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, February 29, 2012


I was bullied into writing this blog post.
Normally I go to the Sanctuary, I pick a cat that has intrigued me in some way, take some pictures and I write a story.  A few Wednesdays ago, I was under the illusion that I was still in control of my pen and camera but instead I was educated otherwise. Mooshie had other plans for me and the Neko Files.

From the minute I stepped into the leukemia room in the single wide, Mooshie decided that she was not to be cast aside.  While I took random pictures of some of the leukemia cats, Mooshie did her best to sabotage my efforts. The pictures I took were ruined by a blur of gray fur whizzing past, a tail from out of nowhere or a picture of the floor as my camera arm was “accidentally” nudged by a passing Mooshie.

Finally I decided that like most things in life, it’s usually just easier to go with the flow. Mooshie you win.

Mooshie, a recent inductee into the leukemia room came over with her mate Naalah from the Moore house.  You can recognize Mooshie in an instant with her little white milk moustache and her sizable mass.  She’s not fat, but she’s a big girl.

Now the focus of my attention, Mooshie played it up.  Captivated by my shoe, she rolled around on top of it. Revelling in stinky shoe smell, she rubbed her face all over it.  After finishing with my shoe, she jumped on my lap though not really interested in a cuddle, it was more of an insistence that I continue to focus and stop petting all those other darn cats. If Mooshie had hands, I’m sure she would have grabbed my cheeks and told me to “pay attention!”

Finally, Mooshie wandered off to a nearby food bowl.  She plunked herself down almost on top of her bowl and I could swear I heard a sign of resignation and the disgruntled murmur: “this chick is soooo not getting it”.  Then finally I got it. Mooshie was not looking for fame, fortune or at the very least my undivided attention... she was looking for dinner!

So I learned a very important journalistic lesson that Wednesday night at the sanctuary.  If you’re looking for a good story on a cat, it’s best to wait till after dinner has been served.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Written by guest blogger Kim Howe

When I began volunteering in the single wide in the summer of 2008, Pudditat was the first cat with whom I made a connection. He's a handsome boy with unique markings and striking blue eyes due to his tabby/siamese combination. Three and a half years later, he is still the first cat I seek out when I get to the single wide every Monday.

I haven't been able to find out much about Pudditat's pre-sanctuary life -- everyone just remembers him as having been at the sanctuary for ages. He has been a resident of the leukemia room as long as I have known him. He started out semi-feral, though you wouldn't know it now as he has become quite a cuddler. Over the years, he has progressed from tentatively sitting beside me to accept a few pets to now sitting in my lap and rolling onto his side for belly rubs.

Pudditat has had numerous roommates over the last few years as many leukemia cats have come and sadly gone. He can be a bit of a loner at times and often escapes to the bed on top of the cage for a little quiet time to himself, but I know that he's waiting for me on Mondays and that my voice will coax him down for some quality time.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Chloe (II)

A couple of times recently while I was visiting old cat friends and making new ones in the singlewide, I'd look up and see this funny little round face peering down at me.

She seemed quite fascinated by me, but both times I tried to make contact with her, I wasn't able to get her to do any more than sniff the tip of my finger.
(Perhaps some small tasty offering might have won me a more extended audience.)

I asked Leslie about her and learned that she's lived at RAPS for 12 years. She came in with her mom, another wild calico who lives in the singlewide as well. Leslie calls the mom "Momma Hollandia" after Hollandia Catering just off River Road, which is where the pair came from.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Mischa is the sister of Mary, Mitchell and Marty. The siblings were trapped along with their mother and aunt on a farm in south Richmond which sanctuary staff refer to as "the Mary He" farm after the lady who looked after the feeding site there.

Mischa was apparently the wildest of the litter, but over time got used to being around the RAPS staff and volunteers working in the singlewide and decided she wanted to be friends. Leslie describes her as "one of those who just tame up on their own by watching the others."

These days, she's still a little uncertain with people she doesn't know, but it doesn't take much more than slow movements and a gentle smile to let her know you're probably OK.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie (Robbie to to some) is named for the American heavy metal musician. He got his distinctive name at the vet's office when he and his sister Rebecca were first brought in as young ferals, apparently inspired by the fact that it was around Halloween at the time.

Rob is not as comfortable and social with people as his sister has become, and still tends to try and stay out of the way if he knows humans are around. He can often be found peering down from the safety of the top of the cages in the singlewide.

Phaedra says that he "does like treats and will accept them from hands on occasion and if not he will take it if dropped in front of him." I'm thinking treat-offering may be something this shy boy prefers from people he's a bit more used to -- for me, who he's only seen around and never really interacted with, he just couldn't relax enough to allow me to put something near him. Or maybe what I had on offer just wasn't enticing enough to help him overcome his fear of strangers.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Rebecca and her brother, the curiously named Rob Zombie, came to RAPS as feral youngsters. Rebecca had had an injury that resulted in her tail needing to be partially amputated.

Fortunately, sporting a stubby tail doesn't seem to bother her in the slightest. 

Rebecca has turned out to be a sweet girl, though she hasn't entirely lost her timidity. When I introduced myself to her earlier this week, she was fine with me photographing her as much as I wanted, but a little less sure about me touching her. Eventually, she decided that I was OK and a few pats might be rather nice. 

I asked Phaedra, who knows our singlewide residents well, if she could share some of her impressions of this striking girl. Here's what she had to say.

Becca doesn't come for snugs or lap time, but if she knows there are treats around or something too irresistible like a laser pen or feather toy she forgets her fear of humans. She can often be found playing or snugging with other kitties, not so much her brother though, and a few times I've found her and Max sleeping together, which I thought was just odd as he doesn't like other cats.
She can be quite timid if she doesn't know you, but once she knows that you have something to offer her that she wants, she gets more and more courageous.
If I get a quick pet in, it's fifty fifty as to whether her back will betray her and arch and enjoy it or she'll bristle with disdain and run off. With time I fully expect her to eventually actually enjoy those quick pets so much that she'll one day come for them as well as treats and play. Until then, or if not, she seems quite happy with her singlewide kitty friends and fits in well with the social dynamic in there. 

photo by Barbara

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Graceless '12

It's been a few months since the last Graceless Kitties post - high time for the first installment of 2012.

So here are some of our sillier (or at very least more relaxed) friends at the cat sanctuary doing what they do best. Enjoy.

 photos by Marianne

photos by Michele

photo by Ayako

photos by Phaedra

 photos by Claire

In addition to thanking the photogs credited above, thanks to the cats (Fred, Piper, Morrissey, Diablo, Ricky, Leland, Larry, Ella and others) for playing along.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Update: Huckle

When I wrote about Huckle last February, the little old feral girl was just starting to consider letting a few people touch her. Not much progress was made since then, and up until recently she never really made it past sitting in a cat bed on the front porch outside the singlewide.

When the colder weather comes, many normally outdoor cats find their way inside where it's warm and cozy, but some of the ferals need a little help in deciding to brave the humans rather than braving the cold. Worried about Huckle sitting out there on her porch, Marianne suggested putting her in a cage in the Connor building where she'd be nice and warm.

This was done.  The funny thing is that now, after the cage door has been opened and Huckle is free to leave, she doesn't want to go anywhere. She's decided she's perfectly happy where she is. Staff have even had to put up signs to let well-meaning volunteers know not to remove the food & water or litterbox (which are not usually needed for an open cage), nor to move the step ladder that will let her get down when and if she decides she wants to.

Not only that, Huckle is now more willing to have people touch her. She's still a bit nervous at first, but nothing she's not willing to get past once she realizes all that's going to happen to her is a bit of gentle stroking, and a little stroking feels nice.

Updated September 5, 2012: Little Huckle had to go to the Rainbow Bridge this week. She will be missed. Here are a few words from Ed, to whom she was particularly dear:
It was through Huckle that I developed a wonderful friendship with a woman who was in her late 80's at the time, who moved to California to be with her family and arranged to put Huckle at the sanctuary. Huckle was about 8 years old when she was placed at the Sanctuary and that was in 2004, so at the time of her crossing she was 16 years old.
I wish to thank all the volunteers at the Sanctuary who worked with my little girl, who helped her feel safe, comfortable and cared for. Because of all your hard work she changed from a feral cat to one who was comfortable around people and other cats.

Friday, February 10, 2012


On my way out of the singlewide earlier this week after my unsuccessful attempt to get close to Asta, I looked up to find this handsome fellow peering down at me from the top of the cages.

He was interested in me, though not quite interested enough to be bothered to come down from his perch for a proper cuddle. And so I had to make do with having my reaching fingers sniffed and gently pawed.

I found out afterward that this was Bantam who came from the same egg farm on Blundell where we got Simone and April. Already looking forward to visiting him again. Hopefully next time he'll deign to come down to a more pettable location!

photo by Barbara

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Asta (aka Astra)

Asta (named after the dog in the movie The Thin Man) came to RAPS a few years ago as a young adult. Afraid of humans, she opted to live on the enclosed deck behind the singlewide where she stayed as far away from humans as possible.

When staff decided it was time for her to go to the vet for a dental a few weeks ago, respecting her wishes to have nothing to do with us wasn't an option. And this turned out to be a good thing. Here's what Leslie had to say:
"While she was caged and on antibiotics afterward, I decided to try approaching her. She never emerged from behind her hidey drape. When I touched her, she immediately responded in a positive way, so I continued. For 2 weeks, I visited her daily and stroked the heck out of her, because she loved it. She'd flop on her side to invite tummy rubs and pushed her head into my arm. I definitely won her over. Then, I released her and continued to approach her for pets. She no longer runs away from me and now feels brave enough to go inside the warm building, instead of living out in the cold. I'm so happy that she can now live more comfortably with us."
When I asked Leslie to introduce me on Monday, Asta, back out on the porch, took one look at the stranger Leslie had brought and fled to the rafters. It looks like we all still have some work to do to make sure Asta doesn't forget that we're really not so bad.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Siskel & Chumley

Siskel and Chumley came to the sanctuary late last November.

The pair of semi-ferals had been living on a farm on No. 3 Rd. Chumley (on the left in the photo) unfortunately had some accident during the time he was out fending for himself and had to have his tail amputated before coming to his new home at the sanctuary.

I'm told Siskel can be friendly, but I haven't had much luck so far in being able to touch him without him cringing away. Chumley, initially aggressive enough to warrant a warning sign on their cage, has relaxed somewhat and is spending some of his time sitting on the chair by the door so he can look out.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Sahara is the sister of Cairo and Asia, and currently the shyest of the three.

She had gotten to be a pretty friendly girl, but unfortunately a chronic eye discharge problem meant staff had to subject her to a variety of veterinary ophthalmic ointments to keep it under control. Sahara consequently concluded that going near humans meant a good chance of getting grabbed and having yucky stuff dabbed on her face. And now she doesn't trust us so much.

Like her siblings, though, Sahara has a passion for poultry  -- should a big help to Leslie in her efforts to rebuild this kitty's trust with chicken.

Even without an a food offering, Sahara does allow herself to be stroked a little bit if approached slowly and touched very gently, but she never quite loses that look of being poised to bolt at any moment.