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.

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

2 comments:

  1. I'm so happy Gilbert decided to change his mind about humans $ 120 of temptation treats was getting a wee silly
    Ann J

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love stories like this..Gilbert such a shy handsome fellow...
    Dianne

    ReplyDelete