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, April 29, 2011


Written by guest blogger Martha Farnalls

I was introduced to Sweetie last Wednesday night when Ann insisted I come meet a cat in the single wide that she knew I would adore.  We found Sweetie on top of the cages having his dinner, but even the appeal of a nice meal wasn’t enough to hold him back from us when the prospect of strokes and cuddles was presented. 

Sweetie & Ann
photo by Martha

Indeed, he is aptly named and is certainly a sweetie.  His sole aim was to get in as close as possible to us and go for the head butt.  I had to be quick on the draw with the camera. Despite his decrepit appearance, he strutted his stuff like he was the George Clooney of the cat world.

photo by Martha

Sweetie came to RAPS in 2007 along with Ebony, Tabby and Mama Jane who was eventually adopted.  Sweetie’s owner had been placed in a nursing home and these cats were living outside and being fed by a neighbour until finally they were brought to RAPS. 
With age, he has lost a lot of weight and muscle mass and looks as fragile as a snowflake in June.  But it seems he hasn’t lost any of his spirit or spunk judging by the ferocity with which he attacked his food dish and the tenacity with which he loved us up.

photo by Martha

When I showed a friend of mine Sweetie’s picture, she said he reminded her of “Bill the Cat” in the comic strip Bloom County. Yes indeed I would have to agree with her on that one – all he needs is a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and a douse with orange paint, and he would be the spitting image.  ACK! 

Bill the Cat
photo by Dylan Ashe

Updated December 2, 2011 by Claire:  We very sadly lost Sweetie last week. He was a well-loved boy who totally lived up to his name. He'll be missed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

RAPS Pepsi Refresh Project

Great news - RAPS has been accepted into the next Pepsi Refresh cycle!

From May 1 through June 30, RAPS will be in the running for $25,000. You can help by voting for RAPS on www.refresheverything.ca every day from May 1.

In lieu of a sanctuary cat story today, I'm presenting the beautiful RAPS poster in support of this project. Because success in this project could lead to a whole lot of happy cat - and dog - stories to come.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Sylar came to the sanctuary at the beginning of March after having been trapped in East Richmond as an unneutered male.

So far, this is what we usually see of him:

He's still pretty angry about his surroundings and humans in general, so any entry into his cage causes him to hiss and spit with gusto from the safety of his crate on the shelf of the cage.

He feels a bit less threatened if viewed from the cage next door, where he's not so worried that we might try to get at him.

It'll probably take him a while before he can believe we might potentially be trusted. For now, it would be nice to see him even just a little more relaxed and less in a hates-the-world frame of mind.

Stay tuned.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Coming to RAPS after being trapped at a stray in the UBC area, Claudine is one of those tame-but-timid cats from the back yard of the sanctuary that many people don't often get a chance to know until they're brought inside for some manner of medical treatment.

I got to meet Claudine because she caught a cold. Timid as advertised, she initially hid behind the blanket set up as a privacy screen in one corner of her cage, but soon emerged when she realized that a) I wasn't going to eat her and b) she was going to get to eat the wet food I'd brought in with me.

On a second visit later that evening, I wasn't as successful in luring her out from behind the curtain, and she made it quite clear she didn't care for my big camera, but she was more than happy to interact with quiet purrs and rubs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


It's been over a year since front courtyard kitty Esme introduced herself to me and became one of my favorites. This week, I finally met her sister, Abby. The two have been at RAPS since they were kittens

While Esme chose a series of prances, weaves and tail waves to charm me, Abby opted more for a what I could only call a deluxe cat wriggle.

If you want to seek out this pretty girl for yourself, look for the small tabby with a shortish tail and a friendly, inquisitive face.

Monday, April 18, 2011


This pretty front courtyard girl is one of the originals at RAPS. Faline was brought in as a kitten when the shelter first started over a decade ago and was one of the first inhabitants of what was then the kitten room.

She's friendly and enjoys attention from human visitors, but what I see her doing most often, particularly when the sun comes out, is contentedly sunbathing on the warm tiles of the front courtyard and just generally enjoying her domain.
Having lived there all her life, the sanctuary really is her home.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Eightball, then named Bear, and her sister Mousie were surrendered to RAPS when the couple they lived with divorced.


Mousie, 2009
photo by Phaedra

Mousie has since passed away. Phaedra describes her as "like her sister with her cute looks but not so much with the sweet nature." Even though Mousie was not terribly tolerant of other cats, she did find a good friend in Phaedra.

Eightball is easy to get along with. She can also be quite the entertaining cuddler, performing on occasion the Eightball dance, which Ann refers to as "the 8 ball in the side pocket."  Apparently, if you imagine the little black cat having sweetspots along her side in the rough position of pool table pockets and you scratch her side accordingly, she will respond with great enthusiasm.

I haven't hit the spot yet, but Phaedra's managed to get quite the little happy cat wriggle going in this video:

Even with her small size and cuddly personality, Eightball's no pushover. Sanctuary volunteer John has noticed her ability to somehow take over any sleeping spot she wishes, regardless of any other cat thinking they had some prior claim.

It was just this, in fact that caused me to finally run afoul of volatile Baby.

I was stroking Eightball, which she liked, before I moved across the tearoom to take some photos of Joanie where she was sleeping on the table. Baby was snoozing on a chair by the door. While taking pictures, I must have backed a bit closer to the chair (my guard foolishly down because the demon-Baby appeared dormant). What I didn't take into account was Eightball following me across the room and then deciding that perhaps she would like to sit on the nice chair by the door.

Before I know it, Baby, now suddenly wide awake, is lunging at my leg, I'm bleeding, he and I are yelling at each other, and little Eightball is sitting blithely in the middle of what had been Baby's chair.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mary (II)

I was introduced to Mary earlier this month by Gaye. With formerly shy Orlean now following me around and meowing at me until I pick her up and drape her purring self over my shoulder, I'm ready to take on a new challenge. Gaye recommended Mary as a good candidate for some extra attention.

While interested in what the humans moving around her may be up to, Mary's still quite shy and ready to scoot away at a moment's notice if anyone gets closer than she's comfortable with.

Some people have been able to get close enough to touch the tip of her nose, but so far that's about all she's prepared to permit. Since she's only just met me, I haven't yet been allowed even this close, but she was curious enough about me that she was content to sit peering at me, just safely out of reach, as I took a number of photos of her.

The next time I met her, I was able to get a little closer through the presentation of a food offering. As is apparent from her rounded silhouette, she does like her food.
Let's see if we can get her into the idea of liking a few cuddles too.

Monday, April 11, 2011


photo by Barbara

Dustin, Dixie and Delia came to RAPS a decade ago as tiny feral kittens, shy and wide-eyed, ears flattened sideways against their heads ("airplane ears") as they took in the scary humans moving around outside their cage.

As they grew older, Dixie became the tamest of the three and was adopted by a person who adored her. When he went on a trip to visit family, he took her with him. While away, taking fright of something and leaping out of the arms of whoever had been holding her, Dixie zipped out an open door and was never seen again.

Brother Dustin stayed at the shelter but sadly passed away last December.

 Dustin (right) and friend Travis
Travis is also very sadly no longer with us
photo by Barbara

Delia is still with us. It took some time for her to become tame. Even now, if taken by surprise, particularly by someone she doesn't know well, she may let out a defensive hiss as she assesses the threat. Approached slowly, though, and she soon relaxes into purrs and rubs.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Lily came to the RAPS sanctuary at the end of March via the No. 5 Road shelter, where she'd been surrendered because her owner was moving.

Such a change in company and surroundings can be hard on a 12 year old cat and, as the sign on the door of her cage warns, Lily is "extremely stressed!"

When I went to visit her earlier this week, she seemed a little confused as to how to respond. It was like she wanted to make friends, even coming forward to greet me, but then she would suddenly remember she's in a strange place surrounded by strangers. And then she'd suddenly be swatting me out of her personal space.

Still, she looks like she has the potential to be a pretty neat girl once she gets over the shock of the new environment and begins to adjust to shelter life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Update: Tiaz, Chloe and Wonder

When I first met Tiaz, she was very large and very angry. She can still be a pretty grumpy kitty these days, but is looking much slimmer. She now lives in the "Gericatrics" area, but Catherine regularly takes her out to one of the back pens and has her run around a bit. The wonders of diet and exercise!

For many cats at the sanctuary weight loss is bad sign, but for cats like Tiaz it's a good thing to see.

Now, if we can make a little more progress on the grumpiness front...

Chloe hasn't been having the best time of it at the sanctuary. She did slowly get used to the idea of people touching her sometimes, but she never did relax into her environment.  

I apologize for not having a more recent photo of Chloe to include with this post (these two are from last April and September), but with some weight loss (here not the good kind) and ear hematomas in recent months, she hasn't been looking her best.

Happily, she's now gone home to live with the same volunteer who took Lilo and Noel. With any luck, the new, quieter and less crowded environment will put some gloss back into her coat and maybe even get a purr or two going.

The best news of the day: miracle kitten Wonder was retested for leukemia today and tested negative!

If you aren't familiar with the rest of her story, click on her name above to read the original blog post.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Leo Blog

On a light note, here's a new weekly blog I'm trying out featuring the adventures of my supremely goofy adopted cat, Leo, with appearances by his beloved mom, Daphne. It will be largely in comic form plus a few photos and videos.




Twilight was brought to the RAPS sanctuary several years back as part of the same feral group as Lillix. In fact, Leslie thinks there's a very good possibility that the two might be sisters.

Lillix was brought inside and tamed early on, but the others remained shy kitties in the back pens. We've recently gotten to know Twilight better after staff noticed she was getting quite thin and brought her in for observation. She turned out to have worms but nothing else wrong with her, and so she was treated for that and then just kept inside to fatten her up.

Staff were also able to take the opportunity to work on getting her used to the idea of humans as a source of friendship and cuddles. It's been a slow process, but when Leslie went into her cage this evening, Twilight came out from her hiding place to greet her with purrs and rubs. I later went into the cage myself and was treated to some quality purrs as I stroked her.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Update: Carreen

When we first met Carreen last summer, her badly broken hind raised questions over whether extreme measures may be necessary to deal with it. To our surprise and delight, though, it became apparent that the leg wasn't causing her any pain.

Then came a setback of an unexpected kind - Carreen tested positive for leukemia. And so she was moved to the leukemia room where RAPS is able to care for cats with FeLV (feline leukemia virus) while keeping them isolated from the rest of the sanctuary population. I feel privileged to volunteer for a shelter that maintains facilities for cats with FeLV and FIV.

I paid Carreen a visit the other day. It was all I could do to get a usable photograph of her with all the trotting around the room she was doing as she tried to keep herself within easy reach-down-and-stroke distance.

What truly amazed me is that she not only moved around with apparent ease, she was able to express her great pleasure at receiving a visit through a series of little rears and headbutts. I don't know how she managed to heal to the point that she can do all this, but I'm glad she did.