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.

Friday, February 26, 2010


This eye-catching girl was named for Marie Malinoski, who manages the RAPS Thrift Store together with her husband Ed.

 RAPS Thrift Store
140-8260 Granville Avenue, Richmond
photo provided by RAPS

Cat Marie's hanging out spot of choice is usually in the laundry room of the double wide, particularly on the counter across from the sink, but when the mood takes her she's been known to venture out into the back courtyard. 

 photo provided by Marianne

Marianne describes her as a cat who is "kind of crabby but likes being held for short periods" and advises that you "keep her face and front paws pointing away from you to avoid nips and swipes."

A luxurious coat like Marie's with its super-fine fur requires a good deal of maintenance to keep it from developing uncomfortable mats. Unfortunately, Marie barely tolerates even a bit of brushing and "no way will she allow scissors near her for mat removal." And so Marie has to be shaved now and again. The good news is that "after a shave and a haircut, she's a lot more laid back - until the knots start to form again."

Marie with a "lion cut"
photo provided by Marianne

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


This photogenic boy was named for Hudson Street in Vancouver where he was trapped.

Stephanie describes the first attempt to bring him in:
"[Lisa and I] were looking for a mother cat and her kittens plus a male. We set the trap the first time and were waiting in our cars facing a laneway. Down strolled Hudson and disappeared into the area where the trap was set. Lisa and I gave each other thumbs up (a little premature). About 5 minutes later, Hudson came strolling back, crossed the road and went up the laneway. The trap didn't spring."
The kittens were spotted several houses down in a bushy tree. In the end, RAPS staff managed to get mother and kittens... and eventually Hudson too.

Hudson first came to my notice because he's not only a striking cat but is very patient with people taking endless pictures of him. When I asked Stephanie what he's like, she had this to say:
"Hudson is a little shy. However, if you have Temptations treats and squat down, he might want you to pet him first, then he will go for the treats. He has taken them from my hand."

 And would she recommend Hudson for adoption?
"He is a handsome, shy fellow who would do well in a quiet home where he new owners would take the time for Hudson to settle in and warm up to them. I would really miss him but would love for him to be adopted."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Combo #5

You may not see Combo when you first walk into a room, but he's seen you. You can tell by the spirited hissing he launches into, not troubling to wait until the intruder (you) actually gets close to where he is.

"Combo #5" comes from a menu item at the A&W restaurant where this feral boy was found as a kitten. He's still feral (hence the hissy-fest), though Marianne says he's "a bit better" than he was. At least now it's possible be in the same room as he is without him going ballistic. Apparently he used to be a lot scarier, hanging out on the porch behind the double wide trailer for his first few years at the sanctuary, not only hissing but actually "lunging across the room whenever anyone entered."

Scary indeed!

photo provided by Marianne

Several years ago, he had to be in a cage to receive some medical care. Marianne tells how "in attempting to fend him off with a long-handled back-scratcher so [she] could change his water bowl, [she] discovered that he actually liked having his head stroked with the back-scratcher!" She says he still really seems to enjoy this, even if he does growl and hiss a bit at first.

These days, our boy likes to hang out on one of the bottom shelves in the tearoom or sometimes on top of the tearoom cages. I'm told it is possible to tempt him to lick a bit of tuna off your finger... if you approach him VERY carefully.

I think I may stick to the back-scratcher for now.

For a little of the famous hissing action, please see below:

Friday, February 19, 2010


Although far from being a kitten, Creampuff is a happy resident of the kitten trailer. We don't know just how old she is, but Leslie says "she's definitely getting up there."
And we can't help but indulge our senior residents in a little extra comfort when we're able.

Although the details of her background are a bit sketchy, it seems that Creampuff came from the home of a woman who was suffering from emotional problems and not living in the best conditions. Once she came to RAPS, however,
"She immediately won everyone's hearts and almost went home with one of our retired volunteers, but then it became clear that she had a variety of health problems, not the least of which is her incontinence. Creampuff seems to have decided that litter boxes make nice ornaments."

With a spacious room practically to herself and a comfy blanket arranged just so, Creampuff can give the impression of a slightly raggedy grande dame holding court. And yet she is not at all snobbish but welcomes a friendly smile and a soft hand with pleasure. It's hard not to have a bit of a soft spot for "The Puff."

Updated July 5, 2010: Sadly, our raggedy grande dame passed away last night. Gaye was with her, keeping her comfortable and keeping her company, right to the end.
The kitten trailer is now noticeably missing the presence of this little white fluffer perched on her blanket. We'll all miss her personality and her funny little face. And Ann, in particular, will be missing a playmate.
Ann remembers:
"My favourite activity (and I hope hers) was to wrap her in a towel and take her outside the kitten trailer. The reason for the towel was not because she'd get cold, but when the planes would pass overhead she would duck herself down into the towel. But once the planes passed she'd pop her head out! Much like a Jack in the box. 
That and the Cream Puff Shuffle."

Phaedra and Debbie also remember the Creampuff shuffle, a little dance she'd do if you scooped up her front end, with big fond smiles.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


photo provided by RAPS

Jody, as quoted in the RAPS sanctuary photo gallery:
"I'm an independent, feisty little girl hoping to find someone who likes to rub faces and won't let other cats anywhere near me."

I most often come across Jody in the laundry room. She can be very friendly when in the mood (which, in my experience, is quite often) and will bestow as many cat kisses as one has the patience to receive.

Some say she can be a bit unpredictable. Surely not...

OK, maybe a little.

To be fair, she wasn't biting hard. 'Twas just a nibble, really.

The feistiness comes more into play when there are other cats moving into her space and generally cramping her style. As much as we keep them warm and safe and fed and loved, there are some cats at the sanctuary who would just be happier in a home where they can be the one & only.

Monday, February 15, 2010


7 1/2 year old Cow is both old and new to RAPS, old in that he was adopted from us as a kitten and new as in just a couple of weeks ago he was returned.

To say that Cow is "a nice boy" just doesn't seem to cover it. "Delightful" comes to mind. Friendly and affectionate by nature, he must be feeling a little lonely now, by himself in a cage as he gets used to being at the sanctuary. Staff have put up a sign on the door saying "Needs lots of love" so volunteers know to go in and spend a little time with him. As I did this evening.

Cow was surrendered for inappropriate peeing. Some cats just develop a habit of this where they can't seem to help themselves from marking everything in range, while others start to do it in response to changes in their environment that they're having trouble adjusting to. We're thinking Cow falls into the latter category, as it sounds like a relocation or two of his place residence caused abrupt change and, more importantly, a marked reduction in his area of operation.
Moving from a house with outdoor privileges to an apartment with none can be hard on a cat.

Does this make Cow "a pee-er"? Hard to say. Not necessarily - sometimes cats who've been surrendered to RAPS for the same reason cease the behavior once removed from the environment or situation that was upsetting them in the first place. Hopefully, this lovable fellow's issue will prove a temporary one. It doesn't take more than a few moments in his company so see how much he'd love to go home with somebody.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Cara came to RAPS from a smaller, much more informal type of shelter arrangement. A lady had opened her home to in the neighborhood of 30 homeless cats including Cara and, as it turns out, RAPS alumni Moosha.

Unfortunately for this informal feline group home, the house was only rented and when the owner decided to sell, the tenant was unable to relocate both herself and her numerous charges. And so she called RAPS.

Cara was a shy girl when she first came to the sanctuary but even then, she always loved having her tummy rubbed.

Knowing her now, it's hard to picture her as a timid cat. She's become one of those cats who are tricky to photograph because with very little encouragement she's wriggling around in anticipation of a rubdown or she's in your face as she gears up for a friendly headbutt or two.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Pickles came to RAPS as a feral kitten. According to Leslie, he was "painfully shy" and resisted all her attempts to tame him.

It's always hard (perhaps impossible) to predict when and even if a young feral will become tame, since it seems to vary so much from cat to cat. For Pickles, it took a while, but "somehow, years later, he decided to let people into his life."

Now he's a sweet, affable boy who welcomes petting from his human friends. Look for him in the tearoom or, on a warmer day, sunning himself out in the back yard.

Monday, February 8, 2010


With the large number of black shorthairs at the sanctuary, it can take a little while (to say the least) to go beyond rather generic impressions of little-black-catdom...

Metis first came to my attention among the various black cats roaming around at cage tops level with a flash of a paw and the sound of a loud slap. I looked up barely in time to see her give Leslie a solid smack in the head. Leslie's crime? She'd been stroking Metis and had the ill manners to break eye contact and look at someone else.

Some cats are sticklers for receiving a person's full and undivided attention. 

Metis was one of many cats left behind on a farm when the owners moved away. Over the better part of a year, the farm cats were slowly trapped and brought in to RAPS. In the mean time, a couple in a nearby property fed the hungry cats who regularly presented themselves at their back porch. Metis was named in their honour.

Friday, February 5, 2010


With somewhere between 800 and 900 cats at the sanctuary, visitors and volunteers can find themselves making friends with cats whose names are a big "?"

Since I work inside, many of the cats in the front courtyard carry question marks.

Take Houdini:

This engaging, highly photogenic tuxedo cat visited and posed for me on two occasions several months apart before I finally cracked and asked Leslie just who he was.

It seems he got his name after proving a bit of an escape artist in his youth:
"When he was a really young kitten, he escaped through the bars of his cage a couple of times.  Then, when he returned to the shelter after being neutered, he somehow switched from the boys' cage to the girls' cage next door.  Since he was still feral at that point, I figured that the volunteers wouldn't have been able to handle him, so there must have been some hocus pocus involved!"
Meeting him now, it's hard to believe he came in as a feral. Leslie tells me he has two brothers at the sanctuary, Spot and Pongo, both as sweet-natured as he is.

Updated October 19, 2010: The latest in what's turned out to be a week of unfortunate passings, Houdini had to be put down this morning after his health had continued to deteriorate since late summer.

 Houdini & friend, April 2009
photo by Barbara Doduk

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I first met this little calico back in December. She was investigating Marianne's shoes at the time - Marianne having temporarily ditched them so she could climb in with a caged cat who was in serious need of some proper snuggling.

Once we were introduced, Mandy readily gave up shoe inspection for the opportunity to have a little cuddle time herself.

From what Marianne tells me, this pretty much sums up Mandy's personality. She's known to be "super-friendly, likes to cuddle and fall asleep on laps."

photo provided by Marianne

So why hasn't she been snapped up for adoption?
"She's been at the shelter for quite a few years and has always been friendly, so I don't know why she hasn't been taken home by someone yet." 

She's not a pee-er like Andy, is she?
"As far as I know, she's not a pee-er, and is well-mannered and healthy."

Problems with other cats, perhaps?
"I've never seen her cuddled up with any one cat (or cats), but have never seen her in a squabble with any either."

Hmmm... it sounds like what we have here is a pretty little girl just waiting for somebody to love.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I'm told B.B.'s name comes from the brown bag she arrived in.

Her story (originally published on the RAPS website):

"A couple arrived at our shelter one day carrying a brown paper bag. Inside was a black female manx that they said they'd found in their yard. "She's very sick," they said, "don't touch her." The kitty we named B.B. was indeed a sick girl with pus oozing from her severely infected uterus. Our vet said he'd seen similar problems in dogs, but that her condition was extremely rare in cats. He said the prognosis was grim and predicted that our patient had less than a 10% chance of survival. Surgery was performed and the cat was put on antibiotics.
In spite of the infection, our little B.B. wasn't running a fever and, the following day, the vet was feeling much more optimistic about her future. The cat survived and has won the hearts of many volunteers."

BB is a survivor to be sure. A little while back, she was having skin problems and lost her her fur. Already tailless and now scabby, hairless and shivering, she was not a pretty sight. With lots of care and attention though, she gradually improved. Now her fur's growing in nicely and she's pretty much ditched the shiver for a good solid purr. Today she was even perky enough to throw in a few headbutts and love bites.