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 27, 2013


Inky's one of those cats who've been at the cat sanctuary for so long that the details of where he originally came from are a bit fuzzy. It's also unclear whether he came to us as a feral unused to people or a frightened stray. Over time, though, he started to let people at RAPS see what a sweetheart he is.

Inky usually hangs out in the back yard or the tea room. I got a chance to meet him this week because he'd been brought in to one of the cages in the doublewide for some fattening up and a little TLC ("give him love and treats" says the sign on his door). Inky's friendly with people but, like Elmo, tends to be quite timid with other cats and so lets himself be much too easily pushed away from supper dishes without having a chance to eat his fill. Leslie has him on her list of cats who get specially served a little something extra to compensate, but even then it can be challenging to get him to eat properly when he backs off if another cat so much as approaches the plate she's put in front of him.

Inky doesn't seem to mind his time in the cage, and loves receiving visitors while he's there. I'd barely entered before he was purring and coming forward for cuddles. Before long, he was treating me to cheerful little headbutts to my forehead any time I leaned close enough. Needless to say, with all this purring and rubbing and headbutting, it wasn't easy to get a proper photo of him.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Buddy is a friendly cat I met in the New AIDS house while “interviewing” another cat for a post.  Buddy was insistent on getting some attention from me; he stood on the back of the chair I was sitting in and rubbed his face repeatedly in my hair and occasionally bonking me in the head with his own head. Still not getting my undivided attention, he used his paw and tentatively reached for my cheek as though making like he was going to grab my face and pull it towards him.  Thankfully, as his claws are razor sharp, he restrained himself gave me just a gentle pat on my cheek.  Finally I gave in to his demands and lavished him with all the love he wanted and he rewarded me with a very loud and appreciative purr and some more head buts.

Buddy hangin' with his buds Riley, Fergus and Tarantino

Friday, February 22, 2013


Sometimes with the shier kitties, it can take a few tries to find a name that sticks.

For example, this cute mackerel tabby was given a name when she was trapped as a feral kitten, but with no love of humans as a youngster and no medical problems that would put her in a cage where she and med staff would be obliged to get to know one another, that name didn't get used enough to feel like it really belonged to her. When I met her in the summer of 2010, she still vastly preferred staring at us from a height to having any form of contact, so nobody had gotten close enough to her (literally or figuratively) to bestow a new name. I tried calling her "Saba" in after her mackerel markings, but that one didn't seem to stick either.

Recently, staff noticed the shy girl had been losing weight and they put her under observation. A sign was put up on the cage door: Claire. Leslie texted me to let me know she'd named a cat after me.

I'd practically given up on making proper friends with this kitty, since she never got past looking at me with resignation and faint horror anytime I tried to pet her. I wonder if Leslie's giving me a hint to try again... Perhaps sharing a name will encourage a bond. If not, there's always tuna.

As for the name, let's hope that three times is the charm.

Claire and Skye

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Harvest was trapped as a feral kitten at one of the feeding sites that Debbie looks after. She thinks he's likely related to Van Dyke and Kaslo.

Harvest, with pal Babylon in the background
Debbie remembers it taking a little while for Harvest to get comfortable with people, and notes that even now, he's not one to push himself forward for attention... though he is quite willing to allow pets if he's in the mood.

A good deal of credit for teaching Harvest to trust people after his arrival at the cat sanctuary has to go to Marianne, who made a point of spending time with him when he was new and still a "hissy little thing."
"I felt sorry for him because he was all by himself, which is why I became interested in him. I can’t remember if he could be petted then but I fondly remember him curling up inside the crook of my arm when I laid my upper body inside his cage and talked to him. He’d lie there with his head resting on my forearm, purring and flexing his little paws, so it must have given him some comfort."
She says she lost track of him for a while when he was moved to the singlewide trailer, but was pleased to learn later that others were finding him friendly too.

Since moving to the singlewide, Harvest has found a very dear friend of the four-legged variety in Babylon. The two are quite inseparable.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Babylon came to RAPS as part of the same group that included Asia, Cairo, Sahara, and Tibet. He can be a bit timid, particularly if he doesn't know you, but is generally a sweet, gentle boy.

Babylon has formed a very close friendship with Harvest (seen here photobombing his pal), and Leslie says that the two are rarely apart.

Friday, February 15, 2013


I'd heard of and even seen friendly white Casper many times before I finally got a chance to meet him properly and spend little time one-on-one.

He turns out to be a lovely boy, just as advertised.

When I asked Leslie how he came to RAPS, this is what she told me:
Casper lived in a townhouse complex with another fellow we loved, black and white Jake. When the couple they lived with had a baby, they started putting the cats outside and one of their neighbours, a RAPS volunteer, got to know them. One day, the neighbour realized that the cats weren't around anymore, and learned that they'd been given to the SPCA. He was very concerned that the cats might get euthanized if they weren't adopted, so he paid their adoption fee and then brought them to us.
Casper has settled into sanctuary life very well, and loves interacting with visitors. I didn't have any treats with me, but I hear that he loves these as well.

The biggest thing I noticed as I was visiting with him is how unselfconscious he is in his expressions of joy. He strained forward, toes over the edge of the shelf he was standing on, eager to reduce the distance between him and cuddles. When I patted him and tickled his chin, he totally gave himself over to just enjoying the moment.

For anyone who hasn't yet had the pleasure of a visit with Casper, I heartily recommend it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Dodger came to RAPS as a stray. She was named by Carol, who'd found her dodging traffic.

I'm not sure how I managed to miss making Dodger's acquaintance before, as she's a sweetie. This Monday night she decided to remedy my oversight by staring at me from the top of the cages until she'd managed to get my attention. This accomplished, she put on the best come hither cat dance display she could manage. Quite impossible not to spend some time patting and getting to know her after that.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Riley is a cat that caught my heart from day one of meeting him when I began volunteering at RAPS. Riley has feline AIDS and lives in the new AIDS building, he appears to be a healthy cat with no outward signs of the disease.
Riley came from Mitchel Island with two other cats and many minor injuries between the three of them the result of a hard life fighting or getting into machinery. I’m told that Riley was absolutely terrified of the staff he met at the sanctuary and did not want anything to do with them as is often the case with feral cats.  It’s hard to believe this now as Riley is one of the most affectionate cats I know in the sanctuary.  He has a quiet disposition and generally doesn’t make much of a to-do, just slinks around until you look down suddenly and find him curled up in your lap.

What attracts me to Riley, other than his sweet personality, is his very distinctive looks.  He is a beautiful cat with the dark gray fur as soft as a bowl full of chinchillas. It is almost impossible to resist the desire to touch his incredible coat giving Riley a distinct advantage in the attention seeking game.  What is also unique about Riley is his interesting face.  His almost cross-eyed, upward slanted eyes make him appear as if he is very, very devilish.  Fortunately, his interesting look does not reflect his personality as he is a loving and gentle cat. What an angel.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Sanctuary cats in repose

With hundreds of cats living at the sanctuary, it's not surprising that they've come up with quite a variety of sleeping arrangements. Here are photos of just a few.

Many thanks to everyone who's donated beds and bedding to keep them all warm and comfy. And thanks to staff and volunteers for making sure that cats who associate comfy with what we'd consider uncomfy have a steady supply of smallish boxes to squeeze themselves into.

Bingo, Elaine & Co.
It can be hard to tell where one snugglepuss ends and the other begins
Pickle and Cheetah
Wait, that sleeping buddy's not even real!
Tugboat recycles, cat style
Roly thinks he fits just fine, thanks
photo by Phaedra
Logan dares you to mock his basket
Mario doesn't really care what you think of his basket
photo by Ann
Cha Cha doing the upside-down cha cha
Deety lounging in his car bed

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


When Skye and Rochelle were trapped together about 10 years ago, they were thought to be feral. Both later showed us this wasn't so, and Rochelle is now living happily with one of our volunteers.

I first met Skye in June of 2011, when she was caged after having the last of her teeth out. She was quietly friendly, but once she'd been released from the cage I didn't see her around for a while. Sometimes it's tough to be properly diligent about seeking out the quieter cats at the sanctuary when there are more than a few feline extroverts there who are determined to grab as much human attention as they can, sometimes literally.

Leslie says that while Skye tends not to approach people for attention, she does enjoy being approached and getting stroked. It seems that she was only discovered to be tame several years ago when one of the evening volunteers decided to be brave and try to pet this girl who always hid behind drapes and was assumed to be feral.

"We've learned never to make that assumption," says Leslie. "And now we always look for signs that a stray cat might have once been a tame cat."

When I re-introduced myself to Skye this week, she was in a cage again. She was just visiting this time, and needed little encouragement beyond a smile to get her tail in the air, ears and whiskers forward, happily assuming the cuddle position.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lou (Wally)

Looking at handsome, affectionate Lou (formerly Wally), it's hard to believe that someone would just abandon him. But that's apparently what they did, as he was found a little while back hiding under one of the buildings. With raccoons and other wild animals often seen in the area, he's lucky he didn't get injured or killed.

Understandably, Lou was pretty anxious when he first arrived at RAPS. After he began to settle in, his affectionate nature began to come through. When I introduced myself to him last week, he gave me the most thorough inspection I've ever had from a cat, studiously sniffing me all over... in between bestowing so many rubs and purrs that it was all I could do to get him to stay still long enough to get a couple of photos. He also quickly showed himself to be a lap cat, happily climbing up and settling down with only minimal encouragement.

Lou is available for adoption to the right home: somewhere calm and quiet and without dogs or other cats, of which he's not terribly fond.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Spitz has come a long way since she arrived at the RAPS No. 5 Rd. shelter as a feral kitten.

Scared of people and given to lashing out in response, Spitz couldn't be adopted out as a youngster. Instead, she was brought to the cat sanctuary where she could have a safe place to live without being obliged to have more contact with humans than she was comfortable with.

Spitz later got past feeling so threatened she had to lash out at people, and she opted to switch to simple avoidance tactics. She would allow staff to catch her if necessary, but vastly preferred to watch human activities from a safe place.

More recently, Leslie says in the last year or so, Spitz has become much more comfortable with people -- so much so that when I met her on Monday, I had no idea that she was a former feral and wondered why I hadn't noticed this pretty, friendly girl before. Not only did she not mind me patting her, but she actively encouraged the attention.