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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I came across Martin on a number of occasions after I started volunteering at the sanctuary, snoozing on a comfortable shelf by one of the windows in the double wide. I first really took notice of him and got a sense of the sweet old guy's personality one day when I came across him gently grooming Princess, who couldn't have been happier.

Martin treating Princess to a deluxe wash

Martin (& Princess, rear)

Here's Martin's story, from Leslie (originally published in The Love Blog, July 2009):
"Martin was found stray in Richmond and taken to the shelter we operate for the City of Richmond. Because he was an older cat with some health problems, our other shelter wasn't able to find a home for him. We are so fortunate to have our sanctuary available as a permanent home for cats like Martin who are difficult to adopt."

 Update November 6, 2010: Sad to report that this sweet old guy has now left us.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Tugboat is one of our most recent arrivals, but even after little more than a week he has made himself a favorite of staff and volunteers alike.

I first heard about him only a day or two after he came to the sanctuary from Ann, who knows how much I like to hear about any new cats that I should be sure to make a point of meeting. She described him as "awesome" and "a doll."
I couldn't have said it better myself.

Tugboat was surrendered due to "inappropriate urinating." It must have been a tough decision for his people to give him up, as Debbie tells me they hope to visit him at the sanctuary and, if I remember correctly, would even like to sponsor him to assist RAPS in his care.

He's in a cage for the moment, as the presence of all the other cats is stressing him out (pretty normal for newcomers). But I expect he'll be out and about before too too long. In the meantime, he's already won himself a solid fan base more than willing to give him the tummy rubs he enjoys so much.

Friday, March 26, 2010


 The sign on the door of the cage where Chloe was living when I first met her had a strange combination of information:
  1. she is a semi-feral
  2. she had been adopted out from RAPS as an 8-week old kitten
This didn't quite compute for me. Not tame but lived in a home all this time? It turned out that when her adoptive family found her uncomfortable with the idea of being handled, they didn't push her and just let her be. And so she never did learn to be comfortable with people touching her.

Leslie expresses regret that the people never thought to ask RAPS staff for help or advice on socializing Chloe. RAPS may have been able to suggest a few techniques that would help them win her trust. Now 7, Chloe is back with RAPS. She was surrendered in the end, not to due her people problem, but to severe allergies.

For a long time, her cage was one to enter with caution. Too fast a movement or too close a placement of water or food dish could lead to a serious swat.

By early February, the cage door was open and Chloe was free to come out... when she was ready. It took a little while (a premature visit by friendly ambassador Squirrel was quickly rebuffed), but she did venture forth in time.

Chloe and Squirrel

Now she's doing very well, out and about and letting us approach a little closer all the time. Last week she even accepted a little food I placed in front of her, a little wide-eyed perhaps, but no fleeing and no swatting.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Nelly is one of our ferals.

She can generally be found up on top of the cages. Not only does she feel safe up there, as many ferals do, but she seems to actively enjoy the entertainment value of watching our comings and goings.

As she stares at you with curiosity in her big round eyes, it's hard to resist trying to engage with Nelly, perhaps reaching out slowly in hopes of touching even finger tip to nose. But no luck for me so far. She never hisses or swats at me as some of the less tame cats are inclined to do, just scurries away out of reach.

Someone who has apparently had much better luck with Nelly is Mario. Perhaps he can work the same relaxed cat love magic he's used to tame other ferals in the past.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Not long ago, a reader asked if I would do a story about Bree, a beautiful 10 month old girl who was one of the "urban barn" cats rescued by RAPS last summer.
(Check out this article in The Vancouver Sun for the full farm cat story)

Known to sanctuary staff and volunteers for a sweet, cuddly and upbeat personality, Bree became known to a wider circle of RAPS friends and helpers when chronic congestion turned into something serious enough that she could neither eat nor breathe properly. Thanks to the efforts of many, RAPS was able to raise enough money to pay for a rhinoscopy and the removal of a non-cancerous growth at the back of her mouth.
(Read more in the February 2010 issue of The RAPSity News)

I was hoping to do a cheerful follow-up to Marianne's newsletter article, talking about how little Bree is continuing to thrive, "eating and breathing like a healthy kitten should."

Unfortunately, when I arrived at the sanctuary this evening, I was greeted by a sign on which was written a plea to help Bree a second time. Although the procedure to remove her nasal polyp was a success, it has now grown back. Unable to eat at all on her own and only able to breathe with difficulty, Bree needs another, more invasive surgery to get rid of the growth once and for all.

This will cost up to $2,500.

To save Bree, RAPS needs to call out to our friends and helpers once more.
If you are able to be a friend to Bree and help, please go to  http://www.rapsociety.com/support.htm  where you'll find information on how to donate online, by mail or in person.

Updated April 2, 2010:
Bree had a few surgeries this past week, scaring us for a bit for a little while there, but as of today she's back at the sanctuary and, Debbie reports, is both eating well and grooming herself. What a trooper!

photo provided by Debbie

photo provided by Debbie

Friday, March 19, 2010


Treacle arrived at the sanctuary at the beginning of March, left by the driveway in a carrier with a note saying something about pooping outside the litterbox that had been going on for a long time and for no reason the vet could identify. The writer of the note hadn't wanted to euthanize her, so they left her there assuming one of our staff would find her and take her in. Luckily, they did.

When she arrived, Treacle was very upset. The sign on her cage advised people to move slowly and quietly around her. Leaving her home must have been a most unwelcome shock, particularly since she seems to be one of those cats who hates other cats. And her cage was right next to Rita, one of our most famous cat-haters. I hear Rita managed to pull aside the blanket keeping them from each other's view and they proceeded to try to get one another through the partition. Now Treacle's cage is fully obscured from prying cat eyes and she's a lot more relaxed.

However she might feel about fellow felines, Treacle loves people and, despite having never met me before, was delighted by my visit. She rubbed her head against everything in reach, had me watch her eat for a bit, then capsized for a good, happy wriggle. She's a beautiful girl who will soon win herself more than a few admirers among the sanctuary staff and volunteers.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Buddy (with guest appearance by Amy & Kringle)

Buddy was surrendered to RAPS in November of 2009. The sign on the cage he was in while acclimatizing to the sanctuary described him as "VERY SWEET!" but also noted the reason for his surrender: it seems the boy was a pee-er.

Buddy has adjusted nicely to life at the sanctuary. These days, one of his favorite spots is on the ledge in front of the cage where our two non-feline residents, rabbits Amy and Kringle, live. Not sure if Buddy's figured out that this spot puts him at a perfect height for receiving cuddles from any humans in the vicinity, or if he just likes hangin' with the bunnies. Given his obvious pleasure whenever a volunteer or visitor stops to say hello, I'm suspecting it's the former.

Then again, those bunnies are just so darned cute that some cats will take advantage of an open door at feeding time to try and climb right in their cage with them... just to hang out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mr. Bojangles

Mr. Bojangles was given his name by animal care worker Catherine when he arrived at RAPS. I haven't heard why she chose that name, but I like to think it takes some inspiration from the song written by Jeff Jerry Walker and covered by just about everybody else. It just seems to suit him for some reason.

Here's a version by Sammy Davis Jr:

Unusual as it may be, his name is not what Mr. Bojangles is known best for at the sanctuary. This stoic, gentle soul suffers from chronic congestion that volunteers encountering for the first time will often run to tell one of the animal care workers about this tabby they saw wheezing loudly.

Leslie tells me that they're hoping to look into the possibility of doing a rhinoscopy, similar to what was done on Bree, the Urban Barn cat, in case Mr. Bojangles' congestion is caused by a growth of some kind. But, as in Bree's case, this is an expensive undertaking which will take some planning - not to mention funding - to make happen.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Anyone who's spent much time in double wide trailer at the sanctuary has probably come across Booster.

She likes to perch on the edge of the cage tops and holler for your attention. The sound of her insistent, at times relentless meowing is something Ann likens to the bleating of a sheep.

For anyone who's having trouble conjuring up that particular auditory experience and has better things to do than look it up, please take 6 seconds of your time to view the following:

And here it is in Boostervision:

If I were to go and visit Booster every time she yelled for me during my shift, the other cats would never get their dinner. But - ignore her too long at your own risk. In a funny yet face palm worthy anecdote, Phaedra's punishment for taking too long to respond to this needy kitty's cries for attention was to have Booster sit right in front of her and make a deposit in the food dish. And Booster's punishment in turn was to get smacked in the head by a disgusted Tinkerbelle.

Despite her behavior above, Booster doesn't seem overly comfortable with the idea of other cats even potentially doing anything similar. Ann remembers "one time when she was crying from the top, as usual, and Pee Wee walked by her. Booster took off like a shot when she "encountered " Pee Wee's , um, backside."

This girl really does love human attention, even if she rarely troubles to come down to floor level to receive it. You may find her on one of the lower cat tree perches where it's easier to pet her properly or give her treats, but a lot of times she'll just yell from the top and some convincing may be needed to get her to venture down to somewhere slightly more accessible.

Phaedra describes Booster well: "She's sweet, she's noisy, she's needy and she's nuts."
She adds that she thinks Booster is one of those cats who "would be a lot different in a single cat household."

For those cats who really enjoy human company, it's got to be hard to have to constantly compete with a rabble of dozens, even hundreds, of other cats. Can't really blame a girl for coming across a little on the needy side or even acting out now and again.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This week, I met Bandit. Leslie introduced me to him, saying his story was a little sad.
"Why?" I wanted to know. She said he'd been at the sanctuary for a long time. Meaning much too long.

Bandit (center)

Bandit used to be one of those cats who actively seek attention, bringing himself forward so that a person can't help but take notice and pay attention to him. But he'd get jealous if his chosen person of the moment paid attention to other cats. Unfortunately, cats who don't share well with others don't always make the best impression on visitors and would-be adopters.

Eventually, he seems to have stopped trying so hard to engage people. And this in turn means less attention from anyone who doesn't know him well enough to think to seek him out. As I didn't.

The story of the overlooked: it is indeed a little sad.

Bandit and the phantom blogger

Update March 15, 2010: Even just a little attention can go a long way. 
When I came into the double wide for this week's shift, Bandit remembered me and meowed for attention... behaving very much, Leslie says, like he used to do. It seems that Bandit has chosen me to be his friend. And I couldn't be happier. 

Update September 3, 2010: Sadly, we lost Bandit yesterday. He was not a well cat over the past few weeks, with severe anemia and a total lack of appetite to go with it. Possibly a bone marrow issue, Leslie thinks. 
It's going to take a little while for it to sink in that he's not out on back porch and won't sit up and meow for a cuddle when he sees me come through the door.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ricky & Cleo

Cleo and Ricky form one of our favorite "together forever" pairs.

Their separation from their human family was a traumatic one --
A marital breakup resulted in five cats being left behind at a North Richmond home. RAPS was contacted by the wife's relatives and asked to come and retrieve the cats, but the animal control officer could only find two. Carol, Gaye and Leslie went over and managed to capture Ricky and Cleo outside in the yard. The pair were understandably frightened from their experience, but after a few weeks RAPS staff were able to convince them they were now in a safe place.


Friendly and affectionate, Ricky is what Leslie would call "a perfect cat." It's so very easy to take to him. For his part, he very much enjoys snuggling on laps. Leslie reports that he also quite enjoys climbing on her back.


Leslie tells me that it took Cleo longer to trust people, but now "she's pretty relaxed and oh, so cute." That she is.

Those of you who have been following this blog may recognize the picture above. Cleo graced the Neko Files page header throughout January and February.

These two enjoy each others company, whether peacefully napping together or playfully wrestling, and are looking for a nice home where they can stay together.

Friday, March 5, 2010



Roly was found as a kitten along with his brother Poly.


With Roly, you may notice a bit of a resemblance to another orange and white longhair in residence, the ever popular Mario. As a result, the somewhat smaller Roly sometimes gets referred to by nicknames such as "Mini Mario" or "Mario Lite."

According to Marianne, Roly is "kind of shy, but it's possible to sneak in a quick pet in passing." She's been making an effort lately to spend time with him and work on convincing him that sitting on a lap and being petted is a good thing.

photo provided by Marianne

These efforts appear to be paying off, as when I introduced myself to Roly earlier this week, I didn't find him particularly shy at all. I didn't think to try picking him up, but he didn't need any convincing at all that being stroked on the ground was a Very Good Thing. He was soon trailing around after me and making it difficult to get a shot that didn't also feature my own feet.

Roly also gets along well with the other cats, I suppose another reason for the Mario nicknames to stick. In the midst of visiting with me, he had to take little breaks to say hello to Cecilia and wash Salty.
All in all, a very nice boy.

following Cecilia

hanging out with Salty

relaxing in the tearoom with Sadie and Phoebe