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, October 27, 2014

RAPS Sanctuary Calendar 2015

It’s that time of year again, and we’re just about to launch the Calendar. It’s an important part of our fundraising at the Sanctuary, and it’s very satisfactory to be able to do it with something we love so much! 
We miss Claire Fossey’s camera, and her hand in the blog; her life has become very busy, and allows less time for continuing the astonishing project she began with the Neko files. But Michele Wright has stepped up to the plate and most of this year’s photos come from her hand and her photographer’s eye.
Here are some of the photos that didn’t make the final cut – it was a hard choice, but we think you’ll like the ones that were selected when you see the finished version.
We had first talked about trying to match cats to seasons. In the end, we only had one snowy picture, and our focus ended up being much more on cat-colour rather than on time or place. But this is Claire’s winter view of Cagney.

Lincoln has to be one of the most photogenic cats in the Sanctuary. He was Mr October in the 2014 calendar, and we decided that we needed to feature someone else this year. But what a beautiful boy he is.

We all liked this picture – the problem was that we couldn’t decide which of many black cats it was!

Adam is one of the cats that came to us from No 5 Rd, passed over in a season that had too many kittens and not enough space at the Shelter.  He and his pretty girlfriend May are often found together.

If you ever arrive at the Sanctuary in a bad mood, Bella puts a smile back on your face. This funny girl is a FIV-positive cat, but continues in good health.

This beautiful picture was one of a series of black-and-white studies Michele made. We loved it, but it felt out-of-sequence with all the other colour pictures.

We wanted a tricolour cat and this one of Sweet Pea was just beaten out by another. Sweet Pea’s many friends will have no problem hearing her little trill (and remembering avoiding her dirty bottom!)

Jenny is a single-wide cat, and a cuddle-bug – she has the most beautiful eyes!

Amber is, as always, poised for escape!

Like Lincoln, it’s almost impossible not to get a good photo of Princess – such a pretty girl!

The Calendar will be available from the Sanctuary, from volunteers, at the No.5 Rd Shelter and at the Thrift Store on Granville. It makes a great Christmas (or pre-Christmas) gift for cat-loving friends and family.
We hope you'll enjoy it!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Passing of an Icon

There are probably very few readers of this blog who’ve not experienced the pain of losing a beloved furry friend. We tend not to write about such losses – the Neko Blog was created to celebrate a place of life, and its feline inhabitants. But part of life at the Sanctuary is dealing with death – and we’re taking this opportunity to pay tribute to a sweet friend who was a faithful member of the welcoming committee.

From Claire’s blog back in September 2009:

He introduced himself to me on my very first visit. I was softing a cat sitting on a table when I felt a gentle tap-tap-tap on my knee. I looked down, and there was Cookie, looking back up at me.


I reached down to give him a soft, then went back to what I was doing.


"Hello. Would you be interested in patting a cat a little more? Me, for example?"

Very friendly and such a polite boy! Cookie was the first cat whose name I learned and the first one I wished I could take home (this while I was still living in a place where I couldn't have pets). What I hadn't realized at first, though, is he's not as young as his aimiable demeanour may suggest. He's also one of those odd cats who's not dying to move in with someone and be a one-person feline.

Cookie came to RAPS when he was around 2 years old. Now in the neighbourhood of 11 (this was in 2009),  he's been at the sanctuary so long that Leslie, our resident expert on the names and stories of the cats, couldn't tell me how or why he first came to live there.
Tired of this "being patient" business, Cookie tries a little leg climbing
Cookie's lived at the sanctuary so long that it's hard to imagine him anywhere else. In fact, when it comes to cats who are such long-time residents, RAPS staff are very reluctant to approve adoption requests simply because the animals have come to view the sanctuary as home and may have a lot of trouble adjusting to a new and very different environment.
And from Leslie Landa:
At 17 or 18 years of age,  our beloved Oreo Cookie's reign as our chief greeter and attention seeker came to an end.  Cookie was truly adored by everyone at the sanctuary, including many other cats, and had a long and happy life.  He was my own family's "pet at the sanctuary," since my children asked to adopt him many years ago, and was spoiled every Tuesday by RAPS member Marlene, who brought shrimp and treats and cans of Fancy Feast with Cookie's name on them.  Marlene had also been interested in adopting him, but we all realized that he was content at the sanctuary among all of his admirers.  Cookie leaves behind him a lot of people with scarred legs and torn jeans, but oh, how they loved him. Farewell, sweetest boy!
Blog introduced by Brigid Coult
Pictures by Claire Fossey


Monday, October 13, 2014

Autumn - update

Two years ago, the RAPS Cat Sanctuary was temporary home to a litter of kittens.  “Kitten season” is a well-known phenomenon at RAPS, and as much as possible, when kittens are trapped, they are taken in by a fosterer who will spend time socializing them so that they are more adoptable when they finally go to the No 5 Rd shelter.
Autumn and her kittens came to us instead, and both staff and volunteers sprang into action, spending time with Trick and Treat, Pancake and Waffle, Leif and Ariel, and getting them used to being handled. Their mother, Autumn, was placed in an adjacent cage, and took a very dim view of the whole procedure. The kittens quickly reconciled to their surroundings, and to the humans who made a fuss over them, but Autumn’s usual reaction was to put her ears down and look menacing.
Autumn "before" (CF)
All six kittens went to 5 Rd, and were adopted out, but Autumn remained with us. Released into the front courtyard, she quickly established herself as one of the shyer ferals, hanging out in the back corner of the Val Jones area. The favourite look was the typical horrified-feral-stare, and she was an expert at finding places to hide.
Still a favourite hideaway!
As she matured, she differentiated herself from most of the front courtyard tabbies by growing a magnificent mane with blond highlights.
Autumn the lion
She also proved to be something of an athlete, copying little Merilee in her liking for climbing up on top of the umbrellas in the front courtyard. On one memorable occasion, she managed to access a way onto the roof (that escape route now firmly closed!) and was not happy to be trapped and brought back again. However, following that, she seemed to be more reconciled to her life at the Sanctuary; though not exactly  a friendly cat, she would allow the odd finger-tip to nose contact, and she didn’t immediately take off when someone was taking pictures of her – perhaps she knew how beautiful she is.

And then quite suddenly we noticed that Autumn had joined the crowd of gate-greeters, and was doing her share of leg-rubbing and bunting with humans, and flirting with other cats. It is SO rewarding when a formerly feral cat decides that people aren’t so bad after all, and comes looking for attention.
Blog: Brigid Coult
Pictures: Michele Wright and Claire Fossey

Sunday, October 5, 2014

That little pink tip...

We tend to think of cats as serene, elegant creatures – and for the most part, they are. At the Cat Sanctuary, we do have our raggedy, battered-looking favourites, and we know that when a cat starts looking unkempt it’s usually a sign of ill-health, and a quick trip to the vet follows. But for the most part, the cats do their own grooming, and lounge around looking picturesque.
Until you look closer...
Yes, that’s a tongue sticking out. Sometimes it’s deliberate

Cappuccino - BIG yawn

Or a sign of concentration

Sara Lee - waiting to sample the first can of food

But for the most part it’s a signal to us that this is a cat that has had more than a few visits to the dentist, and has lost the front teeth that keep the tongue in place – so when the cat is relaxed, that cute little pink tip peeps out.

Chickadee sleeping (by Phaedra)

As humans, we’re aware that we have to look after our teeth – and sometimes that necessitates a dentist visit. But many non-cat people (and some cat-owners as well) don’t always realise that the same is true for their feline friends. And just like humans, some cats have naturally good teeth that never seem to need attention, others require a little care from time to time, and a few always have trouble with their teeth.
So we watch for a cat that is drooling a bit, or shows signs of being uncomfortable eating, and a vet visit quickly follows. There are several cats in the Sanctuary with no teeth at all. Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to make any difference to their liking for crunchy treats!

Chatter - "Treats, please!"

There are vets that recommend brushing your cat’s teeth. The thought of trying to do this with some of our feral cats is more than a little frightening – we rely mainly on good food and daily attention. It is noticeable that with our aging cat population, the dental bills have increased – but that’s just part of what goes with running the Sanctuary. 

Emily (by Phaedra)
But some cats just stick their tongues out because they like to!  Most of them have the ability to curl them way forward to get every tasty bit off the nose

And like humans, some have the ability to curl them inwards

But for most of them, they do it just because it’s a sign of contentment, or that’s what’s most comfortable!
Rob Zombie

And the prize for the best tongue must go to a cat who is much shyer than he looks…

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Michele Wright and Phaedra Hardman