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, March 26, 2016

Sanctuary Pen Five

Pen no. 5 is a little quieter these days – our sweet trio of Arlington, Kirara and Spaz have gone into foster-care – mostly with an eye to keeping alert to Spaz’s diet, and helping him lose some weight with a combination of fewer calories and more exercise. The three of them are greatly missed, but we’re very happy for them – they were surrendered to our care from a home, and it’s good to see them going into a home together.
They were a trio that was very demanding of attention from visitors, and it’s good that the other cats get a bit more of a look-in now.  I will hope, in upcoming blogs, to put more focus on individuals, but here’s an overview.
You’ll likely be greeted at the gate by big ROOKIE. He came to us as an unneutered stray, found by volunteers Barb & Waldi, who always make a point of visiting him.
Rookie - MW
HUDSON is very chatty and friendly from outside the pen – especially if treats are being handed out – but a little more wary about being touched by visitors; he will often take himself up to the top of the cat tree nearest the door.
Hudson - PH
Blond WALKER is the most vocal of the cats, and again, likes humans on the other side of the fence, but is none too sure about the ones inside. He’d rather hang around with his buddy CAPILANO, who is not friendly to humans, though calmer than he used to be. Capilano is another big boy, though his weight took a dive when he needed some serious dental work. 
Walker & Capilano - MW

Walker also seems to get on with a number of the other inhabitants of the pen, which includes two small grey cats. WILLOW is currently caged for vestibular disease – a condition that affects the inner ear, and therefore the balance of the cat.  CAREEN is shy but very sweet.
Careen & Walker - PH
ADAM & MAY have been introduced before; they are practically always together. Both enjoy being petted, but are not too sure about taking human attention much further yet.
May (top) & Adam - BC
There are a few lap-cats, though. CHINOOK was wary about people when he came in, and is now very find of attention, and loves to climb onto a lap. He’s a little sensitive around his lower back, but if you keep your petting around his head, he loves it.
Walker & Chinook - MW (Calendar cats!)

SALISH looks like another big animal, until you take a look at the head, and realise that it’s quite a small body under all that fur!  She’s another very shy, but beautiful cat.
Salish - MW
Handsome black RUDOLPH is either in hiding, or being the total flirt – he has the most beautiful fur, rather like Ninja.
Rudolph - MW
Just a reminder for visitors: we ask that people don’t go into this pen to visit them without an experienced volunteer or one of the staff present.
Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Michele Wright

Friday, March 18, 2016

Garbo cats - back area

One of the first blogs I wrote, back in the summer of 2014, introduced a number of the front courtyard inhabitants as The Garbo Cats, who want to be left alone by other felines, though they may more readily accept human attention.  The back courtyard and double-wide cats seem to tolerate each other much better, but there too we have our share of loners – cats who prefer to avoid the company of others. 
The queen of these antisocial felines has to be Jingles. When I first came to volunteer at the Sanctuary, I was warned about one cage in the double-wide which was labelled as Jingles’ home.  It had formerly been the med-cage until our medics got moved to a much lighter, slightly more spacious area, and then it became the safe haven for (and from) an angry little black cat. Claire introduced her in 2009 as The Cat Who Hates Everybody, and she had herself quite a reputation for lashing out at the unwary.
These days Jingles no longer confines herself to a single cage, but she still remains a Cat Who Walks By Herself (or more accurately, lies – she’s not a very active girl!).  She’s much more accepting of petting from human passers-by, but you have to keep an eye open for other cats who think that it’s their turn for attention – at a moment’s notice Jingles will decide that someone’s in her space and she’ll swat whatever is nearest.
 Baby - PH
New volunteers are routinely warned about orange Baby, in the tea-room.  He’s been labelled a Jeckyll & Hyde cat, because his personality can change on a dime, and when Baby bites, he bites hard. Interestingly, I don’t think he’s a nasty cat; he’s very wary around other cats, and his personal space is important to him.  Most people, he just ignores, but  he’ll accept careful petting from the humans he likes.  It’s been a while since he’s actually attacked anyone, and we’re hoping he’s grown out of it, and is more accepting of his surroundings.  But we all read his body language very carefully!
Piper - PH / Jody - MW
Baby shares the tea-room bathroom space with two other antisocial cats, and it’s amusing to watch them jockeying for space on the three shelves by the sink. Piper, who is usually at the top, is quiet about her dislikes – she just removes herself from the space (unless occasionally she comes face-to-face with another cat).  Much more vocal is elderly Jody, with her worried face, often found on the middle shelf. When there’s a vocal protest going on, it’s usually Jody telling someone to get the h*** out of her way. She adores human attention, however, and loves to lick the caressing hand.
My own favourite Garbo cat at the back is Emery. This tabby Manx boy probably has a bit of Bengal in him, with the same long legs and athletic build as Lucky.  He avoids all contact with other cats and prefers not even to look at them if he can help it.  I find that he’s quite often one of my greeters at the gate, if it’s quiet, and he will occasionally ask to be picked up and cuddled. More often, you will find him tucked away on a shelf inside an open cage, where he will often reach out and climb onto a shoulder.
 If he’s in a particularly relaxed and loving mood, he reaches up to put his paws on my shoulders and snuggles his head into my neck – totally guaranteed to melt the heart!

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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Holland in the open

Almost three years ago, a little colony of cats was identified by a couple of our volunteers, and eventually trapped and brought to RAPS. One of the disadvantages for cats living feral (or, for that matter, for tame cats allowed to wander freely) is that they are susceptible to a couple of nasty viruses – in particular, feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline AIDS (FIV). Four of this group ended up with us in the New Aids enclosure; early photos show a very unhappy set of cats hiding in various corners of the cages in which they began their stay.
Holland was the one female in the group. Most of our AIDS cats are male, since it is a virus usually transmitted through blood among cats that fight – and fighting, of course, is inevitable among males when females come into season. We have no way of knowing if Holland had ever borne a litter, and, as with all our cats, she’s safely spayed now.
King George, who seemed to be the leader of this little group, settled down fairly quickly, and has become relaxed around humans; it is possible that he was at one time a tame cat. We don’t think Holland was very old when she came in to us – possibly less than a year – and it’s likely she was a feral kitten and had no chance for socialization in the first key months.  She has remained wary and skittish; sometimes she hovers on the fringe of action, but almost always backs off. Cat-whisperer Phaedra says “When Holland was caged with her sibling Wesley I could pet her and she'd even do the bum rise thing. Her best reaction to me these days is not fleeing in terror. She's absolutely gorgeous and I think she should be my friend but I guess she doesn't agree. She seems to spend more time outdoors and up high during the day time when I'm there”.

She’s such a beautiful girl, though, that she’s become something of a magnet for our photographers, and in the finer weather, it’s lovely to see her moving about the enclosure rather than hiding out in a corner, with her lovely torbie fur, and those delightful ear feathers, ruffled by the breeze.
Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Claire Fossey, Chris Peters & Michele Wright

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Chimo has changed!

When we met Chimo  he was NOT a happy camper!  He arrived with us last August, and, as usual with new cats, spent a while in a cage to allow him to get used to the sights and smells of other cats around.  Many of the volunteers were very wary with him even when the “Med staff only” notice came off his door; Chimo was liable to dive at an intruder, and legs were fair game.
Marianne wrote the blog about him in September; she heads up the team of Kitty Comforters, and she has endless patience with cats like this. As she said, it was obvious that though trapped outside, his was not feral-cat behaviour; he appeared to be eager to engage with humans, but just didn’t know how to do so in an acceptable way. She played with him gently, teaching him that feather toys and the like were fine for grabbing, but fingers were not!
Towards the end of September the door of Chimo’s cage was opened. Many of the feral cats in the Double-Wide head for the back deck, and a quieter life among other similarly wary cats.  Chimo sat in his cage for a while and then made a break in the other direction, heading for the back courtyard. There was some consternation – the Sanctuary is as cat-proof as we can make it, but as little Amber taught us, a determined cat can sometimes find a way out.  It was soon clear that Chimo had gone to ground behind the building we call Waldie’s Hut, and was hanging out with ferals like Quinn and Maureen.
There were several evenings when Leslie could be seen hunting round in the corners with a flashlight, and eventually reporting that Chimo would occasionally show his nose. And then he started appearing of his own accord; usually at the end of the day when things got quieter, he would materialise and have a little visit and then vanish again.
I was away for a couple of weeks after Christmas. On my first Sanctuary shift I passed though the double gates to the back courtyard, expecting to be greeted by the usual committee – Hannah, Fat Lucy, Emily and so on.  My greeter was a little pale orange cat who weaved around my ankles, demanding attention. It wasn’t until I noticed his tail that I realised this was Chimo, totally comfortable with human contact.
Chimo has become a regular sight between the gate and the tea-room; he can be found holding court up on the table or doing his best deluxe cat-wriggle on the doormat.  He’s occasionally a little pushy with other cats, but we have to remember that he’s still quite young and full of energy; he’s ready to play physical games, while the older guys prefer to be couch potatoes. With humans he still prefers the ankle-rub technique, though careful stroking is permitted.

There are few things as rewarding as watching a formerly wary cat relax into being a comfortable part of life at the Sanctuary!

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