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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Checking in with cats of blog posts past

Something a little different for today - rather than introducing a new cat, I thought it might be time to check in on a few of our friends from past posts.
Click on the title for each cat's section to read the original post about them.


When I wrote about poor grouchy Rita last August, this overstuffed kitty was so obese she had to struggle to get up if she fell over. To make matters worse, she hated other cats so much that they had to be kept from her sight.
Well, she's not as large as before, and will accept human cuddles with much less likelihood of a sudden switch into grumpy swats, but she still hates cats. And so she still has a room of her own. Now we just need to find a way to get her out and about for a little exercise without meeting any of the hundreds of cats living at the sanctuary...


Jingles, another enthusiastic cat-hater when she arrived, has adjusted somewhat better. She still doesn't like other cats getting in her face, but it's now possible to approach her and enjoy a cuddle without her eyes darting back and forth to see if anything furry might possibly be thinking about coming near. 

Shadow posing in front of his "Poo Record"

Shadow's medical condition (severe constipation) has caused him to spend a good deal of time in a cage these days, so staff can monitor his bowel movements. If he manages some, he gets to come out for a while; if there's a concern, back in he goes.
Of course, any time he's out and about when I come for my shift, there he is waiting to "help" me at the table where I dish out the cans. Purring away, I might add.


Aurora still likes her cage as much as she did when I met her last September, though she did try something new and exciting by moving into the cage next door to her usual one for a time... to the surprise of anyone who noticed the change.
Now she's quite content with expanding her horizons by sitting on the bottom shelf of her cage rather than the top.


Greyson was having a pretty tough time of it for a while there after his arrival in November. He was stressed out by the other cats, started having skin problems, got sick off his medication... more stress, more skin problems. But now that all seems to be in the past. His fur looks good, his eyes are bright, and he's very responsive to anyone who wants to have a visit with him. All in all, very content and well adjusted.


When I first met Squeaks, I had to take the reason for his name on faith, as he almost never spoke to me. Perhaps he just needed to get to know me, since now, far from me having to seek him out, he often follows me around and squeaks loudly at me until I pay attention to him.


Nevada is now back outside with his buddies. He will, if in the mood, allow himself to be approached and even enjoy rubs and tickles like he did when he was in his cage. He's less willing, unfortunately, to allow staff anywhere near him when it's time to give him fluids that keep him healthy enough to be able to enjoy sitting out there and visiting with people...


Cow was let out of his cage back in February and seems well on his way to being one of the self appointed greeters of the front courtyard. Apparently no big adjustment problems for this one - he's a happy boy.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Arnie is another recent arrival to the sanctuary, though he's not nearly as cheerful about it as wriggly, bright-eyed Hannah. But then, he's had a rather eventful time of it this past week or more: trapped, brought to the vet, neutered, transported to a new environment with a whole host of new faces. Just as well he has no concept of what FIV means, since at the vet's he also tested positive for that.

So don't be surprised to see this expression for the next little while if encountering him in the New AIDS building:

It may take a little imagination to see it, what with the expression of abject horror over the presence of a stranger with a big camera, but Arnie actually looks not unlike Greyson, another adult male stray, who was brought to the shelter last fall.

Greyson enjoying a tabletop snooze

No coincidence - we believe them to be brothers! After Gaye had successfully trapped Greyson, who'd been hanging around her neighborhood for some time, she discovered there was another one that looked very much like him still roaming around out there. So she watched over him, made sure he had enough to eat, and finally this month was able to bring him in.

A long way still from being as well-adjusted as Greyson, Arnie was pretty convinced that I was going to do something horrible to him, greeting most movement in his direction with a growl and a hiss. No striking or spitting though, which I took as a good sign. I tried presenting him a with piece of kibble from his bowl. This turned out to be an acceptable peace offering, and after a few pieces he even let me touch his forehead with the tip of my finger.

Looks a little bit better already. I'll post an updated once he's settled in and realized nobody's going to hurt him.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hannah (II)

Hannah is among the sanctuary's newest arrivals.

How did such a striking, healthy girl find her way here? A few words on the sign outside her cage door say it all:

"From #5 Road. Was adopted out twice & returned for peeing inappropriately both times."

Ah... Like Minky and Seven (and a few others I could mention) someone obviously didn't get the memo about this whole peeing outside the box thing being generally not conducive to long term household residence. That Hannah's sign goes on to describe her as "a real sweetheart" only makes a person shake their head more.

With her attractive coat and distinctive amber eyes, it's easy to see how Hannah would capture the attention of visitors to the #5 Road shelter. Add a playful, cuddly personality to go along with her looks, and it's no mystery why people would want to take her home.

Unfortunately, for reasons known only to herself, Hannah feels a need to, well, you know...
So now she's come to her new home at the sanctuary. Here, I can already tell just by meeting her, she'll find more than a few people to love her.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Leslie describes Bella as "absolutely lovely" and many others would agree. She came to RAPS several years as the result of a divorce and is one of those sanctuary residents you will love and be loved by... if you're a human. Not so much if you're a cat.

Bella's human friends can enjoy happy cuddles and are welcome to join this playful cat in a variety of games. "The Blanket Game" is a favorite. Ann explains how to play: "Put her in the papasan chair and cover her with a blanket. Then 'shadow box' with her!! FUNNY!!!!!!"
Phaedra has also had excellent merriment results with a feather on a stick.

In between blanket and feather frolics, Bella enjoys climbing on her visitors' backs, sometimes after a leap from some crazy place. Shades of Hannah, perhaps?

photo provided by Michele

As delightful as she is with people, Bella is quite the bully when it comes to other cats. She will poo and pee in other cats' beds or at the bottom of cat trees to show them what's what. Needless to say, cats in her building don't like her much, either avoiding her smacking her according to their disposition.

The one thing Bella does have in common with her housemates at the sanctuary is that she's FIV positive. Phaedra feels sure Bella got it through that bullying habit of hers: "silly girl most likely picked a fight with the wrong kitty."

And, if that wasn't enough, Bella has no front claws. So it's hard not to be indulgent of her. "I don't think it's possible not to love this crazy kitty." says Phaedra.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Minky is a long time resident of the sanctuary and has come to love it there so much that he doesn't want to leave.

Gaye tells me he was adopted out some time ago by a university student who had to move around a good deal. Sometimes she was able to take him, sometimes she would ask RAPS to take him for a time. She may have had to go back to Hong Kong, or perhaps there was some concern that the frequent change of living space might be hard on Minky, but in the end Carol suggested it may be for the best if Minky just lived full time at the sanctuary.

More recently, Minky was adopted out again, this time to a volunteer. This volunteer had known Minky for a long time but it was only now that she was able to take in another cat. To what must have been her considerable disappointment, the arrangement only lasted a month or so; Minky unfortunately felt a need to leave his mark around her home in that special way that cats do... He's not known as a pee-er, nor was this raised as an issue at his first adoptive home. Gaye says that by this time he'd lived at the sanctuary for so long that he just couldn't adjust to a home environment. And so back he came.

Minky & Shadrack

Minky & Yoda

Minky has a couple of physical "quirks" if you can call them that: two different coloured eyes and very sensitive ears. The first will help you tell him apart from other white cats wandering around inside and outside the double wide, the second means that too much time in the sun will give him sunburned ears - I'm told that once he had to be kept inside all summer for just this reason!
And then there's this thing he does where he curls his tongue into a little "U"... Apparently just because he can.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


When Atira was trapped as a feral, she was clearly pregnant, but nobody expected her to be quite so close to giving birth, least of all Gaye who volunteered to take her home while she had her kittens. Just three days later, Atira had her four kittens in Gaye's spare room.

Atira was fiercely protective of her offspring and would not let Gaye anywhere near them. If anything, she tried during the 2+ months the new family lived there to teach her babies to have the same fear and mistrust of humans that she did. In order to prevent these home born kittens from growing up wild, Gaye kept them with her for a further week or two after she brought their mom to the sanctuary. She later adopted two of them herself, and they are quite happily living back at home with her.

These days Atira still isn't exactly tame, but neither is she the wild thing she once was. She likes staying up high on top of the cages in the double wide, but she will often come when Gaye calls her, particularly if there looks to be a tuna treat involved.

Updated February 2012: We sadly lost Atira last week. Fortunately, Gaye was on hand and able to sit with her girl right to the very end.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Val is a cuddly one-eyed tabby living in the front section of the sanctuary. On a nice day, she can be found sunning herself in the front courtyard and is more than happy to visit with anyone offering a nice smile and a gentle hand.

The missing right eye makes her easy to spot among the other front courtyard tabbies vying for attention, but what she's known for is being the mother of several other sanctuary cats: Fury, Foxy, Savannah, Latte and Paolo. What's truly extraordinary about her though, at least to my mind, is that when she came to the sanctuary she was totally feral.

Val is named for Valerie Jones, former Vice President of the North Fraser Port Authority. Valerie had been feeding a colony of feral cats living on Port Authority property near where the then yet to be built Canada Line would connect to the Vancouver Airport. Concerned about the welfare of the cats once construction began, she called upon the help of RAPS to trap them.

Cat Val and her full grown offspring were among the cats trapped and brought to the sanctuary. Human Val would come on a regular basis to visit her former charges, who apparently did recognize her. Unfortunately, Val was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease) in 2008 and passed away the same year. The Valerie Jones Memorial Garden, a new area of the sanctuary built with donations from Val's family and friends, was opened in the autumn of 2009 as a legacy of this great supporter of RAPS.

Cat Val, who arrived at the sanctuary boasting not one but two beautiful eyes, had an unfortunate experience earlier on in her time there with an eye infection that progressed so swiftly that there was no way for staff to save the eye. The good news is that it doesn't seem to cramp her style in the least. She continues to thrive and is so full of love that on the off chance she grabs at your hand, it'll probably be only so she can give it a gentle lick.

Friday, May 14, 2010


This is Harry:

photo provided by Karen

photo provided by Karen

He can often be found sitting somewhere high up where he can safely nap or peer down at the goings on below. Get too close and he starts looking uncomfortable; keep approaching and he's likely to scoot away to where he can stare from out of reach. A person could be forgiven for thinking he's not tame and not trying to push the whole cuddling issue.

photo provided by Karen

In fact, it turns out to be an issue well worth pursuing as our Harry loves to be stroked and will happily reciprocate the affection by ramming his head against whatever part of you is closest.

Harry has been a RAPS cat for a long time. Leslie tells me he was originally named Churchie after Church Street where he was trapped as a feral. A long time favorite of RAPS president Carol, he became tame after being caged for a time due to dental problems. This gave RAPS staff the opportunity to spend time handling him and getting him used to human contact. Now, says Leslie, "he willingly headbutts some of his human friends from atop the cages."

He does indeed enjoy the attention. Ann demonstrates:

He still likes to peer at me from the top of the cages and he still scoots away if I move too fast, but now I know I'm in for lots of love if I'm just a little bit patient. It really doesn't take him very long to relax. Last week he even came down to the table where I dish out the food and sat there enjoying the sun - and a pat or three - while I filled the plates.

Updated December 12, 2012: I'm sad to report that our sweet old man Harry finally left us for the Rainbow Bridge this week. He was a one-of-a-kind guy and will be sorely missed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Fred is a cat I met when he was having some cage rest back in December. He'd managed to crack his ribs somehow, probably from a fall. The sign on the door warned people not to hug him for a while, something I had a hard time explaining to him. He really, emphatically wanted a proper cuddle, so much so that when I opened the cage door to at least stroke him a bit, he got so excited he started gnawing on my chin.

I first heard others' impressions of Fred through a few Facebook posts back and forth between Ann and Phaedra a number of weeks back. This gist of the story was that Fred likes cuddling with Ann, but Ann was off work for a few weeks and so he thought he'd try cuddling with Phaedra. Then he changed his mind and bit her instead.

photo provided by Phaedra

Fred and I encountered each other shortly after. I was taking pictures of various cats in the front yard when Fred approached me and indicated by standing up on his hind legs and stretching his front paws as high up my leg as they would go that he might like to be picked up. He's a big cat too, which made him even more like a toddler demanding a lift and a hug. All that was missing was a little voice demanding "Up! Up!"

Unfortunately, the bulky camera made it tough to do as he asked just then, so I had to get back to him a bit later. Of course by then I'd spoiled it and Fred would have nothing to do with me.

I had another chance when Ann returned to work. He greeted her enthusiastically, leaning against her, standing up to get more height. And then after observing us talking for a moment, he must have decided I was OK after all and so he came over and did the same to me, this time getting the hug he wanted.

Gaye tells me that Fred came to the sanctuary from the No. 5 Road shelter, where he'd been a nasty enough guy that the animal control worker there warned sanctuary staff to watch out for this one. He's a lot easier to get along with now, though Gaye says that while he can be nice when he feels like it, he's pretty grumpy when he doesn't get his own way. Case in point: when she had to shoo Fred out of the space between the gates separating the front and back courtyard areas - cats love to sneak into anywhere they're not supposed to be - he was in such a snit that when I tried to console him, he bit me. Not hard, just enough to make it clear that my request for an audience was denied.

Ann describes Fred as "a tough cookie" and admits he does have a few quirks (such as feeling a need to pee on the door to the singlewide), but "otherwise he's just a big cuddly goof in desperate need of more human friends other than [herself]!"

 photo provided by Michele