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, July 29, 2011


I’ve not spent a lot of time in the front courtyard of the cat sanctuary, but in search of a new subject for The Neko Files, I thought I’d check out what’s happening with the west side cats.

I asked Bonnie, a long time volunteer, to tell me about any cats she’d come particularly attached to in her years at RAPS and without the slightest hesitation she shouted: “Taboo”!

Taboo, a beautiful brown tabby cat with striking yellow eyes is the sole survivor of a litter of five kittens that were found on the streets of Richmond many years ago and died within six months of their arrival at RAPS. You can recognize her by her odd body shape: a small cat with a large pot belly which makes her look as if she is either pregnant or has a fondness for a wee pint of beer every now and then.

Described in her file as: “tame, with attitude”, Taboo fits that portrayal perfectly. Although she is very sociable with people, she can also be quite skittish and scampers away should anyone try to pick her up. Bonnie’s gentle ways and long connection have earned her some trust and Taboo now allows Bonnie to pick her up occasionally, though not without some apprehension.

On solid ground in the courtyard she seemed quite happy to let me pet her and even treated me to a little marching dance with her two front paws and accompanied this with a loud melodic purr. Taboo held back the hoards of cats all clamouring for a little attention from me with a good claw slashing and hissing before turning back to me with eyes so angelic you’d have thought she descended straight from heaven.

Sweet gentle cat with me; angry, savage beast with the interlopers. Yes indeed, she is tame... with attitude.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


There's nothing really special about Nelson's story, but I find that in itself makes him worthy of a little extra attention.

photo by Barbara

He came to RAPS 7 or 8 years ago, likely after being surrendered. He's always been a nice cat, but since he doesn't try to initiate contact with humans like some of our more outgoing residents, he doesn't get much attention from people.

With other cats, he has even less luck. Leslie says he sometimes get into fights because some of the other cats just don't seem to like him, almost as if there's a vibe he gives off that they object to.

Since he never pushed himself forward for me to notice him, I'm ashamed to say that until this week I was one of the many who tended to pass him by.

He's currently in a cage while being treated for a cold. I gave him a little pat along with his dinner, as I do with the caged cats who don't look likely to shred me for my troubles. Rarely have I seen a response of such gentle delight: I barely had to touch him before he was beaming at me and kneading the air with his paws. After that, it was all purrs and rubs.

It makes me wonder - how many other shelter cats allow themselves to get passed over because they don't think to speak until they're spoken to?

Monday, July 25, 2011


Feral Lana started at the No. 5 Rd. shelter where Carol provided a quiet space for the new mom to be with her kittens. Once the kittens were weaned, they stayed at 5 Rd. where they could be adopted out and Lana moved to the sanctuary.

Lana is still quite cautious around people and if you move beyond her invisible comfort barrier she'll quickly run away. If she's feeling relaxed and surrounded by her cat friends, it's sometimes possible to get tantalizingly close to touching a finger to her nose before she bolts.

Lana with Nikki and Kenny
photo by Barbara

Fortunately, she does enjoy the company of other cats at the sanctuary. Notably, she's a member in good standing of the Mario Appreciation Society.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Da Vinci

Da Vinci came to the sanctuary last November as a feral who'd been trapped near the No. 5 Rd. shelter.

He lived in a cage in the doublewide for the first while, where he'd spend most of his time sitting on a low cat tree and making an effort to let us know how little he liked us. Released into the sanctuary population in the spring of 2011, he promptly ran to a corner of the enclosed back porch area of the doublewide and stayed there.

Fortunately, he's now slowly starting to get more comfortable with people he knows. Ann, for example, tried approaching him with a back scratcher to see if he'd accept a few strokes and scratches with that. On the first few attempts, his response was to swat it right out of her hand. She persisted, though, and managed to get in there and give him a vigorous scratch... which he was surprised to discover he loved.

He still hangs out in his corner, but now lets Ann pat him. He hasn't let me touch him yet, but no longer gets angry at me for trying.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Paris is a feral who came to RAPS in 2003 from the same house that brought us Cara, Mooshie, Elmo & Princess, Huey & Hannah.

She might originally have been named Doll Face on account of her unusual face, but this was not a name she was widely known as, being so shy that she immediately scampered off into the back when she was let loose at the sanctuary and disappeared into the general shy black cat population.

Staff got to know her a little when she was brought inside for observation because she'd gotten quite skinny. She was given the name Paris at that time.
These days she'll let a person get close enough for a photo op, but still has that invisible feral boundary very much intact: come any closer and she runs off to reinstate the proper distance.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Update: Headbutt Harry needs another nickname...?

"Headbutt" Harry, so known for his adorable tendency to bonk his head against humans he's feeling affectionate towards, has unfortunately become the latest member of our one-eyed cat club.

Earlier this month, what appeared to be a fairly straightforward and treatable infection turned out to be serious enough that our vet had to give us the bad news that he wouldn't be able to save the eye.

Harry soon returned to the sanctuary plus a cone and minus some depth perception. It was hard to tell which of these was most cramping his style. Fortunately, he had more than a few of his human friends and well-wishers on hand to make sure he could get at his food easily and to generally make a fuss over him.

I hear he even got a few headbutts in, or at least what were meant to be: in actual fact they were more sharp jabs with the edge of his cone.

The cone is now off and my visit this evening was greeted with vigorous bonks of his forehead against any part of me that came within range (though his favorite still seems to be the classic forehead-to-forehead bash).

So we need to think about changing "Headbutt" Harry to "One-eyed" Harry?
Nah. That trademark "bonk!" still says it all.

Friday, July 15, 2011

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The photo above may look familiar, a version of it having served for a number of months as the Neko Files' header. Now that it's time to move to a new feature kitty, Pekoe at last gets his own blog post.

 photo by Barbara

Pekoe came to RAPS with his sister Mocha (aka Brownie) as strays living under the porch of a house. Pekoe also sometimes gets called Stubby on account of his shortish tail.

 photo by Barbara

Although looking every bit the laid back guy any time I've seen him, Ann swears he will do the "Pekoe dance" if given the proper patting incentive. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


photo by Michele

Tippy is another of our former feral success stories.

He and his brother Lucky came to the cat sanctuary in 2003 when they were around a year old. They'd previously been living around a feeding site in an industrial area in north Richmond, where RAPS volunteer Waldy had been looking out for them.

When he arrived at the sanctuary, Tippy was so frightened that he spent all his time hiding in the back of the box in his cage. If anyone put their hands on him, he would just freeze in terror.

Leslie took time to sit with him in his cage, pat him and offered him little morsels of ham. Over time, he learned to trust her and eventually became her buddy. Waldy was thrilled to see him become tame.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kris & Kringle's new digs

Gaye used to wonder if some of bunny Kris's grumpy behavior was an expression of frustration at just having the small space of the rabbit hutch in which to operate.
Now we get a chance to see.

Doug has recently finished the construction of a rabbit run where the sanctuary's two hoppity residents can enjoy some fresh outdoor air and a bit more space. So far, they seem to very much approve. When I visited them there this evening, Kringle was his usual cautiously laid-back self, but Kris was positively relaxed by Kris standards. She didn't even try to rush me (!), opting instead for an investigative sniff before pausing to accept a few strokes and then returning to her alfalfa.

In other news, the cats in the New AIDS area adjoining the rabbit run are finding their new neighbors quite fascinating and are likely of the opinion that it was put there purely for their viewing pleasure.

photo by Debbie

Kringle and Baxter
photo by Phaedra 

photo by Phaedra

Friday, July 8, 2011


Maureen was one of the first cats trapped on the Richmond farm that Alec, Marilee, Mitchell and Mary came from. Human Mary who'd been looking after the feral colony called Maureen "the auntie" to the kittens there.

Maureen has an old front leg injury that gives her a noticeable limp, but she's had it for so long that Leslie says there's not much point in us messing with it now. Still wary enough to flee when a human comes too close, Maureen doesn't look to be in favor of us messing with her leg either.

Even without embracing the idea of human buddies, she has no cause to feel lonely at the sanctuary and is particularly fond of cat magnet Jet.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Birdie (II)

Birdie came to the cat sanctuary via Carol after spending some time at the No. 5 Rd. shelter. There, while he'd shown himself to be a nice boy as far as people were concerned, he just wasn't getting along with the other cats. This tended not to show him in the most positive light to potential adopters.

He's mellowed a bit now, with time and with more space to move around in. Still, when a couple of cats saw I was dispensing cuddles and tried to muscle in on what had been Birdie's cuddle time, he was quick chase each off with a light smack. But then my cat Daphne still does that to her own son when he tries to barge on her cat/human quality time, so I can hardly hold this against Birdie. He just loves the human love too much to share.

June 2017:  After years living at the Sanctuary,
Birdie is happy to report that he has his own home now!

Monday, July 4, 2011


Puffin was brought to the No. 5 Rd. shelter as a stray, where he stayed for 2 months before landing himself with a reputation for being unpredictable by attacking a woman in the face. And so he came to the sanctuary.

He only arrived yesterday, and so we don't know yet if the whole scratch-and-bite thing was a one-off incident or, if not, just what can set him off. He's got a collar on for now to warn people he may take a chomp and we're being cautiously welcoming - lots of pats and strokes but no up close cuddles and nuzzles for the time being. Leslie says some cats who act out when they're at 5 Rd. do very well at the sanctuary where can they have more room.

He'll be living in the front yard once he's had all his shots. If you want to meet him, look for a handsome boy similar in appearance to Tugboat but with a ring of white near the tip of his tail.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tabby taming update: Saba

Another one of our tabbies who came in as feral kittens and took to hiding before we had a chance to make friends, Saba has recently decided she's ready to take a leap of faith and move from wide-eyed peering at the humans to actually letting us touch her.

And not just a fingertip to nose touch, either; we're talking proper, full body stroking!
Granted, she hasn't quite lost the wide-eyed, faintly horrified expression yet, but she is showing the beginnings of a head tilt when scratched under the chin.
All in all, excellent progress for this formerly shy, shy girl.