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, September 27, 2015

Lorelei & Lora - two tubby torbies

 It is interesting that there are certain cats that you only see at certain times of day – or who react differently at different times.  In the mornings I find that front-courtyard Diamond is very wary; by late afternoon he’s ready to accept petting. Handsome Quinn in the back courtyard is very shy and usually stays well out of the way; but at dusk he comes out and, though not ready for petting, is ready to accept treats. There are many cats who love the Sunday visitors – and then there’s Fiona, who hides out until 4:10pm when the last visitor’s gone, and is then ready to appear and interact with the staff and volunteers.
Lorelei - MW
One little girl who has recently joined the chickaholic crowd in the front courtyard is Lorelei. She is often found disputing wall space with Petunia – they’re both small cats who like to get an advantage in height. Lorelei is less shy than Petunia; she will come for petting, and interacts quite comfortably with the other cats. 
Lorelei - MW
She’s one of our multicolored girls – a tortoiseshell/tabby mix, hence, a torby. At a distance she looks quite like tabby Jake, and then you realise that it’s not just fluff; this is a very solid little girl.
Lorelei on Cat-TV - MW
After the evening feeding, as dusk comes on, several cats emerge from the feral-cat area on the east side of the courtyard. Among them is Lora.
Lora - BC
In size, colour and body-shape, she’s very like Lorelei, but she’s got short fur, and has obviously had some skin problems, because the fur on her back is a bit patchy. In addition to her tubby body, she has skinny little legs.
Lora - MW
Lora is very shy, both with humans and with other cats. When Michele took this picture Lora was feeling cornered in her bed, and there was a certain amount of hissing going on,  Out in the courtyard she hangs around on the edge of the crowd. If chicken is being offered, she really wants it, but hangs back from the feeding frenzy; if you toss her a tidbit and another cat goes after it, she backs off and waits until it’s not being disputed. But though she’s shy, she’s obviously fascinated too – once food’s out of the way, she hangs around just out of arm’s reach – as only a cat can do – and occasionally lies down to show her belly. She will, very cautiously, accept a little petting, but prefers to limit it.
Lorelei & Lora - BC
Lora and Lorelei didn’t come in together; Lorelei was trapped at the docks about five years ago; Lora came in from a similar area couple of years later. But in colouring and body-shape, they are very similar – and they can often be found together.  For all you volunteers who excel in working with the feral cats, Lora will make a wonderful challenge.
Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Michele Wright

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Della and Peony (and Perry and Perkins, too)

Cats come to us in various ways. Most commonly they are owner-surrenders – sometimes for good reasons, sometime for unfortunate ones, sometimes for no real reason we can see. Often they are trapped as ferals and occasionally those cats may turn out to be very tame (and therefor probably strays) and if lucky, find a new home.  If they are young enough they can sometimes be socialised by one of our fosterers. The RAPS Shelter is always ready to take in kittens and try to help them, which is why it was so frustrating to have someone just dump a group of kittens near us. Very few places in Richmond are safe for young kittens, because of coyotes, raccoons, traffic, etc – and by the time these little ones had been discovered, we had no way of knowing whether the whole litter had survived, or how many had been lost.  Perry and Perkins were part of this litter, and were joined by Peony and Della who were trapped at a nearby recycling plant where there is a colony of feral cats which we are trying to trap before we get too far into the fall.
Perkins & Perry

  Della and Peony
These four youngsters have recently been moved from an area that is off-limits to visitors into one of the trailers where they can see and be seen by more people.  They shared their previous “pad” with six other young cats who had also been trapped roaming free in Richmond.  Most of the kittens arrived at the sanctuary directly from the trapping sites but these four had been fostered for a while in the homes of volunteers before being transferred to the cat sanctuary.  


The two boys, Perry and Perkins, were already outgoing and quite brave almost immediately upon arrival at the Sanctuary, but not so with the girls.
Neither of them wanted anything to do with us when they first arrived but, with lots of gentle loving, Peony’s now become a little sweetie who trusts us enough to even allow tummy rubs!  Della, for some reason, is lagging behind the others in her acceptance of a human touch.
She’ll tolerate a little bit of petting but only if her three best friends are close by, which they always are. 
Perry, Peony, Perkins & Della - MM
All four of them, typical of “teenager cats”, are playful and enjoy hanging out and playing together,  either running through the tunnel in their cage, enjoying a friendly game of batting a ball around or (their favourite) chasing a laser light.  When you’re visiting the sanctuary, ask to be introduced to these four youngsters.  

Blog by Marianne Moore (with Brigid Coult)
Photos by Michele Wright and Marianne Moore

Footnote: Sadly, we lost Della quite suddenly; the other three all "graduated" with honours, and have been adopted to their own homes.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

From lunger to (almost) lovable: CHIMO

Brigid posted a blog about this time last year called “From Swatty to Sweetie”, in which she described several  Sanctuary cats who made the transition from being swatty ferals to sweet friendlies.   Even if new arrival Chimo had been around then,  he probably wouldn’t have made that list because he’s been doing a lot more than just swatting, and is still not quite sweet, but getting close.  He was, and sometimes still is a swatter/spitter/lunger/biter/clawer and a very scary cat!  Trapped on the streets, Chimo made it quite clear when he first arrived that he wasn’t  in the mood to be loved.  Being neutered may have improved his disposition but it was also soon obvious that he wasn’t feral.  Instead of hiding fearfully as feral cats do, he was keenly interested in what was going on outside his cage door and would happily play with a string toy or bat a ball around– not behaviour for a feral cat! 
Clearly, Chimo had human contact before but perhaps not of the most positive kind.  From a very early age,  kittens learn survival skills by having mock battles with their littermates, chasing each other and chewing on ears, paws and tails to subdue their “prey”.  To mature into a people-friendly  cat,  they need gentle handling from humans to recognize the difference between a well-meaning hand and one that has to be attacked. Encouraging rough play with a kitten allows them to keep that “attack everything and try to kill it” behaviour that Chimo has (had?).   Chimo’s lunging, hissing and spitting at anyone who entered his cage is not uncommon behaviour  for a cat who’s upset by being in strange surroundings but I believe that his grabbing hands or legs and chomping on them is at least partly the result of being allowed, even encouraged, to continue the rough way that he played as a kitten – it was all fun and games to him! 
I’ve always had a soft spot for orange cats, especially ones like Chimo with pink noses and a bit of “cattitude”, so I couldn’t resist trying to get close to this little charmer.  I started out by waving a string toy in front of him  - he loved attacking it and I was able to use it to fend him off when he tried to attack me.  We would do a little circus lion and lion tamer dance inside his cage.    After many scratches and bites in response to my attempts to get him to “play nice”, I resorted to wearing an old pair of soft, thick suede gloves to get closer to him without any blood loss.  Of course, he’d grab my hand and chew and kick at it but, in between his attempts to kill it, that hand was able to sneak in a few head and ear rubs.  He loved that and it was amazing how quickly he learned not to chew on the hand that delivers ear rubs and doesn’t fight back.  After a few sessions with me wearing the gloves,  he became calm enough for me to pet him with bare hands at least for a little while.  As long as I kept my hands out of reach of those claws and teeth, all was well.  
I’m happy to report that Chimo’s growing up and getting over his juvenile delinquent ways.  Day by day, he’s becoming more gentle and less scary.    He still frequently forgets that he’s supposed to behave and will do the “grab and kill” thing so I’m still keeping the gloves nearby but I hope to put them away for good soon.  Is Chimo lovable yet?  No, but he’s not a lunger anymore! 

Blog by Marianne Moore
Photos by Phaedra Hardman and Marianne Moore

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Two Grey Girls

On Sunday afternoons, many of the visitors that come in bring treats for the cats, and in fact some of our furry friends are so blasé about food by the end of the day that we have to restrict the canned food we put out. Rather than commercial dry treats, I prefer to have a little bag of chicken bits in my pocket, and before I leave, they get shared around.  Many of the cats love chicken more than anything – “chickaholics”, I call them – and they’re desperate to get their share. Cheetah and Jake lead the charge, but Paulo and Latte are right there, Tommy and Dirky, shy Gilbert and Diamond, and many others.
Often I will hear a little chirp from behind me, and find a small grey cat hopping from one foot to another in anticipation. For some time I didn’t know her name, until Leslie identified her for me as PETUNIA. It turns out she’s one of the egg-farm cats in the single-wide – from the crowd that includes April and Simone and Bantam, and she is probably a litter-mate to more than one of them.  At some stage she made a dash for the door and established herself in the front courtyard.
She’s a shy girl – she won’t allow more than the slightest touch – but is more than ready to take chicken from the hand. But the fact that she’s so food-motivated makes it more likely that the Kitty Comforters will eventually be able to tame her a bit more, and she certainly sees that there are good things that come from being around humans.
Another grey girl occasionally in the chicken crowd is SARAH. It’s interesting to me that Sarah actually used to be more active in the cat-crowd, and around people, and has now taken to hiding away in the feral cat area.  She is also very keen on chicken, and had no hesitation in swatting another cat out of the way if she thinks she can get away with it. 
Sarah was one of a group of cats brought to us by volunteer Mary He from a feeding site she tended – others in that family included Fern, Fabio and Cyrano.  It may be that Sarah’s withdrawal from a more active courtyard life is part of staying connected with her “family” who also inhabit the feral area.  She’s still a very wary cat, and like Petunia, she shies from fingers that don’t hold food, but I think she’s another cat that, with a bit of work, could become more comfortable with humans.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Michele Wright