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, March 30, 2011


Kiddie and his sister Sadie have lived at RAPS for most of their near decade of life. They don't go out of their way to spend time together, and so it was only quite recently that I found out they were related.

I often come across Kiddie in the Doublewide, particularly if Carol's granddaughter Simone is around. Kiddie is very fond of Simone and comes running when he hears her voice. He's a chatty boy when she's there and seems to enjoy playful tugs on his tail from Simone almost as much as Josie adores being slapped on the rump by Doug.

I asked Simone what made her and Kiddie hit it off so. She remembers being at the sanctuary 5 or 6 years ago and noticing that nobody seemed to like Kiddie much. He didn't like to be picked up or cuddled, but what he did like to do was run around to places staff had just finished cleaning and anoint the freshly cleaned surfaces with pee. This became frustrating enough for staff that they made a habit of simply ejecting him from the building.

photo by Barbara

Simone felt bad for the frequently unwelcome Kiddie and offered him her friendship. And he loves her for it. He even lets her pick him up and hold him.

photo by Barbara

Monday, March 28, 2011


Mimi was fed and looked out for as a stray by longtime RAPS volunteers Barbara and Waldi. When Mimi's advancing years made it necessary to provide her with access to more care, they brought her to the sanctuary to live.

These days Mimi likes to spend her time on a comfy shelf by the door of the doublewide. She's tucked away there, which she seems to like. She came to my notice when she started to pop her head out around feeding time, drawn by the smell of the wet food being prepared on the table next to her.

On days when I had a little wet food left over after feeding the caged cats, I'd make up a little dish for her, which she seemed to appreciate in a quiet, old girl kitty way.

This week she popped her head out early on, and so I gave right then her a little food offering from one of the large plates I always put together at the start of the evening. She was quite responsive....

She even climbed up on the table where I was working, purred at me for a while, and helped herself to another of the plates I was putting together.

For some cats, the way to the heart really is through the stomach.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Written by guest blogger Martha Farnalls

When Ben first sauntered over to me in the new AIDS building with his awkward walk, his snuffly nose, and his permanent head tilt looking for a good scratchy-scratch behind the ears, I knew I’d met one very special cat in one very special place. Despite his Quasimodoish appearance, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with this laid back charmer.

photo by Martha

In his younger days, Ben lived on a farm where the people misguidedly thought they could force him to be a dedicated mouser. He was brought to RAPS when it was felt he might enjoy a better life at the sanctuary. Seeing Ben in action, you can see that he flourishes in a place like RAPS where his social nature can be nurtured. It seems whenever I go into the new AIDS building, I find Ben laying quietly with another cat, at least until I sit down, then its lap time.

Ben and Fergus
photo by Martha

Being a confirmed lap cat, Ben politely makes his way to my lap while keeping the other cats at bay with the occasional swat across the nose. Although he doesn’t like to share when it comes to laps, Ann told me that Ben has an empathetic side and has often been found sleeping with other cats who were sick or dying as if offering some kind of comfort. Somehow, he seems to know who needs him. 

photo by Martha

I’ve read many stories about cats, dogs and other animals that can sense physical or emotional sickness. Cats are frequently described as aloof and independent creatures, but when you take the time to really get to know a cat, you often find that this description is largely unjustified, and such is the case with Ben. When I go to the sanctuary every Wednesday night after work weighted with the stress of my day, it only seems natural to be drawn to a cat like Ben. After a good cuddle, I feel lighter than air.

Update by Claire, November 1, 2011: Sadly, Ben has now left us, having passed away in his sleep on Sunday.  After easing the passing of others, I'm glad that he had a gentle passing himself.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Katie came to RAPS as a kitten, one of the many "urban barn" cats rescued by the society in 2009. Many of these kittens went to the No. 5 Road shelter where they could receive care and be adopted out. There were so many kittens, though, that not all found forever homes before they grew up into cats.

Katie was one of the ones not chosen, and so she was brought to live at the sanctuary. Living in the "No. 5 Road pen" in the back section of the sanctuary, I didn't even know she was there until this past week when she was brought inside to look after a cold.

Meeting her, it doesn't take long to see that not yet finding an adoptive home is no fault of hers. Katie is responsive, affectionate, and generally adorable. I can't wait to visit with her more and get to know her better. What I'd love even more, though, is to hear that someone has fallen in love with her who can take her home and spend time with her seven days a week.

Monday, March 21, 2011


This gentle old soul is thought to be around 16. He was adopted/fostered out from the No. 5 Road shelter some time ago, but is now back with us for good.

Mack was living in his humans' office space together with another cat. Last year, the other cat passed away, leaving Mack alone. The people who'd been caring for him must have decided he'd be better off back with RAPS, and so he's come to live in the Kitten Trailer - aka The Gericatrics' - at the sanctuary.

He's a nice boy and, though he's still adjusting to the idea of calling this place home, is quite ready to respond to a gentle touch with a quiet purr.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Clover is one of the more recent arrivals at the sanctuary. She's an old girl with a heart of gold and a what sounds like a lifetime smoker's rasp of a meow.

When Ann picked her up from the routine vet check-up cats get before coming to the sanctuary, she wasn't sure if Clover would need some quiet time to adjust to her new home. Clover responded by climbing right out of her carrier, settling herself down on a comfy spot in her cage, and looking back at her human minder as if to say, "Yes, this will do."

As the sign on the door to her cage says:
Friendly. Love her up.
A reward will be provided in purrs.

Updated September 2011: Sadly, this old girl is no longer with us. We're glad we got to know her and give her a safe place to spend her final months.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


At last, with the help of Debbie, I've been able to track down the black cat of Val's family in the front courtyard.

Meet Fury:

He, along with mom Val and siblings Foxy, Latte and Savannah were trapped by Val Jones on North Fraser Harbour Commission Property (read the 2010-05-17 post on Val for the full story).

Fury's less comfortable around people than his cuddly tabby mom, at least with people he doesn't know. Still, he was gracious enough to allow these few photos and the presentation of a fingertip to sniff before declaring the audience at an end.

Monday, March 14, 2011


By popular request, here's the brother of Hope and Gus Gus and son of Hudson and Joanie.

Meet Domino.

He's shier than his friendly siblings, at least with people he doesn't know. I was permitted to look and take pictures, but not to touch.

Debbie, who introduced us, says she calls him Charlie Brown Cat because the markings across his nose remind her of the black pattern running across Charlie Brown's t-shirt.

photo by Barbara

Friday, March 11, 2011


Mistletoe came to the sanctuary in November of last year. For the longest time, this was the view I saw of her:

She was only 5-6 months old when she came in and so scared that RAPS staff couldn't be sure if she was feral or had formerly been tame. After a while, someone put a note up on her cage door saying that she liked to be scratched if approached slowly and quietly.

Recently, she's started peeking out from her hiding spots long enough to make me think it may be time to give this scratching thing a try.

It took some time sitting on the floor of her cage, scrunched up against her litterbox, before I could get her to relax from a tense look of horror into something a little more relaxed and, at last a rub and a purr. Definitely worth the time and embedded kitty litter.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Ralph is the brother of Bobby, with whom he was trapped as a kitten on a farm along No. 9 Rd. He's remained at the sanctuary because he developed an unfortunate habit of peeing where he shouldn't.

Like is brother, Ralph's a sweet, friendly boy.
Maybe even friendlier... as I discovered when my smiles and strokes were welcomed with an attempt to scale my leg for a better cuddle. He kept it up all the while I was trying to get a close-up shot:

So I'll have to present one of Barbara's shots for a close-up.

photo by Barbara

This is not to say that our Ralphie is a no manners kind of friendly like Sadie or Prince. Most of the time when you encounter him in the front yard, you'll find him a pretty laid back guy.

photo by Barbara

And of course he can often be found in the company of his brother who he loves loves loves, Bobby.

Monday, March 7, 2011


The following is the only known photographic evidence of the fabled Loch Ness Kitteh:


What I do have is real photographic evidence of a confirmed sighting of an elusive sanctuary cat whose existence I'd begun to have cause to question.

After I got to know Harley and later sister Boo Boo, Ann told me about the third sibling, a shy boy named Yogi. He lives in the back yard, she told me, and looks less like his brother and sister than he does like Huey with a tail.

Yogi is fond of Ann and will come trotting out when she calls him. Except when there's a stranger around. Me, for example.

After a number of failed attempts over many months, I couldn't help teasing Ann, suggesting perhaps this might be a feline of the mythical variety.

Then one day recently she was fortunate enough to capture Yogi on camera. And, unlike the cheerfully doctored photo at the beginning of the post, this one's the real deal.

photo by Ann

Has anyone else managed to get a picture of Yogi? If so, send it along to nekoraps(at)gmail.com and I'll post it on the blog.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Bobby and I met on Monday night as I was passing through the front courtyard on the way to the doublewide. He was a little uncertain about the intentions of this strange human approaching him where he'd been sitting, minding his own business, on the porch of the Connor building, but his reservations were quickly overcome and some serious following, weaving, ankle rubs and headbutts ensued.

In short, a very sweet boy.

Bobby was trapped as a kitten along with his brothers Ralph and Norbert on a farm along No. 9 Road in Richmond. Norbert was adopted by Debbie, while the other two brothers remain at the sanctuary. Bobby had a problem with his knee that kept him off the adoption list fairly early.

Having remained close friends with his brother Ralphie, Bobby doesn't come across as the least bit unhappy to be living at the sanctuary. Marianne wrote about the pair in the February edition of the RAPSity News, in an article appropriately titled Love, Love, Love.

 Ralphie & Bobby
photo provided by RAPS

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


When Leslie told me that Joanie, the shy feral mom of Hope and Gus Gus, could be found in the tearoom, I was doubtful of being able to even find her to get a proper look at her, let alone snap a clear picture.

I was pleasantly surprised to find her really very gracious about the whole thing. There was to be no touching, of course, and she'd lean as far away from me as she could with an expression of faint horror if I slowly extended a fingertip in her direction, but she felt secure enough to let me take as many pictures as I wanted and even stroke the cat sharing a basket with her.

With this willingness to at least breathe the same air as the scary humans, I wonder if she'll come around in time to thinking of us as potential friends. Perhaps a little chicken or tuna bribery is in order...