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.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Presley

The single-wide trailer has an assortment of cats that lurk on top of the cages or behind furniture on the deck, and choose not to interact much with volunteers and visitors.  One of these wary individuals is a striking Siamese who goes by the name of Presley.

Presley is definitely not human-oriented.  He is happy enough to be around when plates of food are being offered to the general population, but he doesn’t much care for individual attention, even when accompanied by bribery.
Clyde (L) & Bonnie Boy (R)
I was surprised to learn that Presley is apparently the brother of friendly Bonnie Boy and his sister Clyde – not much family resemblance there, except perhaps around the eyes. They all came in to us in the fall of 2006, trapped by Carol Reichart.  It’s a reminder to us all that unspayed female cats may mate with more than one male, and a litter of kittens may come from several toms.  It would be interesting to know what Bonnie Boy, Clyde and Presley’s mother looked like.

Having had little luck in getting to know Presley, I turned to Phaedra. Phaedra is one of the staff that is working first thing in the morning – she’s a real early bird! – and she’s a true cat-whisperer. She knows the cats on an individual basis and is frequently the source of information on a cat with whom  nobody else has been able to interact.
 
Phaedra says, “Presley is one of the first cats to greet me in the wee hours of the morning, rubbing up against my legs and begging for pets with plaintive meows. As soon as I put my kneepads on and start picking up dishes he heads for higher ground. I think he's one of those early morning kitties that don't like too much activity around them. I enjoy the morning time he allows me as he's such a soft handsome boy. He was very fearful when he first came in and has been caged a lot for various reasons, so that didn't help.”

She points out that the volunteers who can pet Presley are very quiet and gentle. This is obviously a boy who needs a lot of patience and love, and is likely always going to be wary about new people.
 
Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Michele Wright

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pancake and Sid

When the No 5 Road shelter starts getting really cat-full, staff have to start taking a look at the cats that have been there for a while without being adopted. We want to give them every chance to find a new home, but being in such close quarters to many other cats has to be stressful, and sometimes a transfer to the Sanctuary brings some much-needed breathing space.  Some of the cats who have come to us recently have come because they were surrendered for peeing, and it’s always difficult to know if that’s a stress reaction in a home, which then is exacerbated in a crowded shelter situation. Aggression is a similar problem; in tight quarters, a cat may feel that it has no way out but to assert itself and pick a fight. At the other end of the spectrum, a very shy cat can feel overwhelmed at the Shelter, and not show itself willing to interact with humans.
Pancake is one of the litter of kittens that came to us with feral mom Autumn in October 2012.  All his brothers and sisters were adopted out, but Pancake is very shy, and preferred to hide in a corner and avoid people. And he hid, effectively, for two and a half years, with no adoption prospects.
His one friend was Sid. Sid suffers from the double whammy of shelter-aggression and black-cat-itis. It’s surprising how many people look at a black cat as simply a black cat, and don’t see the personality there. Sid is not a nasty cat, but he can be a bit hyper; he throws his weight around with other cats, and sooner or later there’s trouble.
Pancake and Sid were transferred to the Sanctuary in April, and put in one of the large cages in the double-wide together. They get along very well; Sid’s dominance is willingly accepted by Pancake, and there’s never been any sign of fighting. The two of them snuggle in one bed; they eat their dinner side by side; they’re happy to accept human attention, so long as it’s quiet and gentle.
Once the cage door was opened, we could see why these two might have been passed over. Sid swaggered out, prepared to stand his ground with the other cats, occasionally getting swatted, and starting the inevitable fight. He enjoys being out in the back courtyard, and is finding his balance.
Pancake mostly remains in the cage, even though he is quite free to roam – he’s found his safe place and he doesn’t want to be shifted. He is quite happy to accept petting, as long as he can do so from a raised position - like Bossanova in the single-wide, he's a fraidy-cat at floor-level and much more confident at eye-level.
And since Sid keeps getting put in time-out, the two buddies are brought together again, which is what they like best.  In fact, even when he's behaving well, Sid returns to the cage occasionally to check on his friend, and to let him know he's not been abandoned - even when cats like Booster and Max decide to visit and take over the lounging space.
These two are a classic Adopt Two Cats situation.  Neither is really happy without the other. Sid gives Pancake a bit more confidence; Pancake gives Sid a quiet place to cuddle. I’m not surprised they didn’t show well at the Shelter, but it would be wonderful if a cat-less person could find it in their heart to offer a home together to these two sweet boys.
 
Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Claire Fossey, Moira Langley & Debbie Wolanski

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Love-affair with Larry

You probably all know Larry, beautiful short-haired tuxedo cat with big ears, one of the “greeters” in the double-wide.  With his sleek coat, soulful eyes, and funny little bow-legged walk, he is, in my eyes, the handsomest and most charming cat in the whole shelter. 
Larry – modelling his Armani tuxedo
 
For the foot fetish crowd, these are Larry’s feet. 
Kind of fantastic.

I fell for him on sight, hook, line, and sinker, and I dared to hope he felt the same way about me – that maybe we had a little something special going on.  His personality, though, is an enigma.  When I look at those cheeky eyes and that little pink bip under his mouth, I think he looks insouciant – like he just stole something – or, as my friend said, like a young Hugh Grant, only with better acting skills.  But as I got to know him, I discovered another side to him, a shy vulnerability behind the mask of saucy self-assurance.  Or did I?  The second time we met, here’s what happened.

Kitty Comforter walks into the doublewide, sees Larry.  Their eyes meet.  Cue soft music.  Larry perks up expectantly.

Larry perks up expectantly

KC:  Larry!!  Precious Darling !!  Perfect One!!  I’ve been LONGING to see you.
Larry:  Oh KC!! I know you luv me.  Come and see me NEOW!!
KC:  Tell you what.  Let me get all my serious kitty comforting out of the way and then I’ll save some special time for you at the end.  I like to save the best for last.
L:  [Looks at her blankly]
KC:  [goes into cage, comforts sick cat diligently.  Comes out.  Gazes adoringly at Larry.]
L:  [Looks a bit crestfallen].  I thought you were coming to seeeee meeeee.  Oooohhh.

Larry looks a bit crestfallen
KC:  Perfect Darling.  I am!! I am counting the moments.  I am saving the best for last.  [goes into another cage, kitty comforts responsibly and well.  Comes out.  Gazes adoringly at Larry.]
L:  [Looks up hopefully]
KC:  Sweet Darling!  I’m coming.  I will be there soon.  Did you never hear of delayed gratification?
L:  Wut?  [looks at floor]
Delayed gratification?  Are you serious?? 
Larry looks at the floor despondent, confused

This continues for about half an hour, Larry becoming increasingly crestfallen as time goes by.  Finally . . .
KC:  [comes out of last cage].  Larry!  My perfect one !!  I’m finished my work.  I’m all yours now.  Think of what a lovely long, uninterrupted luv-in we can have together.  It will be worth the wait, I promise you.  [rummages in bag for treats and hastens across the room towards Larry].
L:  [sees her coming and suddenly sticks his leg in the air and starts licking his nether regions.] 
Larry sees her coming and suddenly becomes very busy
 
KC:  Larry !!  Sweetheart!!  Beautiful One!!  Darling !!  I’m here !!
L:  [Continues licking bottom].  Nope.  I don’t know you.  Never seen you before in my life.  [Ignores her completely]
KC:  I’m here now, Perfect Kitten.  Do you want some treats?
L:  Treats??  Noe !!  I couldn’t swallow them now – they’d choke me.  How could you possibly offer me treats??  [licks hind quarters more vigororously.  Grinds his muzzle into a difficult bit of leg.  Continues to ignore KC completely].

Noe!!  I couldn’t eat a single treat.  Not now.  Perhaps not ever. 
Take your treats and be gone.
 
KC:  O Larry wibble bibble.  I wuv you.  My special catting.  My one and only. 
[No response.  KC finally goes home chagrined and humbled].
And fascinated too.  They have such distinct personalities, like snowflakes, no two the same.  And I find it kind of magical whenever I see such clear evidence of animal cognition and animal communication.

I decided I would have to be more careful with Larry from now on, as he appears to be more sensitive than his beautiful exterior would suggest.  Now, whenever I see Larry, he gives me that mournful, hopeful, expectant look, and, conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs, I rush to him first and give him a super extra fuss, acting as if he is the only cat in the room, and lavishing treats on him while he looks all shy and vulnerable.
Larry – practicing his hopeful expectant look

We are getting on well now.  But I am never quite sure if he is really so demure and sensitive, or if he is so clever he has me wound around his little finger (paw). 
But I do wuv him.

We are getting on well now.  Larry seems to have recovered from his ordeal.
 
Larry – Fragile waif?  Or a young Hugh Grant?  You decide.
 
 
Blog & pictures by Moira Langley

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Secret Drinkers

Every day, two teams of volunteers move through the Sanctuary: the morning team focused on cleaning, and the afternoon one on feeding. Some cats rely on the moisture in wet food for fluid intake; others are glad of the many water-bowls scattered around the complex. Part of the duty for both teams is the cleaning and refilling of water-bowls. In the double-wide alone there are 10 large bowls plus a smaller one in each cage – whether the cage is in use or open to roaming felines – and similarly in other areas.  There are even a couple of cat-fountains around for the fussy ones who like their water to be moving

And then there are the REALLY fussy ones:

Those who wait for a puddle, so they can drink out of it

Those who prefer to dabble a paw - in this case, into a water-jug, which takes real determination
 
or who perhaps favour the gardening flavour of a watering can
 

Those who follow the water-crew around so that they can drink out of the bucket of used water
Who goes first?
 
Me first ...........  and now you....
 

Those who just can't wait for the tap to be turned on

Those who prefer to join the volunteers at tea-time


And those who want something a little stronger than water

(Lest you fear we have an alcoholic cat on our hands, this was at a summer party – and the cup was actually empty!)

Blog: Brigid Coult
Photos: Brigid Coult & Michele Wright