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, April 30, 2010

Baby (II)

Baby was surrendered to RAPS back in March when her people found themselves in a situation where they could no longer look after her.

I remember the evening she was brought in, her carrier swaddled in a towel while Gaye hung other towels around the cage that had been prepared for her. I assumed this was because she must be scared to suddenly find herself away from her home, but Gaye explained that it was also to prevent the other cats from peeing on her. Apparently, some of our naughtier cats have attempted to put their mark on new arrivals in the past. Not the kind of welcoming committee a frightened newcomer really wants.

Once she got over her initial "where the heck am I?" fear, Baby proved very cuddly and friendly... with people.

The towels around her cage came down once the danger of intrusive urination had passed, but had to go up again once it was discovered that she liked to sit right by the door so she could whip a paw out and claw any cat who happened to be walking by. It didn't seem to matter who it was - one time I happened to look over just as she was reaching out to give friendly Squirrel a good smack as he was ambling by, minding his own business.

But human visitors? Welcome anytime.

Updated autumn 2010: Baby's people were able to take her home!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Alec is a relative newcomer to the sanctuary, only recently let out of his cage in the Connor House.

 above photos provided by Marianne

He's still pretty nervous - Marianne tells of how, a week or two ago, he got scared out into the front courtyard only for the windstorm to totally freak him out and send him back into the Connor and up on top of the cages.

But, she adds:
"He's a total sweetheart one he's convinced that you mean him no harm. And a real flirt too - he does this cute little head tilt and angles a coy look at you from just out of reach. If you can reach him, he LOVES to have his tummy rubbed and will stretch all four legs straight out to get maximum tummy exposure."
When I sought him out to introduce myself, I found him in here:

He climbed out when I got too close, but only went as far as the roof, where he sat peering at me, throwing me a few coy looks like the ones Marianne described.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Grizzy & Peaches - Part II: Grizzy

HGrizzy arrived at the sanctuary last summer with two eyes, his friend Peaches, and a temperament that had me mistakenly calling him Grizzly, like the bear, for months.

photo provided by Marianne

Not long after arrival, he'd lost his left eye to an infection and Peaches had to be moved to another cage because the strain of being with him in his current vitriolic state was too much for her.

These days, he generally lives on top of the cages in the double wide, coming down to floor level only rarely. He seems to have made a friend or two, with a grey and white cat called Harry able to share a blanket with him without any skirmishes. A few other cats, however, seem bent on harassing him. And so he's still having a bit of a tough time of it.

For any inclined to take pity and try to spend a little time with him, Marianne says:
"He loves to have special wet food or treats served to him and will allow a few pets while he's eating these goodies, but will then growl (I suppose that's how he got his name) and swat at the hand that feeds him.  Perhaps it's wishful thinking on my part, but his swats don't seem to be quite as nasty as they used to be.  I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, he once was a nice cat and could be again someday, but that life has been unkind to him recently and he's become kind of bitter."

True, tonight when I made the mistake of waiting until he'd finished his wet food before petting him and he responded by swatting me, it lacked the violence of the swats he doled out while in his cage. I mean, he didn't even draw blood!

Looking at his face in the pictures below, I, like Marianne, can't help but think there's a neat cat in there somewhere buried under all that bitterness over his rotten luck. And I'm willing to risk a few more swats to find out.

Neko on Flickr

I've created a set of RAPS Cat Sanctuary images on my Flickr page. You can go there to see additional pictures of cats featured in past blog entries:

For even more pictures of sanctuary cats, check out Barbara Doduk's Flickr page:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Grizzy & Peaches - Part I: Peaches

Grizzy and Peaches
photo provided by Marianne

Friends Grizzy and Peaches came to the sanctuary last summer. As Marianne says and I think many at RAPS would agree, "Peaches turned out to be an old sweetie, Grizzy definitely NOT." Grizzy has his reasons, but more about him on Monday.

The two cats were initially kept together in the same cage with the idea that they could be made feel more at ease in the familiar company. Unfortunately, rather than making her feel more at ease, Grizzy managed to stress Peaches out so much that she eventually had to be given a cage of her own. Staff put up a sign telling people Peaches "needs lots of love" and asking them to spend time with her. And so people did, to Peaches' great delight.

September 2009 Peaches receiving visitors in her cage

Now she's out and about, looking well adjusted to her life at the sanctuary but no less delighted to receive any cuddles being handed out. An old sweetie indeed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Some cats come to our notice because someone has introduced them, some because they make a particular point of introducing themselves, and some by doing nothing at all except being exceptionally striking.

Charlotte is an example of the latter case. Long before I had any idea who she was, I was taken by this pretty little face.

She, unfortunately, was not quite so taken by me. While she bore my picture taking with relative grace, any attempt to touch her would result in her leaning as far away as possible while wearing a most offended expression. Still, she's never swatted me.
Which I appreciate.

Leslie says Charlotte is the tamest of 3 similar looking sisters living in the single wide. They were part of a colony trapped a decade ago at one of Carol's feeding sites.

From what Phaedra says, I'm lucky to have met Charlotte only recently as her former, less forgiving self would have swatted me for sure.
"I, like many people am attracted to the big cuddle puddle on top of the washer and dryer in the singlewide and initially when I met Charlotte in the middle of it, she would give me a good smack and run away if I attempted to pet her. The trick is to get her to think it's Duffy or some other kitty she is snuggling with and then when she notices she's too embarrassed to get upset."
It never ceases to get me bemusedly shaking my head how some of the more shy cats can only be given a little love through some sort of subterfuge! The distribution of treats is another good one. Phaedra says Charlotte now "seems to look forward to the pets and treats [she] dole[s] out when [she's] there."

Although she may never become a cuddle-bunny, Charlotte seems like she's come to be at peace with the fact of the monkey clan moving around her space.
"I often see people coming in to dump off laundry giving her a pat and getting away with it nowadays. She's a success story of sorts, quite content with her feline buddies and resigned to her role with us as her caretakers."

Monday, April 19, 2010


Nevada came to RAPS over a decade ago from a feeding site at the BC Packers cannery in Steveston. When the cannery shut down and the site could no longer be used, roughly 20 cats were trapped and brought to the sanctuary. Of the original number, by 2010 only a handful remain.

I first met Nevada when he was in a cage in the double wide recovering from a dental with a whopping 12 extractions. He normally lived in one of the back pens, so I wasn't surprised when he glowered and hissed at me any time I went into his cage to bring him fresh food or water.

And then one day I saw Janice in there sitting with him. Far from hissing or swatting, he was clearly enjoying her company. Me, I still got hisses. I wondered what I could be doing wrong. Janice said that Nevada could be particularly threatened by eye contact, a concept I'd been aware of before but not realized that for some animals avoiding eye contact means avoiding even the briefest glance.

And so today I went to visit him. As long as I didn't look him in the eye, he'd knead his bed, rub against the side of the cage and let me stroke his head and back. If I forgot myself and our eyes locked for more than a fraction of a second, he'd back into the corner and hiss if I moved too quickly. Look away again and it was quite quickly back to rubbing and kneading.... Odd - especially since I'm more used to cats who take it as a major affront if I don't look in their direction while I'm patting them. 

Nevada is still in his cage, at this point to continue the effort to socialize him as much as anything else. But when he's let out, he'll return to his old friends in what we call The BC Packers Pen, where they'll no doubt be glad to have him back.

Updated December 10, 2010: Nevada was indeed able to return to be with his friends in the Packers Pen for some time. And then his health failed at last. Today I have to report with considerable sadness that we have lost our boy. He will be sorely missed.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New & improved Neko-cam!

I have finally succumbed to the siren song of a DSLR camera. What does this mean to you? There will now be better up-close-and-personal shots of sanctuary cats. Joy!

Daphne and Leo demonstrate high-res furriness:

Friday, April 16, 2010


A pure white cat called Grubby... hmm... got to be a story there.

And, as it turns out, there is. Grubby was found by Carol living under a car. What with all the oil and dirt down there, he came out looking mostly white but, well, kind of grubby. Marianne tells of how Carol bathed him to get all the stuff off him, but just couldn't seem to get this last little bit on his forehead. However much futile scrubbing later, she realized that's just the way his fur is - pure white except for this faint grayish smudge on his head.

I've always found Grubby to be very - no, scratch that - extremely responsive, but he's not the kind of cat who will come and tap you on the leg to ask for your attention. When he's resting or just hanging out, a person could potentially just walk by Grubby without realizing how affectionate he is. And unfortunately, many people do pass him by.
But all it takes is a single stroke and the response is electric.
Shannon demonstrates:

Grubby isn't the sort of cat who can just sit still and let himself be cuddled. His love of the high energy kind and he seems to consider most encounters worth a wriggling, tail-swishing dance of joy.

What can he say? He's happy to see ya.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Springtime and a Place in the Sun

Look forward to a Friday feature on a white cat called Grubby (and for those who don't already know, see if you can guess the reason for his name!).
For today, here's a short photo essay to celebrate spring at the sanctuary.

While winter weather had a lot of cats heading inside for warm, snug beds, a bit of sunshine and the hint of warmer days to come brings just as many out to bask in the sunny courtyards. Here are a few of our friends from past Neko Files blog entries, enjoying last Sunday's sun.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Elmo is Princess's brother and, even without seeing them together side by side, the family resemblance is clear.

Marianne introduced me to him on the weekend when he was sunning himself out in the back courtyard. She warned me he could be a little shy, but he must have been satisfied with her having vetted me out, since he quite readily decided that we could be friends.

Elmo can be a little timid when it comes to other cats, I noticed, as he would back away anytime another cat tried to muscle in on his cuddle time. Leslie says this is one of the reasons he looks thinner than his sister. His coat's not as soft and shiny either, but then he doesn't have Martin grooming him Princess does.

Elmo does seem to do OK, though. Here he is with Cookie and Salty, with whom he soon after showed himself to be ease enough to enjoy a three cat cuddle as they all vied for my attention.

Cookie, Elmo, Salty

Friday, April 9, 2010


This has to be my favorite picture of Piper; it fits her name so well:

photo provided by RAPS

And here's her story, from Marianne:
"Piper was trapped at UBC one very cold and snowy January morning a couple of years ago.  She'd been spotted hiding under a building but it took two separate weekends to get her.  In the intervening week, her name had been decided - whether she turned out to be a boy or a girl, it was going to be "Piper", after Martha Piper the then-Chancellor of UBC.  Although she'd eluded capture for over a week, once she was in the trap, it was obvious that Piper was friendly, not feral. 
 photo provided by Marianne
While she's not too crazy about other cats who invade her space, Piper's a nice, relatively sedate cat who loves to be held and cuddled.  At first glance, her colouring may appear to be simply tabby, but her fur has an unusual and attractive speckled appearance, not the usual tabby stripes.  She can usually be found snoozing in the tea room or on the heater in the washroom off the tea room; on warm days, out in the back courtyard." 

The tearoom is exactly where I found Piper back in February and was able to spend a little time getting to know her. She is a friendly girl indeed, relaxed and ready to enjoy a cuddle.