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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Update: Shayla

Pretty grey & white Shayla has long been a look-but-don't-touch kitty for most of us at the sanctuary. The notable exception has been Marianne, who Shayla adores.

When I wrote my first post on her almost two years ago, Shayla had gotten to the point where a few people could occasionally "make contact," as Marianne put it, but I never heard of her enjoying contact of any kind with anyone but Marianne.

In the past little while, that seems finally to be changing. A few members of staff have reported being able to stroke her a few times while she sits in one of the cat beds in the doublewide. I tried too, and was permitted a stroke or two, but Shayla looked so horrified by the fact of me having a hand on her that I didn't push the issue.

Today, though, a breakthrough: Shayla not only let me pat her, but she actually liked it! So much so that she got up while I was stroking her and did a couple of bum-in-the-air circles around her bed and, though I can't guarantee this absolutely wasn't some other cat nearby, she even purred a little.

Unfortunately, the offer of friendship did not extend to my SLR camera. And my sudden transformation into a scary black box faced monster lost me any further petting privileges for the day.

So if you want to try for a little Shayla love, put the camera away for now. And know that Marianne will still and always be this girls special human... though she seems finally to be willing to give some of the rest of us some small bit of room in her heart.

Update July 2012: Shayla surprised us all twice this year, once by turning out to be in fact a boy, and once - much more tragically - by growing ill and taking a downturn much more quickly than could have been imagined from even a short time before. He has now very sadly left us for the Rainbow Bridge.

I asked Marianne, who loved him dearly, to write a few words:
"I still haven’t come to grips with losing him so unexpectedly. No other cat there has ever been more special to me and it was an enormous privilege to have him choose me as his person. I got to the vet just in time to hold him before his heart stopped beating. I hope he felt my love right up to the end. His death was due to severe, chronic kidney failure. His condition deteriorated very quickly after that diagnosis. It’s some consolation to know that he didn’t have to suffer the stress and indignity of the treatment that he would have had to undergo for the rest of his life if his condition had been diagnosed earlier."

Friday, January 27, 2012


Cairo came to the RAPS sanctuary from our No. 5 Rd. shelter along with his sisters Asia and Sahara because the three were too timid to be good candidates for adoption.

Cairo is still a bit shy, but can be quite friendly if he feels comfortable (or if you give him chicken). I met him while I was getting to know April earlier this week. He'd was hanging out on the same shelf and became increasingly intrigued by what a good time April appeared to be having, so it wasn't too long before he decided to sit up and get in on the action.

Cairo and friends

Does anyone know for sure who Cairo's black buddy in the photo is? Someone had suggested it might be Dylan (and thanks for that!), but this one was being more laid back than Dylan's been with me in the past. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


April came from the same egg farm on Blundell in Richmond where we got Simone, Bantam and others.

The farm owners had been feeding a number of feral cats on their property. When they moved and knew the place was to be demolished, they were concerned about the cats and asked RAPS to trap and bring them to the sanctuary.

April was very scared at first, but now likes people -- though Leslie and Gaye warn that she can still swat on occasion.

When I visited April on Monday, she was a little timid at first, but soon warmed up to me enough to get from her comfy bed for some rubbing and purring. And luckily, no swatting.

April was having such a good time visiting, in fact, that neighboring nappers Asia and Cairo woke up and wanted in on the action (and does anyone know who the black cat lounging in the middle of this group might be?).

April and friends

Monday, January 23, 2012


When feral Tiffany was brought to the cat sanctuary some years ago, she was already around 10 years old. Now she's an old girl who's nearing the end of her life and, as sometimes happens with our very elderly feral cats, who's mellowed to the point that she's pretty much forgotten to be afraid of us.

I met her only recently, when she began to appear on the armchair in the doublewide, often huddled up with (and sometimes practically under) some other cat. Hearing she was feral, I didn't attempt to touch her until this evening, when she appeared in one of the shared beds on the table I use to prepare the evening meals. To my surprise, she had no problem with me stroking her, let me take a number of photos, and even happily accepted a little wet food put in front of her.

Leslie tells me that in the past, Tiffany always been something of a loner, choosing hiding places on the back porch away from humans and other cats. These days, she can often be seen snuggling up with other cats, appreciating the warmth or the company or a bit of both. And, to our delight, she's turned into a real sweetheart where humans are concerned. This has won her more than a few hearts.

Tiffany and Ricky

With her advanced age and failing health, we know we probably won't have this sweet old girl with us for very much longer. So we're enjoying her company while we can, and doing whatever we can to make sure the time left to her is comfortable and full of love.

Updated March 7, 2012: Tiffany left us for the rainbow bridge last week. We're glad she gave us a chance to get to know her in her last months and to help her spend them in a place where she could feel warm and safe.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Sanctuary cats can get their names in many different ways. Surrendered cats come with names already, but then there are all those strays and ferals whose names we don't know or who were never given human names in the first place.

Luongo came to us last November, having been trapped as a stray by Carol in the yard of a man named Lou.  Naming him Lou after this gentleman was an obvious possibility, but the sanctuary already had a Lou and so, and sometimes happens, a slight amendment was made to him name. Anyway, sanctuary staff had been wanting to pay tribute to the Canucks for ages, so this seemed a perfect opporunity.

I met Luongo right after he came in, when he was not only in a cage in the Connor, but still opting to stay inside his smaller cage within that cage. Despite being a brand new arrival, he was calm enough to permit a photo or two.

I meant to go and do a follow-up photoshoot after he'd settled in, but got distracted (we've got more than a few cats at the sanctuary to get distracted by!). Recently, I heard that Luongo may be adopted soon, and so I made sure to come and see him. Opening his cage, I found a cat who was so very friendly and right-up-close-and-personal interactive that it was impossible to get him to stay still long enough to take a decent photo. I actually had to get the help of Leslie, who distracted him by picking him up and cuddling him long enough for me to get him (more or less) in focus. Great human teamwork plus one happy cat!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby, it's cold outside

Visit the cat sanctuary in the summertime and you'll see languid felines sprawled all over the warm pavement in the front and back courtyards. When the winter cold comes, particularly with the arctic front we've been having this week, the outdoor areas empty as the cats are drawn indoors where it's kept nice and cozy for them.

photos by Phaedra

Well, almost empty...
 photos by Phaedra

 When the sun goes down, outside looks even more frigid.

But doors are kept closed and plastic sheeting put up to shield the porch areas so that the cats have plenty of places to go and keep warm, even the ones who aren't comfortable coming right inside and getting too close to us human types. And on the porches, you can see the red glow of heat lamps set up to make sure there's a nice, toasty bed for any cat who wants one, whether they want to claim the entire bed for themselves or snuggle up with a few cuddle buddies.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I had another nice visit with Jazz tonight. He's such a cuddly sweetheart of a cat that I had a hard time giving him a treat because he wouldn't stop rubbing his face against the fingers holding the treat for long enough to eat the treat itself. Later, when I put my face close to his, he leaned in and rested his forehead against mine like Bandit used to do.

Cagemate Judy, however, remained in the screened off area behind a towel. She spat at me a couple of times, but when I flicked a treat in her general direction, she didn't wait until I left before creeping forward to collect the offering. After that, she allowed me to take a few photos of her, flash and all, without seeming too bothered.

In the last shot, she seemed almost.... curious? Maybe this is another one of those shy newcomers who can be won over with a little love... and a little food.

Friday, January 13, 2012

RAPS people walk the walk

I think we all know by now that RAPS people don't just talk about helping animals, RAPS people do something about it. Whether helping the homeless, loving up their own pets or being there for RAPS alumni and their humans, RAPS people really come through.

Leo, one of my two sanctuary adoptees, got up to some shenanigans in my apartment earlier this week that caused him to end up with a sore foot. The sanctuary very kindly lent me a large cage to keep him in for a stint of cage rest so that he won't slow down the healing process with a lot of premature running and jumping.

Unfortunately, despite my efforts to turn the cage into the best ever cat fort, Leo did not take to it. In fact, the only way he would consent to stay in it without flailing around and wailing constantly was to have someone sit in there with him. And so, being a RAPS person after all, I crawled in and sat with him, staying until he'd stopped his hysterics and could be coaxed to eat a little dinner.

After that, I called in Daphne, his mom, to keep him company. And she, apparently having decided that being in a cage with a quiet Leo was vastly preferable to being at liberty but having to listen to a yowling Leo, didn't need much convincing. 

Yes, when RAPS people talk about climbing into cages to sit with unhappy cats, it's not a figure of speech!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Jazz arrived at the sanctuary in mid December along with a tortie named Judy. The two cats came from a farm where whoever had been putting food out for them could no longer do so.

Jazz is thought to be around 2 years old and is by far the friendlier of the pair. I'm curious to see how Judy will turn out once she gets over hiding behind a towel and spitting at me. In the meantime, I just know I'm going to enjoy getting better acquainted with adorable Jazz, who's already venturing up close for purrs and rubs.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Update: Grrrroucho

For those who can count they time they've been coming to the sanctuary in years, it can be very rewarding to see how individual cats change over time, particularly those who come in shy, even totally wild, but slowly grow in self-confidence and trust of others. Unfortunately, there is the odd case where the change is not such a positive one. Once laid back and easily lovable Groucho has undergone such a personality change since I first posted about him in 2009 that he has to be kept separate from other cats to prevent him from starting a brawl.

At all seems to have started when Grizzy came to the sanctuary. Groucho took an almost instant dislike to Grizzy, so much so that he'd go out of his way to find him and start a fight. Newcomer Grizzy was already stressed and miserable about his environment (not to mention he'd recently lost an eye), and so it was easy to feel sorry for him and angry at Groucho when Groucho threw him off the top of the cages. And so Groucho had what was to be the first of many "time outs."

And then somewhere along the way, Groucho started going after other cats. He'd get so wound up that he couldn't calm himself down if he wanted to. The time outs became more and more frequent until he had to spend all his time either in a cage in the doublewide or in an outdoor run out the back. Staff even tried a special collar with medicinal properties that were supposed to help calm him, followed by a prescription medication. Nothing seemed to help.

Helping even less are some of the cats he's attacked in the past who, being cats, hold a grudge. Greyson in particular has been observed hanging around Groucho's cage and taunting him.

Fortunately, not all have forsaken Groucho. Loving, loyal Salty often drops by to check on him and even asks to go in his cage and sit with him from time to time. He also still has some human friends who haven't given up on him, who will go into his cage and sit with him (he particularly likes a little company while he eats his dinner) or give him a brush.

Salty visiting Groucho

We still don't know exactly what caused the change in Groucho's behavior. Staff have looked into discernible causes such as possible pain from bad teeth, etc., but so far the change remains a mystery. We may never know for sure.

Towards humans, Groucho's still much as he ever was. A little wound up sometimes because he'd really like to be let out of that cage, but still the kind of cat you can go and spend some time and share some cuddles with. He's even got his own special brush in his cage which he loves being groomed with.

I don't think he understands why he's become a bad boy any more than we do. So, as the sign on his cage says, "Please visits & brings treats & lovin'"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Update: Miller and Schatze get cuddly

Not long after Schatze, our little escape artist and self-appointed parking lot dweller, was [re]captured and brought inside for a check-up, RAPS staff put her shy brother Miller in with her, giving the two a chance to get reacquainted. They were a little uncertain about each other at first, I hear, but were soon cuddling up to each other. Not only that, they both started warmly welcoming cuddles from human visitors to their the cage. Schatze has even been observed to start squeaking a bit like squeal-queen Josie if the stroking stops too soon.


It's wonderful to see these formerly shy kitties turn into wriggling, purring love balls. The hope now is that it'll stick once they've been let out of the cage. Please visit them while they're in there so that they don't forget their decision to like humans once they're out! If Schatze gets to like us all enough, she may even decide that she can be happy living within the sanctuary and not try to escape out into the parking lot when she gets a chance.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Jumper and his sisters are the offspring of a feral mom. They were fostered as kittens by longtime volunteers Barb and Waldi.

Jumper apparently likes to hang out on top of the cages in the Connor, so I didn't get to meet him until this week when he happened to be trying out a couple of different cat beds located at a more pettable height in another building. He was so immediately responsive and friendly that I was amazed I hadn't met him before.

He's one of those cats who put the 'active' in 'interactive' while they cuddle, which meant I got lots of rubs and kisses but not so many portrait quality photos. He's also the type who can get so involved in licking fingers that he starts to bite them, but never mind -- he doesn't do it hard. Love bites are the one kind of cat bite that I don't mind.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Update: Wonder

Here's a great start to the new year with an update on how Wonder is enjoying life in her forever home. A huge thank you to Cathy and Don for welcoming this little blind darling into her home and for sharing with us how she's been doing.
Wonder, our little blind girl from the Sanctuary, has been with us for seven months now. She has grown from a beautiful kitten into a beautiful young cat and continues to be an inspiration for us. She does not let her "special needs" interfere with her love of life! 
She has three companions--our Sheltie and two other cats. (Pansy our 2 1/2 year old urban barn kitten and Mcduff, our 13 year old rescue cat.) Wonder finds lots of things to challenge her---if "Pansy" can get on that shelf or piece of furniture then "I" can too. And she eventually suceeds! Wonder doesn't give up easily! Wonder is a gentle, loving cat, a joy to have in our lives! 

 photos by Cathy