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, September 29, 2010


Skouch is a regular in the team of dedicated moochers who hang around when dinner gets dished out in the doublewide.

A cheerful, friendly cat (particularly at feeding time), Skouch has been a sanctuary resident since he was around six months old. Along with a sibling, he'd originally been brought in to the SPCA. The two youngsters were too skittish to be likely adoption candidates, so, through an arrangement made that year between that shelter and ours, they were able to come and live at the sanctuary.

Skouch (left) and Shadow (right)

Anyone who's seen Skouch dive into food that's barely had a chance to make it out of the can with a gusto that rivals even Shadow's can attest that he's a shy boy no longer.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Believe it or not, this scrawny little fluffer used to be a real Persian... and will be again once his fur grows out and we fatten him up a bit.

Angelo, as he's now called, was recently found as a stray near the airport. Leslie thinks he may have escaped from the cargo hold of a plane, as sometimes happens.

When he was found, he was emaciated and his coat was all in matts. As if this wasn't enough, when he was brought to the RAPS vet, he tested positive for FIV and has diabetes.

In spite of all this, Angelo remains a total sweetheart. Sitting right by the cage door where he's ready to cuddle with anyone who might happen to stop by, he purred and purred while I stroked him and scratched under his chin. Far from hiding or hissing like some newcomers, Angelo actually seems happy and grateful to be with us.

Update October 18, 2010: Unfortunately, the combination of FIV, diabetes and malnourishment after having to fend for himself for who knows how long proved more than Angelo's little body could handle. His heart started to fail at the end of last week, necessitating a final trip to the vet to avoid prolonging the inevitable.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Cinder and his sister Ella were brought to RAPS when the sanctuary was in its second or third year. They were feral and skittish. Leslie says they had one or two long-haired siblings, one of whom was adopted by a volunteer.

Leslie quickly took to Cinder, "so handsome that he reminded [her] of purebred Russian Blue cats." She really made an effort to work with the youngster, hoping to tame him enough that he could be adopted. But it never really took, at least not as much as she'd hoped.
"He'd purr when I'd stroke him, but remained pretty uptight and standoffish. Ella, on the other hand, warmed up beautifully and would clamber onto my lap."

Even now, while Ella is love-me-love-me friendly and will readily purr and pose for attention, Cinder requires a quieter, more cautious approach if you want to make more contact than a fingertip to tail tip as he scoots away just out of reach. Take it slow, though, and you'll be able to get close enough to stroke his head and scratch behind his ears while he looks up at you with those large, expressive eyes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Update: Morresy (and too many kittens)

Remember poor, bedraggled Morresy from back in June? If not, go here for a few photos of when he first came in.

By later in the summer, his ears had healed and his fur grown in enough that he could be sent to the No. 5 Rd. shelter for adoption. I was sorry to see him go, but looked forward to writing a post-adoption, RAPS Alumni post on him.

And then on Monday night, who should I find installed back in the doublewide but Morresy.

No, no sudden behavioral problems cropped up at the other shelter. The problem turned out to be nothing to do with Morresy, but still pretty much ruined his chance of getting adopted for now.

Three words: Too. Many. Kittens.

Kitten season is apparently rather late this year and local shelters, 5 Rd. included, are finding themselves overwhelmed. The CBC even ran a story yesterday about how the Surrey SPCA is "overrun with cats." Go to www.cbc.ca for the video story.

RAPS currently has many kittens at the 5 Rd. shelter plus a few at the sanctuary and even at Carol's home. Here are a few of the ones currently at the sanctuary, where staff are working with them to tame them up a bit so they can eventually be adopted.

Unfortunately, with all these kittens it can be hard to get people interested in seriously considering one of the adult cats waiting for a forever home. And of those who are interested, there are also a whole lot of adult cats to choose from.

And so Morresy waited and waited at 5 Rd., but nobody really looked at him. Getting consistently passed over and missing the human fan club he'd enjoyed at the sanctuary too, he wasn't the happiest boy.

Now he's back at the sanctuary and couldn't be more pleased. Anyone who remembers the quivering ball of patheticness he was when he was first brought in and worked with him then can't help treating him as a special boy. Which, of course, he doesn't mind in the slightest.

He'll be sent back to 5 Rd. for another chance at adoption later on, but until then, we'll just enjoy keeping those happy purrs and paw stretches coming.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Meet Colin:

An unneutered stray, he'd been hanging around the sanctuary for a while. When he was trapped and brought in at the beginning of the month, he was agitated by his new surroundings like many new strays, so it was hard to tell how he'd be.

With a couple of weeks to settle in, it's now clear that Colin does have some experience with people. Leslie thinks he may well have come from a farm.

He dances and rubs any visitor to his cage and enthusiastically meows for his dinner. He's still working out the finer points of the proper way to respond to the hand that pets him though, so that as much as he might court a touch of the hand, you may still get the odd experimental swat for your trouble.

It's hard to hold the odd clawing against him - he so clearly doesn't mean it. During my visit with him this evening, he tried giving me a little nip on the finger, thought better of it, and proceeded to lick the spot to make up to me.

Over the course of a single visit, he went from hiding under a chair to peering at me from the corner to a comfortable lounging on his blanket, paws contentedly outstretched. He seems to be well on the way to getting the hang of this being cuddled business.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Bellatrix came to the sanctuary on Monday after spending two weeks at the vet following "surgical repair." Why? She'd been found as a stray with one of her front legs stuck in her collar. She now has a collar of the "cone" variety and is getting cage rest while she heals. As the sign on her door says, she's a little cranky right now.

Shayla, who I posted about back in April, was in the same predicament when she came to RAPS. In her case though, the leg must have been stuck a lot longer as the tissue damage was extensive enough to require a great deal of attention from animal care staff at the sanctuary. With Bellatrix, Lisa tells me, the vet did not indicate the need for this much cleaning.

Updated October 4, 2010: Sadly, Bellatrix's wound did not progress in healing as it should have. It was just too far along and, with terrible mouth ulcers on top of this, there was nothing our vet could do for her but to end her pain.
Even knowing intellectually we can't ever save them all, it never gets easier for the heart to know it.
Bellatrix, we're sorry you couldn't have come to us earlier.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lilo & Noel

8 year old Lilo and 2 year old came to RAPS as a pair, surrendered by a young woman whose circumstances were such that she could no longer afford to keep them. I hear she originally adopted the two girls from the No. 5 Road Shelter, so they are in a sense coming back to RAPS. The sanctuary is entirely new to them though, so they will take some time to adjust.

Noel, the younger of the two, is an alert, purring, wriggling ball of happy who is settling in remarkably quickly when you consider they only arrived last Saturday.

Lilo has a quieter sort of sweetness about her at the moment. She was willing engage me and allowed me to stroke her at length... but only from the inside of her carrier. I've heard she's also taking out some of her frustration on Noel, so that both cats had to be given their own sets of dry food and water dishes in different parts of the cage or Lilo wouldn't let Noel get at the food. It takes time for an 8 year old cat who's just lost her home and her human.

Updated November 23, 2010: I'm delighted to report that Lilo and Noel have been adopted by one of our volunteers!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cashew (Gunther)

Last week I passed a cage in the doublewide with a new occupant and a sign proclaiming that occupant as "VERY UNFRIENDLY!" in large letters.
Right then.

Some new arrivals are left well enough alone, and so I didn't both him further than a quick food and water swap.

This week, Leslie was able to tell me a bit about Cashew. He'd been in a smaller cage awaiting adoption at the No. 5 Rd. shelter, but turned out to be not at all the kind of cat who takes well to being caged. And he'd show his displeasure by hissing, spitting and swatting enough to make him miserable to deal with and impossible to convince any sane person to adopt. So he was sent to the sanctuary in hopes he'll be happier there.

Our ever-patient Marianne has been spending time sitting with him, so that now he thinks she's kind of OK. She's also discovered that he has a soft spot for tuna. As for the rest of the world, Cashew's still pretty suspicious. I went into his cage and sat with him for a while this evening, and was rewarded with being allowed to stroke his head and around his ears for some time. He even took a couple of treats right from my fingers. Any time I left and came back, though, it was like he'd never seen me or decided to accept me and I had to start all over.

It'll take a while to teach Cashew to trust all of us all the time rather than a select few some of the time. But, despite the spirited hiss he gave me when I walked past his cage, smiled at him and asked how he was, he doesn't seem like a bad cat. And quite possibly not even a mean cat. Time will tell.

Friday, September 10, 2010


A number of years ago, a several 4-5 month old kittens were trapped near the airport and brought to RAPS, Jenna-fur among them. Tame early on and striking-looking with her splashes of ginger amid the tabby markings, Jenna-fur had no trouble being adopted.

The family she went to along with another adopted kitty rented out a suite in their home, with which they shared a laundry area. The tenant at the time also had cats, indoor-outdoor cats, and habitually left a window open in the suite so they could come and go.

You can perhaps guess where I'm going with this...

Indeed, Jenna-fur happened to get into the laundry area one day, and was soon gone out the window. RAPS was informed, and and came out to set a trap. The owners were asked if they could help out by putting food out to encourage Jenna-fur to stay in the area, but they were reluctant to risk the side effect of encouraging raccoons to hang around. Jenna-fur was gone for three nights. Leslie told me that she and Carol were on the verge of giving up when, at last, Jenna-fur went into the trap.

They brought her back to the sanctuary, where she's been ever since.

Her wide-eyed expression if you catch her unawares may fool you into thinking she's not particularly tame and likely to swat or bolt (or one then the other), but don't let it.

She is tame and does want to know you. She may even start following you around in hopes that you'll keep the love and cuddles coming.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Billy came to the sanctuary a couple of years ago from the No. 5 Road shelter. Apparently he'd gotten himself a reputation for being a bit troublesome as a cage dweller, which made it tough to adopt him out.

Even when he was first at the sanctuary, caged once again until he had time to get his bearings, he managed to make people think twice about entering unnecessarily. And it wasn't the entry but the exit that could prove difficult, what with the grabbing and swatting. Leslie says Billy probably objected to people leaving him behind in the cage and was acting up as a result. Shannon remembers him as the first cat at the sanctuary who bit her. Gaye also remembers Billy being a swatter when he first came, though notes that he's mellowed out a lot now.

When I met him the other day, I got to see a little of both sides. It only took a few smiles and a couple of pats to lure him out from his comfy bed on top of the fridge to come and give some love. He purred, he danced, he rubbed, he sniffed and nosed at my eyes, mouth and forehead... (I hear he's a kisser)
Then he danced his way right down off the fridge, over to the dryer, and finally to a big bowl of kibble on the floor. This done, it was back to the comfy bed.

All of this is rather hard to get a good portrait shot out of, so I had to come back later and try rousing him again so I could get a couple of close-ups. To be fair, he did try to communicate to me that visiting hours were over before biting my wrist. As with most tabbies I've met, cuddle time must be arranged at a mutually agreeable time. Catch Billy when he's not already cuddled out, and he might even come out to greet you when you call his name.

Monday, September 6, 2010

RAPS Alumni: Eira

Beautiful Bengal Eira was brought to RAPS in 2006 when her owner had to return to Wales and wasn't able take her.

all photos provided by Linda

Not being a big fan of other cats at the best of times, Eira was not terribly happy to suddenly find herself at a shelter with hundreds of them. She became very depressed and wouldn't eat -- to the extent that Carol became quite worried about her welfare and was most anxious to get her placed in a home as soon as possible. On top of this, Eira soon proved herself easily a match in volume for our other resident Bengal at the time and reigning King of Loud Meows, Zulu. Between the two of them, with Eira in a cage in the doublewide and Zulu hanging out in the adjoining laundry room, nobody was going to be allowed to forget that there was a new Bengal present.

When it looked like Linda, already sponsor to a number of sanctuary cats, would now be able (thanks to a change in strata rules) to take one cat into her home, Carol - forgive the pun - pounced on the opportunity. Although willing to try and help out, Linda wasn't initially sure this would work since Eira had thus far not seemed particularly interested in her. In the end, she agreed to try taking Eira in as a foster cat so that she could at least live in a home until someone was able to adopt her permanently.

On the day Linda was supposed to take Eira home, Carol suggested trying to give Eira some of the chicken that Linda had brought for her various sponsor cats and other cat buddies in the singlewide. Eira promptly devoured practically all of it. 
Successful feeding of the cat who's been too depressed to eat: Check.

Upon arrival at Linda's home, Eira immediately set herself to the important task of Investigating.
This included checking out all the best places for high-up perching.
athletic Eira on top of the door and very pleased with herself

No hiding under the bed for this one!

That night, when Linda went to bed wondering with some trepidation what Eira had in mind to get up to between then and the morning, Eira answered the question by crawling into bed with her, cuddling up close and going to sleep.

When Linda next spoke to Carol, she was able to tell her that Eira had found her forever home. Kristen, Eira's original owner, had left contact information with Carol and was delighted to receive an email from Linda letting her know that Eira was safe and loved in her new home. Linda and Kristen have continued to keep in touch.

 "guard cat" saves Christmas

Do you have a RAPS cat sanctuary alumni living with you? Adoption or fostering, we'd love to hear the story! Just send an email to the Neko Files at nekoraps@gmail.com.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I mentioned a while back how hard it can be to tell the difference between a frightened stray and a feral just acting, well, feral. Simone is extended case of this sort of identity confusion, in that, for the longest time, no one at the sanctuary had any idea that she was tame.

Simone liked to hide out on top of the cages in the singlewide, along with all the other ferals who like to sit and stare, occasionally drawn by curiosity to the edge where they can stare more emphatically... and possibly score a treat without risking more than the bare minimum of human contact. One volunteer told me that Simone even looked similar to a few of the other ferals, so perhaps people assumed they all came in together (an assumption that turned out to be correct - see Lisa's note in the comment section at the end of this post).

It wasn't until Simone had to be caged to receive some meds that it was discovered, to the surprise and delight of all, that she was actually quite tame.

Now that her secret was out, people knew they could approach and spend time with her. This left us with one very friendly kitty. She now loves cuddles and can be expected to crawl into a lap with only the slightest provocation.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Today I had the good fortune to be introduced to Mystery. Good fortune both because she turned out to be a love, and because my being formally introduced to her by Linda helped her to trust me a lot quicker than she might have otherwise.

When Mystery first came to the sanctuary as a kitten, she and Kia were in a cage together. Mystery managed to escape the cage much earlier than staff intended, and so while Kia tamed up nicely, Mystery remained largely feral.

Linda tells me how, during her regular visits to the singlewide trailer, she would often kneel on the floor of the back porch, knowing her many cat friends there would start drifting towards her, slowly forming into a greeting line, each receiving pets in turn as they made their way past her. Mystery must have been quite curious about the proceedings, as one day she snuck into the back of the line and accepted her pets along with the rest as they walked past Linda.

Later, when Linda would sit in an armchair in the same area, Mystery starting coming to visit her there too, joining in with the other cats who'd climb up and vie for a little lap time.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I approached Mystery myself. She was sitting on a cushion high up on a shelf, so I needed to climb a ladder to get a good look at her, let alone try to make any sort of meaningful contact. I strongly suspect Linda's presence had something to do with it, but Mystery let me touch her right away. Soon, she was quite happily rubbing her head against my hand and purring away.