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, July 30, 2010


Wait, that's not a cat!

The cat sanctuary is in fact home to 800-900 cats plus one rabbit. I first introduced Kringle in the blog back in March, a guest appearance in the post on Buddy, a tabby fond of sitting by the rabbit cage.

Kringle was brought from the No. 5 Rd. shelter at the beginning of the year as a companion to Amy. We lost Amy to a tumor a little while back, something which Kringle appeared to sense the existence of before anyone else could tell - he'd taken up licking her forehead near the spot where the tumor turned out to be with such vigor that he wore all the fur off!

Now Kringle's on his own. His cage, formerly in the doublewide, has been moved outside for the summer where he can enjoy warm summer breezes and be put in the path of sanctuary visitors who'll give him some love.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bella (II)

Not to be confused with Bella of the blanket game in the Old AIDS building, this is the Bella who lives in the doublewide.

She's never been one to hang around me while I'm dishing out wet food for their evening meal, so I wasn't consciously aware of her or who she was until this past Monday when she suddenly, inexplicably, selected me to be her cuddle provider of the moment. Limited success in getting good photos of her, first because she was showing off, dancing around, and trying to climb into my lap almost before I'd managed to crouch down to offer one... and later because she was cuddled out, wanted a nap and didn't care for my big camera or the flash the goes with it.

When I asked Leslie who this nice little kitty bobbing and weaving her way around my ankles was, she told me this was Bella, and that she'd belonged to a woman in her 20s who had to surrender her when her roommate complained that Bella was peeing where she shouldn't be. Bella has a special place in Leslie's heart since Leslie appears to have a special place in Bella's - when Leslie came back from a holiday, only a handful of cats at the sanctuary took the trouble to actively express pleasure at her return, and Bella was one of them.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Josie was brought into the No. 5 Rd. shelter a couple of years ago, a frightened stray with kittens. As frightened as she was, staff there didn't think they'd have much luck adopting her out and so passed her on to the cat sanctuary where she could live at whatever level of tameness (or lack thereof) she felt comfortable with.

Josie turned out to be not simply tame, but really quite delightful. One of those "what's not to like" cats, she's friendly and responsive without being needy.

OK, not needy when it comes to most of the world, maybe just a little bit needy when it comes to staff member Doug. Josie may like the rest of us, but she looooves Doug. Sometimes when I'm doing my dinner shift in the doublewide, I'll suddenly hear this squealing like a pre-teen at a pop concert. I'll look around, and sure enough, there's Josie, over the moon about getting some cuddle time with her hero, Doug.

As if the squealing isn't funny enough in itself, what sets Josie off the most is if Doug lightly and repeatedly slaps her back at the base of the tail. Vanessa and I tried variations on the theme to see if we could get a similar response out of Josie and were rewarded with a few light squeals, but I think she'll always save the loudest and most joyous for her Doug.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Some cats are most comfortable with people they've come to know. This does not appear to be the case for Ella, who quite happily - and extensively - posed and generally showed off for me last September, long before I had the slightest idea who she was.

As one of the doublewide regulars, I've had a chance to get to know her a bit better since then. Not that my impression of her has much changed - though not as blatantly pushy as some of the leg-grabbers like Prince or Spike, Ella can be bit of an extrovert when she's in the mood for a little attention.

And not just with people either --
Here she is with Sterling.

With such very interactive interactions as these, I was surprised to learn from Leslie just last week that Ella came to the sanctuary as a feral. As time went by, she just slowly got tamer and tamer. And so, I suppose it could be said that Ella is a cat who's more comfortable with people she's come to know after all, although in her case it was a matter of becoming more comfortable with people in general.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gucci (Gina)

Gucci introduced herself to me a couple of months back by leaning over the edge of her cage top perch and playfully swatting at my head as I stood talking to Leslie. Not enough attention was being paid to the cat, a situation she sought to rectify as quickly as possible.

As with more than a few cats at the sanctuary, this spirited sweetie has more than one name. Gucci was the name given to her when she was brought to RAPS.

Her other name is Gina, given to her by former volunteer Tess with who she lived for two years. Tess was so fond of Gina that she was happy to adopt her and take her home. Unfortunately, her other cats relentlessly bullied the newcomer. Eventually, after it became clear that the behavior was just going to continue indefinitely, Tess decided it would be best to bring her back to the sanctuary.

Tess came out to visit when she could, but Leslie tells me it took a little time for her to win feline forgiveness. For the first while, one little longhaired tuxedo kitty would have nothing to do with her, all the while being quite friendly with Leslie and other sanctuary staff.

By now, Gina/Gucci has of course allowed herself to show her love for Tess. For the rest of us? Maybe a cuddle, maybe a little swat just for fun. Cats go by cat logic, after all.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Tinkerbell ended up with RAPS after being abandoned at a cat show.

After all the cat carriers went on their way with the assorted breeders and enthusiasts, there was one carrier left behind. The show organizers checked in with registrants to see if anyone was missing a cat, but it seemed that nobody was. RAPS was called and in she came.

A peculiar gait when viewed from behind revealed a broken leg, which our vet said was an old injury, long since set at whatever angle it naturally ended up and healed. In any case, it doesn't seem to slow Tinkerbell down at all.

Tinkerbell's other distinguishing feature is the collar she wears as an indication that Tinkerbell can sometimes be Tinkerbite. Interestingly, though, while she's said to have bitten someone some time ago, I haven't yet found anyone who's known her to do it recently. She visited with me this evening while I was working at the sink and could scarcely have been friendlier.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Checking in with cats of blog posts past

What that title says.

Click on each cat's name in large type above their picture to read the original post about them.


Wonder of wonders, Aurora is out of her cage! True, she didn't have much of a choice in the matter, but still...
Major renovation work recently started on the building where she'd been living up until recently. With the whole inside being gutted and rebuilt, including the cages, cats who'd been housed there before naturally had to be moved somewhere else. As her preference for cage dwelling is well known, Aurora was given portable cage in another building. She stayed there for a time, the one day there she was snoozing in a bed on the table next to the cage. Now she seems quite pleased with her new little corner of the world and is even making a few new friends.


Baby has also left her cage recently, though in her case no convincing was needed to embrace broader horizons. Now she's in the front yard and looking quite pleased with herself.

I'd wondered if her obsession with swatting at other cats who came near the door of her cage would continue or even escalate once she was free to roam around and swat at will, but this doesn't appear the case. If anything, it seems like she just likes reaching through barriers - evidenced by her cheerfully pawing at me through the fence as I was coming through the gate the other day. Once I was on the same side of the fence as she, it was all purrs and cuddles.


Somewhere along the line, Grizzy concluded that the world hated him and so he wasn't going to let anyone near without a defensive hiss and swat. The fact that cats like Groucho unaccountably decided to start beating up on him certainly didn't help.

How to convince a cat who thinks he's friendless that he's wrong? We kept trying, but were consistently rebuffed. Then slowly it seemed like he perhaps wasn't swatting quite as hard. More time passed, and he'd allow himself to be touched - if food was part of the bargain. Finally, he started to show signs of wanting a few pets, food or no.

We're so glad he's beginning to understand that he has a few people on his side after all.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Carreen is a sweet, young tabby female with unusually rounded ear tips.

She was brought in last week after someone reported a cat thought to have been hit by a car in west Richmond. Carreen's left hind leg is so badly broken that it was initially suggested that amputation might be necessary. Fortunately, we were then told this extreme treatment may well not be necessary at all, particularly since the leg doesn't seem to be bothering her. Our vet thinks this may in fact be an old injury.

Yes - amazingly, Carreen does not show any signs of being in pain. The pain patch she had when she first came in has been removed and she is currently on no pain medication at all. And yet she's bright eyed, responsive and really, really wants to cuddle. I was way more bothered than she was when she got so enthusiastic about me stroking her that she stood up and I caught sight of this back leg being held at weird angle. Lisa says not to worry as Carreen's quite fine to move around in her cage.

Could this be our Lincoln all over again? Or another version of Ann's cat Muffin, so famous for "That Leg"? Hard to say what will need to be done about Carreen's take on That Leg, but for now it's cage rest for her and a bit of wait and see for us.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Earl Grey

Taken last June of what was for the longest time a mystery cat, this remains one of my favorite early pictures at the sanctuary. 

I now know him as Earl Grey, a name given to him a number of months ago by Linda when she found that nobody could remember what name he'd be given when he was first brought in.

Earl Grey is thought to be the brother of our sometimes bully Diablo, but the resemblance between them is pretty much limited to the physical. Laura describes Earl grey as a big boy like Diablo "but with a slimmer, more muscular physique." She says he "loves to be brushed and is actually the friendlier of the two brothers."

Indeed, more often than not, my pictures of Earl Grey show him upside down, stretching out a paw to knead the air, or scooting forward for a closer spot to receive cuddles.

So why is such an attractive, friendly boy still even at the sanctuary? "Unfortunately," says Laura, "He's a prolific pee-er (a trick he learned from the Terror Triplets, Sam, Bart and Louie, I think) so is unlikely to ever find a home. He doesn't seem unhappy at the shelter, however, and doesn't seem to find it necessary to bully the other cats like his brother does."

Footnote: This handsome boy was diagnosed with FeLV (feline leukemia); renamed Merlin, he is now happily living in the Old Aids area

Friday, July 9, 2010


This one took a little research and a lot of help. Many thanks to Leslie, Debbie, Laura, Linda and Phaedra.

It started with a sequence of photos I took while visiting cats in the single wide with Vanessa:

He was a big, friendly, food-loving goof with such a personality, yet getting a positive ID took some doing. To start with, the name Diablo only came to him quite recently. Whatever name he was given when he was first trapped as a teen and brought to the shelter must not have suited him or just not stuck, so he spent some time being de facto nameless before being given the new name of Diablo by Linda. To further complicate matters, there is another grey and white cat in the single wide named Earl Grey who looks quite similar and may well even be a sibling.

Diablo (left, in cat bed) and Earl Grey (right, sitting)

More of Earl Grey on Monday. As for Diablo, it turns out he has a bit of a reputation as a bully, the little devil. Laura filled me in:
"I think that Diablo has the cat equivalent of fear aggression in dogs. He postures like a bully and tries to pick on a whole range of cats in the singlewide (e.g. Sam, Bijoux, Mama) for no apparent reason that I as a human can perceive, but very quickly backs down and runs away like a scaredy cat if you call him on the bad behaviour."

This is the cat who shimmied his way around a plate of food for Vanessa's and my amusement? (amused smiles tending to lead to cuddles, after all)
Here's what Phaedra had to say:
"He's not all evil bully boy and will whine for snugs if you let him know they are up for grabs. You just have to keep an eye on him if you've got other cats around. Mostly he's good, but then he gets these uncontrollable urges when food is involved or certain other cats who have kick me written on their backs."
Don't worry - even when he is being a bad boy, he does sometimes get his comeuppance. In a video by Phaedra that I'm told no blog post on Diablo would be complete without, one of the other cats has finally had enough... and spends the upwards of five minutes yelling in his face to tell him so. Here's the link. Enjoy.

Update July 12, 2010
Just so you don't think Diablo's all devil, Phaedra has posted a video showing his sweet side. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I've lately been experiencing something of a domino effect of friendliness in the front courtyard. First Cozy recommended me to Pickle, then Shady wanted in on the action. Then, while I was getting in some nice portrait shots of Shady, a pretty little tabby with white bib and socks started doing every cat dance she knew to charm me into paying attention to her as well.

Lisa tells me her name is Esme and describes her as shy but very sweet. Esme and her sister Abby have been with RAPS since they were kittens.

With her pretty face, Esme looks like the kind of cat somebody or other would want to take home with them. And indeed, Esme did get adopted at one point, but it didn't work out. Lisa explains: "As with many of the semi-feral who are exceptionally sweet at the shelter, she just couldn't handle the change of scenery." Lisa, Leslie and Carol had to go and hunt Esme down in the home of the lady who'd adopted her, finally finding her "curled into a tight little ball, scared out of her mind behind the water heater."

And so back Esme came to the sanctuary, where she's been living happily ever since. "She does really well at the shelter" says Lisa, "and often comes around when other cats are out for some love."

Monday, July 5, 2010


Zanda came to RAPS back in 2002 when his mom, Sky, was brought in with her kittens. The other kittens were adopted, but nobody took the black one. When Leslie told me this as she introduced me to Zanda last month, she didn't sound too surprised. And she shouldn't be. Not because there's anything wrong with Zanda - he's lovely, by the way - but because black cats are classically the hardest to adopt out.

Just Google "black cats" + "adoptions" and you'll come up with a number of articles posted by various humane societies in North America talking about how the adoption rates for black cats are lower than those with other colours and markings. The old idea of black cats being bad luck is given as one reason, but superstition takes a back seat to the idea that they simply lack distinguishing features. People feel they don't easily stand out from other black cats, that's they're less unique than an animal with clearly identifiable markings, or even just that it's "harder to see expression in a dark face." [1]

Even among new volunteers at the sanctuary, the number of black cats wandering around the front courtyard alone can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to making friends. It's too easy to mentally apply of generic label of "black shorthair" to many of them and leave it at that.

But - spend a little time getting to know one of them, and the personality soon starts to shine through any notion of generic labelling. Take Zanda: still on the shy side even after being at shelter for the past 8 years (again, how many people target one of the multitude of black cats to be the object of affection and target of socialization?), he's quite comfortable around Leslie and will contentedly allow himself to be stroked by others... particularly while Leslie's nearby to keep his confidence up.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Boo Boo

Back in March, Ann took me to meet Harley's sister, Boo Boo. Although black and white rather than grey and white, Boo Boo shares her brother's eyes and they both have the same skittish look with people they don't know very well.

Since that time, Harley has progressed to running out to meet me when he sees me in the doublewide, and will sometimes even sit on my lap for a moment or two. Seeing my progress with him, the other day Ann hauled me off to go and see his sister, who I really had meant to go and get to know better earlier, but got repeatedly waylaid by other more assertively friendly cats.

Ann tells me that Boo Boo had grown quite friendly, but since has gotten kind of lost among all the friendly, outgoing cats living in the singlewide that she's started slipping back into skittishness. Not exactly progress, and so Ann hopes that Boo Boo can have a few more people seeking her out and spending a little time with her so that she doesn't forget to like people in general and not just the select few she's already used to.