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, September 30, 2011


Rosie was brought to the sanctuary in 2001 after fending for herself living a homeless life. I’m told she was very scared on arrival as many cats are when they first come from a life on the streets. Her ears were sideways facing or what we call “airplane ears”, a message to those around her to “back off”. It took Rosie a long time to warm up to life at the sanctuary but eventually she came around and is a now known as a sweet, but shy girl.

I met Rosie this summer when she was being treated as an in-patient in the double wide for an ear infection. Armed with my scoop bucket and shovel, I was ready to enter her cage. Not knowing her, I watched her for a minute or so to get an idea of her temperament. Huddled in the corner, she looked back at me with worried eyes and pupils the size of saucers. I decided a quiet, respectful approach would be best to introduce myself.

Rosie is a striking cat with black and orange calico markings. Once in her cage, I bent down to scoop her tray when I felt a soft nuzzling at my ear. Little Rosie had decided that I might be someone she would like to get to know better. I started to stroke her and to my surprise she soon came out of her shell and was revelling in the attention she was getting.

Apparently Rosie lives in back pens but I found her last week in the newcomers building, ear infection long behind her. She was having a little dinner when I came upon her and she bolted under a stool at my approach. Patiently, I waited for her to remember the friendship we had started in the summer. She looked up at me as if contemplating whether I was worthy of another try. Happily, the answer must have been “yes” as she came out from under her stool and with a coy tilt of her head, nuzzled my arm, friendship rekindled.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lucy (II)

Lucy is another cat who came to RAPS from the same kitty group home that brought us Whiskey, Cara, Moosha and others.

A cuddly sweetheart of a cat, Lucy so captured the heart of one of our volunteers that she adopted her. Unfortunately, possibly as a response to a cat or cats already resident in the household, Lucy developed a tendency to pee where she shouldn't, and so she had to be brought back to the sanctuary. This was a tough decision for Lucy's would-be adopter, who even tried bringing her home again some time later. But the same problem arose once more, and so Lucy has had to come back to live at the sanctuary.

Currently in a cage in the doublewide while she readjusts to sanctuary life, Lucy was a bit shy at first but is increasingly letting us see her adorably cuddly side, complete with purrs and upside down wriggles.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Whiskey is one of the original cats to come to us from the house that Cara, Huey, Hannah and others once called home.

I hadn't met Whiskey until now as he's one of the backyard gang (as opposed to the doublewide gang who are stuck with me every week). He was hanging out on the table in front of the tearoom this evening when my fellow doublewide volunteer noticed this handsome tabby man and wondered who he was. I didn't know and decided to find out.

He wasn't too sure about me at first, but quickly warmed up to the point of repeatedly reaching out and grabbing my hand, drawing it toward him so that he could headbutt it more easily. He then spent some time trailing around after me, affectionately headbutting any cat he happened to come across on the way.

Whiskey & Tawny

All this matched nicely with Leslie's description of him as a nice boy who's friends with everyone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Larry (II)

Larry (aka Limping Larry, aka Orange Larry) was trapped and bought to RAPS in 2004 along with a semi-feral named Socks.

Thought to be around 4 years old at the time, Larry was one of several strays being fed by neighbors in the area where he was found. He and Socks did not get along at the time, but, since they were trapped together and the shelter was short of space when they arrived, they were obliged to share a cage. Fortunately, the shared experience of being in a strange new environment gave them both enough to think about that they didn't get around to fighting each other.

Larry's had a few names since he came to us. When he first arrived, he had a limp that earned him the name "Limping Larry." The limp went away, but staff and volunteers still needed a way to differentiate him from our black & white Larry. And so you may still hear the "Limping" prefix from time to time. For those concerned about calling him by a no longer descriptively accurate name, "Orange Larry" has come into use. I don't think Larry himself minds too much either way. After all, he knows exactly who he is.

photo by Barbara

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


When I arrived at the sanctuary on Monday night, I ran into Debbie who told me there were two new cats I just had to meet. One was Scarlett, who I've already introduced on Monday's blog post. The other was Lynx.

Lynx came to us by way of one of Debbie's feeding sites, a tame and until very recently unneutered male. And, unfortunately, he has leukemia.

Though understandably uncertain of his new surroundings, Lynx shows promise as a very nice boy. He hasn't got to the point of seeking out attention yet, but does allow his human visitors to extend the hand of friendship and even given him a few strokes and chin tickles.

I, for one, can't wait to get to know him better.

Updated October 15, 2011: I sadly never did get a chance to know Lynx better, as we sadly lost him today.
Here's what Debbie posted about him on Facebook this afternoon:
Lynx came to live with us at the shelter a month ago. He was trapped at one of my feeding sites near the railroad tracks. His first vet trip (to be neutered and tested) determined that he had leukemia. He wasn't too sure about us at first, but turned out to be very cuddly and affectionate at the end. He left us having had a warm place to live, lots of food, and knowing he was loved. That is why we do what we do........
Lynx at the feeding site 
photo by Debbie

Monday, September 19, 2011


When Scarlett arrived at the sanctuary on Saturday after being picked up from the streets in west Richmond, she was covered in scabs and having such difficulty breathing that it was feared she might not make it through the night.

Hoping to save her, RAPS staff rushed Scarlett to the vet. She was found to have an enlarged heart and asthma, with the sores on her skin apparently being the result of terrible allergies. Fortunately, she seems to be responding well to antibiotics.

Despite Scarlett's tiny size, she's thought to be full grown. And, despite her natural fear from being in such a strange new environment, RAPS staff have found her to be promisingly friendly.

I'm posting about her now in hopes that her health will continue to improve as it has done over the last couple of days, so that these photos will be the "before" pictures to be contrasted with a follow-up of happy, healthy "after" photos in the not too distant future.

Updated September 26, 2011: Our time to get to know Scarlett was much shorter than we had hoped. After initially rallying at the beginning of last week, she quickly went downhill again, showing signs of having great trouble breathing. It seems her little heart just wasn't strong enough, and so RAPS staff took her to the vet to save her from suffering any further.
So... sadly no happy "after" photos to follow the original post. BUT, Scarlett and others like her, the ones we couldn't save, shouldn't be forgotten. Because they all deserve any chance they can be given to pull through. Or, if recovery is too big a miracle to manage, they deserve someplace safe and warm to spend their final days and not to die alone on the streets.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Coming out" update: Amber and Nelson

Seeing cats begin to come out of their shell is a wonderful thing. Here are progress reports on a couple of our formerly less gregarious kitties.


When we first met Amber back in June, she was an adorable, tiny little grey thing... who didn't want to have anything to do with us. She was so frightened that she would just hide in her cat bed, her ears perpetually pinned back.

As she began to relax in her environment and get to know us, she slowly went from defensive hissing and spitting to curiosity. At first she would still hiss but allow us to stroke her in her bed, and then she began to cautiously climb out of her bed to receive visitors.

She's now been released from her cage and, though still skittish and prone to hide under things, hasn't forgotten that she enjoys having us stroke her. Approach her slowly and then let her decide if she wants to come within reach, and you may be treated to anything from showy cat dances to full upside-down wriggling and purring as you stroke her.

And those ears? Very much facing forward.

Nelson's problem wasn't one of being scared, but simply being perpetually overlooked. And, as can happen with the more introverted cats, he'd gotten to a point where he'd given up on even asking for attention.

A little time in a cage this summer seems to have done him some good, as it made him more visible to people who might not have noticed him otherwise. With more people making a point of visiting and spending a little time with him, he began to think that maybe he did in fact deserve a little attention.

A little while after he'd been let out of the cage, Nelson surprised me by coming forward when he saw me and initiating a cuddle, which we both enjoyed. It's great to see this boost in self-confidence! Now we just have to help him keep it up - everyone who went to visit him in his cage, please keep coming to see him now that he's out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Fantastic, friendly Panther is the third member of the Jeremy/Jasper/Panther lap-occupying gang in the Old AIDS building at the sanctuary.

At 14 years old, Panther's not a young guy. What I find amazing, though, is that it was 2002 when he came to RAPS as an FIV positive cat - which means he's been living with FIV for at least 9 years! And in all this time, says Leslie, he's never had any major illnesses.

Proof (for anyone who needed convincing) that cats with FIV should not automatically be seen as not long for this world. Some can still go on to live long and happy lives.

Panther and Bella

Updated January 20, 2013: 
I learned today that after living for more than 10 years at the sanctuary, Panther has at last left for the rainbow bridge. Here are a few words from Ed, who was very fond of this sweet and gentle soul:
RIP my beautiful Panther. I sponsored him since 2011. I'm glad that he spent his final years at the sanctuary and the final minutes surrounded by people who loved him. 
When I last saw Panther a week and a half ago, I brought my laser pen. He was chasing the light. I'm glad that we got to play chase the red dot one last time.

photo by Ed

Monday, September 12, 2011

Jasper (II)

Like more than a few cats living in the Old AIDS building at the sanctuary, Jasper is a cuddler.

I first met him when I was interviewing Jeremy for a blog post. Phaedra had mentioned that Jeremy, Jasper and Panther were all eager to have a share of cuddle and lap time, so that it was never possible to pay attention to just one of them. I found this to be true within moments (or was it just seconds?) of sitting down, when all three cats managed to insert themselves neatly in the available lap space like furry puzzle pieces.

Jasper has been at the sanctuary for a long time. And he's always been friendly. Like most cats, though, he does have his quirks. For some reason, while he's quite happy to cuddle with Leslie, he also loves to smack her. Why? Apparently, he just seems to think it's terribly funny.

Cats have a strange sense of humor.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Grizzy's friendship: the gift that just keeps giving (please make it stop)

While normally the successful befriending of a formerly hostile animal is the kind of thing that gives shelter staff and volunteers the warm fuzzies, occasionally such benevolence can backfire.

Though not a concentrated campaign like I used to try and win over Orlean, I felt for kitties such as Grizzy and Gunther, both so bitter and unhappy when they came in, and so have slowly but surely made friends with them. I didn't spend a huge amount of time with either of them, but did make a point of giving each a pat every time I came, and sometimes even a little plate of food if I had a little extra.

Gunther now gives my hand a gentle headbutt if I stroke him. And Grizzy has started marking me as his territory. Literally.

I discovered this strange new development a couple of weeks ago. I'd been patting Grizzy, then turned my attention to other cats, followed by further distraction by human conversation. I felt something warm and wet on my calf and looked down to see Grizzy sauntering away, only to stop nearby and look up to me for more pats.

A number of days later, though I couldn't say for sure since a more pressing issue of dealing with a nasty bite wound from another cat kept me distracted until after the deed had been done, the presence of Grizzy suspiciously nearby when I'd just noticed that my ankle was inexplicably wet led me to suspect he'd struck again.

Tonight, just as I was telling Gaye of this suspected second incident and preparing to give Grizzy the benefit of the doubt, he wandered up to me and turned around. I hopped out of the way in the nick of time to watch several pungent marking squirts land on the floor where I'd been standing. He then thought maybe I'd like to stroke him.

As much as it seems that he really does mean it as a complement, if this is love, somebody goofed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Renee came to the sanctuary five plus years ago with her sister Calista. Karen suspects the pair of names may have been chosen as an homage to Ally McBeal, but one that went a bit off the rails with cat-Renee's name somehow morphing into something closer to "Reenie" in pronunciation.

Starting her RAPS life in Doug's shed like her sister, Renee turned out to be the tamer of the two. Described in her file as "talkative," she likes being patted and will meow will approval while arching her tail into the air to receive as many pats as you're prepared to give out.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Calista came to the cat sanctuary five or six years ago after being trapped in Marpole by Lisa and Stephanie.

When she first arrived, there was no room for her or her sister Renee, and so they initially had to be housed in the shed with Doug's tools. Both were very scared little girls, and so perhaps a quiet place away from all the other cats was a good way to start shelter life.

Calista is still a little on the shy side, but is now quite willing to accept pets if you're gentle and ask her nicely. And she's more than happy to pose for photographs.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Jimmy's story so far is a tale in two acts, one that's a little sad and one that will make you smile.

Act One
The first part of the tale comes from Bev, who was the first one at RAPS to hear about Jimmy.
"Jimmy came to us from a radio show host on the old CFUN. She was talking about him on her show saying how he was peeing everywhere and she was going to have to do something - the family had a few pets and kids so I think he was probably stressed. I called the show to tell her about RAPS because I thought she was going to put him down. She dropped him off at the shelter and never came back - poor boy has never gotten over it, I think."
Bev had hoped the woman would come and visit Jimmy, but wonders if she ever did. Gaye remembers her coming once early on, but only the once.

Act Two
The second part of the tale comes via Debbie. This is, as she calls it, The Tale of Jimmy and Robbie.

A young boy and girl named Robbie and Emily started coming to the sanctuary around 3 years ago. Emily had just gotten out of the hospital and her parents thought the visits would be a good way to cheer her up. 

Emily fell in love with Squirrel and Robbie with Jimmy. They continued coming for about a year until they moved away from BC. 

When they came back on vacation a year later, one of the first things they did was come to visit the sanctuary. Robbie looked for Jimmy, and when Jimmy saw him, Debbie tells me Jimmy was so excited that he just ran around and rubbed himself all over the boy.

Another year passed until the family returned for this year's vacation. They came to visit the sanctuary just this past Sunday. Emily found Squirrel and some of the other cat friends she'd made. Robbie once again looked for Jimmy. Finding him, he patted him and gave him some treats he'd brought. Jimmy looked at him for a moment and then began to give him kisses.