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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Fuzzy Bros

Oscar & Winston   (BC)
What can you do with a couple of British Shorthair and Longhair cats other than give them the very British names of Oscar and Winston?

Oscar and Winston when they arrived at the Sanctuary - 
skinny and shorn...    (BC)
These two came into our care before Christmas. Both came to us having had a short haircut to help deal with a case of fleas, but their fur is growing again, and Winston will soon be the Longhair that originally came to us. They’re probably not purebred – they both have the pushed-in face of a Persian (Winston more than Oscar), but that may be accidental genetics, since the British Longhair is a mix of British Shorthair and Persian. The Persian element may explain the haircut – Persians usually need daily brushing to maintain their fur and discourage matting, and once they mat, all you can do it shave it out!

Oscar is serious, but no grouch....  (KN)
Initially these boys were surrendered to the Adoption Centre in 2022 when their owner passed away, and they were adopted out a month later. Sadly, Oscar started peeing outside the litter box, and with a new baby imminent, the family decided that they couldn’t deal with the problem, and the pair were returned to us. In fact, Oscar was probably in pain and avoiding the litterbox, where he felt the most pain. This is why the experts tell us to get the cat to the vet when there’s a pee-ing-outside-the-box problem – sometimes the reason is physical or situational, and not just the cat being “bad”.

Enjoying outside-cage time   (MW)
Oscar has idiopathic cystitis. “Idiopathic” just means that we don’t know what causes the cystitis flare-up, but low-mineral prescription food will help to prevent formation of crystals or stones, which can increase inflammation. Since they came to us, both Winston and Oscar have been on a prescription diet, and seem to be doing really well.

Winston has amazing poofy feet   (KN)
Oscar is the “blue” brother; he likes to come for petting, but he’s also one of those cats for whom petting leads to “I gotta eat!”, and he heads for the food bowl. Winston is the silver boy; he likes a little lap-time, but prefers to sit beside you to be petted. They're around 9 years old, definitely a bonded pair, and we’re thankful that their former owners recognized the bond and didn’t try to split them up, returning both of them to our care. The two of them were caged in the Single-Wide office initially, but were then moved into one of larger Single-Wide cages, giving them much more room, and more human company.

... and is showing himself to be playful,
now they're out of the cage   (MW)
These sweet boys are very people-friendly. Their breed is known for their easy-going, tolerant nature, stocky bodies and poofy feet! Though Winston is a “Longhair”, in fact the coat is only semi-longhair, but dense; he will need regular grooming to keep the part-Persian coat in good condition. 

Winston's original admission picture;
we can see there's still lots of hair to grow!
Our staff are now working out what will be best for them. They could probably manage on the regular cat food shared by the other Single-Wide cats, but the prescription food is more likely to prevent a recurrence of the cystitis. However, that means keeping them separated from the other cats. Currently they are having out-of-cage visiting time with the other cats, and we’ll see if the evening feed can be kept apart. 
"Don't look now, but she's taking a picture..."  (BC)
What they really need is a home with a cat-savvy owner who can feed them the special diet, and who knows to watch for the signs of trouble and react quickly. That may mean a fosterage situation, or a foster-to-adopt one. If you know anyone looking to bring some feline British aristocracy into their home, please contact our Shelter Manager!

Bonded brothers   (BC)

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

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Billy Ray

Summer catnip  -   KN
This sleek black panther came to us in the summer of 2022. He was transferred from a rescue on Vancouver Island, and because he tested positive for FIV, it was decided that he should come to us to join the FIV+ group in the Val Jones pen.

He had been trapped in an area that had quite a few unneutered stray/feral cats, and through the Island rescue, he was fostered for a while. During this period he warmed up to humans a bit, but was not really tame. He came to us with the name of Midnight. Since we already have two Midnights in the Sanctuary (feral Midnight in Pen 4, and shy ex-VOKRA Midnight in the back courtyard), he needed a name-change. Assistant Manager Valerie thought that he was a twin to her own cat Ray, and our boy was renamed Billy Ray. 

Having yet another transition was hard on him, and when he first came he would cower in the back of his cage, and would hiss and growl and swat – probably reverting to all the same fearful body language of his initial trapping.  But it didn’t take much time before he was ready to emerge, and to accept, first gentle petting, and then much firmer scritches – both cheek/chin and butt.  The Val Jones cats are very tolerant of each other, and their body language conveys to the rest of the clowder that there’s nothing to fear. Even the most timid of the group, Virginia, is now coming out more frequently and looking for attention.

There is no reason that FIV+ cats cannot be adopted if they fulfil two conditions; they need to remain as indoor cats in order not to spread the virus, and they need to tolerate the company of any other cats in the home; the danger with FIV is the transmission of the virus through the blood of bite wounds. Several of the Val Jones cats are quite adoptable, and Billy Ray is one of that group. Once he trusts, he is happy to come for lap-sitting and petting, with a few ecstatic wiggles to encourage you to continue. Our sweet panther needs a home, and a lap he can claim as his own!

Look for Billy Ray in the Sanctuary Calendar for 2024!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Brielle Hutchison, Karen Nicholson, Justin Saint

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Back from the Edge

Benjamin & Olivia (LBF)
Shortly before last Christmas, an emergency came our way. We were told of a case where an elderly couple had died at home together, and their deaths had gone unnoticed for several weeks. That must have been dreadful for the family, and for the responders;  where RAPS became involved was that there were two cats in the home, and they had had no food or water – or only what was left – for all that time.  Many living creatures can survive on a greatly reduced diet, but when there is no food and water, cats’ systems will shut down as ketones increase, insulin drops and electrolytes are depleted.

Two sad, scared, weakened cats when they arrived.
There is a condition called refeeding syndrome, in which the unwise rescuer overfeeds a starving animal and makes the whole situation worse, since the body cannot cope with a sudden abundance of nutrition. Luckily, the rescuers of these two knew the dangers, and Benjamin and Olivia came into our care – initially to the RAPS Hospital for an emergency response, and then once they were stabilized, to the Sanctuary. Initially they were skin and bone, and with claws and whiskers disintegrating for lack of calcium and vital minerals. Under the care of our med-staff, they were fed small amounts slowly – a high-fat, low-carb diet with carefully balanced nutrients to allow their bodies to recover slowly.

Benjamin & Olivia (BC)
We discovered that they were a fairly young pair, and likely siblings, though from different litters, since Benjamin is older than Olivia; both are long-haired, Benjamin an orange tabby and Olivia a sweet tortie with the distinctive split-face feature some tortoiseshells have. We found that he had been neutered, but she had never been spayed; safe enough for them to live together, but hard on her – female cats can come into heat every 2-3 weeks, and they can be very vocal about their discomfort. Luckily, she had been kept indoors – this sort of situation is why we sometimes get a surge in feral cats, when a female manages to escape, and within six months the consequent litter of kittens will all have had a litter of kittens! 


Olivia (BC)

Under our care, Olivia has now had her spay surgery, and is recovering well.  The two of them are sharing one of our big cages in the Hill House, and feeders, cleaners and Kitty Comforters have all fallen in love with them. Both are friendly and used to being handled; they love to play and are the subject of much curiosity from the cats in the main room. They could be transferred over to the Adoption Centre as soon as Olivia is fully healed, but they have more space at the Sanctuary than in the smaller AC cages, and though we hope that they will find a loving home for their remaining eight lives, we’ll make the most of their company while we have them. 

Happy and well  (LBF)

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

A Gentle Tortie


Chelsea  (MW)
We sometimes label people as having “attitude”, which, for felines of course translates as “cattitude”. “Tortitude” is often affectionately attributed to a cat with a tortoiseshell or calico coat who displays extreme attitude. Torties are characterized as feisty, strong-willed furry-coated divas – and we’ve had our share of them at the Sanctuary. 

KitKat's morning yoga   (KN)
Our beloved KitKat, who has just passed, was very much the queen of the front courtyard; in the DoubleWide you will inevitably encounter Lunette (dubbed “lunatic” in her early days) and in the back courtyard, most of the cats know to stay out of the way of pretty, feisty Princess.  Long-term volunteers will have memories of Emily and Treacle, and many others who displayed various degrees of tortitude.

Toes  (MW)
But like many characterizations, it’s a fallacy. Sisters Blaze and Toes are sweet girls with not an ounce of sass, and the same can be said for little Chelsea.

Chelsea has a box all to herself   (GA)
Chelsea is another of the cats who came to us from Sammy’s Forgotten Felines, in Kamloops; she arrived in the summer of 2021. We heard that she had been sharing space with some leukemia-positive cats, but testing showed her to be clear, and it was decided to release her into the front courtyard. She came to us because she had been labelled as a feral, but her timidity felt more like shyness than fear, and over her time with us, she has become increasingly outgoing, approaching to ask for petting and coming for lap-time.

Courtyard play  (KN)
She bases herself around the Hill House, though she roams the front courtyard freely.  Physically she reminds me very much of our beloved Daisy, but without the chromosomal abnormalities – she’s small, with a shorthaired dense coat. Like so many other torties, she has golden eyes which “pop” against her dark colouring.  She tends to be a loner – she doesn’t socialize much with the other cats, but neither does she show any aggression to them; she doesn’t display any territoriality (unlike her Hill House predecessor, Treacle!). 

Pet me, please   (MD)
She prefers to be above floor level when asking for attention, and will “play cute” on the shelf to ask for pets; in the courtyard she can often be found on the ledges around the trees, and though not one for athletic leaping, like Melon and Honeydew, she enjoys some wand play if there aren’t too many cats around.

Catnip bliss   (KN)
We’ll be watching her this spring when we open to visitors again, and hope that her sociability extends to strangers; right now it’s probably too soon to think about finding her a home, but if the right person fell in love with her...

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Graham Akira, Melanie Draper, Karen Nicholson, Michelle Wright

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Thanksgiving for Cats

Shy Malibu   (KN)
Back in the fall, Lisa and Ken spent quite a bit of time patiently watching traps.  

Can we trust you?   (LBF)
There are generally two circumstances in which trapping needs to be done. The first is when we discover a colony of cats who are producing kittens – and it only takes a couple of unfixed females, and we suddenly have a flood of felines. The fall colony was discovered in an industrial area – not a safe place for kittens – and it was important that they were brought in before kitten season extended itself yet again.

Truffle in his hideaway   (BC)
The second is when we discover a situation in which a colony is being claimed and “maintained” – but not really...  too many cats living freely inside and out, not enough food so they’re annoying the neighbours, in danger from traffic and predators. In this case it was largely a human hoarding problem, and a mental health one – and the best Ken and Lisa could do was to get cats to safety wherever possible. Other rescues were involved here, and RAPS has played our part in solving the problem.

Hissy Creampuff is calmer now  (BC)
In the first situation, trapping is largely a matter of time and patience; food resources for the cats are limited, and food offered is tempting, and brings them into the trap.  In the second situation, the trappers were handicapped by well-meaning neighbours (and probably the “owner” herself) who were feeding a variety of (not always cat-food) things, and causing the cats to turn their noses up at the food in the traps because they weren’t hungry.

Misty & Windy safe in fosterage  (LBF)
Patience and persistence usually wins, though. Through October, lots of little black kittens from the industrial area have come through the care of fosterers to the Adoption Centre and on to their own homes. They were initially given Thanksgiving names like Cranberry, Stuffing, and Turkey – and then moved on to other fall names: Hayride, Windy, Stormy, Misty, Moonlight... Foster-moms have been very busy, and are now taking that last painful step of sending their beloved kittens on to better things - a process made easier by the fact that Lisa takes wonderful kitten pictures!

Caramel's babies   (LBF)
One of this collection of hoarded cats ended up being whisked away and into fosterage. Pretty Caramel really wanted attention, and got plenty of it while she awaited the birth of her kittens.  With all that handling, she will probably go to the adoption centre with her babies when they are ready to find their own homes. Their sweetness is reflected in their names: Sundae, Donut, SugarCookie, Shortbread, ButterTart and CandyCane.

Misty & Windy have extra toebeans!  (LBF)

The cats from the hoarding situation are mostly adult, semi-feral or very shy, and have needed time to settle down at the Sanctuary.  Many of them also acquired food names: Cornbread, Truffle, Tater, Creampuff, Tamale...  A few non-food names also snuck in – beautiful Malibu can be confused with Creampuff as they bound across the front Courtyard until you see Malibu’s markings clearly.  Tater is doing no bounding – she is very shy and spends most of the time hiding behind the drapes in the ORA.

Creampuff & Cornbread  (LBF)
Cornbread is probably the youngest of the group, and loves attention but is easily over-stimulated. Her jumping and running rapidly changes to smacking, and it’s important to read her body language.  My own favourite among these cats is Truffle; he’s a handsome lynx-point who hangs out now in the yellow-door shed, but who is happy to emerge and visit with a human.  I think, as with many of this group, he prefers the crepuscular pattern of morning and evening; when I arrived early one morning last week, he and Cornbread were playing near the gate, and were ready for some fussing and attention; when I left, late morning, he’d retreated to his hidey-hole.

Cornbread loves to play   (BC)
Tamale is not very social; he hovers between the Hill House and the ORA, putting himself wherever the humans are not. Karen managed to get this wonderful picture of him with a distance lens; usually if he sees us around, he hides. But he’s interested; often I’ll be visiting in the ORA and look up to see him peering through the window from the Hill House.

Tamale  (KN)
With all these cats, we’re dealing with a mixture of ferals and strays. The ferals will probably remain wary, and appreciative of all the many hiding places we offer them;  the strays know about human contact and we hope that patience will eventually bring them around. Whichever way it turns, we are thankful for their presence with us, and grateful for all Lisa and Ken’s trapping efforts.  Thanksgiving is not just for one time of year!

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Percival Snugglebutt

Percival Snugglebutt  (LBF)
When the first group of cats from the Kootenays came to us in 2022, it was clear that we had a pretty bonded clowder with strong genetic ties. It’s impossible to say how any specific cat in the family is related to another, but the majority of them are Himalayan in appearance, with blue-point or (more commonly) seal-point colouring.  I still have problem telling most of the girls apart!

Betsy, Zoey, Cleo  (BC)
Three cats stood out as different; two little lynx-points, and a blond boy with no tail. The two girls – Sweetpea and Curious – were both pregnant when they came to us, and in all likelihood, the sire was blond Percival Snugglebutt, (sometimes known as Big Daddy) because there were a few kittens who had his tailless gene.

Percival  (JS)
Like all the group, Percival was shy, and in fact only two of the group – little Sweetpea, and sweet Owen – have proved to be sociable. SweetPea got a lot of handling while in fosterage with her kittens, and has been adopted;  Owen has just decided that he likes this place and enjoys making friends, both feline and human – when the visitors return in the spring, it is possible that he will find a new home.

Percival with Owen    (LBF)
Percival actually seems to be closer to Basil than most of the others, but Basil’s a very timid boy around humans, and in his company, there’s a lot of hiding.  

Percival with Basil  (KN)
Luckily, Percival is food-motivated (if not to the same extent as Owen!), and when there are handouts, he can often be found hovering nearby. He’s still pretty tentative, and is one of those cats who takes awhile looking at the tidbit in question before deciding to eat it – which means that pushy cats like Pumpkin and Parry will often dart in to secure the prize.

Percival  (BC)
So far, I've not been able to get more than the occasional touch – he doesn’t much like petting, and he really doesn’t want to be touched with grooming tools, which is a pity, because he’s one of those cats whose fur mats. Like a number of other cats this winter, he will probably have to have a shave-job when the weather gets warmer. But the fact that he’s so often part of the handout crowd makes me hopeful that initial progress has been made, and 2024 may be the Percival Snugglebutt year to let go of some more of his feral fears.

Admire me!   (LBF)

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

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Welcoming the Cranbrook College Cats

S'mores & girlfriend Twiglet  (LBF)
When the former Richmond Homeless Cats became Richmond Animal Protection Society, and then the Regional Animal Protection Society, we moved from being a very locally-focused organization to one that has links with rescues all over the place. Our work is particularly valuable to small rescues dealing with multiple feral cats; if the cats that come into their care cannot be tamed, very few of these places are able to offer long-term safe housing to the animals – they just don’t have the facilities. With the financial support of cat-lovers all over the place, we have been able to offer sanctuary to cats from the length of Vancouver Island, from Kamloops and Prince George and the Okanagan, and most recently, from the Kootenays.

Li'l Bit, high on her shelf on the deck (BC)
Sadly, there are still too many people who are careless with their cats, who allow them to wander, and who don’t ensure that they are spayed and neutered. And the result is colonies of cats who are born in the wild and who fear human contact. Ideally, TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) can turn a growing colony into one that is stable and eventually disappears by natural attrition. But it takes patience, and it also takes local education so that the colony isn’t continually enlarged by dumped cats.  For more than ten years there has been a managed colony of feral cats living on the campus of the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook. Their volunteer caretaker took all the responsibility for their feeding, vaccinations, spay/neuter, and the College had agreed to provide access to some space for their housing.

Smudge is hiding in the same high-up corner
where Ringo, and then Hamlet, used to hide  (BC)

This past spring, the College authorities announced that the colony housing would be dismantled and the colony dispersed – though there was no understanding of what might happen to the cats. There was some local outcry; petitions flew around, the media got involved; eventually everyone was satisfied with the decision to relocate the colony into RAPS’ care. That’s not as simple as it sounds; we were talking about taking on up to 14 cats with consequent bills for food and medical care, but generous donors stepped up, donations arrived, and the cats came to us in two separate groups.

Spunky, Toffee (top), Smudge, Li'l Bit (bottom)
with Bernadette behind in the adjacent cage  (BC)
As with all newcomers, they were initially caged so that they could have all their medical checks and become used to some aspects of Sanctuary life. Because they were used to each others’ company, we put the first five cats in adjacent cages in the Double-Wide, and cut a hole in the mesh between them, so that they could move between the cages. They could choose whether to be up on a shelf or on the floor, hiding behind a drape or in the open. It rapidly became clear that though they had had contact with humans, they were very fearful and preferred to hide, huddling together for comfort. There was much hissing, which is less about aggression and more a fear reaction, and contact with them initially tended to be in the hands of the med-staff and the most experienced of the Kitty Comforters.

We think Foster, on the left, is the mother of Li'l Bit   (LBF)
They're glad to be back together again!
The first group of cats had their cage-stay and were released, choosing quickly to relocate to the adjacent DW Deck. This is an area well-suited to ferals, with lots of high shelving around the perimeter, and many places to hide. Ringo, Hamlet and many others have had their shy-time on the deck and moved on to other territory, or to comfortable interaction with humans. The College cats are still in the wary stage, preferring to stay right out of reach, but tolerating the regular advances of Lisa, who usually has tidbits for them. Li’l Bit (or Bitty) is not so little, but once you get past the hissing, she is a tidbit fan; Smudge, on the other hand, resolutely hides in the corner nobody can reach. Toffee made his way out via the cat-door in the corner, but must have had underlying health issues, because sadly, his body was found unexpectedly in the back pens.

S'mores, Twiglet & Purrl  (LBF)
The second batch of cats remained caged a little longer, but by their own choice. It turned out that Buddy was FIV+, and he is now living in New Aids. S’mores and Twiglet are most often found sharing a bed, and have proved amenable to a little petting; both seemed to enjoy scritches and they’re relaxed enough to accept food from the hand. Currently their cage is open, but they feel safest there, and are still allowing visitors to come in gently and offer pets; when they’re ready, they’ll probably make the move to the DW Deck with their fellow-Collegiates. Foster (who we think is Li’l Bit’s mother, has moved out to join her daughter; Purrl and Tabitha, both short-haired tabbies, prefer to remain in the now-familiar cage, with a drape behind which they can hide. Currently there are vacant cages, so we don’t need to evict them too quickly, and they still have access from one cage to another and can visit happily.

Spunky & Smudge  (LBF)

We’ll look forward to following the Cranbrook cats,  and watching as they take their time assimilating into the Sanctuary way of life. 

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