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 28, 2012


When Gypsy first arrived at RAPS, he was so scared of people that it was unclear whether he was feral or had once been tame but lost his trust of humans. Over time, he's gradually come to be more of a fan of the humans at the sanctuary, winning some human fans for himself in turn.

While some have known Gypsy as a girl (probably inspired partly by the name and partly by the fact that the box for "female" was checked on his file), he has been verified to be, well, a "he." Such confusion happens from time to time with the occasional cat at the shelter, usually when we get an idea in our heads that a particular cat seems like a boy or girl but don't feel it polite to look up the kitty's skirt to make sure. Fortunately, cats tend not to care how people define them. After all, they already know exactly who and what they are.

Back to Gypsy. My first encounter with him was last summer when Ann was helping me do a behind the scenes post for the blog. Gypsy was in one of the back pens where the ferals feel most comfortable. While he let me get close enough to take his picture, he was clearly a bit nervous about me and scooted off when I tried to approach within touching distance.

When I finally had a chance to go and meet him properly this week, he was snoozing on a board by the fence and initially I wasn't sure if I'd have much better luck than I had before.

I was pleasantly surprised to find him quite interested in making friends. Not only did he allow me to pat him, but he enjoyed it so much that when I stopped, he proceeded to follow me around the pen.

I think I can get some idea why his fans love him so dearly.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Good-bye and good luck, foster kitties

After what seems an incredibly short time to kitten visitors but must have felt like an eternity to the moms (both biological and foster), Ann's troupe of eight bouncy black kittens are headed to the RAPS Richmond City Shelter for adoption.

All the efforts of various RAPS sanctuary staff and volunteers to spend time with the kittens and socialize them have clearly paid off -- no human anxiety for these babies.

Here are a few photos from Monday night. It's amazing how much they've grown since we first met them in August! They're proper mini cats now, each with the beginnings of a distinct personality and ready to invade loving homes and hearts.

And we now return you to your regular scheduled cat sanctuary blog programming.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Two weeks ago I wrote about Tommy, a cat I met while sitting in the front courtyard one sunny day.  While watching Tommy, I noticed that he spent a lot of time snuggling up not only to me, but also a few of the cats that were milling around us. One cat he seemed especially cozy with was a cat named Pogo who I later found out was Tommy's brother.
Tommy and Pogo arrived at the sanctuary as feral kittens ten years ago and from what I can see, they are inseparable. There certainly doesn't seem to be any sibling rivalry here.
Tommy & Pogo
I spent time with both cats observing and cuddling them. Pogo who ignored me the first week was especially affectionate when I came to visit him a week later. He came over and started to rub against my legs. Quite determined in his quest for love, he burrowed in my lap with great gusto. I shared this information with Leslie who was surprised and said that was unusual for Pogo as he is normally a bit stand-offish. Perhaps Tommy told Pogo that if he played it up a bit he might get a story written about him too.  I guess every cat wants his 15 minutes of fame.

Friday, September 21, 2012


So often when I meet a friendly cat who's new to me but not new to RAPS, I wonder how I managed to miss him or her before. I suppose it's at least partly because there are hundreds of cats at the sanctuary. And, while we do have a number of particularly outgoing residents who will insist that you know them, a lot of the cats don't like to presume. This means that for more than a few cats, the only way to find out if they're friendly is to approach one that's sitting in a box or perched on a shelf, stop, smile, and try to reach out and touch. As an approach it's not without some risk... However, it's sometimes the only way to make the acquaintance of some of our less pushy residents.

I met Candy on Monday night, a pretty little brownish-black cat relaxing in a box that had once held peaches. She first caught my eye because of the distinctive speckling of white on her chest. I went in for a patting attempt, to which Candy responded with great pleasure. We were both delighted to make a new friend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Katrina is a quiet, shy girl who's quite adept a performing a vanishing act when approached. Needless to say, I didn't have an easy time photographing her.

The first time I noticed her, she was sleeping contentedly on a sofa on the covered porch behind the singlewide. Her calico markings caught my attention and I hoped to get an introduction and a photo. Kim warned me that I'd likely have trouble getting close, and indeed no sooner had I unlatched the door than Katrina zipped under the couch. Even when I came back a little later, the best I could get was a photo of her squinting at me from under a table.

It turns out that Katrina, who's around 10 years old, came to RAPS as a feral. Unlike Madison, she's never stopped fearing close contact with humans. Even so, her sweet nature shines through. When I came across her again this week, she was sitting just on the other side of a barrier. She could clearly see, hear and smell me, yet she still allowed me to get much closer than she had before and even take a few pictures, content in the knowledge that I wouldn't be able to touch or grab her through the fence. No defensive growling, hissing, or even glaring needed.

It's nice that shy ferals like Katrina can have a place to live where they can feel safe enough to let humans get even that close.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Update: Coco

I'm pleased to report that Coco is now completely out of hiding and ready to make some new human friends.

When Martha posted about him at the end of July, he was still very much adjusting to his new surroundings (and situation in general) and needed quite a bit of convincing to let her get within petting range. When I came across him this evening, he was relaxing in the front courtyard. I noticed the white tip of his tail and wondered who this cat who looked a bit like Puffin (black & white, fluffy, white bit on the end of his tail) was. Not having seen his tail in his shy portraits from July, I didn't clue in that this was in fact Coco until Leslie told me.

Coco (left) and Puffin
He's also much more confident than he was when he came. You still have to approach him quietly and gently, but if that one request is honoured, he accepts pets quiet readily. Even if you inadvertently come on a bit too strong or, as I did, have just a bit too intimidating a camera, he'll slink off out of reach, but only just. Then he turns, sits, and watches you with interest, quite ready to have another go at making friends if you're willing to take it a bit slower this time.

Clearly a sweetie, just as advertized. So nice to see him out and about.

Friday, September 14, 2012


photo by Barbara

The sign in the area where Madison lives at the cat sanctuary describes the fluffy black & white girl as friendly though a bit shy.

The first time I tried to properly introduce myself to her unfortunately happened to be around dinnertime, and so I didn't immediately get to assess the friendly-to-shy ratio as Madison was rather preoccupied with checking out her dinner, checking out if other plates possibly had different dinner, and checking to see if Kim might possibly have anything else to give her.

I hung around a bit and Madison was presently ready to see me. While not exuberant in her visiting, she's definitely a sweet, friendly girl. Pretty amazing to consider that this 10+ year old came to RAPS as a feral!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Little baby foster kitties Part V

For those just tuning in, cat sanctuary staff member Ann is fostering young mom Kaynine and her large brood of kittens until the babies are old enough to be weaned and can go to the RAPS No. 5 Rd. shelter to find their forever homes. Various other staff and volunteers from the sanctuary have been dropping by on a regular basis to socialize the kittens so that they'll be comfortable around humans in general, not just their "other mother" Ann.

It's incredible to see how much the kittens grow and change from one week to the next. They're starting to be increasingly active in exploring their environment and have discovered that toys are more than just something to stumble over. They're also starting to show signs of what their individual personalities might be, from the most intrepid explorer to the shyer one who's happy just sitting perched on a knee and looking at stuff.

Here's a bit of what they were up to this week:

Monday, September 10, 2012


On these last few hot summer days, it is quite a sight to see all the cats sprawled out on the warm cement in the front courtyard.You can't help but want to join them and sprawl out yourself on the inviting, radiant cement and roll around cat style soaking up the heat.
While sitting in the front courtyard one day, I met a handsome gray and white cat named Tommy who was brought to the sanctuary with his brother Pogo and his sister Chloe ten years ago as very frightened feral kittens. Pogo and Tommy still live at the sanctuary but Chloe has since passed away. A distinctive splotch of white fur in the centre of Tommy's back makes him look as though he'd been caught under a road surface marker truck.
Tommy seems a sweet cat and enjoyed sitting with me amongst all the other cats.  A nuzzling kind of guy, he first began nuzzling up to my foot and then moved on to nuzzle up to his brother Pogo.  It is touching to see a strong bond still exists for these two cats even after all these years.
Tommy and Pogo

Friday, September 7, 2012


When I came across this black & white kitty on the back porch of the singlewide recently, I wondered how it was that I hadn't noticed her before.

I later found out from Leslie that she's a cat that few people notice. Her name is Whiskers and she's a quiet girl who was trapped over a decade ago near a Richmond hotel.

Fellow volunteer Kim was with me when I met Whiskers. It was Kim's first contact as well, since Whiskers seems to like to hang out up high where she can feel safe and keep and eye on us humans. Standing on a stool, Kim was able to get close enough to reach up and have the tip her her finger sniffed. It turns out that this may have been as close as Whiskers has let people get, as Leslie was not aware of anyone having yet had physical contact with her.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Little baby foster kitties Part IV

This week's update on Ann's foster kittens is contributed by guest blogger Ayako Fukuda.

We visited Ann's foster cats on Sunday again, as Vince's brother Brandon and his fiancee Noreen, a vet and animal care technician respectively, were coming to examine them. Brandon did a quick check on the kittens' and mom's condition, and it was great to hear that they are all doing okay. Ann was still bit anxious about the two runties. However, both of the runties have a good appetite as usual.

One thing I noticed from today's visit was that they were much quieter this week. They are already 4 weeks old and getting more confident and less afraid of strangers. I was little sad not hearing their cute "pew" (not "meow" yet).

Anyway, there are now 16 ears were growing bigger and more cat-like in appearance, 16 blue eyes (Ann was scared of them!!) were already starting to see clearly, and 16 little paws were no longer bear claws but finally cat claws which they can deploy and retract at will. However, there are still 8 rat tails.

Brandon and Noreen gave them their first nail clipping, so that they don't hurt each other or their moms (Ann & Kaynine).

Monday, September 3, 2012

After dinner wash

Now that the weather's started started to cool down a bit but the sun is still shining, the sanctuary cats seem to be able to enjoy their evenings a bit more. Last week the kitties were feeling so good that it seemed like everywhere I looked there was someone engaging in the grand tradition of contented cats everywhere: the after dinner wash.

As always, Fred doesn't disappoint when it comes to a photo op!