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, May 26, 2017

Honey Bear

This sweet boy is another that has come to us from a private shelter that is closing.  Normally a snowshoe Siamese like this would be much in demand, but Honey Bear has some handicaps.  He has a neurological disorder that affects his rear end, making him incontinent, as well as more liable to kidney infections.  He’s likely not more than a couple of years old - and yes, his eyes really are that blue!.

We had him caged for a while when he first arrived, and he proved to be very ready for contact with humans, welcoming visitors, though occasionally getting a little over-excited. His cage needed to be cleaned several times a day, since he had no control over bladder and bowels; fortunately his stomach seems to be in good order, and his poops are easy to clean up.
Just hangin' out - MW
Since being allowed out into the general back courtyard population, he has become a little more skittish and less willing to interact with people. He’s not particularly social with other cats, though he’s quite willing to explore around his territory.
The slight awkwardness of his back legs can
be discerned in this photo - CP
Watching him move is rather like watching WobblyBob, though we don’t think their handicaps are identical. We think Bob may have had a stroke that has affected him rather like some form of cerebellar hypoplasia; he’s not very coordinated in walking, or in focusing on offered food. Honey Bear’s handicap is specifically rear end; his front end moves normally, but his back legs in walking move in high “trotting” motions. Interestingly, when he runs, he can often coordinate them.
Watching the world from his cat-tree - CP
Despite his handicap, Honey Bear loves to climb, and his favourite hiding place to chill is right at the top of a big covered cat-tree.  Volunteer Marty spends quite a bit of time with him there, offering the head-rubs he loves.

Like so many of our cats, this is truly Sanctuary for Honey Bear – he would probably be considered unadoptable by other organizations and his chances of survival would be poor.  With us, he has the opportunity to make himself at home, he has the medical monitoring he needs, and he can find many humans who will love him.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Chris Peters and Michele Wright

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Twin by Name

The two Lincolns share a shelf - DW
When we welcome newcomers to the Sanctuary, various things come into play with naming them.  If we know nothing of the cat in question, it’s usually up to the med staff to choose a name – preferably one that’s not already used, and one that begins with an alphabet letter that’s not too well populated.  The cat may be named after someone responsible for catching it (like Zimmer) or if it found its own way to us, it is given the name of a TV detective (Magnum, Kojak, Cagney, Watson...)
Sophia (top) & Sophie (bottom) - BC
But if it comes in to us with a name in place already, we try not to change that – we don’t know how much cats recognize their own names (though they certainly recognize voices). And so, inevitably, we have a few naming duplicates.
Orange & tabby Hannahs - MW
Our two Hannahs both live in the back courtyard.  Neither shows much interest in the other; tabby Hannah prefers people to other cats – vice versa for orange Hannah
Tabby & b/w Lucys - PH
Both our Lucy-cats are ladies of solid proportion, and again, both are back courtyard cats. Tabby Lucy would rather stay in the warmth of the laundry- or tea-room, unless the sun is out, in which case she sunbathes happily; black-and-white Lucy is usually found somewhere round the entrance gate
Cinnamon Bun Lincoln is less elegant and pushier than his long-haired "twin" - MW
The two Lincolns are Double-wide cats who occasionally visit in the back courtyard; both love human attention.  Handsome Lincoln can usually be found posing on one of the DW shelves;  Cinnamon Bun Lincoln (named for his curled tail) can be pushy when it comes to getting human attention, and is occasionally known to make his pee-mark!
Sophie/Sophie/Sophia - MW
 We have several Sophies: there’s tubby Sophie in Pen 2, who’s ready to greet all visitors; tortie Sophie in the Single-Wide; sweet Sophie of the beautiful green eyes in the Moore House – and there’s Sophia, also in the Moore House.
Calista - front (MW) - and back (BC)
Calista is not the most common name – but we have two of them, and they’re both shy. Front courtyard Calista is Renee’s sister; she has her favourite people, but tends to stay out of the way when there are too many visitors around. Back courtyard Calista is still pretty feral, but volunteer Marty has been working with her, and she’s allowing feeding, and (finally) a little petting.
WobblyBob (BC) & BellyRub Bobby (MW)
At one stage we had four or five Bobbys – the only ones now are Belly-Rub Bobby in the front courtyard, who loves everyone (but especially volunteer Chris) and Wobbly Bob in the back, who really only loves people when they have chicken in hand!
Mary SW (MW) & DW (CF)
Mary in the SingleWide is a sweetie; a former feral who has lost her shyness and enjoys attention. Her namesake in the DoubleWide is still very feral, and prefers to stay hidden up on the cage-tops.
MadMax & New Aids Max - MW
Mad Max, also in the DoubleWide, is something of a misnamed boy – neither mad-angry, or mad-crazy; Max is very shy, and wary of humans unless they have something worth hanging around for – he’s another chick-aholic. Beautiful orange/white Max in New Aids is something of a newcomers, and has not had his Neko-profile done yet – watch this space!
Princess with BFF Spike (DW) / manx Princess (MM)
I guess Princess is a fairly common name for female cats. Our royal trio in the Sanctuary includes the beautiful girl who is Spike‘s BFF and hangs about near the med cage, the little black and white manx in the Moore House – less beautiful but entirely lovable – and the elegant Princess Diva, who is the cat who walks by herself in the back courtyard.
Her Highness, Princess Diva - MW
Repeated names -  but all very individual personalities – there’s no confusing one of these cats with his/her “twin”!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Claire Fossey, Phaedra Hardman, 
Marianne Moore, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Silent Meow

Mona - the silent meow - MM
Mona and Jinx are two long-haired girls who came to the Cat Sanctuary from another shelter this past January and, until just recently, I couldn’t tell one from the other.  Although Jinx has tabby colouring and Mona is a tortie, they’re both little, friendly and long-haired and hang out in the Front Courtyard, around or inside the little building known as Connor House.
Jinx - MM
And, they’re both darn cute, more so because they frequently do the “silent meow” thing – they look at you earnestly, their little mouths gape open and it looks like they’re meowing but with the sound turned off.  For some reason, this makes them look particularly cute and appealing.
Booster yelling - MM
Most cats have audible meows and a few, like Booster, make their presence known by yelling, loudly and persistently, to get attention so I wondered why, and how, Jinx and Mona are silent meow-ers.
Jinx the sun-worshipper - BC
Upon consulting “Dr. Google”, I found the scientific explanation of how some cats meow silently.  Apparently, the cat is actually making a sound but at a frequency which mere human beings can’t hear – we can hear up to a measly 20 kilohertz only, while cats can hear sounds of a much higher frequency than that.  So, if a silent-meowing feline wants to tell another feline to shove off, their intention is just as clear to the intruder as if it were screeched.  Okay, so that explained how they do it but didn’t tell me why.  
Mona - PH
Dr. Google goes on at length with the many reasons why cats meow, silently or otherwise – they want food, attention, to be let out and then immediately back in, are annoyed or in pain or just want to greet you.  However, if your cat makes a habit of using a silent meow to communicate with you, it’s possibly because it’s just clever and manipulative enough to know how adorable that looks and is taking full advantage of that to get what it wants.  Fluffy or Tom-Tom quickly figure out what’s going to be most effective to get their people to hop to it and do things their way. And if it works, they’ll keep doing it.
Mona dozing in the sun - BC
Dr. Google concludes by saying that if your precious cat really wants something from you and wants it now, it probably won’t hesitate to let you know, one way or another. Playing cute, for example with a silent meow if the cat do it, pretty much guarantees a positive result.
Piper hopes for a tidbit - MM
Having done the on-line research, it was time to do some practical work – a walk around the sanctuary was called for, with eyes open for silent meows.  It’s interesting how meow-free the place usually is – cats are not vocal in the way dogs are, and cat-noise is the exception rather than the rule. There are a few cats with particularly distinctive voices – Gabby lives up to his name, and Desi can be heard through the back area when he decides to talk. But yes, there are a few silent-meow-ers: Freckles is noted for her voiceless yell for chicken and cute little Orlean uses it to get attention.
Freckles sees chicken coming;  Orlean says "Pet me now!" - MW
Owners of particularly yappy cats might welcome one that meows silently but it seems to be an on again-off again thing.  Jinx and Mona can, and do, meow loudly when they want to get someone’s attention for an important message like “Feed me, now!” or “Why aren’t you picking me up?” but for sheer cuteness appeal, they can really work that silent meow.

Blog by Marianne Moore
Pictures by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Marianne Moore, Michele Wright, 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tom - and Elizabeth

Tom came to us last year, having been brought in as a feral cat.  Among the many black cats at the Sanctuary, he is distinguished by the little flecks of white in his fur, and by his stocky build, with the chunky cheeks of the unneutered male cat.
He is sponsored by long-time volunteer Elizabeth, who found him living wild near her home, fed him and eventually trapped and brought him in.  Elizabeth tells me that he was quite the lover-boy; a neighbour had a little tortie who used to escape, and at least one litter of kittens was Tom’s responsibility – three black and one white.  After Tom came into our care the little tortie had another litter – and then was surrendered to RAPS for spaying and fostering.
In our care, Tom was neutered, and caged as we usually do, to give us time to assess his behaviour and his possible relationship with humans.  However, he did NOT approve of a cage. Very determinedly he found the weak spot, and bust out of jail. A second attempt to cage him had the same result, at which point we decided that he might as well join the party!
And that was really all Tom wanted.  He’s not really cat-social; he chooses to avoid other cats, though he can stand up for himself if Sid or grey Gizmo get pushy. He wants his independence – in typical cat-style, he wants to make his own decisions.  T.S.Eliot would have characterized him as a Rum-Tum-Tugger - “he WILL do what he DO do – and there’s no doing anything about it!”
He quite enjoys human attention – and he loves it when Elizabeth comes to visit him.  She is one of our senior volunteers, and a retired nurse; when Elizabeth has cleaned one of the back pen cabins, you know that it’s clean! Tom likes to be around her – and if she’s not about, he has taken to competing with black Ninja in the sport of sneaking past a volunteer’s legs to get into a closed pen.  He doesn’t actually want to interact with the cats in the pen – he just wants to be on the other side of the gate, and if you don’t spot him and eject him (which is part of the fun), he will be found waiting to be released whenever another volunteer comes past!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Michele Wright

We unexpectedly lost Tom to a lung infection, just a couple of weeks after this blog.  He wanted to be on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge....

Friday, April 28, 2017



In the summer of 2016 a handsome tuxedo stray was picked up near Steveston Highway. With no tattoo and no chip, he was held at the Shelter for possible claiming, and ultimately for adoption.  But wonderful as the work is at the Shelter, it’s a high-stress place for some of the more highly-strung inhabitants – and Romeo was one of them. Too much action, too many noises – he took it out on the cats around him when he was allowed out, and ended up having to be moved from one room to another to avoid other alpha cats, Finally he began expressing his feelings in pee, and reluctantly the Shelter staff had to accept that he was unlikely to be adopted, and he was brought to the Sanctuary.
Romeo endeared himself to staff and volunteers alike within the first week. In his own cage (much more space than he would have had at the Shelter), visitors were greeted with head-butting and shoulder-climbing.
PH selfie with a shoulder-cat
He’s older than he looks – the vet thinks he’s about seven, and he has some arthritis in his hips, which we will need to monitor.  For the first while his cage included a little staircase so that he could access the floor more easily, but he quickly established that as long as he didn’t have to negotiate slippery blankets on a chair, he could hop up and down fairly easily.
Pick me up, please? -  BC
Now out and about, he still tends to claim “his” cage, curling up in a box out of the way. But he’s also been exploring the great outdoors when the weather is fine, and, though not actively seeking feline company, he seems to tolerate the other cats around him.
Siting on guard - MW
Obviously the Sanctuary feels a safer place for him than the Shelter did – and he might well turn out to be a cat that, in spite of his medical issues and reactions to stress, finds a human here to take him home.
In cuddle mode - DW

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Kiefer & Indiana

Indiana & Kiefer - DW
Guest blogger Marianne Moore writes:

Tall, dark and handsome is often how heroes of romantic novels are described. When it comes to cats, it’s difficult to think of them as actually being tall so, well, two out of three ain’t bad, as the saying goes. There are plenty of black cats at the Sanctuary and it’s not easy for me to distinguish one from another, despite them exhibiting a wide range of what one could consider “handsome-ness”.  Frequently, when I’ve been asked the name of one of the black cats, I’ve resorted to pleading ignorance and confess that I know it just as “Black Cat # 42”.
Indiana - MM
Newcomers to the Sanctuary, Kiefer and Indiana are among those that can definitely be described as dark and handsome!  Long-haired Indiana (aka Indy) has soulful yellow eyes and a lovely “ruff”, while his short-haired friend Kiefer has beautiful green eyes and lynx-tipped ears so they should be easy for even me to identify once they’re out and about with the other cats in the single-wide trailer.
Kiefer - BC
 Fortunately, there aren’t too many black cats in that building and most of them have something distinctive about them – Belinda is tiny and very fluffy, Blackie usually swats me as I walk by, Harvest has an unusual little white spot on his chest, and so on.
Kiefer - MM
Until they’re ready to be released from the cage, Kiefer and Indiana have “the best room in the house" – very spacious and with a window facing the front courtyard – but so far I’ve only once seen one of them (I think it was Indiana) look out the window to enjoy the view.  They’re still a bit uncertain about their new situation and are most comfortable cuddled up together on the shelf inside their cage.  
Indiana - BC
Although the sign on their cage door says that they’re semi-feral, if you approach them slowly, it doesn’t take long for the purrs to begin once you start petting them.  When one is petted, the other almost always pushes his head in under the petting hand to get some attention too.    Kitty Comforters and other volunteers spend lots of time with Kiefer and Indiana to help them realize that they have nothing to fear from us so that, when they’re released from their cage, they’ll be willing to accept all the love and attention we’re going to give them.   I’m determined to remember their names then so that neither one will ever be just “Black Cat # something-or-other” to me.    
Indy & Kiefer - BC

Blog by Marianne Moore
Photos by Brigid Coult, Marianne Moore & Debbie Wolanski

Saturday, April 15, 2017


A few months ago I blogged about the variety we find in cats’ eyes, and I’ve been looking round the Sanctuary at the similar variety found in feline ears.

The primary differential is whether the basic shape is rounded or more pointed. There are a lot of rounded ears to be seen, and the proportion of ear to skull shape can make that more or less obvious.
Careen - MW
Other ears are more pointed, and in many cases, the point is emphasized by a little tuft of hair at the apex – a lynx-tip.  Sometimes the tuft is the same colour as the cat, which enhances the point;
Chatter & Colin (MW)
in others, the lynx-tip provides colour-contrast.
Emery (MW) & Faline (BC)
Ears are a part of body-language; we all recognize the flattened airplane-ears of a fearful or angry cat
Ringo  (BC) and Janine (MW) in hiding
Presley  (AL)
though in some cases flattened ears are just the way that cat is made
Emo Pickles relaxed & happy (PH)
When doing TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) it is common to notch or snip the ear of a neutered cat so that it is clear that it doesn’t need to be trapped again when the colony is checked.  Most of our cats have unmarked ears because they come to us from having been spayed/neutered.  Little Marilee is one of the exceptions; when she was first TNR’d she was returned to her colony with the common clipped ear; it was only when her tail became injured and had to be amputated that it was decided that she needed to remain with us rather than return to her colony.
Marilee (MW)
Haematoma ear is seen in a number of cats. An infection or a bruise can cause painful swelling between the skin and cartilage of the ear. Untreated, it fills with blood and then easily bursts, causing the ear to crumple. If it can be caught early enough, it is possible to minimize the damage.
Little Orange (MW)
Little Orange’s ear swelling was discovered early enough that just the top of the ear flap was affected. He was not the most cooperative of patients!
Bossanova (MW)
Bossanova came to us as a feral with his ear already well crumpled. Left to itself the haematoma will heal, but unevenly, leaving the feline equivalent of a “cauliflower ear”
Cara (CF)
Long-time volunteers will remember double-haematoma cat Cara, who had both ears affected – it never seemed to bother her!

Especially among the formerly unneutered male cats (many of them inhabitants of the New Aids pen) we see evidence of a life that involved fighting for their lives – and battered ears are definitely a common casualty.
Sweet battered Zimmer  (MW)
It is interesting that ear-hair, something that is SO aesthetically displeasing in humans, can be so pretty in cats.
Here are some of our feather-iest ears!
OJ  (MW)

Holland (MW)
Princess Diva (MW)

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Claire Fossey, Phaedra Hardman, 
Ari Lioznyansky, Michele Wright