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.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Five from Five Road: 1 - Lucky

Cats who are unlikely to be adopted from RAPS’ City Shelter on Number 5 Road are sometimes transferred to RAPS’ Cat Sanctuary. Two possible reasons for a cat being considered unadoptable are bad litter box habits or bad attitude.  Fortunately for such cats,  neither of those issues is a problem at the  Sanctuary, where a loving home is available for cats who, for whatever reason, have run out of other options.   With plenty of space there for them to enjoy, plus patience and love from staff, volunteers and visitors alike, some cats have been known to overcome the behaviour that made them unadoptable! 
This is the first of a series of stories about five cats who were recently transferred to the Cat Sanctuary from the Richmond City Shelter, where they were considered unadoptable. 

Lucky, a purebred 8-year old  Bengal, has litter box “issues” so his chances of being adopted were not good, despite his handsome appearance and cheerful nature.   He spent his first few weeks at the sanctuary in a large, walk-in cage while he got used to us and vice-versa.  His good looks alone were enough to get him some attention at first and, when he turned out to be such a nice boy, he won everyone over. 

Many Cat Sanctuary volunteers will remember Zulu, another Bengal who lived at the Sanctuary for several years.  Lucky is just as exotic-looking as Zulu but not nearly as vocal!

Almost as  soon as Lucky was allowed to venture out of his cage, he decided that being outside was just too good an opportunity to pass up.  He’s still exploring the back courtyard but, at least for the time being, seems to have chosen the first pen on the right as the best place to be. 

I tracked him down there recently and we had a very pleasant visit.  Although he was much too interested in everything around him to settle down on my lap for more than a few seconds, he was happy to climb up onto my shoulder where he could get a good view of what was going on in the pen behind me.  There’s still just so much for him to see and do in his new home and he seems very happy to discover it all!  
Blog by Marianne Moore
Pictures by Michele Wright

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Volunteer/Cat relationship – Allison and the Front Courtyard Cats

I hope to make a regular feature of some of the volunteers who spend time with the cats – we met Julian in September. When I asked Allison about being part of the series she was at first daunted, and then sat down and wrote pages about her favourite cats. We decided that it was perhaps a little too much, so she decided that what she would do would be to write a poem.
cat-cuddling is fun - but work comes first!
Allison is a regular volunteer at the weekend; she makes spotless water dishes in the front courtyard her particular concern, and she’s a wonderful guide for Sunday afternoon visitors. She has no cats at home – and a non-cat-loving husband – but happily cat-sits for her friends at any possible opportunity.
Allison has a particularly close relationship with Little Orange, in the front courtyard - on a Sunday he waits anxiously for her, and follows her around as she does her chores. Some of it is cupboard love - he's a big fan of the dried chicken titbits she brings - but most of it is that he just loves her.
with Little Orange

Calista became a special buddy when Allison spent time working in what we call the Yellow Door area, where many of the front courtyard ferals hang out. Allison put hours into working with a shy boy called Marmalade, and in the process, attracted his girlfriend Calista, also a feral. We lost Marmalade a while ago, but Calista has joined the greeting crowd, and also looks for Allison on a Sunday.
 with Calista - MW

The Old Aids rooms also get visited, and a particular favourite there is Kojak. He is also a chickaholic, and his addiction has helped him to become braver and braver in approaching visitors
with Kojak - MW

In Allison's own words:
Hi, my name is Allison and I have been coming to the sanctuary for over 3 years now, having become a volunteer about 2 years ago.  And yes, I have a special place in my heart for my friend Cathy, a volunteer who introduced me to RAPS!
I absolutely love the sanctuary and all that it represents: the cats, staff, volunteers and all of our visitors.  It’s an amazing gathering of cats and people which is different every Sunday. 

Boxed cats - MW

I am a gal from Richmond who grew up with loving cats,
So when Cathy told me about the sanctuary it was her back that I gave a pat,
Each Sunday when I go I can hardly wait,
To arrive at the sanctuary and open the gate,
The love that the cats show to me,
Makes it worthwhile getting down on one knee,
I do have to tell you I have some favorites too,
Like Little Orange, Calista and Kojak to name a few,
So come to the sanctuary where you will have fun,
We have warm dry places to sit and watch the cats run!

Non-running basket of cats - MW

Hope you can come and visit us, and remember, every Sunday is different…….meow!
Blog: Brigid Coult
Photos: Michele Wright & Brigid Coult

Monday, November 10, 2014

It takes a village

Not all kittens who come to RAPS are instantly ready to embrace the idea of going to a loving human home. Some were born to feral or semi-feral mothers and need to be given a bit of time to get used to being around people.

These three kittens, Ulysses, Ulrich and Umbria (having been assigned "U" in the RAPS alphabet naming cycle),  were trapped at the beginning of the month and are currently being fostered in the home of volunteer Ann until they're comfortable enough around humans that they can go to the No. 5 Rd. shelter for adoption. They're old enough to be without their semi-feral mom, who was trapped, neutered, and released back to the property she'd been living on, as the owners were happy to have her around.

photo by Vincent Chan
Ann's adult foster cat Henderson quickly became a self-appointed parental figure for the babies, washing them as much and as often as they could stand. His laid-back presence when human visitors are around seems to have been helpful in reinforcing that we're nothing to be afraid of.

photo by Vincent Chan
photo by Michele Wright
To make sure the kittens are as well socialized with humans as possible, Ann has recruited various friends to come and spend time with them. She recognizes that even if the kittens become totally comfortable with her, this in itself won't necessarily translate to them being comfortable with people in general. So she's been opening her home not just to this foster litter, but to several visits a week by friends who come to help get the kittens used to lots of different faces and voices.

photo by Claire Fossey
photo by Michele Wright
photo by Vincent Chan
Fortunately for us recruits, an invitation to visit the home of a friend and play with kittens is hardly a tough sell! And it's great to see how the kittens progress from visit to visit, each time a week older and a week bolder.

photo by Michele Wright
photo by Michele Wright

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Happy Tales - Bitsy

Katie volunteers at the Cat Sanctuary - she has adopted BITSY, featured here, and SPARKLE (more to come).
Most of the Sanctuary cats are considered unadoptable, and we are very wary of letting a seemingly tame semi-feral leave familiar territory (see Esme's story). But volunteers can build strong bonds with cats, and sometimes it produces a happy ending...

* * *


Her first day in her new home

I'm sure a few people may remember Bitsy from last year. Carol had trapped her out at a cement factory and she ended up in a med cage in the Connor in July 2013.  Originally she was brought in with another cat who went to Number Five Road shelter and was adopted.  Bitsy was thought to be feral. After a couple months and lots of love from the staff and volunteers at the Sanctuary she proved to be tame but quite timid.
In September of last year we lost our sweet 17 year old O’Malley and by late October while volunteering in the single wide on my Monday night shift I let Leslie know that we felt ready to bring a new cat into our family. She introduced me to Bits.
The very first time we met

A little thing, with a round body and short little legs, my boyfriend came to meet her and we brought her home just a week or so later.
They recommend taking at least a full two weeks to fully introduce a new cat into a home with other cats and I would definitely recommend that after our failure to do so.  We kept her in her own room for the first six days, trying to split our time between Bitsy and our two other cats, 9 year old Stinky and 17 year old Maggie.  We had the best intentions but eventually Stinky’s curiosity led to an early introduction.
Please forgive the blurry phone picture, she never does this when the good camera is out and it’s too cute not to share

Bitsy and Stinky got along great from the start but it’s been more challenging for Maggie.  It took a few months but they really seemed to learn to co-exist once Bitsy stopped trying to knock Maggie off of her spots on the bed and couch.
"I tolerate you"
Bitsy is doing great.  She has been such a wonderful addition to our family.  We figured out early on that she isn’t really able to jump; she would slowly climb all the way up onto the bed at night and do an odd little half climb/half jump-fall to get back down.  A little search on the internet showed that she was likely an English Shorthair and they are known for not jumping due to their short legs and round bodies (learn something new every day) so we bought her some cat stairs (bottom right of the above photo) and she just loves to hang out on the bed now.
She is talkative, and very playful.  She keeps about 5 toys around her at all times.  We call them her entourage.

Bitsy and her entourage, the white mouse is her favorite toy in the world sometimes she brings it onto the bed

She also loves her wet food.  She knows exactly what time dinner is and she is always sure to remind us.
It took a couple months for her to feel comfortable with us but once she trusted us a bit we were delighted to find out she absolutely loves tummy rubs.  My boyfriend also found a tickle spot on her back; she will kiss your nose or forehead if you get the back scratches just right

We are just smitten with her. 
Blog intro by Brigid Coult
Blog and pictures by Katie Scragg