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, March 30, 2012


I like hanging out in the "gericatrics" trailer. It's quiet, the cats are older, mellow and pretty much have their own thing going on.

These days however, if you go to the geriatrics trailer you will likely encounter what seems to be a regular problem happening in the the kitchen sink - it's full all the time. With dishes? Dirty water? Half rinsed cans of cat food?

None of the above.  Try the last queen of Egypt.


Yup, queen Cleopatra sits on her thrown on top of a plate, in the sink. By now you've figured out that. Cleopatra is a cat. She is a beautiful black cat with white markings surrendered along with her former housemate Cesar to the no. 5 road shelter sometime last year. Her medical history reveals a problem with her thyroid but otherwise no other issues.

She is quite a congenial cat, while in the sink she purrs and accepts pets and scratches behind the ear, a contradiction to her initial RAPS arrival assessment of being deathly afraid of people. I even felt comfortable picking her up and taking her to a chair to see if she would interested in a cuddle.

It seems however that Cleopatra is not so fond of being out of her sink and once in my lap she fussed and squirmed, clearly not happy at being dethroned. When I let her go she scooted right back to the sink, indignant at the interruption from her happy place. It was then that I noticed a sign by the sink that read as follows:

So I spent some time observing Cleopatra curious to know if the sign was justified - what would she do if she ever left the sink? Sure enough just as the sign had said, the accused soon hopped out of the sink and headed over to the litter dish to take care of business.

So there you have it, clearly the evidence speaks for itself. I've since noticed in my last couple visits to the gericatrics trailer that a large white overturned basin sits in the sink banning the admission of water filled dished or any queenly cats with sink fetishes.

It's tough to be a queen these days. Soggy paws and all.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


It can be difficult to tell orange & white brothers Creamsicle and Tang apart from a distance. Fortunately, their facial markings are distinct enough (quite symmetrical for Tang, while Creamsicle has when Debbie describes as a popsicle-shaped marking on his nose) to reveal who's who.

Like his brother and sister, Tang came in as a kitten so wild it was hard to imagine he could ever be tamed.

Rio, Creamsicle and Tang
photo provided by Debbie

These days, he's the most generally people friendly of the three and will quite happily visit with you whether or not he's had the pleasure of meeting you before.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Moe was one of a number of cats who started off at the No. 5 Rd. shelter but was sent to the sanctuary largely due to lack of space. These cats had been there a while and were either not as obviously friendly or simply kept getting passed over for no special reason when people came in to look for a cat to adopt.

A striking grey shorthair, Moe saw me visiting with another cat in his enclosure and seemed to feel it quite important to introduce himself to me. After ejecting his rival from his perch and captured my attention, Moe proceeded to shamelessly mug for the camera to make sure he kept it.

He was happy to be stroked as well, but mostly it was just the general attention that he wanted from me. Sometimes cats are all about the cuddles and kisses, but sometimes they really just seem to crave a little human interaction.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Leslie remembers Creamsicle and his sibings Tang and Rio as "3 of the wildest kittens we've ever had."

"... hard to imagine now." she adds. 

Indeed, when I introduced myself to Creamsicle last month, he certainly didn't act wild. He was still cautious at first, though, taking his time staring at me from a safe, just out of reach distance before rushing into any decisions regarding my friendship potential. I let him take his time, and my patience was rewarded with a willingness to try out a few pats followed by a cat dance of approval.

Phaedra describes Creamsicle as the least outgoing of his siblings when it comes to humans (he's quite happy hanging out with his kitty friends), but recognizes he's come a long way from being thought a hopeless feral who'd never learn to trust us. He may not come running for cuddles when she arrives in the mornings, but he's overcome his shyness enough to allow some pets... particularly when there are treats to be had, which I hear he loves.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Cats seem to enjoy messing with us humans so much that I'm sure they'd be delighted to learn that they sometimes do it without even trying. Recently - and rather famously - Marianne's beloved girl Shayla was revealed by a trip the vet for dental work to be Marianne's beloved boy Shayla... I think we're all still recovering from the shock.

On Monday evening in the doublewide I looked up to see a striking tabby peering down at me from one of the catwalks. I asked Brigid, who was there with me, if she knew who it was. She didn't, but between us we got as far as deciding it wasn't Duke but was surely a boy.

Imagine my surprise when Leslie responded to an email saying she thought her name was Molly. More of an "oops" moment than a surprise of Shayla magnitude, but still...

Molly is apparently one of the brown tabbies who came from the same place on No. 4 Road where Clooney was trapped. The man who'd been feeding a number of cats had to move when a developer bought out a block of houses including his. RAPS was asked to come and trap more than a dozen cats.

That was about six years ago. Molly is still shy about being touched, but when Brigid passed me a morsel of chicken to tempt her with, this definitely caught her attention. And while she wasn't quite up to taking it from my hand, she was quite content to take it from a spot next to my hand and then to give my fingers a good sniff afterward to find out if there might be anymore treats where that came from.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Cheetah came to RAPS some years ago with his tabby mother and two black siblings. Mom and siblings were all friendly but Cheetah was a big chicken when it came to humans, so they got adopted while he remained at RAPS.

Cheetah is now around eight or nine years old. He's turned into a friendly boy, though he can still be scared if startled. He is quite fond of treats, as Brigid demonstrates:

He's also got a good friend in Foxy, so even in his less brave moments he doesn't have to worry about being lonely.

Cheetah and Foxy (centre)
photo by Barbara

Friday, March 16, 2012


Munchkin is a little old girl in the front yard who has the look of one who'll run away if you so much as lean in her direction but turns out to be actually quite friendly.

She came to RAPS as a feral and started off living in the singlewide. She must have decided that she didn't care for the location, as she escaped from there into the front courtyard area where she has happily lived ever since.

Munchkin wasn't always as accepting of a pat or two as she is now. Leslie had made some progress in taming her when she was in a cage for a time the singlewide, but she reverted once she got out into the front courtyard. Recently, she's gotten friendlier again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

RAPS Alumni: Clooney

Written by guest blogger Leslie Landa

Back in 2006, a developer purchased a block of houses on No. 4 Road in Richmond to be torn down and replaced with townhomes. One of those houses belonged to an elderly man who liked feeding cats, and RAPS was called out to capture about 16 of them. Most were wild brown tabbies or black and white beauties, but there was one elusive creature that Carol called "the Himalayan" who defied capture until the bitter end.

When this handsome fellow finally had his turn to be neutered, our vet suggested we call him "George Clooney" and the name stuck. Clooney was taken to the sanctuary, where he attempted to hide his large self on the top shelf of his cage. He turned out to be a ragdoll cross and with just one look at his face, and Leslie was in love. She climbed into the cage to see if he was tame and the minute she got her hands on him he became a total mush. Clooney climbed down and onto Leslie's lap and began to kneed with great vigor. Leslie was toast!

"He has to live with us!" she told her husband, who didn't object too strongly as they only had 2 other cats at home. Clooney turned out to be the most affectionate cat the family had ever had, and completely devoted to Leslie, following her everywhere and sleeping on or beside her. His years on the street taught him to be wary, though, so he would run away if approached too quickly or with nail clippers in hand.

Later that year, the Landa family found themselves bottlefeeding a 3-week-old orphaned kitten, and Clooney was smitten. The gentle giant turned out to have strong "maternal" instincts and he bathed the infant as if it were his own. Named Ziggy, the 4th addition to the household grew to be almost as large and has taken great pleasure in chasing poor Clooney, who doesn't understand that it's just for fun. It took 5 years for Clooney to convince the family's oldest cats that they should lick his lowered head rather than swat him, but Clooney finally got his way. He has been totally accepted and can even snuggle with 15-year-old Mocha on a bed or shared lap.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Writing about Ollie last week inspired me to head over to the singlewide trailer and seek out another one that can be affectionately described as "an old wreck of a cat": Bailey.

Leslie told me that Bailey and his brother, Shoe (who has since passed away), came from a site off SW Marine Dr. in Vancouver, where they'd been fed for many years by Fearn, one of RAPS' original volunteers. The fact that Bailey and his brother were around 6 months old when Fearn started feeding them lets us know that Bailey is an old fellow indeed at around 18 years of age. 

He was apparently a cranky feral until just a year or so ago. By this point he had become deaf and got into the habit of loudly (very loudly - he couldn't really hear himself, so probably assumed we couldn't either unless he yelled) demanding extra food. At the same time, he started gradually accepting the idea of people touching him until staff could do practically anything with him. Leslie calls this the "good dementia" in a formerly feral elderly cat. Some of them seem to just forget why it was that we were supposed to be scary and awful.

photo by Michele

Leslie describes the Bailey of the present:
"Bailey is now a scrawny, old fellow who surprises everyone with his continued presence ("Every week, I expect to find him gone!" they say). He has been diagnosed with kidney disease, and in spite of his lack of body weight, he still does a long-legged sprint to the food and water bowls. He has also become the cuddle-mate of one of the sanctuary's most beloved younger cats, Simone. The two sleep together and groom each other every day."
Simone and Bailey

 Simone, Bailey & Zoe
photo by Phaedra

Friday, March 9, 2012

RAPS Alumni Update: Ricky & Cleo

At the most recent RAPS pub night, I had the great pleasure of meeting Wes & Katrina, who adopted sanctuary cats Ricky & Cleo last May. They were kind enough to share an update and photos of this together-forever pair loving life in their forever home. 

They are both doing very well.
Cleo has really come out of her shell. At the sanctuary she was so timid and shy, and Ricky was so out going, we thought for sure she would take the longest to warm up to her new home, but it was just the opposite. She was the first to come out of hiding, and Ricky is a bit of a scaredy cat as it turns out. She spends most of the day chasing around fake mice and watching the birds at the feeder from her “catio.”
Ricky is a lap cat, and doesn’t care for toys or birds and just wants to be pet and sleep all day long. Ricky was my laying around all day buddy when I had my back injury last year, and it really helped to have him there beside me.
It took them a while, but they have definitely found their forever home.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Ollie is one of the sanctuary old-timers.

He came in as a feral and originally had another name, but that was so long ago that nobody seems to remember what it was. Somewhere along the way he started to be called Ollie, and it just sort of stuck. Sometimes cats' names change over time. They don't seem to mind.

In his old age, Ollie is less wild than he once was and accept treats (or sniff a finger to investigate the possibility of treats), but he's doesn't really want to be touched. Luckily, he's got human protectors in the sanctuary staff, who keep him comfortable and safe but don't ask more of him than he's comfortable with.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Although I must have seen this big ginger & white cat in the front courtyard on more than one occasion without knowing who he was, my first proper introduction was via Brigid. She'd remembered my description of Fred, where I likened his manner of requesting a pick-me-up to that up a small child with outstretched hands and a chant of "Up! Up!", and asked if I'd met this other "up! up!" cat in named Tigger.

Brigid said it had only happened a couple of times so far since he's can often be a bit on the aloof side. Get him in the right mood, though, and he's apparently more than happy to climb right up for a good old cuddle. Unfortunately, he really doesn't care for other cats, so getting him in the mood for a little love before the other cats in the front courtyard start crowding around to grab their share of the attention can be a bit tricky.

Tigger was surrendered to RAPS when the woman he'd lived with moved to a place that didn't allow pets. He was brought to the sanctuary from the No. 5 Rd. shelter because he looked too cranky at first to be a candidate for quick adoption and he was too big to comfortably hang out in the adoption centre cages for an extended period of time.

Once he'd settled in at the sanctuary, Tigger turned out to be a very friendly guy. Leslie says that he'd get quite anxious, though, when other dominant males came too close -- so anxious that he'd forget that the human holding him was his friend. He's been with us a couple of years now, so maybe he's a little less likely to forget himself and get his humans caught in the crossfire.

When I met him last week, Tigger was pleased to see Brigid and me. He wasn't quite in an "up! up!" mood, but this seemed to be due at least in part to him sensing other cats moving in, attracted by the humans. Interestingly (and luckily for us), he chose to express his dislike for the other cats simply by pointedly turning his back to them.

Got to agree with Leslie's thought that he'd make a great "only" cat in a household.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chi Chi

Chi Chi had been living with his people for over ten years. When they couldn't keep him anymore, they gave him to a friend. It seems that the friend didn't want him in the end, and surrendered him to the RAPS No. 5 Rd. shelter.

All this time, Chi Chi had never been neutered. And when he arrived at RAPS, his long fur was so matted that he had to be shaved. All around, he's not had what a cat would consider a fun time of it since he arrived, and as a result can be a little grouchy at times. The staff at 5 Rd. didn't think they'd have much luck adopting him out, and so he was brought to live in the "Gericatrics" building at the cat sanctuary.

Meeting him, it's clear that he'll be a very handsome boy when his fur grows out. He also has the makings of a very nice boy, though at present it's best to stick to the few pets he enjoys before he's decided he's had enough unless you want to earn yourself a curt little nip or a light smack.