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, November 30, 2011


Schatze is the sister of Fiona and Miller. The three were trapped as kittens near the Massey Tunnel.

Schatze was supposed to live in the front courtyard area of the sanctuary but must have objected to the whole perimeter fence thing, as she made it known by escaping that she would prefer to live in the parking lot outside. She was lured back inside at one point, only to zip off out the gate and back into the parking lot when the opportunity presented itself.

Given this history, I didn't hold much hope of getting more than a fleeting photo of her. Recently, though, RAPS staff were obliged to catch and bring Schatze in whether she liked it or not because she was overdue for a check-over by the vet.

When I met her last week, she was in a cage with staff-only access until they managed to get her to the vet. Fortunately, Debbie was on hand to demonstrate a level of cuddleability that comes as a pleasant surprise in a cat who's thus far been so determined not to hang out where she can easily be loved up. Maybe this bit of time where she's obliged to stay put and give into the urge to purr will help change her mind.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Fiona came to the RAPS sanctuary as a kitten along with her sister Schatze and brother Miller.

According to Debbie, they were trapped near the Massey Tunnel. People working at a construction site nearby had been feeding them, but felt they would be safer with us. The man who called RAPS about the cats even took the time to come and visit them a couple of times shortly after they'd been moved to the sanctuary.

Fiona is a friendly girl. She introduced herself to me by training her her bright, expectant eyes on me from a countertop in the Connor where I was visiting Shady, Cozy and a few of my other cat friends. My attention successfully captured, she proceeded to treat me to a very nice, very animated cuddle.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I was recently asked by Bev to do a post on Shrek, a cat she sponsors. She sent this photo taken by Phaedra along with her email:

photo by Phaedra

I'd heard of a cat called Shrek before, but this was the first time I'd seen a photo of him. I was curious how he came by the name. As he didn't look exactly friendly, I was also interested to know how Bev came to choose him as a sponsor cat.

Here's what she had to say:
"Shrek used to live on top of the cages in the double wide and he was absolutely scary. I named him Shrek because he's a bit of a ogre - but I think deep down he's really not as mean as he looks. When I'd climb the ladder to scoop the boxes, if he was nearby he'd hiss and spit and he was so big and ferocious - with those gorgeous big round eyes - that after a while I began looking for him instead of cringing when I saw him.
He eventually came down to floor level and it was fun to try getting closer to him - although always giving him some distance. At some point - I'm not sure when or how - he joined the Mario fan club and started following him around. He is still pretty feral - but it's tempered by his love for the big guy."
Shrek, along with his sister Honey who likes to hang out in the tearoom, has been at the sanctuary for a long time. It's hard to find anyone who knows/remembers where he originally came from. As Bev says, "You tend to remember the ones you see - not the ones who hide."

I don't know if it's thanks to the Mario influence or to the passage of time, but Shrek doesn't seem to feel the same need to put on a big show of ferocity as he once did. When I came across him tucking into a bowl of kibble on the back porch of the doublewide the other day, he only gave me one hiss. And even that seemed little more than a formality to protest the interruption.

Shortly after my encounter, Ayako snapped a close-up picture of him cuddling up to Mario. Is it just me, or does the former ogre-cat look like he's smiling?

Shrek and Mario
photo by Ayako


Back in January, Phaedra posted this picture on Facebook of Yale having a good old yawn while siblings Gabriel and Saffron looked on. She described how Saffron had hissed at her until she realized that a lamb treat was on offer, Gabriel was scared but managed to pull himself together enough to collect his portion, and other brother Ash accepted her food offering but refused to come close enough to be in the picture frame. Yale, she said, was the fearless one.

Yale, Gabriel and Saffron
photo by Phaedra

These days, Ash and Saffron are much more readily friendly. Gabriel's still working on it, but is making progress. And Yale seems to have made himself a favorite among the volunteers who work in the singlewide.

Here are a few photos from my first proper visit with him last week:

And here are a few from a couple of volunteers who he'd already won over long before I met him:

photos by Kim

photos by Michele

Monday, November 21, 2011


After his feral mom, Grace, Gabriel is still the shyest of the family that includes Ash, Saffron and Yale. Until recently, he tended to stick pretty close to mom. In the last couple of months, though, he's started to strike out on his own.

When Leslie introduced me to him last week, while he wasn't ready to come down from his safe perch above the door, he allowed me to slip a few treats up on the plank in front of him and even take his picture without causing him to bolt. After making the appropriate number of treat offerings, I was actually able to go as far as offer a fingertip for sniffing without a flinch.

This may not seem like much, but to those who've worked with feral, semi-feral or just plain scared cats know that being granted permission to reach that far into an animal's personal space is huge. That first finger tip to nose tip touch is just a start, true, but it can signal the start of a beautiful friendship.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Daughter of Grace and sister of Ash, Gabriel and Yale, Saffron is probably the most outgoing of the family.

Gabriel, Saffron and Yale
photo by Michele

photo by Kim

In fact, Saffron was the first one of her family I met, and the only one to make a point of introducing herself to me.  I came across this little unknown kitty in the singlewide, perched on the edge of shelf and trying to stare me down for some cuddles or food (dinner was being served at the time) or whatever else might be on offer. As I started patting her, I asked Michele who she was and was told her name was Saffron.

Introductions having been made, Saffron happily settled into purring, rubbing and dancing, stopping only briefly to have a little play with a nearby cat toy. 

When I came to see her a number of days later, she was just the same: friendly, open and ready for a visit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


When feral mom Grace and her kittens arrived at the sanctuary, Ash was the scardiest cat among his scaredy cat siblings.

young Ash
photo by Michele

Leslie recalls the day they were vaccinated, when Ash was so frightened that he ran around behind where she knelt and climbed into her jacket to hide. In his mad flight, Ash didn't realize that Leslie, who he thought he was getting away from, was actually in the jacket with him.

Although Ash still has the odd brief "Eek!" moment if caught off guard by someone he doesn't know very well, he gets over it quickly. No more hiding in jackets for this boy. He's truly come a long way in the past year and a half. 

Ash has decided he quite likes people and very much enjoys being stroked. In fact, he seems to have gone from being the most timid of his siblings to being one of the most outgoing.

Monday, November 14, 2011


In the summer of 2010, RAPS received a call from a dockyard with a request to come and trap a feral mom and her four kittens. The family was brought to the sanctuary, with the mom given the name Grace and her kittens being called Yale, Saffron, Gabriel and Ash.

The man who'd called RAPS to take the cats away didn't just put them out of his mind as soon as they'd gone. He even paid a visit to the sanctuary, where he was relieved to see that they were being well cared for and that the move had not resulted in the family being split up. 

Grace and her now grown kittens still all live together in the singlewide, though the kittens are much more independent these days than when they were small and scared.

Grace herself is quite a beauty.... or at least I think she is. She's still very much a feral and feels a strong need to hide up on the shelving by the ceiling of the enclosed porch behind the singlewide. Even looking at her for more than a second or two can set her to flight.

Hopefully, when she's observed us for long enough from her safe perch, she'll realize we wouldn't harm her for the world. And maybe someday she'll even follow the example of her young ones and consider liking us.

Look for blog posts this week and next on the rest of the family.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Tortie Emily came to RAPS in the autumn of 2003 as a young cat with kittens.

She started in the newcomers area, then moved to the first pen on the left in the back yard, where she lived for a long time. Gaye remembers often coming across her contentedly lying on the porch on a summer day.

photo by Barbara

According to Marianne, Emily wasn't all that friendly with people in the early days, and she didn't like other cats much either.

These days Emily still isn't a fan of other cats, but she finds the idea of human contact much more appealing. Unfortunately, she still seems to be a bit confused about how to behave: headbutting and purring one moment, vigorously smacking the hand that pets a moment later, then just as quickly returning to rubs and more purrs. She's so pretty, though, that even if on occasion she smacks a littler harder than she means to, it's hard to stay mad at her for longer than it takes to apply a band-aid.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


photo provided by Marianne

I was asked to write a post about Belinda by Bev, who sponsors this little black sweetie living in the singlewide.

I first met Belinda some time ago but had yet to blog about her, largely because the fact that she's very friendly and tends to do a bit of scooting around one's feet as she shows it makes her not an easy girl to get a good photograph of.

Belinda comes from the same farm where Mitchell, Mary, Alec, Marilee and others were trapped. She was initially very shy, but a bad cold early on in her time at RAPS saw Leslie having to climb into her cage regularly and sit with her while she gave her fluids.

It came as a welcome surprise to Leslie when Belinda started to purr during her visit. And then she even came over and climbed into Leslie's lap.

According to Bev, Belinda may not be into being picked up, but she does love a lap to curl up in.

Belinda turned out to be such a sweetheart that Marianne says it's a shame she's never been adopted. Fortunately, she does have friends at the shelter who love her dearly.

photo provided by Bev

Monday, November 7, 2011


Simon came to the RAPS cat sanctuary a few years ago after being surrendered for peeing.

I was introduced to this apparently rather quiet and retiring boy last month by fellow volunteer Karen. She felt for him because he's so skinny and doesn't always stick up for himself enough to get his fair share of wet food from the communal dishes, and so she asked me if I could give him a little plate of his own after I was done feeding all the caged cats. I of course did so, and Simon was very happy, both for the food and for the attention that went with it.

Karen has another reason to want to go that extra distance in looking out for Simon: his physical appearance (skinny, even boney body everywhere except for his round belly) could be a sign of cancer.

I had another visit with him today. He was so pleased to be photographed (or simply pleased with the attention that went with it) that he followed me around so I could pay attention to him more easily.

It can take so little to make their day. And what great pleasure when you do.