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.
This pretty, wide-eyed girl has been described by Doug as "one of the fastest cats in the sanctuary."
She was trapped as a little kitten by Carol and Lisa along with her siblings Domino and Gus Gus and their mother, shy feral Joanie. Lisa remembers them from that time as "a wily bunch" and that it took "many long hours over the course of about a week to catch them all." The father of this little cat family is our handsome Hudson, trapped around the same time and with a similar amount of effort.
Debbie describes the now grown-up Hope as a cat who is "very sweet and loves to be petted, but does not like being picked up."
He's another one who came to us FIV positive and he was among the first group of cats to be moved to the New AIDS building when it was constructed. Leslie remembers how he had to be housed in a cage in the Connor building for a short time before moving to his new home, as he was friendly enough with humans that staff didn't want to put him in the back pen for feral FIV cats.
Big, fluffy Harry Potter came to us +FIV and minus one eye.
How these things came to happen to this sweetie of a cat who loves cuddles is unknown. As not many shelters have facilities to house FIV cats, RAPS is sometimes asked by another rescue group in the metro Vancouver are to take over the care of a cat. Lisa and Leslie believe Harry Potter may have come to us from one of these groups.
When I first met white & black cutie Kris back in December, she was a new arrival at the sanctuary and something of an unknown quantity. She has since turned out to be quite the feisty girl.
Invade her space and she'll respond with aggressive grunting and lunging. Attempts to remove the cage divider separating her from our other rabbit, Kringle, have so far resulted in Kris just being a big meanie. Even with the divider in place, she's been known on at least one occasion to steal his bedding, grabbing a corner of his blanket and pulling the whole thing over to her side.
Never having heard of bunny aggression outside of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and its Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, Kris's conviction that I would be easily cowed by her huffing, puffing and swatting certainly caught my attention. Gaye showed me how to safely get close enough to pet Kris by reaching up and over to approach her head from above. This done, she quietly submits to being stroked for as long as you care to do so.
She also responds well to treats... unless all you've got to offer is her usual bowl of rabbit kibble. My attempts to do anything with that bowl, including fill it, just get it angrily smacked out of my hand.
I'm told that her aggressive tendencies may have something to do with the fact that she was only spayed shortly before coming to us. There's been some hope that once her hormones have completely stabilized she'll settle down a bit.
If that isn't enough to tame the demon bunny, we'll just have to work on winning her over like we do with our crankier feline new arrivals (Grizzy or Gunther anyone?) and slowly teach her to trust us.
It's good information to know, as ignorance that rabbits can even exhibit this kind of behavior and a poor understanding of how to help them stop it is one reason the animals get surrendered to shelters once they've matured from cute little babies into more challenging young adults.
Cats are sometimes named after the location they were trapped, in this case around the parking lot of a paint company of River Road in Richmond... presumably near the CEO's parking spot.
She's a bit timid and may hiss when approached, but even with my big scary camera she did eventually consent to being stroked and tickled under the chin. Gaye says a little gift of chicken helps a lot in getting past her defenses.
Paulo belongs to the family of front courtyard cats made up of mom Val and siblings Foxy, Latte, Savannah and Fury. They were trapped by Val Jones on North Fraser Harbour Commission Property (read the 2010-05-17 post on Val for the full story).
Paulo's distinguishing feature is his big, round, dark rimmed eyes which give him something of a deer in the headlights expression.
When Luigi first came to the RAPS sanctuary, he was living in the front courtyard area. He had what Leslie describes as "a water fetish," delighting in splashing his paws in the large water dishes set out for the cats. When he'd had enough, he'd wander off to use a litter box, resulting in so much of the clumping litter stuck to his legs that staff would have to step in. I hear the trips to the sink to wash all the litter out of his fur and from between his toes were a delight for all involved... Not so much.
These days Luigi has moved from the front yard to the back. He had apparently campaigned so much to get into this area that had been previously barred to him that staff eventually decided to give in and let him have his way. He can often be found on a comfy perch in the doublewide where he can easily attract the attention of passersby when he's in the mood for a cuddle.
Give him a little of the requested attention and you'll be rewarded with not only some quality cuddles in return, but an impressive repertoire of upside down and sideways cat poses that can be highly entertaining.
Huckle, a petite black shorthair missing the tip of her left ear, came to RAPS around 5 years ago.
Previously, the little feral had been living under an elderly woman's porch. When the woman had to move and would no longer be able to feed her, our volunteer webmaster at the time brought Huckle to live at the sanctuary.
Being a feral, Huckle was never particularly into being touched. Imagine Leslie's surprise, then, when today Huckle accepted and enjoyed a lengthy cuddle. In hindsight, Leslie wondered if the smell of Tuna on her hands at the time might have had something to do with it... I say a breakthrough is a breakthough.
Unfortunately no such breakthrough to be made tonight with photography... Huckle may have decided she may possibly be amendable to the odd tickle behind the ears, but she's not quite graduated to showy posing.
When I wrote about Orlean back in December, we were lucky to touch a fingertip to her nose before the skittish stray would give a swat or just zip off under a shelf. Leslie maintains that she really does want to be friendly, but just hasn't quite learned to trust us enough yet.
In holdout cases such as this, sometimes a small amount of trickery is needed in order for a breakthrough to occur.
On Monday night, Orlean was showing off for a few cats she's made friends with. She'd just managed to get one of them to wash her rear end and was feeling pretty pleased with herself when I took advantage of a moment's distraction and reached down to stroke her back and give her a scratch by the base of her tail. In the few moments it took her to realize this additional attention did not come from one of her cat friends, she quite unreservedly enjoyed the cuddles.
Then she turned around. And proceeded to tell me off - sitting back on her hind legs and lightly whapping at me with both front paws while delivering a series rapid-fire offended meows - before scooting off out of sight.
I went back to the work I'd been doing. When I happened to look around a few minutes later, there she was, sitting a short distance away, watching me with curiosity.
I managed to get in a few more quick flyby strokes over the next hour or so. Each time she'd scoot off, and each time she'd be back a short time after, come to check out what I was doing.
This friendly boy introduced himself to me a couple of weeks ago by way of a gentle pawing as I walked by the shelf where he was sitting.
He proved easy to cuddle and we quickly hit it off. Slightly more challenging to photograph though, as I've found to be so often the case with cats who aren't the least bit interested in posing when they could be weaving around your legs or getting tickled behind the ears.
Not to be confused with the similarly named Squeaks (he of the adorably distinctive meow), it's hard to say how Squeakers came by his name, as he came with it when he was surrendered to RAPS due to inappropriate peeing.