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, May 31, 2013


Georgina came to RAPS as a feral mom with kittens and was fostered by Mary Pritchard, one of our original volunteers. The name Georgina was inspired by the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston.

I came across Georgina in the back courtyard of the sanctuary last week, but she quickly let me know she wasn't entirely comfortable with people by scooting away when I got too close.

I thought that would be the end of the encounter, but Georgina surprised me by stopping just out of range, flopping upside down, and wriggling around happily.

She still wasn't interested in being touched, though, and scooted off again when I moved too close. We ended up doing this a number of times, with Georgina seeming to enjoy the attention and even waiting for me to catch up if she moved too far ahead of me, but never allowing me close enough to actually stroke her.

Leslie remembers that when Georgina was in a cage, she would hide behind her drape. Leslie tried reaching in and patting her, and Georgina started to really enjoy it.

Georgina never really got fully tame, but is starting to let people get closer. Maybe soon we'll be able to take this pretty kitty up on that tail-in-the-air invitation to give her back a nice gentle stroke. Perhaps someone has already had success with this...?

Monday, May 27, 2013


Believe it or not, Matt is the brother of grey & white Freckles (miss January 2014, for those of you who have a copy of the RAPS sanctuary calendar).

Matt is a nice cat, but tends to be shy like his sister. When I met him last week, he was hanging out in the back courtyard behind the singlewide. He wasn't too sure about meeting me at first though, and had to be coaxed into sticking around.

After some reassurance from Leslie, Matt was willing to hang out long enough for me to get a few portrait shots. For those who'd like to get to know him, I hear he loves treats and is more likely to allow approaches for cuddles when there are some treats in it for him.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Artemis is a shy black longhair who loves friend-to-ferals Jet. She's not so sure about people, though. Here was her response to my attempt to get anything but a distant photo of her:

Artemis was one of a few cats trapped at Richmond Sushi in 2006. Others were Twilight and Lillix. Apparently, all three came to us with different names: Artemis was Tootsoya, Twilight was Rocomi, and Lillix was Wasabi. The original names didn't really stick to these three feral girls running around the back pens, and so they came to have the names we know them by today.

Lillix was brought inside and tamed early on, and Twilight has recently started to realize that she likes people even when she's not in a cage, but Artemis seems a bit more comfortable sticking to her suspicions that humans must be up to no good and are best stared at from a height.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Acura was trapped at the car dealership with the same name around 12 years ago (he had a brother named Arby after the restaurant next door). Acura was already an adult at the time, so this makes him one of the oldest cats at the sanctuary. This surprised me, as he sure doesn't look it.

Even after all this time, Acura has never really tamed up, and he still runs away when approached. Last time he was caged, Leslie made a point of spending as much time with him as possible, but he's still not really comfortable with us. My attempts to get a photo of him should give a good sense of his feelings:

And finally, a semi-closeup. He probably just wanted to get it over with so he could get rid of me.

Friday, May 17, 2013


As is often the case with the feral cats living at the RAPS sanctuary, I had the opportunity to meet Bessie when she was brought into a cage in the doublewide so the med staff could treat her. Bessie was not overly delighted to meet me, though, and for a long time would hide and/or hiss whenever I had to invade her cage to give her dinner or refresh her water.

Gradually, I started to notice that she'd let me get a lot closer before she hissed, and that she was spending a bit more time watching my movements with interest rather than straight fear. And then this week she surprised me by looking up at me and giving me a little meow when I opened the cage door with her dinner in hand. I looked at the sign on her door and saw that "feral" had been crossed out and "shy - loves tummy rubs and being petted" had been written below it. Under that was another line in a different colour with an added advisory to start slowly.

So I did what the sign said. And before I knew, it Bessie was dancing around with her tail in the air, kneading her blanket and rubbing her head against the sides of the cage. The rubbing made me wince sometimes, as the growth in her ear that staff have been treating still looked pretty sore, but she managed not to get too carried away. And then, seemingly because I was no longer stroking her in the correct manner, she gave me a couple of good smacks to set me straight. I didn't take it too personally -- my now great buddy Colin used to do much the same.

I asked staff what had brought on Bessie's change in attitude and learned that Marianne had been working with her. So of course I had to ask the cat whisperer herself about her experience!

Marianne had previously known Bessie as one of the many barn cats that came to RAPS a few years ago. The tame ones were sent to the No. 5 Rd. shelter for adoption, while the less tame youngsters stayed on at the sanctuary. She remembers how "the youngsters used to all hide out inside their shed, with very few sightings, at least not in daylight. Then, a few braver ones started venturing outside and now most of them, including Bessie, hang out around the gate looking for attention and/or treats." A few of these became tame over time thanks to the efforts of "kitty comforters" such as Judy Watson, but Marianne doesn't remember Bessie being one of them.

What inspired Marianne to do some kitty comforting herself with Bessie? "She looked so cute and 'peeped' at me as I passed her cage so I thought I’d try to make contact. It was love at first touch, at least for me!"

When I told her than Bessie had given me a few smacks to go with my cuddles, Marianne admitted she's had a few smacks from Bessie lately too. And it was Marianne who added the extra text (both the invitation to cuddle and the warning to take it slow) to the sign. She thinks the swats could be a sign that Bessie is starting to take her visits for granted, or perhaps that Bessie's just starting to feel better and therefore a bit more feisty, which is all good as far as Marianne's concerned.

"I still think she’s just the cutest little thing," she says "And sincerely hope that she’ll continue to allow at least some friendly contact once she’s back outside."

Monday, May 13, 2013

Update: Tricia

When I first wrote about Tricia two years ago, she enjoyed being tickled and stroked... if you could get past her strong impulse to flee the moment she saw a hand reaching toward her. The only really reliable way to get some cuddle time with her was to corner her, but that moment where she'd invariably look at me in wide-eyed horror before she remembered that being patted was pretty nice always felt so awkward. And so it's been a little while since I tried "tormenting" her with cuddles.

When, on a whim, I reached out to her this evening, I was surprised that she didn't try to run away. Sure, she still crouched down just before contact like she half expected something awful to happen to her, but she didn't run away. And before I knew it, we were having a lengthy cuddle that she enjoyed without reservation. I was even able to go away and come back several times throughout my shift without feeling like I had to win her trust all over again each time (as had been the routine before).

Whether Tricia's gained confidence thanks to the determined efforts of one or two people or just repeated interaction with all volunteers and staff over a period of time, I don't know. But it's so nice to see her able to accept and enjoy some affection without having to be backed into a corner.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Poosie came to the RAPS sanctuary in January at the age of around four and a half years.

She was found by her owner as a kitten around the Abbotsford Airport. All was good for the first couple of years, but then Poosie started acting aggressively. It got to the point that, when her owner had to go out of town, he could no longer get people to look after her because they were scared of her. Even her owner ended up buying Poosie a collar with a bell-- just so he'd have some warning when she was coming his way.

I understand that Poosie was taken to the vet to check if there was any medical cause for her behaviour, but nothing was found. Eventually, her owner had to make the difficult choice of giving her up.

At the sanctuary, staff were understandably cautious at first, but have had no incidents. As with other potentially anxious cats, though, visitors are warned to keep their time with her short and sweet and to avoid "overpetting" her.

June 2017: in her time with us, Poosie has become much calmer and more
ready to interact calmly with people.
We are so happy to report that she has been adopted out, and is settling well in her new home

Monday, May 6, 2013

Update: Twilight

I was able to meet and get to know Twilight a little in the spring of 2011 when she was caged for a time. Staff had noticed she was looking a little thin and brought her inside to fatten her up a bit.

During her time in the cage, Twilight gradually went from hiding from us to enjoying visits and cuddles. Once she was released, though, she quickly disappeared into the back pens and pretty much forgot that she'd ever decided humans could be her friends. From what Leslie tells me, this has been something of a standard cycle for Twilight: being brought in, becoming tame and cuddly, then going back outside and forgetting we can be trusted.

After the latest bit of cage time, Leslie has been hoping that Twilight will at last break the cycle and just stay friends with us. So far, it seems like she just might.

Twilight's been continuing to spend time in the doublewide where she'd been caged, sometimes in the cage itself and sometimes on the back porch. I've been able to visit her in both places, and although she's still uncertain at first, it takes little more than a smile to get her lifting her tail up and thinking about coming forward for some purrs and cuddles.

Twilight and Rosie
The cage is open -- they just enjoy each other's company.
Twilight has started going outside again, but Leslie says that she's continuing to come inside to visit her and will even cautiously approach for pats. Let's hope it sticks this time!

Friday, May 3, 2013


When I first went to introduce myself to pals Onyx and Topaz on Monday, only Onyx was present, and she wasn't all that excited about the whole introduction thing. I tried again a little while later and found that Topaz had returned from whatever she'd been doing and joined Onyx in their spot on top of the water heater.

Louise had described Topaz as the friendlier of the pair, who would sometimes come down to floor level for pats. Up high, Topaz wasn't quite so sure about me, and felt a need to retreat to an even higher shelf that was just about out of my reach and stare at me for a while before she could get into the idea of being stroked.

Eventually, she decided the she rather liked the attention. There's no competing with her affection for Onyx, though. Leslie describes the pair as inseparable, and says it's likely that they're siblings.