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, November 28, 2015

A Trio of Cow Cats

Feral cats come to us in a number of ways. Most frequently someone will report a cat or several cats hanging around, and one of our staff or volunteers will go out and set traps. Occasionally it turns out that the stray does indeed have a home, but often it is a cat that has lived wild for some time.
a part of the complex where a large colony of cats live
One colony of cats that is well-established (at least, to the cats’ satisfaction) is at a nearby composting plant. The staff there had noticed regular patterns of feline comings and goings, and were able to recognise some of the cats. Stephanie, one of our volunteers, has made it a personal mission to identify and trap as many cats there as she can, knowing that this is not the safest of sites for them – coyotes, hawks, eagles and other predators hang around.
Juvenile bald eagle looking for lunch - PH
Any fully adult feral cat may simply be spayed/neutered and returned to the area to take its chance, but when we know of female cats having litters of kittens, trapping them and trying to socialize them becomes a priority.
older cat, too wary to be trapped - PH
Stephanie has observed that many of the cats around the site are black and white, in a variety of patterns (sometimes called "cow cats" from their pattern similarities to Holstein cows), and she has identified the older males who have probably sired most of the kittens. Peony and Della were from a spring trapping at a nearby site, and in May Stephanie managed to trap three black and white girls.  Phaedra was with her when Mya was trapped, and chose the name; Teagan and Kirstie were names chosen by Stephanie for the other two. The three are likely siblings.
The newly trapped Mya  - PH
Phaedra says that Mya was the wildest kitten she'd ever encountered - she made the trap rock and bounce all over the place. For the first part of her stay she was angry and unapproachable, and Phaedra feared that she might never tame up - but then Leslie made breakthrough, much to Phaedra's delight. 
Kirsty kitten takes a dim view of being at the Sanctuary - PH
Kirsty was fostered for a while and then came to join her sisters.  There was a lot of initial hissing, but it proved to be mostly bluff.  Teagan bonded with another kitten, Yorkie, who was very handleable, and she took her cues from her buddy.
Teagan ready to run - PH
When we have really small kittens, they are fostered out for maximum handling, and then go straight to No 5 Road for adoption. But with half-grown kittens, there’s no way of knowing if they will tame, and the med staff at the Sanctuary have taken to a two-step pattern. In the Moore House, where most of the senior cats live, is a separate room with its own patio; we’ve been keeping the kittens there, apart from the general population, but where they can have some of the Kitty Comforters working with them.
For some time we would look into the Kitten Patio and find black-and-white bodies crammed into corners or having climbed up over the windows; being socialised was NOT in their agenda. But gentle determination and regular visits have worked their magic, and the no-longer-kittens were recently transferred to stage two: a transfer to the single-wide trailer.
Mya & Kirstie enjoying their new home - BC
There they are together in one of the large, walk-in cages, and are discovering that humans are to be welcomed; all three happily accept petting, and even belly-rubs (not welcomed by every cat!).
Mya now totally relaxed - MW
Teagan enjoying a stretch - MW
Like Perry and Perkins and Della and Peony, they will soon be released into the general population of the single-wide. They will probably not go to No 5 Rd for adoption; cats from such a feral background are likely not to be great adoption prospects, though if they develop a close relationship with a volunteer, sometimes exceptions are made.  In any case, any potential adopter would need to be very experienced in dealing with a semi-feral cat.
Kirstie wants MORE play - MW
Big thanks to Stephanie and her team for rescuing these sweeties (and many more!).  Quoting Phaedra: "These girls have been a joint effort of love by volunteers, kitty comforters and staff. I'm delighted at how happy they seem and proud to be a part of a team that can work magic like this."

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Phaedra Hardman & Michele Wright

Saturday, November 21, 2015

“…to pee, or not to pee; that is the question…”

Visitors to the Sanctuary are always reminded that most of our cats are non-adoptable because they may be feral, semi-feral, have health problems or behaviour problems. And most of the latter cats have usually been surrendered to us because of “inappropriate urination”.  But there are various reasons for that situation. In some cats, it’s their way of saying “I’m really stressed”. What that stress may be will vary. Perhaps the people next door have got a dog barking at all hours.  Perhaps there’s a new baby in the home. Perhaps there’s a new boyfriend or too many loud arguments.  The cat lets the owner know that it’s not happy by doing its business in the middle of the bed, or wherever – and next thing it knows, it’s being surrendered to us.
Leland - MW
We don’t know why Leland was left at the vet, but we do know that the kindly vet-tech who took him to her home hadn’t allowed for his degree of stress, or for a well cat-marked apartment. Poor Leland is still stressed, living with us, but he does have some people to love, and we just mop up after him as needed.
Nina - MW
Some of our older cats don’t handle stress very well; Nina has just come to us, rescued from being put down after things changed in her home.  It’s quite possible that when things are calmer for her, she might make an adoption prospect to the right person; she has shown no signs of peeing in her bed.
Tugboat - ML
For people who have multiple cats, having one or more cats acting out by peeing is common. Sadly, it’s all too often human-generated by there being too few litter-boxes, or boxes that aren’t cleaned often enough. Sometimes one cat will ambush another and create a situation in which the subordinate cat associates fear with the litter-box and decides it’s better to go elsewhere. We have had cats brought to us from hoarding situations, or just from multi-cat homes because of this problem. These are all what I would call the situational pee-ers. And there is very little doubt that most often the original problem-solving needs to start with the human – whether it’s an emotional, physical or medical problem – because there’s very little the cat can do…  But just occasionally someone will fall in love with that cat, and take them home to be a one-and-only, and the cat behaves perfectly – as was the case with a lovely Siamese called Tristan a few years back. 
Harry - PH
 We have our share of cats that have the best reasons for being with us.  Harry was left at our gate with a note that let us know that he’d had surgical treatment, but still ruined two floors! 
SweetPea - MW
Our darling SweetPea has no control over her sphincter muscles and leaves a little trail of drips (and the occasional “egg”) for us to clean. Noonie (in the Moore House) and Brady (in Old Aids) are both fragile cats and when weakened, it’s easier for them just to pee than to get up and find a litter box to use.
Jake - MW
And then there are the incorrigible pee-ers – Jake, in the front courtyard, who is everybody’s friend and loves to be carried; Jake wasn't surrendered for peeing, but has taken to it with great enthusiasm -
Elliot - MW
and Elliot, who likes nothing better than to find a lap and be fussed over – in both cases we have to warn visitors not to put anything down because it will immediately be marked! In fact, occasionally Jake likes to mark his favourite people! 
Lucky - MW
Our elegant Bengal, Lucky, probably has a pedigree and cost his purchaser quite a lot;  but once he started peeing around the home, the pedigree doesn’t count! Handsome Tugboat, cuddly Yoda, noisy Booster, elderly Bluebell – they’ve all just got into the habit of “going” wherever they are, rather than finding one of the many litter-boxes around.  It’s hard to know if it’s a habit that could ever be broken, or if it’s so ingrained now that even the most loving private home can’t deal with it.  So instead they have a loving home with us – and we smile and mop up after them!
Leland knows he is loved

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Phaedra Hardman, Moira Langley & Michele Wright

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Smokey, the Bandit and the Princess

These three elderly cats are among several senior cats to arrive recently at the Cat Sanctuary. Their combined names sound a little like the title of a fairy tale so it seems fitting that their stories be told together. All three of them are sweet cats but there, their similarity ends.
Smokey is a beautiful and stately 17-year old Himalayan lady whose owner became ill and unable to look after her. Smokey’s appearance is described quite accurately by her name – her cloud of silky fur is a lovely pale grey with darker ears and face mask and bright blue eyes like patches of blue sky.
 She’s quite a striking cat and has a nice disposition, although she’s understandably still a bit uneasy around all the “divas” in the Moore trailer.
Bandit, in the Single-wide, also sort of lives up to his name. There’s a slightly rakish air about him, with a mischievous glint in his eyes, and large fluffy paws that give him a bit of a swashbuckling look. Despite his charming appearance, Bandit further lives up to his name by having a slightly nefarious side to his personality – he’s gentle and loving until you stop petting him, then you may get a swat or even a little nip, as if he’s saying that you’d better get back here, or else.
Fourteen-year old Bandit is a diabetic who requires daily insulin, which is why he’s situated where he is – closer to fellow diabetic Garfield (much easier for Animal Care staff to treat both cats if they’re in the same building).
Princess rounds out the storybook trio – she’s a 17-year old sweetheart who came to RAPS when her owner had to go into a care home. With her compact body and little bob-tail, Princess is very much like a black-and-white Sweet Pea, but happily without Sweet Pea’s unfortunate incontinence problems.
Princess is the most recent arrival of the three so we’re still getting to know each other but so far she’s shown herself to be a very nice kitty – no signs from her of a spoiled royal expecting special treatment. Maybe she’ll convince the other would-be princesses in the Moore trailer to be more like her.

Blog by Marianne Moore
Photos by Phaedra Hardman, Marianne Moore & Michele Wright

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Diamond & Garfield

These two sweet cats came to us when their owner, moving to new housing, was forced to surrender two of her four pets – and opted to give up the ones she felt had the best chance of being adopted again. It was heartbreaking for her – there are currently various petitions going round calling for an end to restrictions on the number of cats in Greater Vancouver rental housing for responsible pet-owners, but nothing would sway the regulations of the place to which she was going.
on arrival at the Sanctuary (DW)
Diamond and Garfield came to the Shelter at 5 Road about a year ago, and were housed in adjacent cages. They are mother and son, about 8 and 7 years old respectively, and deeply bonded to each other. Neither of them is a small cat, and Garfield was found lying in his litter-box so that he could reach a paw through the bars to touch his mom.  The Shelter staff decided that though they’re adoptable, and therefore should be on view at No 5 Road, they would actually do better at the Sanctuary, where we could give them a large cage which they could share, and still have room to move around.
For the first month or so of their stay with us they huddled together, obviously scared by their change in circumstances. They both had some health problems initially. Both needed to lose some weight, but that’s better done with more exercise rather than restricting their diet too much, and in a cage they couldn’t get much exercise at first. Garfield was receiving treatment for an eye problem, and also turned out to be diabetic – a condition that once diagnosed was swiftly got under control with twice-daily injections.
Once released from their cage, they soon settled to life in the Single-Wide. They are still often found together – either sleeping or grooming – but both are comfortable on their own. Diamond is a box-aholic; when I take the last cans out for evening feeds, I often put the box on the floor and Diamond immediately takes possession of it. 
Diamond-in-box - (DW)
Garfield is one of the quality-control assistants at meal-time, hoping for the first taste off every plate. Most cats are photogenic, but Garfield is particularly so, and his picture is one of those featured in the new 2016 Calendar.
This is a pair that is still very adoptable, though it would need to be to a home where the adopters were comfortable with insulin checks and injections where necessary. For now, they are still enjoying each other’s company, tolerating the other cats, and welcoming occasional visits from their former owner who is so happy to see them doing well with us.
 snuggling with Mom - (DW)

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Debbie Wolanski & Michele Wright