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.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

SIMBA & JACK - Friends Forever!

There have often been cases where two or more cats come to the Sanctuary as inseparable buddies but not usually under  circumstances like that of Simba and Jack.
Jack (sleeping) and Simba - BC
When their owner died recently, 11-year-old Simba  and 10-year-old Jack were surrendered to RAPS.  They’re very attached to each other so being removed from  their “person” and their forever home together was perhaps not quite as disastrous as if they’d been alone.  However,  after landing safely at RAPS, their troubles were far from over - Simba tested positive for feline AIDS and had to be transferred to the area of the Cat Sanctuary designated for cats with this condition while AIDS-negative Jack remained at RAPS’ City Shelter . 
Jack - MW
It quickly became apparent that the two were miserable without each other!  The obvious solution was to re-unite them at the Cat Sanctuary so now, even though Jack is AIDS-negative, he’s happy to back with his best friend Simba and Simba is delighted to share his new digs with Jack.
Jack (MM & Simba (BC)

Tabby/white Jack and orange Simba are both friendly and affectionate boys.  Simba is especially out-going,  persistently pushing his head against my hand for ear rubs as soon as I opened his cage door.  Jack is a little bit shyer – I had to make the first move toward him but, once I did, he started purring and head-butting my hand as well.   Jack posed nicely for a photo but, with all his demands for attention, it isn’t nearly as easy to get a non-blurry photo of Simba.  You’ll just have to come and meet him to see how handsome he is!  
Simba - MW

As you may have read in a past post, cats who test positive for feline AIDS can live normal life spans without the need for medication, so both Jack and Simba are considered adoptable to a forever home that could ensure that they don’t get outside to contact other cats.  Of course, these two buddies would have to stay together!!   After living with Simba for many years without becoming AIDS-positive, Jack probably wouldn’t do so now.  Instead, he’d likely become depressed and develop other health problems if permanently separated from his buddy Simba. 
Jack - PH

UPDATE: Simba and Jack have been adopted together!  Following the death of her elderly cat, one of our volunteers decided that she was going to be their new forever-home. Congratulations to all three of you!

Blog by Marianne Moore
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Marianne Moore and Michele Wright

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Volunteer/Cat Relationship: Val & Gilbert

Like all new visitors, I was captivated the moment I walked through the front gate one Sunday afternoon.  Debbie started a tour, but I soon wandered off all starry-eyed and found my own little piece of heaven.  But Debbie, how can I be here more often, how do I volunteer? 
She suggested I fill in dates when the regular volunteers were away, so I jumped right in.  Because a full time job limited me to evenings and weekends, I cleaned the Moore House on a Sunday or the leukemia area on a Saturday, or scooped an evening shift. 

Bubba-love among the leukemia cats - VL
It still wasn’t enough for me, so I came most Sundays too.   One summer, a feeding shift became available in the double-wide while a regular volunteer took the summer off.  That’s how I came to love (and be able to start recognizing) the cats in the double wide. 
Double-wide Dale - AV
I would have taken any shift, but luckily a regular Wednesday night shift scooping became available in the double-wide and you can’t imagine anyone more excited to rush away from work to scoop poop!  It is still a highlight of my week.  Luckily lots of visiting time is included.
Some of my other favourites are Buddy, Dale, Kevin, Henrik Sedin, Yoda, Bubba, Paulo, Booster, Toby, Salty, Ella (you see where I’m going?  Way too many to mention—I could go on and on) Sweetpea, Roly, Calista, Emery, Matt. Pickles, Emily, ………
Buddy hanging down from the top of the cage
for a head-rub - VL
On a side note, I generally call the sanctuary the “cat ranch”.    When I told a co-worker that I was volunteering at the cat ranch on Wednesday evenings, his eyes grew wide and he said “They have a RANCH for CATS???!!  Too funny…
It’s so nice to be around people with the same love for cats—more smiles on people’s faces than anywhere else.
Cuddles with Jumper, Renee & Miller - BC
The next order of business was to choose a cat to sponsor (which is an absolutely wonderful concept, by the way).    I took it very seriously and wanted to make the right choice.  Yes, the donation goes into the “kitty”, so to speak, but I still felt the urge to choose wisely.  After all, this would be “my” cat and would be spoiled with extra treats and attention.
Gilbert waiting patiently - MW
On one early visit with a bag of chicken, I was feeding the cats in the front courtyard.  Brigid was sitting on a bench and said “Can you spare a little for Gilbert?  He loves chicken but he’s a bit shy”.
Sure enough, this precious orange kitty sat about a meter behind the bolder cats, with his paws neatly together hoping he wouldn’t be overlooked.    My heart melted and from that day Gilbert became my sponsor cat. 
Quiet time with my boy - BC
I saw from a 2010 neko files post that at first he often hid in the rafters, but with a lot of time and effort was gradually coaxed out.  I started out sitting next to him with the always-welcome chicken and Temptations and he has even sat on my lap once or twice.  But if the bolder cats come by for attention, he always graciously steps back and allows them to have a turn.
Gilbert can be found in the front courtyard and sometimes curled up in the gazebo.  When next handing out treats, please look for the little orange gentleman waiting patiently to be included.

Blog by Val Lea
Photos by Brigid Coult, Val Lea, A. Vandenbrink & Michele Wright

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Paylan & Marissa

Paylan - KS
This shy boy lives in the single-wide.  He isn't always the biggest fan of human attention and I had not really noticed him until he was in a med cage last year.  Fellow Monday-nighter, Kim, told me a bit about him and how he enjoys attention while in the cages, but he seems to forget people aren't so scary once he's back out on his own. 
Paylan - DW
I have been making an effort to get to know him over the last few months, and he has grown to trust me though he still has his skittish moments.  He is  a sweet guy who really does love chin scratches once he feels comfortable with you.  I've even found a little ticklish spot on his neck that gets his back leg scratching like a puppy. 
Paylan - KS
Paylan is one of the more full figured cats in the single-wide. He has a very distinctive lower lip and cute little turned up nose.
Marissa - KS
This is Paylan's Mom, Marissa, checking me out from on top of the cages where she usually hangs out.  She is also a resident of the single-wide, though not nearly as social with people as her boy. 
Marissa - MW
She does seem to like being talked to, though, and is willing to give my finger a little sniff just as long as I don't go in for the full chin scratching.  I'm hoping I can win her over with treats and time.
Marissa (PH) & Paylan (MW)
These two cuties are definitely worth a visit next time you are in the single-wide.

STOP PRESS: Paylan has been discovered to be female (relatively rare in an all-orange cat) and she has been renamed SARAH PAYLAN!
Blog by Katie Scragg
Pictures by Phaedra Hardman, Katie Scragg, Debbie Wolanski and Michele Wright

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Kiko & MiuMiu

Kiko and MiuMiu were transferred from the five Road Shelter to the Cat Sanctuary in March of this year.   They’re both 13-year-old females who were considered unadoptable after some time at Five Road, but that’s about where their similarity ends.
While MiuMiu is a beautiful “chinchilla” coloured Persian girl, Kiko is just a plain brown tabby.  
MiuMiu was surrendered  because someone in her household had developed an allergy to cat fur.   Kiko was a stray, trapped on River Road.   She’d  been spayed and tattooed so must have been part of someone’s life at one time but no one came to claim her.
Apparently, “miumiu” means “obedient” in Japanese and although no one really expects obedience from a cat (do we?), pretty little MiuMiu hasn’t caused any problems either.  Like many of the other cats in the Moore trailer, she can show a bit of ‘cattitude’ if petted too long or too vigorously but, from all reports, she’s usually a polite and nice cat.
 On the other hand, “nice” is not a word one would ever use to describe Kiko’s behaviour.  “Nasty”  more readily springs to mind for her. 
Although she’s definitely not feral or semi-feral, something in her past has made Kiko wary enough of people to strike out at a friendly hand rather than welcome it.  She sometimes seems to have a soft moment or two when she meows in a friendly and almost welcoming manner but that quickly changes to a growl and a hiss when one tries to reach out to pet her.  It’s impossible to know if her negative attitude is the result or the cause of her being homeless before being trapped and brought to RAPS. If only she could tell us what happened and  be made to understand that all she’ll ever get from now on with us is love!  
But  there’s new hope for a change in Kiko’s relationship with people!  Recently, she seems to have taken a shine to Chris, one of the kitty comforters, and will leave her safety zone, rub against his legs and even insist that he pet her!  I confess that I suspected it was a case of mistaken kitty identity when I first heard of this miraculous show of friendliness from Kiko but I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and took the photos to prove it!  Leslie reports a similar positive interaction with Kiko, which just goes to show that there’s a nice kitty just waiting to re-emerge from that gruff exterior. 
Kiko will never be the beauty queen that MiuMiu is but no one’s giving up on her becoming a nice, normal cat again!  We know that beauty is, after all, only fur-deep.  

Blog & pictures by Marianne Moore

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Those of us who work in the Old Aids building housing the cats with feline leukemia know that its inhabitants are fairly evenly divided between those who love humans – especially when bearing food – and those who are very wary. Merlin, Bubba, Zanda and Yoda are all determined cuddlers and get their fair share of visitors, but there has always been a set of cats that want nothing to do with two-legged visitors.

The outer area of Old Aids boasts runways 8 feet off the ground, and at least one cat-basket with a heat-lamp where the most determined outside-dwellers could stay cosy even in the cold, and glare at the invading humans below.
Jackson, Todd & Ooly
The elegant slender tabby with the pointy face on the right is Ooly. She came to us with shy black Todd who was probably her brother, trapped on Annacis Island about ten years ago. Both began their stay with us in the double-wide and the back courtyard, but were transferred to Old Aids when the leukemia virus showed up in them. Both were feral – Todd eventually allowed limited contact, but for most of the time Ooly’s been with us she’s opted for hissing and spitting when we get too close, preferring to spend most of her time out of reach above our heads.

And then she started venturing through the cat door and into the security of the main room. Initially she’d make a dash from the entry to the cat-tree, and head for the upper-level security of the cage-tops.  Any approach to her was met with evasive action, but at least she was seeing that humans weren’t too bad.  Phaedra tells me that Ooly does snuggle with quite a few of other cats in there - her best bud seems to be currently black & white Bibsy with Happy running a close second, and newcomer Chateaux getting in on the action.

When I do morning cleaning there, the cats know that I usually have something tasty in my pockets once I’m finished, and I can sit down and have a little fuss-and-feed time. Little bits of chicken are met with excitement by Kojak and the shyer Happy – but in the last few months, Ooly has been coming down to hover on the edge of the action. She does the same with Phaedra, who has found that she prefers not to share a plate with other cats.

For me, at first, it was just a wary sneak around – but the chicken that came her way was much appreciated, and she proved ready to hold her own with the more food-aggressive cats. More recently she’s actually accepted food from the hand, mingling more comfortably with the other cats, and allowing herself to be touched occasionally, when safely surrounded by feline company.

We’ve a ways to go with her; her body language still says that she’s uncertain, and I doubt she’ll ever allow herself to be snuggled like Bubba. But it’s not so long ago that Kojak was similarly wary, so there’s hope.

Blog & photos by Brigid Coult