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, June 29, 2011


Remember in high school there was always that popular kid who seemed to be friends with everyone? And everyone, from teachers to the class nerd to the school jock seemed to adore him and want to be just like him? Cool as he was though, that kid had a good, kind heart, definitely not a bully. Kind of like the Fonz from Happy Days. Remember him?

Well, RAPS has its own Fonzie character. Meet Theo.

Theo hangs out on the overflow pen area from No 5 road, behind the New AIDS trailer. I can almost picture Theo with a leather jacket, greased back fur and opposable thumbs to give us the thumbs up - a greaser cat from the 50’s.

The overflow shelter pen is cozy and intimate with only a few cats and a small heated indoor structure. Theo is a beautiful boy and certainly displays a curiosity to get to know any new comers to his hood. But unlike some cats in the sanctuary, he approaches with a kind of casual demeanour. He was happy to sit beside me and allow some gentle pets, but anything more aggressive and he’d turn his back to me and mosey away.

What is particularly interesting about Theo is all the cats he seems to attract that gather around him trying to get a little Theo time. He seems to be the most popular cat in the pen. I’ve watched as his sidekick Moe licks the top of his head and Katie, the very kitty image of Pinky Tuscadero, nuzzles him under the chin. He accepts their licks and rubs graciously while still maintaining his cool.

Theo and Katie

Theo and Moe

I go back to see Theo often as we are getting to know each other. He usually sits by me and checks me out from a close but comfortable range. I can be sure that within minutes, his posse of cats will show up beside him as well.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Marilee (Merrily)

This tiny, pretty girl came from the same place as Alec, a farm where a feral colony was living. It's quite possible, likely even, that Alec is her brother. Leslie named Marilee after RAPS' Mary, who'd been looking after the site. (It's "Marilee" since the actual name "Mary" was already taken.)

While the kittens at this location were brought straight to RAPS to be tamed and hopefully adopted out (Mitchell and Mary among them), the adults were trapped, neutered and released back on the farm, as the property owner was happy to have them there. What seemed like not long after, RAPS found that Marilee was back at the vet, having somehow sustained an injury to her tail that resulted in most of it having to be amputated. After this, Carol decided to bring her to live at the sanctuary where we'd know she was safe.

Marilee's made some friends among the cats in the front courtyard and Connor building, but she's still not sure how she feels about us humans. She's very curious and will often position herself so that she can peer, wide-eyed, at whatever you're doing, but she'll quickly scoot away if you get too close.

The curiosity's a good sign, though - she's at least interested in possibly, maybe, if it's not too scary... getting to know us.

Friday, June 24, 2011


While some cats gain human friends and fans through active and energetic campaigning, there are others who need to do little more than pose.

This mystery tabby caught our attention through this signature pose:

photo by Kim

Kim first sent me this photo for inclusion in Graceless Kitties, but I thought he or she just looked too cool to be lumped in with a bunch of goofballs. Then, when I tried to find out the name of this cat, I discovered that nobody knew.

According to Leslie, among the residents of the singlewide are a number of tabbies who were trapped as young ferals around the same time. Because they promptly scattered and proceeded to hide, there was no real chance for staff and volunteers to learn to distinguish one from another. As a result, the names they were given when they first arrived now only exist as information tucked away in their files at the vet's office.

As "unknown tabby" lacks the personal touch, Leslie invited me to make up a new name for this one, a task I offered in turn to Kim, who'd been the one to introduce me. And so we arrived at the name "Nutmeg."

Until Nutmeg decides whether being called a particular name is a good enough incentive to let us get closer than safe peering distance from the top of the cages, we'll just have to continue being treated to the signature pose.

photo by Phaedra

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Leland arrived at the cat sanctuary at the beginning of June, having been surrendered for peeing. This much is clear from the sign on his door. It turns out the story is a little more complicated - and sadder - than that.

Leland's owners brought him to a vet for something or other, then simply failed to come and retrieve him. The contact number they'd provided turned out to be fake, leaving the vet's office with no way to get hold of them.

We like to think the vet wasn't serious when speaking of euthanasia as an option for this cat who'd been dumped on the clinic, but the assistant took the possibility seriously enough that she opted to take poor Leland home herself. It was then that she discovered he was a pee-er, something he demonstrated all over her place. And so she called RAPS.

All this back story shouldn't take away from the fact that Leland is a nice, friendly boy. This shot was taken moments after he met me for the first time.

A few friendly words of greeting were all it took for him to think that my foot may be a nice place to lean. He then proceeded to talk, purr wriggle and rub until it was time for me to go.

Subsequent note: 
he was fine while he was caged, but we soon discovered that our Leland HATES other cats, and is happier as a loner....

Monday, June 20, 2011


The newest resident of the cat sanctuary arrived just three days ago via the No. 5 Rd. Shelter.

Presumably being given the name Amber because of the colour of her eyes, this pretty girl is so scared that it's impossible to tell if she's semi-feral or tame but too frightened to act it.

I'm posting this now as the "before" picture. Hopefully I'll be able to post an "after" picture where she looks happier... or at least has both ears pointing forward.
Wish us luck!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Graceless Kitties Part Deux

Back by popular demand!

Thanks to all who sent in your photos in response to last month's All hail the graceless kitty post. Here are a few more of our ever-so-noble furry friends (plus a repeat offender or two) in the goofiest poses they could come up with for us.

"I claim this bedding in the name of... me."
photo provided by Marianne

"I love this couch!"
photo provided by Marianne

photo provided by Phaedra

Sunshine: it does a belly good.
photo provided by Debbie & Marianne

"No pictures, please"
photo provided by Kim

"Hey blackie, could use a hand here!"
Morgan (?)
photo provided by Debbie

"Yes, I am comfortable here. Why do you ask?"
photo provided by Debbie 

 a blissfully graceless tabby
photo provided by Michele

Looking goofy and too hot to care
photo provided by Debbie & Marianne

washus interruptus
photo provided by Phaedra  

 a cheerfully graceless tabby
photo provided by Debbie

"Yes, I know you put easy to reach water dishes everywhere, but..."
photo provided by Marianne 

Will perch for gravy
photo provided by Michele 

photo provided by phaedra  

"Hey look, you're standing upside down!"
photo by Claire 

"I wonder if these meds will make me drowzzzzzzzz...."
Queen Mum
photo provided by Kim 

photo by Claire

 In loving memory: TJ
photo provided by Karen M

Want to see even more graceless kitties on the blog? Keep sending me your funniest photos!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011



I got to meet friendly former feral Jett (not to be confused with timid boy Jet) this week when she was brought in from the back pens in preparation for a dental.

She greeted the presentation of her dinner with purrs and rubs, then greeted a return visit a short time later with more of the above plus a couple of happy meows and hand licks thrown in for good measure. The only downside - for me - during all of this was that the ongoing happy cuddle dance made her nearly impossible to photograph.

I learned from Leslie afterwards that purring was not always what could be expected from an encounter with Jett. At one time, words like "nasty" and "scary" would have been much more accurate descriptors than the current "very nice" written on the sign outside her cage.

Before coming to RAPS, Jett had been hanging around 7-11 where she was being fed and had been partially tamed by two women renting a place nearby. When they had to move away and could no longer look out for her, she was brought to the cat sanctuary.

When she started off in a cage in the tearoom, Jett was particularly nasty. She was then moved to one of the back pens, where she spent a lot of her time hiding.

Leslie worked to earn her trust by offering her bits of tuna through the fence. Jett felt safe enough to approach, but would slap the food out of Leslie's hand so she could eat it off the ground - and firmly on her own side of the fence. After a while, she felt safe enough that she began rubbing herself against the fence when Leslie came with her treat. Other people coming to visit a cat named Gypsy, also living in the back pens, gave Jett even more opportunity to get used to having people be around her without being a possible threat to her.

These days, Jett is deaf and will still hiss or spit if taken by surprise. If she sees you coming, though, she could hardly be friendlier. Leslie wishes the women who used to feed her at the 7-11 could see her now.

Monday, June 13, 2011


On a nice day, visitors to the sanctuary will often barely have a chance to shut the front gate behind them before a welcoming committee of front courtyard cats has begun to assemble around them. There are some regulars in this committee, with other members rotating based on, as a wild guess, such factors as who's feeling extra friendly, extra moochy, or simply not otherwise engaged in napping.

This evening, a pretty little tuxedo cat in the mood for some attention put herself forward with the advance party.

Her name is Mindy and I'm told she came in as a feral with her tabby brother Jinx. Both are friendly now, though Jinx does get nervous if he's closed in on and doesn't see an easy escape route, and Mindy still hasn't quite lost the "if in doubt, swat" impulse.

To tell her apart from other cats with similar face and chest markings, look for the little patch of black on her right foot.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Sylvester is a very nice, very large cat who was transferred to the sanctuary from the No. 5 Rd shelter at the end of May. A mellow kind of guy, he took the transfer easily in stride, approaching his new quarters in the Gericatrics (aka Kitten Trailer) with little more than a blink and a sniff before settling right in.

"How large is very large?" you may ask. Try 20lb large. Ann first described him to me via a comparison to Mario, her preferred measuring stick for largish kitties. According to a scale of small to Mario-size, Sylvester apparently comes in at "cat who ate Mario."

... not that Sylvester seems the type to do this sort of thing literally. The 13 year old's fault, if any, is that he has a tendency to poop outside the box.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Tricia was named for actress Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica fame in honor of the support she has given RAPS.

Although I'd heard of cat Tricia before, it's only been quite recently that I've been able to meet and get to know her.

From a May 31 entry in the RAPS blog by Marianne:
Little orange and white Tricia came to us as a young feral cat who’d already had a litter of kittens, which explains why she never gained full size herself. She and her two equally feral sisters wanted nothing to do with people and huddled together in the back of their cage. Once released, all three disappeared into the many hiding places in the back courtyard, until about a year later when Tricia began making “guest appearances” in the tea room during volunteers’ coffee breaks. We found that, if approached slowly and gently, she loves being petted, welcomes a few tummy rubs and even produces a few little purrs.
After spending a little time last month in a cage in the doublewide, Tricia has decided this might be an OK sort of area to hang out. She's still nervous and, if encountered out in the open, still can't quite resist running away.

If you can get her somewhere where flight isn't quite such an easy option, though, all it takes is a single touch before she melts into happy wriggles and rubs.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Toby came to RAPS a year or so ago at the age of 5, surrendered because he'd started urinating inappropriately. A vet check on arrival revealed a bladder infection which RAPS staff advised his former owners was the reason he'd been peeing where he shouldn't. Incredibly, they steadfastly refused to take him back.

Toby is such a wonderful boy that I'd could almost satisfy myself with saying "their loss," but unfortunately, now living in a shelter rather than a home, it's Toby's loss too.

When I happened to cross paths with him in the laundry room recently, he spontaneously decided that we were going to be friends. I responded by giving him a good cuddle, and he proceeded to follow me around for the rest of the evening to seal the deal. He's that great combination of gentle and animated that's so hard to resist.