RAPS is short for Richmond 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.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Loved and Lost in 2017

Owl - waiting hopefully for chicken (March 2017)
I think we all know what it feels like to say farewell to a beloved pet – especially when we have to take the final loving steps with them at the vet’s office. We all have favourites at the Sanctuary, and we grieve when the word is passed that one of them has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
Sadie enjoying the sun (Aug. 2017)
Many of the Sanctuary cats have lived here for years, and an aging population brings increased vet bills, as well as sorrow for all of us when there is nothing the vets can do.
Treacle was full of "tortietude" (June 2017)
I try to celebrate life at the Sanctuary in the Neko-blog, but there are times we need to look back and remember the cats we’ve loved and lost.
Sweet Piper didn't like other cats much, but she had many human friends (Oct. 2017)
During our summer volunteer party we take time to read the list of the cats that have passed in the previous year, and the well-known legend of the Rainbow Bridge. It’s a moment that is named for raggedy Chance who passed several years ago, and there are always tears and fond memories.
Dekka liked to be tucked away on her shelf  (Feb. 2017)
So, as we end the year, here’s a last look at some of our feline friends who passed in 2017, with love
"Belly-rub" Bobby had a big fan-club (Oct 2017)
Laredo was another loner... (July 2017)

Marmalade always looked so worried... (Dec 2017)

Salty (centre) was a cat-magnet. (Sept 2017)
Ridley (left) misses him and Sid (right) (Dec 2017)
Cheetah has gone to be with his best friend, Silverfox (Aug.2017)

Deety was an icon at the Sanctuary -
and lived most of his life on HIS shelf in the Double-Wide (Oct 2017)
Freckle was another chickaholic (Oct.2017)
Elliott was always one of the greeters at the front gate (April 2017)
I need to acknowledge the burden carried by the Sanctuary med staff - every cat that passes, passes in the care of someone who accompanies them to the vet on that last journey, reminding them about how much they are loved.  For every cat we lose, there are more waiting to come in - cats with medical conditions, or cats who have lost their owners to illness, feral cats who might finally come to accept human touch, or cats with behaviour issues. And without forgetting the ones who have gone, hearts will be opened up to care for a new clowder of cats who need us.



Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Michele Wright

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Meowy Little Christmas

Simba
Since the beginning of December decorations have been appearing around the Sanctuary, and the front courtyard is looking very festive.
DW
The one and only Christmas tree has to be kept safely between the gates, where no inquisitive paws can reach it; I have certainly seen the hanging stockings twitching where the feline curiosity gets to be just too much!
DW
Michele has been working very hard at various places taking Santa-pictures of beloved pets, but she found time to get in to the Sanctuary with a few Christmas props, so that the cats could wish you a Meowy Christmas in fine style.
Eva
 
Harold
 Randy
Mr Pink
Most cats take grave exception to hat-wearing, though scarves seem to be acceptable;  if Santa hats have to come into it, it's Photoshop to the rescue!
 Tubby Christmas
Dodger does not want to wear this thing, even through Photoshop!
and Dandelion is auditioning for the Grinch!
 Skittles is ready for anything if chicken is offered!
This is the sort of prop that Stella likes!
With the coming of the holidays, volunteers and staff are thinner on the ground, and many of us will be doing extra shifts to cover vacancies. The Sanctuary still needs to be cleaned, and the cats scooped and fed, even on Christmas Day - but we'll all pull together to get it done before we all go our ways to our various celebrations.  And the cats will no doubt get their taste of turkey from some generous visitor!
We all - staff, volunteers and cats - wish you all a Meowy Christmas and a Purry Happy New Year!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Debbie Wolanski and Michele Wright.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Hold Me!

We tend to think of cats as being aloof and detached, and of dogs as being more needy – Emery has his moments of detachment, but he also has moments of extreme neediness!
MW
This elegant-looking tabby manx boy has been with us for more than five years now. And in that five years, not much has changed. He still hates other cats – though perhaps less hates them than avoids them.  He still pees wherever he feels like it, no matter how many litter boxes are more convenient. But at the same time as he indulges in all this antisocial behaviour, he’s a very needy cat, and has discovered how many of the volunteers will indulge him.
CP
Few cats ask to be held;  there are many who will happily jump on a lap when it’s offered, and settle down for a stroking session, but actually being held is not so popular. KitKat will jump on a shoulder, but she wants the freedom to jump off again. A few of our “Garbo” cats look for a Sunday visitor to snuggle them – Tigger, Timmy and Leland are all cats who look for visitors like Ronald and Sadie to offer them a blanket and half an hour of quiet attention.
If you won't hold me, I'll at least hold your feet! - BC
But Emery waits till his favourite people appear and hovers anxiously, reaching out an eager paw, until you get close enough for him to climb across to you. A lap is not enough – if there’s a lap, there are also other cats. Emery wants to have you all to himself, and he wants to be held while you stand upright. His paws reach around your neck, his head butts in under your chin, a cold wet nose is tight against your neck – and he’s in heaven. I have to admit that my heart melts when he does that, and I will often interrupt the changing of water-bowls or the doling out of more dried food to give him the cuddles he needs so much.
Emery loves hugs with Michele
We think there’s probably some Bengal in Emery’s ancestry; his long muscular back legs enable him to launch himself to the roof of the breezeway cupboard that holds canned food, from where he has his solitary view over the proceedings. Unlike Hannah (now adopted), who used to take a flying leap from there onto the shoulder of an unsuspecting passing visitor, Emery waits till the shoulder is offered, and steps down carefully. In some of the beds he chooses, his long legs obviously don’t quite fit, and they sometimes stick out at odd angles, or in what I call his Supercat Pose.
CP
Let Sleeping Cats Lie, is his motto; he does have some favourite beds within reach, but he doesn’t like to be disturbed, unless you are one of his Special People. He’s not really food-motivated, like so many of the others – what he wants is affection (and being out of sight of other cats). I am sure that part of his favourite snuggled-against-the-neck pose is to shut out the view of all those other cats – on the ostrich principle, if he can’t see them, they’re not there.
ML
His other love is a very Bengal trait – he adores running water from the tap, and waits anxiously till the sink is empty of cans, and the tap is flowing to refresh water-bowls.  Ignoring wet feet, he laps from the tap, and like our much-loved departed Bengal Lucky, he can spend twenty minutes in the sink waiting for the tap to be turned on again.
BC
But nothing beats a real hug, and he waits anxiously to see when his next Chosen Hugger will come within reach.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Cult, Moira Langley, Chris Peters,  Michele Wright

Friday, December 8, 2017

Winterizing the Cats

At least in winter Ninja can see where he's climbing! - MW
Looking at the blog I wrote this time last year, I am reminded that we had been hit by the first of a series of snowfalls – rare for the Lower Mainland. Currently the forecast holds clear, but with so many Sanctuary cats out and about, we have to be thinking, “What if...”.  And we’d rather not discover the answer the hard way!
OJ snuggles behind his Oilers blanket - BC
The simplest things come first – the shelves in each cabin are often draped with a sheet; now we change to something warmer, like a blanket, hoping to give cosy corners in which to hide. Fleecy material is favoured and thinner fabrics are retired to a storage cupboard, to be brought out again in the spring.
Jinx feels the cold - she insists on having
her bed by her own heater - BC
Handyman Doug has been assessing the complex and trying to prioritize the things that need attention. Recent heavy rain has disclosed a few places where roof repair is needed, and where skylights need to be sealed; the forecast of clear weather means that they can be dealt with before more rain can do damage.  Doug took time in the summer to resurface many roof areas round the main courtyard and has put up lighting in the back area that make evening shifts much safer to navigate. There is now a RAPS Cat Sanctuary Winter Defence Fund - donations made directly to RAPS or through CanadaHelps can be designated specifically to it.
Hudson's Pen 5 needs a major clean-up - you
do NOT want to walk on that grass!  - BC
All the cabins have ceramic heaters, controlled by thermostats; safest for the cats, they can put out an amazing amount of heat when needed. The concern has to be for the wiring – few of the cabins are new, and wet West Coast weather doesn’t really help. A recent electrical outage has us without power for the best part of a day; the break was not actually on our property, but it reminded us how dependent we are on power to give us heat and to run the never-ending laundry, and all the wiring should probably be thoroughly checked.
Manager Janet has to take laundry home when it piles up!- JR
There is some serious work to be done in the back – some that can be tackled with volunteer help, and some that has to wait for financial assistance.  Tree roots have been buckling up some of the pavers, and in fact one tree fell last winter, taking a part of a pen wall with it.
Pavers buckled and seating damaged by fallen tree - DW
Pen 3 – the home of our handsome Dell – was put on limited access for two months, because the frame around the gate was damaged, and only staff could go in. It was repaired and cat-proofed to welcome another group of ferals, but we need to do some work on all the back pens to make sure the fencing is in good shape, and that netting covering the feral pens can handle a snowfall without collapsing under the weight.
Pen 5 is open, but the mesh still needs to be repaired - DW
Pen 4 is a feral pen and needs to be meshed over - if we
get a snowfall, this roofing can break - BC
The coming clear weather also means that we can tackle a much-needed clear-up of the grassed areas, which by now are pretty poopy. A few cold mornings give us a chance to rake the surface and dispose of the debris; leaves and dead grass can be removed, and the gardens, which have been cut back, can be  tidied for spring preparation. Many of the feral cats prefer not to stay in the cabins even in the worst weather, and the outdoor kennels and beds need to be cleaned out and well supplied with straw to give some protection from the cold.
Stella investigating an outside kennel - BC
A RAPS Cat Sanctuary Winter Defence Fund has been set up to help with some of the financials involved. But most of all, it needs willing hands coming together to make our cats as warm and comfortable and safe as they can be.
We are especially grateful to supporters like these folks from River Rock Casino, who came by for a Day of Giving, taking on some special projects. If you have a team like this that can give us a day, please contact the Shelter Manager - janet@rapsbc.com - it can make all the difference to us and to the cats!


Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Janet Reid , Debbie Wolanski & Michele Wright

Friday, December 1, 2017

Blue - the Loner

Blue joined us a year ago as one of a group of cats from a shelter on the Sunshine Coast.
For a while they were all in Pen 6 together, but the pen is too valuable as a limited space suitable for accepting new cats who need outdoor access, and since these cats were all used to human contact and to being handled – in fact, several of them went to the 5 Road Shelter for adoption – the gate was opened and they were allowed to merge with the rest of the back pens population.
For some cats, this sort of release is not always comfortable, and they prefer to stay around the area they know.  We see this with the Pen 5 cats: Adam and May, Rudolf and Salish and the rest – they could go anywhere, but they prefer to stay on their own turf. For other cats, this sort of release signals Opportunity – and this was the situation with Blue.  He was never a very cat-social cat with the other Pen 6-ers, and an open gate meant that he had unlimited space to explore.
I was brought up reading the Kipling “Just-So Stories”, and always loved the one about the cat. “The wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.”
That’s Blue! He’s a true loner – he doesn’t particularly care for people and certainly not for other cats – all he’s concerned about is finding a comfy bed, and some food when other cats aren’t around.
His favoured cosy-corner is the papasan chair on the Newcomers Deck – especially in cold weather, under the heat lamp, that is a favourite bed for half-a-dozen cat to snuggle together. But when Blue claims it, everyone else backs off and goes to find somewhere else to snuggle.
I don’t think he’s a nasty cat. We have to keep a careful eye on some cats like Digby, who throw their weight around and are known to attack other cats.  But Blue just exudes the “I want to be alone” aura, and without much being said, other cats avoid his space. He will accept attention from humans, though he doesn’t really seek it out; when he’s in the right mood he likes to sit behind me and play with my hair.  But he doesn’t snuggle and he doesn’t usually come looking for petting.
He has everything he wants – comfy beds, a space to wander, food and water as needed – and all without being bugged for attention.  Life is good for Blue!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Michele Wright

Friday, November 24, 2017

Love you.. love you... HATE you...

Many of the cats at the Sanctuary are here for behavioural reasons.  For the most part, that means that they have been surrendered because they pee and poop in the wrong places; the third common behavioural category is aggression.
Smithy warns us off - BC
I’m not including ferals in this category; ferals are by nature fearful, and frequently believe that attack is the best defence. For the most part their “attack” consists of hissing, and trying to look as fearsome as they can. You can’t walk into Pen 8 without a display of teeth from Smithy – but it’s interesting that he hangs around while I scoop the back litter-box, and listens while I talk to him. As long as I don’t make eye contact and don’t make obvious moves towards him, he’s ready to listen (though not to be touched).

When I think of aggressive cats, I’m thinking more of the ones who have been surrendered to us because their aggression has been unmanageable in a home. And it’s interesting that very often those same aggressive cats calm down at the Sanctuary and show little sign of the reason they were surrendered.
A relaxed and happy Eli - MD
Handsome Eli was apparently adopted out twice, and returned because of his behaviour. With us, he appears pretty calm – he’s not always friendly with other cats, but with humans he shows no signs of aggression (other than assertively wanting to get into the med cage!). I think it’s likely that he was mis-handled in some way;  as cat-people know, some cats just don’t like being picked up, or are over-sensitive to petting, and it becomes very important to read their body-language.
Cole - MW
Big black Cole was very aggressive in his home, and when he first came to us, his cage was labelled “med staff only” because he was an angry boy.  Since being released, he has calmly made himself at home in the front courtyard, and solicits attention from people. Like Leland and Tigger, he will occasionally ask to be picked up, and his only fault is that he really wants to be on the other side of every door.
Puffin has great presence - MW
For a good while we’ve had Puffin labelled as a dangerous cat for visitors; he asks for petting and then suddenly changes his mind – probably when the petting over-stimulates him. Though we still warn new visitors, Puffin has his fan-club; he is particularly fond of attention from young women, and absolutely adores Anne’s daughter Selena, who lets him cuddle with no sign of aggression.  Selena’s a very calm person, and Puffin obviously relaxes and feels at ease with her.
Grey Gizmo would rather be exploring - MW
But on the flip side, we have our share of cats who have not settled in like this.  Gray Gizmo persists in being erratically aggressive with both cats and humans; for the most part, he’s The Cat Who Walks By Himself, but occasionally he will allow a little petting. It’s rather like living with some teenagers – a perfectly nice person suddenly has a mood swing, and Dr Jekyll becomes Mr Hyde.  Gizmo is young, so hormones may still be at play.  That’s also true of his lookalike in the SingleWide – gray Jax (Jackie) will sit quietly with Marty for ten minutes of petting, and then suddenly attack.  I suspect that with both Jax and Gizmo, the sensation of petting builds up to the point where it is no longer calming; we all need to be really aware of tensions and twitches.
Deceptively elegant - that's Lumi - MW
Age and hormones are no longer a factor for Lumi – this pretty girl has her mood swings just for the sake of it. For a while she wore a red collar as a warning for people around; she’s a little calmer these days, but we all have to be aware that she may not be in a petting space.
Sophie looking innocent - MW
Tubby Sophie is one of the cats that has come out of Pen 2.  While the pen was closed, Sophie was often the greeter at the gate, and visitors quickly discovered that it was necessary to restrict petting to Sophie’s head, and not touch her back at all.  Now that she’s out and about we’ve found it necessary to put a collar on her to distinguish her from all the other tabbies. She has become even more sensitive about being touched – and yet she’s often the first to leap onto someone’s lap in the tea-room.  And with Sophie, it’s not just claws, it’s also teeth.  The collar alone may not be enough – she may need a warning bell as well!
Cher on guard - BC
The cat who wins the prize for mood swings is pretty Cher in the front courtyard. She is anxious for attention, weaving around legs and quick to jump into laps. With male visitors in particular she is very affectionate – until with no warning, she suddenly swats. The presence of other cats doesn’t help, but anything can set Cher off!

These are all cats that under other circumstances would probably be “euthanised” (a term I object to, in this context). I am so thankful that here at the Sanctuary they are allowed to have their mood swings, just like humans sometimes do, and that, other than the occasional “time out for bad behaviour”, they can just get on with the business of living with a bunch of other cats.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Michele Wright