RAPS is short for Richmond Animal Protection Society, a registered charity and operator of a sanctuary which houses and cares for more than 400 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, September 29, 2014

From Swatty to Sweetie

The majority of the cats we have at the Sanctuary are ferals, coming to us from having been living wild, or born of a feral mother. The “tame” cats that call the Sanctuary home are usually here because of behaviour problems: pooping or peeing in the wrong places, or occasionally for biting.
The number of ferals surprises visitors, who see the welcoming committee on Sunday afternoon, and can’t believe that these cats aren’t all dying to find their own homes. Our experience, however, is that semi-ferals are easily spooked by a change in surroundings (see Esme’s story). They’re happy to accept pats and treats and occasionally a good cuddle – but the Sanctuary is home and unknown territory is scary stuff!
That being said, there are degrees of feral – and one of the joys of working with the cats comes when a previously scared, angry cat seeks a volunteer out for head-rubs and stroking.
Bossanova
Bossanova was a pretty scary cat when he first came to us. His cage in the double-wide was to be approached with caution; offering food took a certain amount of nerve; angry growls and hissing welcomed any intruder. And then gradually he realised that we weren’t going to harm him; he progressed from allowing scratches with a back-scratcher to pats from a hand, and eventually to head-rubs.  He now hangs out on the single-wide deck, where he recognises the voices of his favourite people and comes looking for attention. He’s still wary, and a stranger will send him back to his high-up corner, but a familiar hand will bring him down the ramp, drooling in delight as his head is rubbed.
Sarah
Sarah hung out for a long time in the feral area of the front courtyard. A delicate little grey cat, she hovered on the edge, fascinated by action, but not willing to join in. Sarah’s tipping point was that she’s a chickaholic – when chicken was offered, she wanted in on the action, and increasing exposure to humans handing it out has convinced her that we’re not so bad – she’s become brave enough to be a lap-cat on occasion.
Gilbert
Claire also reported on ginger Gilbert who was first coaxed by Ann into becoming much more sociable and is now positively assertive when food is being offered.  He stands his ground with some of the pushier cats, and will occasionally come for a cuddle for the people he counts as friends when things are quiet.
Orlean
Orlean is one of our little ginger females in the double-wide. Claire’s blogs have noted her progress from a scared and hissing feral to an attention seeker that enjoys (with the right person) being carried over the shoulder, and who, like Josie, seeks bottom-slapping attention with great delight.
Georgina
In the back courtyard, sweet Georgina, who used to run away from everyone now waits in the mornings to get petted by Phaedra – and is coming to accept that other people may have gentle hands as well. 
OJ - "What have you got for me?!"
OJ, in one of the feral pens at the back, now comes towards the gate to greet a visitor instead of hiding and swatting.
And our greatest success-story, in the pen opposite, is our beloved Dell, who was once impossible to handle and now waits anxiously at the gate for his friends to pay attention to him.
Dell
There are still many ferals in the RAPS Sanctuary population – and some of them may never accept that the humans only want to help them. But it is one of the great joys of working here, to gain the trust – even if for only a few moments – of a formerly scared and suspicious cat.
Blogger: Brigid Coult
Photos: Michele Wright

5 comments:

  1. I find it so cool now working with some of the feral cats, is when you can get a pet in...I love that feeling knowing and telling the cat you would never hurt them and no one at the sanctuary would every hurt them...and they let you pet them..
    my mission is to sit with Pauline...one day kitty you will trust me
    Dianne

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    1. Just wondering if you've tried bringing Pauline onto your lap when she's inside her box? She may appreciate the extra warmth.... will try it next time I'm there.

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  2. Also... Bossanova likes it when you talk to him. Be sure to use his name a lot, and have treats.

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  3. I did not know that about Pauline, I have never tried to pick her up...
    where is Bossanova?
    thank you
    Dianne

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    1. Hi Dianne! I've never picked up Pauline, but have managed to get in quite a few pets. It seems like it might work to move her and her box on to your lap because I've had a kitty who would only sit on laps with a blanket or some other barrier present. Pauline's hissing is just bluster. I'm sure you'll be able to win her over. Moving her may be a two person job - one to pick up the box, the other to sit with lap ready to receive Princess Pauline in her chaise...

      Bossanova is usually in the deck section of the singlewide. He likes to hang out at floor height these days near the leukemia room. He loves being brushed.

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