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, January 30, 2013


Ninja is a cat I've meant to write about for so long that somewhere along the way I started to think I'd actually done it. So here's his post at last.

Ninja came to RAPS a couple of years ago after our Wednesday morning volunteer Elizabeth had found him wandering around her north Richmond neighbourhood. He was only about a year old at the time. An outgoing youngster, he would have been brought to the No. 5 Rd. shelter for adoption if there'd been room. As there was none to spare, Ninja remained at the sanctuary.

For our part, we've been happy to have him. He's got that great combination of being playful and energetic but also loving to curl up in a lap. Ninja is still very adoptable and we hope he meets someone who falls in love with his cute face and fun personality.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Wednesday Night Crew

This is a shout out to all the working staff at RAPS who do such an amazing job of keeping the hundreds of cats at RAPS healthy, comfortable and loved.  Since I frequently refer to the staff in my blog posts, I thought I’d give the Wednesday night crew a chance at the spotlight too.
Leslie is the sanctuary’s senior medical staff and gifted cat savant with a profuse knowledge of all the cats’ names and histories.  How is it possible for one woman to know so much about so many cats?  I guess it would be because that knowledge comes from a place of love for every single one of them.

Leslie started in 1998 after meeting RAPS executive director and founder at a garage sale back when it was known as the Richmond Homeless Cats Society.  The sanctuary was built in 1999 and she has been here ever since.  When I asked Leslie what she thought was the best thing about working at the sanctuary, she said this: "unconditional love from hundreds of wonderful little souls and getting to know each individual's personality.  Taking care of their health needs is challenging, but very rewarding."  Indeed, Leslie takes very good care of the sick cats at the sanctuary and I`ve no doubt that a good dose of her love is the best medicine around for those cats.

Leslie and Ann holding Tugboat and Marmalade
Ann started as a volunteer for RAPS sanctuary in 2008 and eventually worked her way to a medical staff position and works alongside Leslie every Wednesday night.  Ann has a vivacious and infectious energy about her that brings about peals of laughter, fun and adoration from everyone two legged or four.   
Often I come to work on Wednesdays and Ann will enthusiastically tell me about some new cat that has arrived and is always eager to take me to meet them.  Fearless med staff that she is, she has plenty of scratch and bite scars to prove that she is dedicated to helping the sick and needy cats of the sanctuary.
When I asked Ann who her favorite cat of the sanctuary was she said this: “well, I guess that would be Maxi man or Marmalade… or maybe Gilbert, but then there is Gunther and Sylvester and well Cagney is great and I can’t forget about Seven and also…” and well, you get the picture.  An unfair question on my part really, how can you pick just one?
Doug works Wednesday nights but he keeps to himself and I don’t often get a chance to talk to him all that much.  He keeps the sanctuary running smoothly, fixing just about anything and everything that needs some fixing.  He has built some of the houses for the cats and keeps up on all carpentry and maintenance issues.  That is a tall order with hundreds of cats running loose who keep him busy in the wake of their destructive ways.  Doug is always hard at work whenever I see him but every once in a while I catch him with his laser light out playing with one of the cats.
Doug plead the fifth when asked who is favorite cat was but I have been informed by the rest of the staff that Doug has an admirer in Josie who stomps around in delight whenever Doug comes near. She is absolutely overjoyed when Doug kneels down to pat her hind end which elicits an odd but endearing little dancing jig and singing number from this little lover cat.
Doug with Josie by his side and Lincoln in his lap
And finally there is Louise who came from South Africa and started as a volunteer in 2009, eventually finding  a position in 2011.  Louise has an incredibly gentle way with the cats softly talking to them and cooing at them while she goes about her work.  She has an endearing laugh and a beautiful smile and seems to be able to read the minds of these cats with incredible insight.  She always has a good story to tell about any cat you care to ask about.
Though hard for her to nail it down to one cat, when pushed, Louise states she has a special affection for Buddy as he is just a sweet boy always ready for a cuddle.

Louise with Buddy
These four staff members are just a few of the dedicated staff who provide love and care for the cats at RAPS. You are all loved and appreciated not only by the cats, but the volunteers who work with you and make our experience at the sanctuary complete.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Nelly loves her Mario

One more than one occasion I've seen the sanctuary's Mr. Popularity, Mario, lying semi-squashed under his adoring fan Nelly. This he accepts with quiet grace. And what does he get in return for being a great furry pillow? Apparently, at very least, a thorough grooming.

When I came across them last week, Nelly was in the midst of giving her beloved a most adoringly meticulous wash.

Nelly remains determined to not have anything to do with humans beyond a wide-eyed and hostile stare, but she does love her Mario. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


photo by Michele

Diamond came in as one of several feral kittens in 2006. Since the litter was wild, they stayed at the cat sanctuary rather than being relocated to the RAPS No. 5 Rd. shelter. As you might have guessed, Diamond's name was inspired by those neat diamond-shaped facial markings.

It's taken a while, but Diamond is starting to get more comfortable around people. Not pick-up-and-cuddle comfortable, perhaps, but definitely at the stage of being curious about what we're doing and willing to touch nose to finger tip.

From what Leslie tells me, it sounds like this is another one where some time in a cage here and there while some medical issue was checked out had the welcome side effect of giving a feral cat a chance to (i.e., obliging them to) get to know their human carers, and to realize that a) we're not sooo scary, and b) we may produce small quantities of tasty chicken or tuna. Both good incentive for further interaction.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Update: Jasmine

Jasmine (featured as Miss January in the 2013 RAPS Cat Sanctuary Calendar) has become a bit more comfortable with humans since I first blogged about her in December of 2009.

She now frequently comes into the laundry room of the doublewide at dinner time and meows to hurry up the  dinner service. While still not too happy about having a hand coming any close than needed her for to sniff a fingertip (and sometimes not even that close), she's a lot calmer than she used to be about having humans moving around nearby.

Jasmine's got kidney disease in its early stages and needs to be given fluids every so often. Leslie still needs to net her to do this, but has found that she can give Jasmine her reward of a little chicken while the net's still over her (cats who need to be netted often are too scared to accept their treat until after they're released). Jasmine is extremely fond of chicken, so perhaps this has something to do with her willingness to eat it, net or no net.

Updated March 18, 2013: Jasmine's kidney disease finally got the better of her this week. Good-bye, shy pretty girl. We'll miss you.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Marble came to the cat sanctuary in mid-December. She's around eight years old and was surrendered to RAPS when the senior she'd lived with could no longer look after her after a period of hospitalization.

When I went to introduce myself earlier this week, Marble was so pleased that she started kneading the air in front of her perch in anticipation. I wasn't sure how much visiting it was safe to do, as the sign on her cage door said that she could get anxious and slash out.  But she remained nothing but friendly, and when I asked Gaye later she said she hadn't had any problems with Marble since she came to the sanctuary.

Perhaps Marble was more anxious about her surroundings when she was first surrendered to the RAPS No. 5 Rd. shelter. In any case, she seems well on her way to adjusting to her sanctuary home. Fortunately for her, she does have experience living with another cat, so she already knows she's not the only one of her kind!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


photo by Michele
This beautiful girl was brought to my attention by Marianne, who had recently met her for the first time herself. Met her properly, that is. Marianne suspects she must have come across Samantha before, as she's apparently been at the sanctuary for some time, but mistook her for Sasha, another pretty, fluffy grey & white girl with a pink nose. I've probably done the same myself, and didn't try to make contact because Sasha's always responded by running away.

It turns out that Samantha, named by Leslie after her daughter, is a bit more interested in making friends than Sasha. Marianne describes her encounter:
She was sitting on one of the chairs on the outside deck of the Newcomers area when I passed by and, when I stopped to say hello and offer a finger, she sniffed at it, then started rubbing her head up against my hand. We were having a nice little love-up until Newman came along and intruded his little self between us, at which time Samantha took off into the back yard. I followed her and she came up to again sniff my finger when I beckoned to her but Newman kept getting in between so she headed off toward the back pens. 
Samantha's still not 100% comfortable with people. When Leslie tried to introduce me last Monday evening, I was only able to get as close as the shot below before Samantha decided she really didn't want to meet me just then and trotted off into one of the back pens.

When Michele met Samantha, she found her a bit skittish. Leslie's had the best luck when she can spend one-on-one time with Samantha, but she predicts that soon more people will be able to pet this shy, sweet girl.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mama Hollandia

This blog post is in honor of the shyer cats at RAPS, the feral cats that never learn to trust.  The cats who gratefully defer the spotlight to other more attention focused cats. These are the cats that sneak under tables, hide behind walls of blankets and scamper at the speed of light just to avoid a confrontation with us two legged creatures.
Mama Hollandia was found and trapped at a feeding station behind Hollandia Catering.  This location, along with her five kittens, inspired her unique name.  Mama Hollandia has outlived all but one of her kittens and only Chloe, a calico like her mom, lives with her in the single wide now.
Despite living at the RAPS sanctuary for 13 years now, Mama Hollandia remains very feral and refuses to make friends with the staff and volunteers at RAPS.  I found her hiding in a box under a chair in the single wide, keeping a wary eye on me.  I managed to get a few shots of her before she slunk away when I turned my back for a second.  I’m told that if you really push it and try to sneak a pet in she will hiss at you but is not likely to do any bodily damage.  Judging from the fear in her eyes, I thought I would catch what I could with my camera and leave her be without pestering her too much.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Kilby (Kilmer)

Kilby arrived at RAPS with the name Killer and this fabulous studded collar.

When staff saw what a nice cat he was, though, they decided to tweak his name a bit to give him a gentler, friendlier sounding one to go with his personality.

Kilby has been through quite a lot. He suffered some broken bones, then had megacolon, then went from chronic constipation to having terrible diarrhea. It seems to have been the last thing that became more than his owner could handle. And so Kilby came to live at the sanctuary. Staff put him on a temporary raw food diet to help treat the diarrhea, and he already seems to be improving.

Even having gone through all of this, Kilby is happy to get to know us and quick to accept pats and chin tickles. It doesn't take much at all to get him flopped on his side, kneading the air with his paws and purring away. The one thing he does not like is the flash from a camera, which I unfortunately discovered seconds after I took the photo below. That he was so frightened by the sudden bright light leads us to suspect his broken bones may have come from being hit by a car.

It took Kilby a little while to forgive me for scaring him, but within the hour we were back to rubs and purrs.

Update January 15, 2013: It looks like this little guy's had another name change, with staff finally settling on Kilmer.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Update: George and Marie

A couple of sanctuary cats have gone to live in homes of their own over the past little while.

The big (but wonderful) surprise was Marie, who's often on the crabby side and has been living at the sanctuary so long that staff initially wondered if she'd be able to adjust to living in a home. The lady who adopted her fell so totally in love with her, though, that she could see through to her best qualities while being able to accept her challenges. Best of luck, Marie, and enjoy your new home!

Marie shortly after her pre-adoption shave to get rid of those persistent mats
photo by Phaedra

George's adoption was less of a surprise, as it was well known at the sanctuary that volunteer Monica had come to love him dearly. As soon as Monica moved to a place where she could have pets, she was able to take her darling home.

Here are a couple of photos of George taking full advantage of his comfy new home where he knows he's one well-loved kitty.

photo by Monica
photo by Monica

Monday, January 7, 2013


For the first weeks and months after the two young cats arrived at the RAPS sanctuary after being trapped near SilverCity, Silvia was a little less eager than her brother Silver to show us that she's not a feral kitty.

Silver and Silvia
Marianne remembers how Silvia would growl and hiss in response to efforts to make friends. Ayako tells me that Silvia used to remind her of how Bossa Nova was when he first came in, all hiss and no trust.

Eventually, Marianne found the time she spent sitting the Silver and Silvia's cage with them paid off, and Silvia began to first tolerate and then even start to enjoy receiving a few pats. Even so, Silvia apparently remained fairly shy until quite recently, when she started giving Leslie the odd head butt.

Now, while she doesn't come forward as quickly as her brother does, it doesn't take her much time watching him get pats and tummy rubs before she presents herself to receive her proper share of the same.

Friday, January 4, 2013


When youngster Silver and his sister Silvia were trapped around SilverCity (can you guess what inspired their names?) in October, they were thought to be feral. Silver soon proved this to be untrue. "Very early on," says Marianne, who made a point of spending time with them when they came to the sanctuary. "Silver, the tabby/white boy, showed that he's not feral by flipping over for a tummy rub as soon as contact was made."

I didn't think to introduce myself to the pair earlier because at first they used to hide behind a drape when strangers came by, and even now the sign on their cage in the Connor building warns visitors not to frighten them. It was Marianne who brought them to my attention as a couple of "cute and very sweet" cats that I might enjoy meeting. And I certainly did.  No sooner did I approach the cage door than Silver was sizing me up as a potential friend and sharer of cuddles.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Butterbean is one of the newest arrivals to the RAPS sanctuary.

He's thought to be around 12 years old and has the unfortunate distinction of being FIV positive and having feline leukemia. Luckily, RAPS has the facilities to care for FIV and leukemia cats.

Despite the double health whammy, Butterbean immediately showed himself to be a complete sweetheart. Even when Leslie had to bathe him on his arrival at the sanctuary, he gave her no trouble at all. And, far from holding post-bath grudges, he was so happy to cuddle with her when she introduced me to him a short time after that it was all I could do to get a photo with all his moving around.

I think it's safe to say that this boy's already secured himself a spot as a favourite of more than a few volunteers and members of sanctuary staff.