closer and sniffed at Salty, but didn’t follow when Salty went and found a shelf on which to rest.
Hedging his bets - BC
I moved into the open cage at the corner, and watched for him to appear again; he seemed to be calm and interested in the sound of my voice; I was permitted to lean round the corner and get a couple of shots, but not to get any closer.  However, this is big progress from a cat who always hid; now that the weather is warming up again, it will be interesting to see if he is still willing to venture through the door, or whether he will allow the Kitty Comforters to sit with him out on the deck and further the taming process.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman & Chris Peters

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Silent Singers - Carly & Celine

In the summer of 2016 thirteen cats were trapped at a farm not far from the Richmond Nature Park. Many of them displayed signs of likely inbreeding – abnormalities in tails (both “rumpy” and “stumpy” manxes) and in facial structure – and possibly also in internal physiology. Two of them were young females – they may have been sisters or mother and daughter: we don’t know.  As with the majority of young females cats that come to RAPS, both were pregnant, and were handed into the tender care of one of our dedicated foster-moms, Kati.  Kati already has a houseful of animals, but doesn’t hesitate to take on the round-the-clock work of tending young kittens, dropper-feeding runts and orphans, and shedding blood drawn by protective moms.
A very pregnant Carly Simon - JD
The two were named as part of the “C” litter with which they came. Carly, named for Carly Simon, is a light-coloured tabby with orange shades in her fur (generally known as a torbie) and Shelter Manager Julie reports that she put up a horrible fight during intake, scaling the walls, biting, and attacking.  With Kati, once she’d settled, she proved to be friendly, if shy – until she had her litter of kittens in mid-August, at which point she became very defensive of her little family of five. They were the “F” litter, and named Farley, Finlay, Freyja, Fini and Finnegan. The latter was the runt of the litter, and in spite of extra care from Kati, he didn’t survive – always a heartbreaking experience for a foster-mum.
Carly's kittens - JD
Celine (named for Celine Dion) had her kittens at the end of August, and the surviving ones became the “I” litter – given musical names to match their mom: Ives (Burl), Idol (Billy), Isaac (Hayes) and Issa (Isabel Bigley). Though Celine had not been as friendly as Carly, she had allowed Kati to offer treats and petting until the babies arrived when she too became a hyper-protective mama.
Celine & kittens - JD
By mid-October the kittens were sufficiently old and socialised to be moved to the RAPS Shelter. Julie tells me that Carly’s Freyja turned out to have a heart defect, and didn’t make it, but her brothers were all adopted out.  Celine’s kittens have proven to be a sickly litter, catching every bug that goes around the shelter.  Julie says “We all feel terrible for them because they have struggled for their entire lives with upper respiratory infections, eye problems, bacterial outbreaks anddiarrhea.  Poor Isaac has had the worst go of it - he has a huge hernia and he is now suffering from a severe eye issue.”  Ives and Idol are up for adoption and Issa has been approved to go home with a cousin from another litter.
Ives (L) has just had a neuter and is a little wary;
Issa (R) is waiting for her new human to claim her
These two little stubby-tailed kittens originate from the same farm:
these girls are KitKat and Kaos
The two moms, who were not so tame, came to us at the Sanctuary.  For some time they were caged side-by-side in the Connor building; they permitted some attention from the Kitty Comforters, and when their cages were opened, they opted to stay in the area they knew – the cold weather was an added incentive to stay safely in the warmth of the room.
Carly - out and about - MW
Carly is now more confident and ready to interact with staff and volunteers. Her stumpy little tail, rather like Chimo’s, makes her easily identifiable, and she seems to enjoy hanging around with Hope and Shady in the open cages; a favourite place is on the steps in the centre. A lot of her aggression is probably about being trapped in a small space, and it’s an issue the med staff will need to bear in mind when she has to make vet visits.
Curious Carly
Julie says, “At the Shelter, surprisingly enough, the staff formed a stronger bond to Celine because she was calmer than Carly and would respond to baby-talk by purring.  She spent a lot of time in the office with me and she reached the point where she would welcome petting."  At the Sanctuary, Celine is more wary; she has joined the cats who prefer the top of the cages, and prefers to stay just out of reach. A challenge for the Kitty Comforters!
Celine up top - MW

Celine has something of her namesake's reserved demeanour
Given a little time to relax and realise that the humans who are around bring good things and petting, we hope that she too will join the more sociable crowd who welcome visitors

Blog by Brigid Coult, with thanks to Kati Degraaf and Julie Desgroseillers
Photos by Brigid Coult, Kati Degraaf & Michele Wright