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, November 29, 2010


Tootsie is a skinny, deaf little thing who generally acts quite oblivious to both things.

Tootsie was surrendered to RAPS at about the age of 5. The hearing loss which had occurred prior to this had made her so anxious that she began to pee everywhere and often in the home where she was living, to the point that it was impossible to continue keeping her there.

Currently around 12 years old, she looks older due to a thyroid condition (hence the skinny). Leslie says she sometimes gets likened to the Energizer bunny for the way that, despite her age and her health problems, she just keeps going and going.

Updated February 18, 2012: This weekend, we had to say good-bye to this loveable old girl. We'll miss you, sweet funny girl.

Friday, November 26, 2010


2 year old Shasta came in at the same time as Marmalade and for much the same reason - she apparently bites.

With Shasta, though, caution seems to be required more with the initial approach than the exit from her cage. As the sign on her door says, she's a little anxious.

In the couple times I went in to visit her earlier this week, on one I got rubs and the other I got a defensive smack. Early days yet though... September arrival Colin, who slapped me for weeks while caged, now follows me around joyfully trying to headbutt my knees.

As always with a new arrival, RAPS staff are working on learning Shasta's likes and dislikes and trying to help her feel less anxious about her environment. So far, they've been able to add chicken to the list of enthusiastic likes.

Updated January 2012: Shasta has sadly, and suddenly, left us to go to the rainbow bridge. She turned out to be one of those cats who had a hidden illness that didn't show itself until it was much too late to do anything for her.
In the little over a year we got to know her, she did become more confident about her surroundings, though not considerably less cranky when it came to dealing with what she felt to be too many other cats. She did come to enjoy the odd pat from her human carers at the sanctuary, but I think what I'll always remember most about her is the way she would claim an entire large plate of wet food for herself at dinner time and growl with righteous indignation at any cat who dared to try and share.
Will miss ya, feisty girl.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Marmalade (II)

Marmalade is one of two cats recently moved to the sanctuary from the No. 5 Rd. shelter, where he couldn't be adopted out because he bites.

It's too bad, because he's a beautiful can and, the odd chomp aside, very friendly.

When I went to visit him in his cage in the doublewide the other night, he welcomed me with such a vigorous cat dance that it was all I could do to get him to hold still long enough to take his picture. Then came purring, trilling, rubbing and lap-sitting. He even gave me a few licks for good measure.

Cuddly, friendly, responsive... but not so happy about being left alone. As I opened the cage door just enough to slip through and started to leave, he realized what was happening, impulsively grabbed a pinch of skin on the back of my hand between his teeth and was reluctant to let go. No grouchiness or meanness in it, he just didn't want to be left alone.

It'll take some time for us to figure out if this is the only thing that sets him off. In the meantime, particularly while he's confined to a cage, I hope people will take time to visit and give him some love. He really does appreciate it. Just be careful about getting him all loved up and then leaving too abruptly, as he may rather strongly object...

Monday, November 22, 2010


Baxter is another one of those cats who it's hard to photograph without including in the shot one's own feet. In other words, he's a friendly boy.

Baxter came to the sanctuary from the SPCA, part of the same arrangement between shelters that brought us Skouch. I found out from Lisa that Baxter is in fact the last cat we got from the SPCA.

photo by Michele

Lisa adds that "he was supposed to be feral but was in fact sweet from the moment he arrived to the point of carol even calling them to make sure we had the right cat!"

Anyone visiting him in the New AIDS building (yes, he's FIV positive) would do a similar double take at the word "feral" when applied to Baxter. Not simply tame, he's just so downright personable.

On her Flickr page, Barbara describes Baxter as "so big and loving, he always runs over for attention." He was usually the first cat she would see each week when she came out to volunteer.

photo by Barbara

photo by Barbara

Friday, November 19, 2010

Zoe (II)

One of my favorite photos taken by fellow volunteer Michele is this wonderful shot of Zoe, a pretty grey and white girl from the front yard.

photo by Michele

That's one contented kitty!

Zoe wasn't always so happy and relaxed. When I asked Debbie about her story, she said Zoe arrived at RAPS pregnant with the latest of many litters. Her hormones were so messed up when she came in that she got herself a nasty habit of attacking the ankles of passers by. There were suggestions that she might be renamed Cruella DeVille....

Fortunately, a change of name turned out to be unnecessary. After Zoe had her kittens and was spayed, she lost the need to perpetrate these random acts of clawing and turned into, as Debbie says, "a rather sweet cat."

photo by Barbara

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The occasional drama queen aside, cats are often described as relatively low-maintenance pets compared to dogs. Even so, there's a bit more to looking after an absent friend or family member's cat over an extended period of time than there is to watering their ornamental bamboo or spider plant.

Sound obvious? Read on and meet Benson, who suffered years of benign neglect in a home where he just wasn't particularly wanted.

Marianne tells the story:
"Benson had belonged to a young man who decided to go travelling. He left Benson in the care of his parents, who really weren't very fond of cats. The young man's travels extended to many years, which Benson spent mostly ignored and unloved with the parents, who fed him and housed him but that was about all. He spent his time alone inside a room at their home. No doubt, he became depressed and somewhat unsociable.
A sympathetic friend of the family took pity on Benson and arranged for him to be brought to RAPS. He started out at the No. 5 Road shelter, but wasn't adopted from there... so was transferred to the cat sanctuary. 
When he arrived, he was billed as a nice older boy, which he certainly appeared to be until : a) you tried to leave his cage or b) when another cat came too close. Then he would growl, hiss and lash out at whatever or whoever was nearest, human or feline. Long after being released from his cage, he remained a loner, preferring to spend his time outside, between the gates between front and back courtyard, no matter what the weather
 photo by Michele
When he developed a chronic runny nose, he was provided with his own cage in the Newcomers area, where he spends the nights warm and dry. During the daytime, he roams around the back courtyard. 
A few dedicated volunteers (especially Phaedra) and a 2010 summer student, Vanessa, have bonded with Benson and their efforts have been rewarded. He's much calmer and a lot more willing to share his space with other cats. Although still not always lovey-dovey, he's extremely affectionate and even cuddly when he has someone's attention one-to-one.
He really needs a home and would make a perfect cat for a quiet, patient person who had lots of time to devote to him."
Benson & Phaedra
photo by Marianne

Benson & Vanessa
photo by Marianne

Benson is indeed an affectionate cat when shown a little love. We didn't know each other all that well when I went to visit him in his cage recently, but he soon climbed out of his bed to greet me and was before long alternating between marching back and forth so I could stroke him from all angles and coming in close for a little face time and a forehead lean.

photo by Vanessa

photo by Vanessa

Monday, November 15, 2010


We've got our share of classically beautiful, photogenic cats at the sanctuary. And, while I just don't feel right calling any cat ugly, there are some who could safely be described, not without affection, as kind of goofy looking.

Meet Randy.

This senior cat is FIV positive and lives in the New AIDS building. His right eye has a blown out pupil and he's had enough tooth extractions over time that his tongue tends to slide out between his gums and loll to one side. Add to this a purring, lightly drooling look of love and the result is an endearingly goofy expression.

Interestingly, Randy only turned into a purring love seeker after coming to the sanctuary. Before that, he'd been living at a RAPS feeding site for years, first fed by Carol and then by a volunteer named Louise. When Louise passed away a number of years ago, Carol had Randy brought to the sanctuary to be looked after.

Having spent most of his life living in the bushes and having only limited contact with humans, Randy was not used to being touched and initially wasn't comfortable with people getting too close to him. Over time, though, staff and volunteers got him used to human contact. Now, he can be quite disappointed if visitors to the New AIDS don't include him in their visit list.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Garrity is a senior semi-feral cat who I got to meet because she's been given a cage in the doublewide where she's under observation following some weight loss.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I first went in her cage to give her dinner and refresh her water, but was pleasantly surprised to find she's quite a sweetie. She's a little nervous when first approached, but soon gives herself over to being softed and even start up a pretty decent purr.

On Monday, when famous med cage interloper and med staff leg-clawer Spike had been confined to a another cage by a frustrated Leslie, he found himself bunking with Garrity. Interestingly (and rather endearingly), both cats decided to embrace the arrangement and were soon contently sharing a blanket and allowing me to stroke them both at once.

I was interested in the origins of the name "Garrity," as it's an unusual one. Marianne remembers when the little cat arrived at the sanctuary several years ago, she would get sometimes get referred to as "that ugly dark tortie." Thinking this hardly seemed right, she gave her the name of someone she used to know who had been so-named "because her last name was Smith and her parents wanted her to have a distinctive first name." Marianne says she always thought it was a great name and "somehow suited the little cat."

Garrity used to hiss when approached, but Marianne agrees she's turned into a sweetie who's "still a bit shy but fast on the purr when given some gentle pats."

Updated April 18, 2011: Her health finally failing her, Garrity left us today. She was a sweetheart and will be missed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I was introduced to Tiaz as a cat who may be almost as big as Rita was when she came in last summer.

Tia arrived at the sanctuary last week, brought in by people who said she was a stray they'd been feeding but couldn't anymore.

I'm suspecting she must have had some bad matts in her fur that needed taking care of when RAPS took over her care, as when she stood up from her bed to get a little further away from my scary big camera and the accompanying flash, this is the view I was treated to:

Even without having a camera pointed at her, Tiaz is still pretty uncertain about her new surroundings and the humans that come with them. If I approached very quietly and gently, she did let me present a finger tip for a brief sniff. But there ended the interview.

For now, anyway.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Debbie has just introduced me to a cat she's fallen in love with. And no wonder - Kaslo is both lovable and loving.

What is a cause for wonder is why Kaslo is friendly at all, let along a little lovebug that will sit in a stranger's lap more readily than my own cats will sit in mine.

Kaslo is thought to be around seven months old and grew up under a bush at a feeding site that Debbie visits. She's known Debbie since she was around six weeks old. Recognizing Debbie's voice, she'd appear at the promise of food only to run away again if approached.

Trapped and spayed and brought to the sanctuary, most cats (tame strays as well as ferals) would want to hide for as long as permitted in the carrier left in the cage with them. For Kaslo, before long she was out of the carrier and sitting next to it, trying to get a look at any cats to be seen through the cage door.

She allows herself to be stroked, not just by Debbie, but by anyone at the sanctuary. She likes playing with her toys. She's interested in the other cats and still spends time sitting on the floor by the door of her cage for some cat-watching.

She was a little uncertain about Debbie picking her up, but trusted her enough to let herself be held without the mad flailing that a lot of older, tamer cats engage in while they get used to the idea of this whole being cuddled business. I got a similar reaction when I scooped her up and set her in my lap. She started by looking up at me with big wide "?" eyes and finished stretched out and happily kneading the air.

All this from a young [semi]feral who lived under a bush.

Debbie says Kaslo should be quite adoptable, but recommends her to people who have experience with feral cats and who will be certain to keep her indoors.

Friday, November 5, 2010


This big orange stray inherited his name from Patterson Road where he was found.

A couple had been feeding him in their yard for a number of months. They even asked RAPS to neuter him with the idea that he could continue living around their house.

When an unfortunate appearance by a raccoon caused Patterson to take fright and scratch the woman, she promptly rethought the arrangement and decided she would prefer RAPS to take him.

And we love him already. Tough to photograph when I visited him earlier this week because of a strong tendency to stand on or near my feet and purr, Patterson went on to celebrate our meeting with a little dance punctuated by a headbutt or two.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Sasha is such a pretty girl that her picture is featured on the cat sanctuary home page.

photo provided by RAPS

Many who see her feel an urge to snap a picture or two, a burden she accepts most gracefully. Sometimes she even seems to put some thought into striking the prettiest pose.

 photo by Barbara Doduk

But the deal ends there. There is to be no touching of the cat, thank you very much.

Sasha came to RAPS as a kitten, but she never really lost her skittishness around people. She is the sister of Riley from the front courtyard, who, in contrast to Sasha, is tame and friendly enough that he was able to go and live with one of our former volunteers... at least until he developed an unfortunate habit of peeing where he shouldn't and had to be returned to the sanctuary.

Sasha has remained, for me anyway, a look-but-don't-touch kitty. Has anyone else had luck getting more than a fingertip to nosetip before she scoots off to a safer distance?

Monday, November 1, 2010


Katie was found with her kittens hear Alfred's farm, says the sign on the door of her cage in the doublewide.

She's tame, but was scared enough when she first came in at the end of September that she could have been mistaken by some for a feral. By now, she's settled in enough that it doesn't take much more than a smile and a few soft words to bring out a solid purr and get her rubbing her face against her blanket in anticipation of being stroked.

Give her the love she asks for, and she's a very happy girl.

Updated November 2010: Katie has gone to the No. 5 Road shelter to give her a chance to be adopted.