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, October 29, 2016

It's always Black Cat Day!

This past 27 October marked Black Cat Day.
Sid having a cat-nap - MW
True cat lovers will tell you that every day is black cat day – but it is unfortunately true that for black cats in a shelter, adoption comes less easily. Sometimes that's in part because it's so hard to take a picture of a black cat - lighting and contrasts become more important than in a cat with other colours, Even a single white spot or streak helps to make the cat more defined, but even in the Sanctuary where we know and love our black cats over years, it's sometimes hard to tell who you're looking at, so you can understand how a shelter cat can become overlooked.

Colin - MW
Superstition may have something to do with it – but superstitions vary enormously from one culture to another, when it comes to black cats.  Going all the way back to ancient Egypt, the view of black cats being favorable creatures is attributed specifically to the Egyptian goddess Bast (or Bastet), the cat goddess. Egyptian households believed they could gain favor from Bastet by hosting black cats in their household.
Chrissie - MW
In some fishing communities, black cats are considered good luck, and fishermen’s wives keep their black cats safely at home, believing that their husbands will be kept safe as well.  We would really like to see all cats kept safe at home – cats allowed outside are more likely to be harmed by traffic, predators or poison.
Zanda - PH
Black cats have often been looked upon as a symbol of evil omens in much Western history, specifically being suspected of being the familiars of witches, and so many Europeans consider the black cat a symbol of bad luck, especially if one crosses paths with a person. But there are also conflicting superstitions:  in Germany, some believe that black cats crossing a person's path from right to left, is a bad omen. But from left to right, the cat is granting favorable times. In the UK it is commonly considered that a black cat crossing a person's path is a good omen.
Beetle - MW
Many shelters hold off on adopting black cats out around Halloween, for fear of people harming them in superstitious rituals.  It actually makes more sense not to be encouraging any adoptions at all until fireworks season is over – a cat in new surroundings is going to be easily spooked by lights and bangs.
Mirror cats - MW
At the Sanctuary, we’re happily crossing paths with black cats all the time. Volunteers know that many of our black cats are accomplished cuddlers with awesome purrsonalities. It does take time to get to know them and tell them apart, of course, but that’s time well spent!
Ninja lives up to his name - MW

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Michele Wright

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The 2017 Calendar's Coming!

As we’ve done for the last five years, a selection of the Sanctuary cats will be featured in a calendar,  – this year, it will appear on 22 October at our fall pub-night fundraiser  and, for the first time, will be accompanied by a dog edition from the City Shelter.

And as always, it was hard to make a selection of pictures, and inevitably, to say no to this or that one. I always try to choose a variety of cats – so I’m looking for a black cat, a calico, a tabby, a grey, a pair, a group... and so on. We made the decision to allow some new photos of cats who had been featured in previous years, but not of any cat who appeared in the 2016 calendar.

Here are some of the pictures that just missed being selected – not because they were less worthy in any way, but because they just didn’t fit with the sequence that emerged.
Albi - the first of a series of orange boys on the shortlist!
Boomer - in New Aids

MiuMiu was going to be our January 2018 cat
- but she may just possibly be adopted!

The light on our lovely Rudolph makes this a wonderful photo
 - but he's already in another picture!
Ian Tom sent us a couple of lovely photos.
This is Autumn, who was featured in the 2016 calendar
We discussed making this the cover - but decided that
being stared at with horror by a feral was not a welcoming image!
Buddy has the most beautiful eyes!
He's another one on the verge of adoption...

Henrik was on the cover of the 2015 calendar.
This is his brother Daniel, another of the orange guys on our list
The calendar will be available at the Sanctuary, the Shelter, the Thrift Store, and at several other venues around the city - for more information check the RAPS webpage  

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Ian Tom and Michele Wright

Friday, October 14, 2016

Feline Weightwatchers

Cats, like humans, come in all shapes and sizes. We have our share of little cats (like Marilee, Shady, Emily…) all of whom are far from being kittens; they’re just small slim cats.  But we also have our share of the plus-size cats, and just like humans, we need to consider whether the plus-sizing is a health issue, or just the way the cat is.
Capilano & Chinook - MW
When we had Pen 5 closed, it was more noticeable how many of those cats were large-size varieties. Chinook, Adam, May, Capilano – none of them were shrimps. With some concern for their size, their food was changed to a higher-protein variety, but they liked it so much, they just ate more of it and seemed to gain more weight!  We soon reverted to the ordinary variety...  Now that Pen 5 is open, some of them are getting around a bit more, and with the constant stream of feline visitors, the concentration of large cats in there is no longer so obvious.

Sid - BC
Being overweight, in cats as in humans, can lay them open to a variety of health concerns. Both Sid and Marmalade are plus-size and are also diabetic; med-staff monitor them carefully to make sure their insulin levels are under control.
Carla & Cookie - BC
As with humans, there are two important parts to weight-control: diet and exercise. At the Sanctuary, there is always dry food out for the sake of the shyer cats who don't want to eat at mealtimes, or who don't like the wet food. So the only way to control intake is to cage the cat – and that obviously then cuts out the possibility of exercise. Newcomers Cookie and Carla are decidedly tubby – Carla can be a bit crabby with cats and sometimes with humans, but she likes to play, and volunteers are encouraged to get her moving as much as possible.
Deety - MW
Any visitor to the double-wide trailer knows Deety; this boy likes to stay on his shelf in the laundry-room, but it was noticed that his size increased and his ease of movement decreased. Med-staff Catherine would take him down to the back gate and encourage him to walk back; Deety now not only comes down by himself, but occasionally comes out and visits in the back courtyard (especially when he feels that the dinner service is a little late)
Eiffel - BC
Another newcomer is Eiffel – this 26-lb boy is not just tubby, he’s a LARGE cat (and a very sweet one); currently caged while he’s in the settle-in phase, he should be out in the general population soon.
Autumn & Lorelei - MW
Sometimes with the long-haired cats it’s hard to tell whether it’s fluff or pounds. Looking at Lorelei and Autumn in the front courtyard, you could be excused for thinking we have too many tubby tabbies; a little petting quickly establishes that a lot of Autumn is fluff and Lorelei is solid!
Buster: preparing for the Westminster Cat Show - ML
When volunteer Maureen blogged about her beloved Buster recently, she also wrote about Buster’s size issues.
Buster was contacted by his vet’s office with a proposal to join their “Biggest Loser” contest.  We of course accepted as he is weighing in at 10.85kg (24lbs) and he is not getting any younger.  I have had Buster on a grain-free diet for a year now but to no avail.  We have found this food makes him hungrier and of course I succumb to his demands when he is hungry!  Knowing that Buster was an unwilling participant and disliked trips to the vet he participated by Skype. I brought him in  to have all of his tests done (which of course he had to be sedated for) get his nails clipped and a nice little haircut for the summer. After the full stats were analyzed Buster’s goal was to lose 13lbs over a 37 week period. 

"I am lovin' my new haircut..." - ML
We started Buster on his new food – which contains more fibre to allow him to feel fuller longer and he seems to be okay with the transition. We do of course reach his quota by 2:00pm though…baby steps, baby steps...

A phone-call recently from the vets told us that Buster was their “Biggest Loser” for the July/August period, having lost an astonishing 12% of his body-fat (1.3kg/2.9lbs) and I went down to collect his prize.

(the next update will be Buster showing off his new Speedo)

Blog by Brigid Coult & Maureen Lahaise
Photos by Brigid Coult, Maureen Lahaise, & Michele Wright

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Smoochie and Bear

Bear & Smoochie - DW
When new cats come in at the City Shelter – either as surrenders or as trapped cats – one of the first things that happens is a quick trip to the vet for a checkup.  Blood testing comes first, a spay/neuter if necessary, and then a decision about where the cat will go.  For a cat that has spent any time in the wild, one of the dangers is always that they may have contracted feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and if that is the case, we are just thankful they have come to us at RAPS. FeLV is transmitted in saliva, and is dangerous to the immune systems of other cats; our own FeLV cats live in an area separated from the general population, both so that we can ensure that nothing in their saliva can contaminate anything the other cats touch, and also so that we can keep their area as safe as can be from anything that might affect their fragile immune systems.
Smoochie - DW
Many other shelters and sanctuaries are unable to create this dedicated area, and it is a sad fact that a cat infected with FeLV is more likely to be euthanized because it’s considered unadoptable. Of course, is is possible to have a FeLV cat at home, but only knowing that it should never go out, never be in touch with an uninfected cat, and knowing that its life-span is likely to be much shorter than usual. Faced with that, most people shy away from the commitment.

RAPS is dedicated to a no-kill philosophy, and leukemia cats coming to us mostly live in what we call the “Old Aids” area, now extended to the Val Jones corner.  For some time there has also been a Leukemia room tucked away at the back of the Single-Wide, but with the death of our lovely Harry, the population there was reduced to two cats, and the decision was made to transfer them over to the Val Jones area, where we have also lost Jerry, Foxy and GusGus in the last six months.
Smoochie hiding - DW
Smoochie was trapped and brought to us some four years ago; the family that found him would have kept him, but for the FeLV diagnosis. His tidy black-and-white and little Charlie Chaplin 'tache disguises a very shy boy; he was pretty scared when he arrived; it’s taken a long time to get to the point where he will comfortably accept petting, and I suspect it was Harry that taught him that humans could be trusted to give good cuddles!  He’s still shy, but now he looks for his favourite people, knowing that he’s safe with them.
Bear - MW
Bear was one of two cats surrendered together at the City Shelter; it turned out that he tested positive but his housemate was negative, and the two were split up, with Bear coming to us at the Sanctuary. “Shy” is not a word to describe Bear; he is pretty vocal, not really cuddly, but ready to throw his weight around when needed.
Smoochie - MW
Moving the two of them to the Val Jones corner was much as expected; Smoochie found corners to hide in and had to be coaxed out; Bear swaggered around with lots of confidence. Their pen-mates are Mocha, Suga, Henrik and blind Chip, and all seem to have settled well with the newcomers.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Debbie Wolanski and Michele Wright

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Tale of Several Tails

The Sanctuary plays home to more than 400 cats of a variety of types – and has been home to probably a thousand more in the course of our 16 years in Richmond. They come in all sizes and shapes, purebreed and moggies – if you want to find a cat of any description, it’s probably passed through our gates at some time. The purebreeds – cats like our Persians and Bengals – are usually here because of their bathroom habits, but those are habits that keep a number of cats from being adopted, unfortunately.

A variety of cats come with a variety of tails – everything from the long and elegant tail of Bengal Lucky, usually carried low, or the similarly slim tail of tabby Hannah, usually erect...
Lucky - MW

Hannah - PH
to the magnificent bushy fluff of Puffin or Owl

Puffin - MW
We have our share of tail-less felines, usually known as Manx cats. These vary from the totally tail-less cats like Sweet-Pea, Kilmer and Emery, (known as “rumpies”) to the cats who actually have a tail, but one which is shorter than normal, and has the last few vertebrae fused together. With the latter it’s not always possible to tell without an X-ray whether the tail deformity is genetic or the result of an accident.  Depending on the length of the tail, these are known as a “rumpy riser” (Huey), a “stumpy” (Blue, in pen 6) or a “stubby” (Abby)
Abby - MW
Sweet-Pea is at the end of the Manx spectrum, suffering as she does from what is known as extreme Manx syndrome, in which the shortness of the spine creates a form of spina bifida, making it impossible for the cat to control its bladder and bowels. Those of us who love our little trilling calico mop up after her, and cuddle her in a thick towel from time to time; she gets a daily bath, as does Kilmer, who has a similar problem – though not quite to her degree.
Sweet-Pea - PH
Sometimes we know that the shortness of the tail is not genetic. Little Marilee was one of a family of cats who were trapped, neutered and released back to the farm where they lived. Unfortunately, Marilee managed to get her tail trapped in a bit of farm machinery. The tail had to be amputated, and it was decided that the Sanctuary was the safest place for Marilee. The picture of a wary Marilee from her early days with us is in contrast to the relaxed girl she is starting to become.
Marilee - PH
Do you recognize any of these tails?

One thing you can usually be sure of – a raised tail signals a happy cat – and what can be happier than meal-time!

Dinner-time! - TS

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Tim Stocker & Michele Wright