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.

Monday, April 29, 2013


At last Saturday's pub night in support of RAPS (thanks to all who attended!), Louise was telling me about two black cats, Onyx and Topaz, who like to hang out in the tiny room in the doublewide where we keep the water heater.

When I went to investigate this evening, Topaz was off doing cat stuff elsewhere, but Onyx was there, comfortably installed on top of the water heater. She wasn't too excited about getting up close and cuddly with her uninvited human visitor, though, and soon scooted up to a shelf safely out of reach.

Louise had warned me that she's found Onyx isn't really into being touched, so I wasn't too surprised. If anything, I was grateful that Onyx was relaxed enough that she didn't seem to mind me being there just as long as I stayed out of arm's reach.

Onyx came to RAPS from the same place as Cara, Princess, Elmo, Huey, Hannah, Whiskey, Paris, and others. Like Paris, Onyx started off as a feral. She certainly is curious enough about people to enjoy a good stare. Perhaps she can be convinced that people cuddles aren't so bad either.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Update: Booster

When I first posted about Booster two years ago, her signature method of getting attention was to incessantly yell at us from the top of the cages while seldom making much of a move beyond that. Well, she still meows and meows from the top of the cages...

... but she seems to have at last understood that making herself a little more easily accessible for a cuddle results in more cuddles. And so if I call her over to another side of the cages where she can hop down onto a shelf where I can reach her better, she generally comes. (Whereas before she'd just stay right where she was and keep meowing.)

Sometimes when I come in the evening I find she's even ventured down closer to floor level.

All of this makes it much easier to properly respond to her vocal pleas for attention and affection. She loves being picked up and cuddled, and will purr and nuzzle away for a long time. Unfortunately, the time a person can set aside for cuddling one cat when there are many cats' dinners to prepare is usually not enough to satisfy this needy kitty. And so after setting her down again, the meowing still tends to start up anew.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Blue came to RAPS in December of last year via a Vancouver shelter. He needed a place to live with facilities to care for cats with feline leukemia, which he unfortunately has.

The first thing that struck us about Blue was his good looks. But he didn't waste much time showing us that he's got a great personality to go with that stunning coat and those beautiful blue eyes.

Based on an anecdote that Gaye told me, Blue doesn't just save his personality for his human carers, either. One of the other cats in the building was in failing health and soon to be taken on a final trip to the vet. Apparently sensing something was off, the other cats would either stay away or even act hostile, but not Blue. Even though he was still pretty new to the sanctuary at the time, he approached the sick cat and gave a gentle rub as he went by.

One thing Blue is less fond of is a big camera, so I unfortunately couldn't get as many portrait shots of him as I would have liked, but even from a few candids, it's clear what a lovely cat he is.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Update: Marmalade

After a few early encounters with Marmalade that always seemed to involve him biting me, sometimes without evening bothering to share a cuddle first, I must admit that I got into the habit of passing him by.

But when I was filling up water dishes at the sink during a recent volunteer shift, there was just no resisting him.

I'm not sure if he thought I had treats or if he just thought it was a funny game, but Marmalade decided it would be a great idea to start poking around my clothes and going through my pockets. He even tried to stick his paw into my jeans pocket, which made me laugh because he wasn't having much luck. Laughing and smiling led to patting, which led to purring and more playing with my clothes.

Then Marmalade grabbed a bit of skin on the back of my hand and just stared at me as he bit it.

The next week, we repeated the playing and the patting, but fortunately not the biting. Marmalade can be a very enjoyable cat to spend time with. I'm just still trying to figure out what goes on in that cat brain of his sometimes (yes, I realize this may well be a futile endeavor).

Monday, April 15, 2013


Unlike most cats at the sanctuary who were brought there from other parts of Richmond or Metro Vancouver, Kojak is unusual in that he brought himself.

Staff noticed him hanging around outside the compound and, noting he looked pretty ragged and sickly, decided to trap him. This didn't prove easy. Ignoring the various morsels that staff placed in the trap to tempt him, Kojak repeatedly came, peed on the trap, and left again. There was great relief when he finally went into the trap and could be brought inside.

Once safely inside the sanctuary, Kojak was sent to the vet for a check up, where it was discovered that he had feline leukemia. Fortunately, RAPS has the facilities to care for cats with leukemia and keep them healthy and happy for as long as possible.

Kojak was initially thought to be feral, but over the past while he's been increasingly willing to let us get close. Brigid, who suggested I do a post on Kojak, was able to get this photo of him:

 He was a bit uncertain about being photographed with Brigid's cell phone, so she was worried I might not be able to get a shot of him with my considerably larger and scarier SLR.

When I came across him in the Old AIDS building this evening, he was initially timid as I'd expected...

... but not so much that I couldn't reach down and give his head a gentle pat. He scooted away then, but only as far as a nearby cat bed, where he sat and looked at me while I alternated between stroking his head and taking pictures. At no point did he feel a need to move from his bed.

Leslie says he may have come from one of the farms in the area, and had therefore had at least some contact with humans before he came to us. It's great to see him looking like he feels so safe and relaxed at the sanctuary.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Midge came to the cat sanctuary as a feral in 2005. She was trapped with Mac and the two shared a cage when they first came. The pair later grew apart when Mac decided he liked being outside and Midge stayed inside.

Unlike Mac, Midge has retained her feral mistrust of humans. She has gotten better, though, starting with venturing down to floor level in the doublewide where she lives rather than just peering down at us from the top of the cages. Since we've started leaving the door to the doublewide open, she's even started going outside. Perhaps she'll start hanging out with Mac again...?

Knowing she can access the outside seems to have helped Midge be a little more confident about human encounters inside. When I came across her on Monday night, she was contentedly washing herself on a shelf by the floor.

Once I got her attention, she allowed me to take a few photos of her, big scary camera, flash, and all. Only when I moved just a bit too close into her personal space did she get ready to move away. And even then, she'd clearly decided that she was only going to move from her comfy spot if it was absolutely necessary. The moment I backed off by even a few centimetres, she started to settle down again.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Mac is an old feral who's been at the cat sanctuary since 2005 when he was trapped in north Richmond.

He's a gentle, friendly boy now, so I didn't realize he was a former feral until Leslie told me later. I wouldn't exactly call him outgoing--at least he didn't go out of his way to get or keep my attention when I met him this evening--but he's quietly happy to receive some pats when offered.

Like Andy, Mac is now completely toothless (he'd suffered from mouth ulcers), but unlike Andy, he doesn't seem to have a thing for gumming his human friends' fingers.

He appears to get along fine with other cats too, as when Whiskey came along and inserted himself in the midst of our cuddle, Mac just started rubbing against the both of us.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Tux has been at the cat sanctuary for years. One of Gaye's favourites (and no doubt a few other people's), this is a gentle, friendly boy who has gotten even more affectionate as he gets older.

Amazingly, it's only been quite recently that I met him properly. The strangeness of this must of occurred to him too, as he finally decided to take matters into his own hands paws:

My attention thus grabbed, we became friends in no time. (For anyone who still wonders why cats like Cookie and Prince so often take the reach-up-and-grab approach to getting attention, they do it because it so often works.)

I wondered how it could have taken me so long to get to know Tux. Gaye told me that he has a tendency to wait for people to approach him rather than coming forward himself. Among all the cats in the front courtyard who are quite quick to close in on human visitors, demanding attention, I suppose it's not so surprising that it took me a while to find the more polite Tux in the mix. Fortunately, Gaye says he started to put himself forward more after the Sunday afternoons when the sanctuary is open to the public started bringing in more visitors (and with them, more treats).

Monday, April 1, 2013


When Smithy arrived at the RAPS cat sanctuary just before Christmas last year, this was as much as we saw of him:

Smithy is a feral and a particularly wild one at that. Even now, a few months later, his cage is still off limits to all but RAPS medical staff, as Smithy expresses his fear and mistrust of humans by lunging and spitting.

He's been getting a little bit better in the past month, in that he will occasionally venture out from behind his drape to the open part of his shelf where he can be seen. He still hisses angrily at anyone who actually looks at him, of course, but at least he's gotten brave enough to face us.

Hey, it's a start.