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, September 29, 2009


The RAPS sanctuary is home to cute cats, funny cats, pretty cats and even regal cats. And then there's the odd one that could most kindly be described as a rather scruffy cat.

Maybe Chance (aka Last Chance) was once a cute cat, a pretty cat, a regal cat, but we've only known him looking a bit of a furry disaster.

(Last) Chance
drawing by Claire

His feature in The Love Blog describes how he was brought in after one of the volunteers repeatedly came across this tattered stray in the neighborhood. The volunteer was moving away and wanted to make sure he'd be cared for.

Google trivia: seaching "scruffy stray cat" yields 36,000 results.
Meaning - our tatty friend Chance is not alone. If anything, the scruffy stray is something of an archetype. One of my Google results was for a book by Erica Silverman called Mrs. Peachtree and the Eighth Avenue Cat.
"In old New York City, where the streets are lit by lamplight, Mrs. Peachtree owns a tea shop on Eighth Avenue. Although she feigns dislike for the stray cat that is lurking about, she feeds and rescues him from the wheels of a wagon. So when he doesn't show up at mealtime one dark and stormy night, it is no great surprise when she searches the streets for him. Sadly, she returns home alone. The next day, though, the animal jumps out from behind some tins of tea and firmly into her heart." - Susan Pine, New York Public Library
On the other end of the literary scale can be found Natsume Soseki's comic novel I Am a Cat (吾輩は猫である), which uses a stray cat protagonist to describe and satirize middle class society in Meiji era Japan.

Being friendly and approachable rather than pretentious and diffident, our Chance fits the children's book novel much better than the literary satire. For him and his tough street cat days, I'd like to dedicate a song: Stray Cats' Stray Cat Strut (on YouTube).

And finally, for anyone who thinks a cat they've seen around might be a stray and isn't sure how to help, check out these websites:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sweet Pea

A little calico manx with a trilled squeak of a miaow, Sweet Pea is indeed a sweetie of a cat.

Unfortunately, she suffers from the same birth defect that PeeWee has, causing her to leave a tiny yellow puddle or other offering anywhere she's paused. So once again, watch out for your feet.

According to the story provided by Lisa and posted on The Love Blog, a would-be adopter took in the little foundling and spent several months cleaning up after her before finally having to surrender her to RAPS.

The name Sweet Pea really seems to suit her. Still, my Japanese friend Ayako has got me calling her and other cats at Raps with similar colouring by the nickname of mike-chan (mike is pronounced mee-keh) from mike neko (三毛猫), meaning "3 colour cat" in Japanese. In North America, we refer to them as calico.

An interesting note about calicos: they are almost exclusively female. Apparently, it's impossible to get the black, white and orange pattern without two X chromosomes.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Economic euthanasia: when a pet is put down due primarily to financial concerns, sometimes despite the fact that the condition would have been quite treatable.

This is nothing new to vets, but with the economy being what it is, it's something more pet owners are considering. Here are a couple of articles published back in the spring:
Steep vet bills, sour economy doom more pets
Economic Euthanasia - Tough Choices in a Tough Economy

And here's Jake, a cuddly, friendly and fun tabby whose life, at the grand old age of 1, was calculated by his owners to be worth less than the amount the vet would charge to treat him.

Jake (front) and friends

The Leslie quote below also appeared in Barbara Doduk's blog in July, but I think it's worth repeating here:

"A friendly long-haired tabby named Jake was taken to a vet when his owners discovered an infected wound on his hind end.  When they were told it would cost $300 to repair the injury, the people instructed the vet to euthanize their 1-year-old cat.  The vet's assistant pleaded with the vet to call RAPS instead.  The shelter paid Jake's bill and he went to live at the sanctuary, soon becoming a favorite for volunteers and visitors alike."
 $300?? After hearing tales of complicated procedures running up vet bills in the thousands or having a good friend emotionally flagellate herself for weeks for even thinking about discontinuing a series of frustratingly inconclusive tests on her ailing elderly cat due to the mounting costs, this amount seems awfully low and the treatment awfully straightforward.

Could Jake's owners really not scrape together the 300? Is it responsible to take a pet into your home if money is so tight that there's no room for unforeseen expenses? Perhaps both people had just lost their jobs. It's possible. In that case, is euthanasia in fact more humane than simply choosing not to treat a sick or injured animal? Or is Jake's story just another example of the "they're just pets" attitude encountered by Dolittler blogger Dr. Patty Khuly?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Here's another story from Leslie, and one of her favorites:

photo provided by RAPS

"In the year 2000 (the sanctuary's 2nd year), Mousie, a black and white feral female, suffered a thrombo embolism and suddenly became paralyzed in her rear legs. Fortunately, a volunteer was in the room when the cat began thrashing about in panic and rushed her to an east Vancouver vet. Rather than euthanise Mousie as many vets would do, our vet wanted to try to dissolve the blockage. He administered medication and Mousie recovered fully. For about 6 months, we mixed baby aspirin into her food and today, eight years later, Mousie continues to thrive."
MedicineNet.com defines thromboembolism as the "Formation in a blood vessel of a clot (thrombus) that breaks loose and is carried by the blood stream to plug another vessel." 

Reading this story, I wondered why many vets would decide not to give the cat a chance and try and remove the blockage. Doing a little further reading on the subject, I realized what vets are up against with this one and just how lucky Mousie was.

An article on Feline Thromboembolic Disease from Georgia Veterinary Specialists describes it as "one of the most difficult and frustrating diseases for veterinarians" since there is so often underlying heart disease which can not only make treatment more dangerous to the cat but will often lead to the formation of more, possibly fatal, blood clots in future. In the face of such a gloomy prognosis, it's a bit more understandable why vets would often decide prevention of further pain and suffering to be the kindest thing to do.

Fortunately, in Mousie's case, the vet recognized that the nature and location of her clot gave her a good enough chance of recovery to attempt treatment... a decision that was rewarded with a full recovery. 

Nine years later, Mousie can be found, healthy and content, snoozing on one of the shelves up high near the rafters on the porch outside the single wide trailer. 

You may notice her ears look a little different than in the first picture...

If you didn't, see below:

drawing by Claire

The drawing on the right shows ear deformation caused by an aural hematoma, a not uncommon ear problem in which a blood vessel in the ear bursts and blood collects between the cartilage and skin of the ear. It can happen if a cat's ears get irritated and itchy due to an infection, ear mites or allergies - all that head shaking and ear scratching can actually rupture a blood vessel!

The swelling is painful, but once drained generally doesn't cause the animal any problems beyond possible aesthetic ones due to the formation of scar tissue.  
Mousie certainly doesn't look like she's letting it cramp her style.

Further hematoma reading:

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Hubert is a rather dignified tabby with two things that distinguish him from most other cats at the shelter. The first is obvious just by looking at him:

This cat has a huge head!

When I first met him, I was told that males who are neutered late tend to have larger heads. An FAQ on spaying and neutering provided by the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital says that male cats who are neutered after puberty develop both larger heads and thicker skin and gives this as a reason (in addition to the usual behavioral ones) for neutering pets earlier rather than later.

The other piece of information that's interesting to know about Hubert is that he's FIV positive. FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is similar to HIV in humans. I've been asked if there's any danger of catching AIDS from a cat. There is not.

When FIV was discovered in 1986, many cats who tested positive for the virus were euthanized or surrendered to shelters. "Now...", writes cat behaviorist Anne Moss for TheCatSite.com, it is "fully understood that FIV is not infectious to humans, the same way that HIV is not infectious to cats. These are species-specific viruses, as has been proven by the many FIV positive cats that lead comfortable lives with their human companions for many years."

RAPS has two buildings housing FIV positive cats. When Debbie, our volunteer coordinator, first gave me a tour of the sanctuary, she ended it in one of these, describing it as the best place to go for a wind-down and a cuddle with some cats who'd be more than happy to oblige. Even now, any time my cartoonist friends Vincent and Ayako come to help me with my volunteer duties, we always end our evening by going to see Hubert in the one building and then heading over to visit a few of our cat friends in the other.

For more information on FIV, have a look at this article from the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


In my last post, I wrote about a few reasons why RAPS staff may find it best to keep certain cats in cages for a time. On rare occasions, though, there is no reason that a cage dwelling cat should be there... no reason, that is, except out of respect for the wishes of the cat.

Leslie sent me this story about a pretty former feral named Aurora:

"Did you know that we have a cat who has remained in her cage in the Connor House for several years?  Believe it or not, Aurora will not come out into the big, bad world outside of her little home.  She came to us feral, and now is tame but shy. I used to lift her out occasionally and set her on the floor, but she'd immediately return to the safety of her cage. She doesn't seem to mind when other cats join her in there, but Aurora has made up her mind.  She's not coming out, no way, no how."

The Connor House is the name of one of the buildings housing cats at the sanctuary. The front door is open to give cats access to the large open area of the front yard in the warmer seasons and there are cat doors to allow movement between indoors and outdoors during the cooler months.

Aurora's cage door is wide open; she can climb down any time she feels like it. She does not feel like it. Despite being friendly and calm when I visited her for a soft and a few photos, she clearly hadn't the slightest intention of venturing forth.

photo provided by RAPS

According to Leslie, "Aurora is actually the 2nd cat at the sanctuary who didn't want to leave her cage.  Many years ago, we had a cat with leukemia who didn't leave her cage for almost 5 years."

A note on the use of cages

The c-word. This is a touchy one when looking at animal shelters.
I'm talking about cages.

I remember once as a child I begged my dad to take me to the local animal shelter to see the cats only to be faced with a bank of small, mewling cages. An especially desperate cat reaching through the bars to try and touch me led to my having to flee in tears. I still find it an upsetting episode.

Imagine how the cats felt.

A July piece in The Examiner on the San Francisco SPCA quotes Shelter Medicine Department director Dr. Jennifer Scarlett:

“Keeping large numbers of animals healthy and being mindful of each has always been an issue for me personally,” Scarlett said. “The traditional shelter environment in particular is extremely stressful for cats. They are small and so it’s easy to cram them into a small space. Unlike dogs, they don’t make a fuss, yet when you put them in a cage the size of an oven, they shut down. Also in a small space, cats are forced to exist right next to their litter boxes, which is contrary to their fastidious nature, not to mention, they unable to do normal cat things – stretch, walk, play and rest comfortably.”

Given that this is the sort of image that the word "cage" can evoke in relation to animal shelters, I've been reluctant to use it when talking about the RAPS sanctuary for fear of giving a wrong impression of the place. Perhaps I should explain.

The vast majority of the cats at the sanctuary are free to wander as they will around various parts of the complex.

If any of these cat should become ill, they are moved to a cage for observation and treatment, then let out again as soon as they are well enough.

Newcomers are given a cage to give them time to adjust to their new environment without having to deal with hundreds of other inhabitants at the same time. Cats like Rita especially need this kind of refuge. Young ferals are much more likely to become tame and friendly if they are placed somewhere they will be regularly exposed to humans. Take Lillix, for example.

When I first met my two, they were in a large cage with four other cats.

Why so crowded? They'd all been housemates before being surrendered and it allowed them to stay together.
The four were let out soon after I adopted Daphne and Leo, but Snowball has recently been returned to her old cage, which she now has all to herself, for a "time out" because she needed a break from all the other cats.

I spent some time with her in there after my shift this week and found her looking more relaxed than she's been in a while.

Next up: Aurora, cage dweller by choice!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Shadow is most frequently described simply as "a big black cat."

As in,

"Which one's Shadow?"

"There he is over there - the big black cat."

And indeed this direction is usually enough, Shadow being on an altogether larger scale than the multitude of other, smaller black cats wandering around the sanctuary.

Like Daisy, Shadow is a cat who came to live at the RAPS sanctuary via the SPCA. Six years ago, RAPS was asked by a volunteer who also fostered animals for the SPCA if the cat sanctuary could take in this grumpy, overweight nine year old from the SPCA's Burnaby facility. The volunteer was worried that his disinclination for the company of others, human or feline, put him in danger of being judged an unadoptable animal.

I often run into Shadow, now 15, sitting in a large comfortable chair next to the table where I prepare the evening meal for the cats in the double wide. If he still looks slightly grumpy in the photo above, it's only because he had to suffer the interruption of a perfectly good doze so the biped paparazzi could get a few shots. Check out the post on The Love Blog for perkier Shadow pics.

Shadow has a condition called "mega colon", which I confess I had to look up. An article from http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+2122&aid=3471 calls it a severe form of constipation in which "... the large intestine actually becomes enlarged and filled with hard fecal material." In the majority of cases there is no clear cause, though it is more common in males of middle age and above. Shadow has had the condition for about two years and receives daily medication from RAPS' staff to control it.

All in all, he's doing pretty well for an old guy and is quite comfortable in his life at the sanctuary.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I first heard about the RAPS cat sanctuary from a friend who'd volunteered there a while back. Once I'd started volunteering there myself, he asked after cat named Daisy, wondering if I'd seen her and how she was doing. I remember being surprised that he'd remember a particular cat so well among hundreds even after a few years had passed, but Daisy, as I found out when I did get a chance to meet her, is a very unusual cat and would be a hard one to forget.

photo provided by RAPS

Daisy's story is one of those defining ones for a successful no-kill animal shelter. She was found unconscious by the side of a road in Burnaby by a kind-hearted woman who took her in to the SPCA. The little cat revived, but was so frightened and unfriendly that her roadside rescuer was worried she'd be judged to have very low adoption potential and have to be euthanized. This was not at all what the woman who'd found her had in mind, and so this little cat, now named Daisy, came to the RAPS sanctuary. There, she could take all the time she needed to recover from her fear-aggression and let her real personality show. And in this, she outshone anything anyone could have expected. According to Leslie, "Daisy blossomed and quickly became a favorite of volunteers and visitors who carry her in their arms like a baby."

drawing by Claire

It no longer surprises me that someone should remember one little cat called Daisy so well and so fondly even after not seeing her for some time. Many volunteers call her Koala Cat, I sometimes call her Bunny Cat.

As I was sketching the picture above, her appearance reminded me of some depictions of the Japanese maneki neko, the "beckoning" or welcoming cat. The wide-apart eyes, round face and cheerful, welcoming disposition have a certain Daisyness to them. Daisy also brings so much happiness to all the people around her that she has the real spirit of a good luck cat.

maneki neko
drawing by Claire

To quote Leslie once again, "Daisy truly represents RAPS’ mission to rescue and rehabilitate unwanted animals."

Daisy helps to remind us why we do all the things we do to make sure that animals like her will have sanctuary for many years to come.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


One of the cats featured in The Love Blog's blogathon back in July is a cute black and white male with the unlikely name of Trouble. Having only known him since the spring myself, I know him as a friendly, active cutie. People who knew him a few years ago are bound to have a rather different picture: an overweight diabetic needing insulin shots two times a day.

photo provided by RAPS

I don't know a great deal about feline diabetes, but according to information provided by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, "... some diabetic cats may lose the need for insulin, months or years after diagnosis. If diabetes has resulted from obesity, it is likely to improve a great deal-or even completely resolve-once the cat's weight is under control."

The post on The Love Blog ended with the good news that as Trouble became more active and lost weight, his insulin dose could indeed be reduced until he no longer required it at all. Not only did this make for a much happier, healthier cat, but it gave Trouble a much better chance of being adopted.

I would like to end my post with more good news: last month Trouble was indeed adopted by a very nice couple in Richmond and is by all accounts doing well in his new home.

Trouble in his new home
photo provided by RAPS

Friday, September 11, 2009


As I wrote in my last post, dinner in the double wide is never served without the supervision and assistance of a number of cat helpers. This is increasingly becoming the case with the clean-up as well.

The 4 cans times 16 plus plates of cat food distributed at feeding time equals that many cans needing to be washed in preparation for recycling. There's an audience of cats sitting on every available surface watching me work, so I didn't really take much notice of this one little black cat with white paws until the day she stared a little longer at the tap running on full, cocked her head to one side, then gave the stream a little swat.

Splash splash...

The next week she's sitting on the edge of the washing machine next to the sink, waiting for me. I had trouble filling the water jugs we use to top up cats' water dishes because she would keep sticking her paw in under the tap and diverting the flow.

The next week she's waiting in the sink.

I'd seen a video that RAPS volunteer and blogger Barbara Doduk had taken of Lillix chasing a stream of water around the sink like it was the best cat toy in the world. This, of course, had to be tried...

...with most gratifying results.

By now I hear that Lillix the waterbaby is a common occurance. She loves playing in the sink so much that it can be hard to get to all those cans that need rinsing out. And no, you can't deter her by threatening to pour water on her - she's quite willing to get totally soaked over the course of her game. You just have to physically remove her from the sink.
And repeat as needed.

Given all the fun and games, I was surprised to hear from Leslie that Lillix came to the sanctuary as a shy feral. Here's what Leslie had to say:

"Lillix began her life at the sanctuary a few years ago as one of many young feral cats in one of our back pens.  When we decided to open the gate and let them run free, the shy kitties scattered and spent their days in hiding.

One afternoon, I spotted Lillix on the Newcomer's Deck, thought her extremely cute and decided to capture her and take her indoors.  We placed her into one of the big cages in the double wide, and began to familiarize her with human touch. In no time at all, Lillix began to respond and became very affectionate. We discovered that one of her front legs is turned outward, possibly from an injury at birth, but that it doesn't in any way impede her movement.

Now that she is tame, Lillix has become a favorite of many sanctuary volunteers. Her attempts to capture the water that pours from the tap (while oblivious to her sopping wet body) is a new game that everyone finds endlessly entertaining."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dinnertime in the double wide

Once a week, I go straight from work to the sanctuary for my volunteer shift. You'd think this would be an exhausting end to a full work day but, as I think many volunteers would agree, it's actually quite a relaxing way to wind down the day.

The evening shift involves some combination of putting out wet food, topping up dry food and water, and scooping litter boxes. We generally work in pairs or small teams, each with a regular area of the complex to take care of. My shift takes me to the larger of two trailers, the double wide.

There's a table I use as a feeding station when I'm on wet food duty and the cats, being cats, start congregating the minute they see the telltale stack of plates and a fork. They don't even wait for the flats of cans that must follow.

Of course by the time I do bring out the flats, my workspace has effectively vanished.

It takes 16 plates to feed the loose cats in the double wide, each plate getting 4 full cans. Different flavours. And fluffed, thank you very much. Shelter cats and ostensible charity cases or no, some of our diners will snub food that's just dumped out of the can and not plated nicely.

That's just some of the cats, though. Members of the feeding station fan club can barely wait for the food to come out of the can before they're going at it with pushy, greedy tongues. Once sauce hits the plate, there's just no stopping them.

If left unchecked, this crew will ensure that the first few plates to be put down for the general population of the trailer have not a drop of sauce remaining.

drawing by Vincent

It's possible to slow them down - somewhat - by constructing retaining walls out of yet to be opened cans, but I find it hard to begrudge them. Anyway, they've soon had their fill and turned to washing themselves.  In the end, there's enough food for everyone.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Some cats, like Cookie or Zulu, thrive in a shelter environment. Some cats, like Jingles, do not.

This much is known:

What does this give us? One angry-at-the-world kitty.

Staff and volunteers try to spend a little extra time with cats who, for one reason or another, need to be confined to a caged area rather than allowed to roam around the grounds. While the other tame cats generally look forward to the attention with great pleasure, Jingles just has too much pent up frustration to give up the opportunity to blame her predicament on the nearest swattable limb.

Hence the "be careful" on the sign...
Right now, Jingles hates just about everybody.

Interestingly, everyone seems to understand that she's not really a mean cat at heart. She's just the kind of cat who's meant to be in a human family home and not a feline group home. It's sad and frustrating, though, that the more antisocial she behaves, the less likely a visitor is to choose to adopt her over other, more sociable cats.

I still visit her whenever she's the least bit amenable, determined to at some point get a purr out of her that's an indication of contentment and not just a reaction to the stress of her environment.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


A first meeting with Zulu quickly reveals the following information: Zulu is very skinny, very hungry and very loud. It's kind of a domino effect, with each one causing the next, although you could argue that the volume has as much to do with his breeding as it does with his desire for yet another meal.

Zulu is a purebred Bengal. His owner must have parted with some serious $$$ for this striking cat and, one imagines since she then had him declawed, even more $$$ on her furniture. I heard that Zulu had developed a peeing problem which led to him being surrendered. This is different than PeeWee's case where she just can't help it; this was serious peeing with intent.

What I didn't know until I saw Barbara Doduk's Blog entry for Zulu, was that the inappropriate urinating culminated in a shot aimed at his owner's head. And the surrendering? Not to the shelter but to a vet clinic which was asked to euthanize the unmanageable cat. It was the clinic staff who asked RAPS to take him instead.

And we're all very glad they did.

Zulu guards a fork, just in case it might find its way to a can

You may come accross Zulu snoozing or sunning himself, at which time he's a mellow guy, friendly without coming across as overly needy. What he's most well known for, though, is a will-yell-for-food miaow that feels like it must belong somewhere between "subway train" and "power tools" on a decibel chart. That said, he's not only motivated by food (just mostly). Sometimes he just wants to be a purring cat in a basket, softed by a sympathetic hand - though he's quite willing to make some noise if you're slow to comply.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I remember George as one of the first RAPS cats I photographed. Looking back through my files, I see he was the first cat. I didn't know his name at the time or anything about him, but he was willing to take a moment out of his day of doing cat stuff in the front courtyard to sit on this table and blink at me, so I snapped his picture.

I asked about him and learned that his name was George and that he didn't get along so well with other cats. When I came to do my volunteer shift I'd sometimes see him around, looking faintly exasperated. Poor guy. If he was human, I imagine him wearing one of those t-shirts that say "help I'm surrounded by idiots."

He did like people, though, and it would be hard not to respond to him in kind.

Leslie tells me that he came to the sanctuary as a kitten nine years ago, with his two brothers and their mother. The mother is a feral named Maisie Gaye. She's FIV positive, but fortunately didn't pass it on to her kittens. Leslie describes George as "a lovely boy, but a bit of a troublemaker" who would get into fights on occasion.

George is sadly no longer with us. Having developed serious abdominal tumors, he became so ill that he had to be euthanized last month to save him from needless suffering.

This was something I found out only after the fact, when I wondered why I hadn't seen him around in a little while. His portrait is still one of my favorites of all the ones I've taken at the sanctuary. I wish I'd had a chance to get to know him better and longer.

Good-bye, George.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


PeeWee is another self-appointed cat greeter, though not always the welcome one that Cookie is. This is not to say that PeeWee lacks anything in the personality department. On the contrary, she's warm-hearted and loving. It's just that she has this tiny, tiny problem of being totally incontinent.
As in she may pee on your shoe.
It's not her fault, it's just an unfortunate defect that purebred Manx cats can be prone to.
(see this Manx FAQ for more information on the breed)

Seeing her now, round and slow-moving, her diminutive name seems to have been chosen for the sake of irony, but shelter staff member Leslie describes a young PeeWee who "had long legs like a rabbit and could run like the wind" when she came to the sanctuary from the SPCA at four months old. Favorite activity? Merrily de-feathering a hot pink duster.

These days no longer particularly wee or agile, presumably due to various health issues related to Manxness, PeeWee gamely hobbles around the back section of the sanctuary, still eager to make friends.

It's easy to tell when visitors to the sanctuary have just been warned about PeeWee's little problem vis-à-vis their shoes and pant legs. You see them freeze in the midst of reaching down to pat the cat who they've just discovered leaning against their foot. Then they start backing away slowly, then kind of scuttling away as PeeWee, uncomprehending, hobbles after.

drawing by Ayako

Those who get to know her are more forgiving. You feel guilty shunning anyone so well meaning.

PeeWee is also an empath in the way that some animals are. One day when shelter staff member Ann hauled herself into work like a trooper despite really not feeling well, Peewee would not be satisfied until she was allowed to offer comfort and cuddles. Sitting on Ann's lap, PeeWee concentrated on making the human better, using the full force of all that good energy pets are supposed to be able to muster and pass on to each other and to us.

And then she pooped.

Er, best of intentions... ?

Updated August 28, 2011: After spending her whole life at the sanctuary, handling her incontinence with the grace that comes from blissful ignorance, putting up with regular bum-washings with only as much squawking as she felt necessary, and handling later life illness that gave even more of a wobble to her walk as best she could, PeeWee had to be separated from all who loved her yesterday. Her latest medical challenge was just one too many, and so staff had to take the difficult  but ultimately kindest decision to give her peace.
A favorite of many, she will be deeply missed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Unlike the newer arrivals I've written about so far, Cookie is so well established at the sanctuary that he has his own advice column on the RAPS website. He's also one of the self-appointed greeters - the cats you're most likely to meet on your first visits to the sanctuary because they'll make a point of introducing themselves.

He introduced himself to me on my very first visit. I was softing a cat sitting on a table when I felt a gentle tap-tap-tap on my knee. I looked down, and there was Cookie, looking back up at me.


I reached down to give him a soft, then went back to what I was doing.


"Hello. Would you be interested in patting a cat a little more? Me, for example?"

Very friendly and such a polite boy! Cookie was the first cat whose name I learned and the first one I wished I could take home (this while I was still living in a place where I couldn't have pets). What I hadn't realized at first, though, is he's not as young as his aimiable demeanour may suggest. He's also one of those odd cats who's not dying to move in with someone and be a one-person feline.
Cookie came to RAPS when he was around 2 years old. Now in the neighbourhood of 11, he's been at the sanctuary so long that Leslie, our resident expert on the names and stories of the cats, couldn't tell me how or why he first came to live there.
Tired of this "being patient" business, Cookie tries a little leg climbing

Cookie's lived at the sanctuary so long that it's hard to imagine him anywhere else. In fact, when it comes to cats who are such longtime residents, RAPS staff are very reluctant to approve adoption requests simply because the animals have come to view the sanctuary as home and may have a lot of trouble adjusting to a new and very different environment.