RAPS is short for Richmond Animal Protection Society, a registered charity and operator of a sanctuary which houses and cares for more than 400 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, October 13, 2017

Calendar out-takes

There were two Pico pics - this is the other one...
As the days grow shorter and the colours change, fall traditions are present at RAPS.  Our Fall Gala will take place on October 29, and is a particularly important event for us this year because all the proceeds will go to the funding of the new Regional Animal Hospital.
Traditionally we also launch our calendar for the upcoming year at this event, though all the busy-work of marketing it will occur in November and December.  And traditionally, one of the Neko Blogs for October is reserved for the Cat Calendar outtakes – the pictures that for one reason or another, just didn’t make it into this year’s selection.
we hope that Cookie is being adopted...
Once again, the photos for the Calendar were taken by Michele Wright, whose work you should know if you follow her Feline Friday pages on Facebook.  Michele doesn’t confine herself to cats – she’s done many wonderful dog photos too, and her guineapig Freddie is a seasoned model.  She has a great eye for a picture, framing her subjects with love and a sense of their personality.
Latte has had her share of calendar features...
I always start the selection process by trying to make sure that we have a good cross-section of colours and breeds – black, white, grey, various tabbies, orientals, pairs and groups. Everyone has their favourite sort of cat, but I hope that everyone will find one cat they particularly love in the collection.
Blue is striking, but he’s a loner – very much the cat that walks by himself
We had several black cats make the cut this year, to the point that it was hard to eliminate one to keep the balance.  Bear lost to two other blacks, and to the contender for cover boy
Fuzzy Bear...
Similarly, we had two lovely white cat pictures.  Lumi was the loser here – we loved the softness of the shot that won, and pretty as Lumi is, she’s a cat that will nip if things don’t go exactly as she wants; neither of us had the warm fuzzies for her!
Lumi is a diva...
Michele adores the cats in Pen 2, and in particular Calvin, who is distinguished by the brown smudges in his tabby M markings.  I think she would happily have had a whole Calvin calendar, but I would only allow her one selection – this is one that didn’t make it
Calvin - one of about eight pictures!
One of the things I discuss with the med staff is the health of the cats concerned – it’s very hard when a much-loved cat passes suddenly, but his/her photo will appear later in the year. Of course, there is no way of telling, sometimes, but I’m much more wary about selecting a leukemia cat, for instance.  This year two of our potential models passed without warning just as we were making the final selection. The picture of Vienna was a perfect one for fall colouring, and Salty and Dusty’s devotion had earned them a place as a pair – to lose both Vienna and Salty was very hard on us all.
Vienna in the sunshine
Dusty misses her Salty so much,...
There are still others that I'm thinking we might hold over to another year - though I am sure Michele will have come through with another batch of wonderful pictures by then, and hard choices will once more need to be made.
Please watch the RAPS website for news of the calendar launch; they will be available at both the Sanctuary and the Shelter, as well as online and through some of our pet-store supporters.  It's not too soon to plan your Christmas gift-giving to all your cat-loving friends!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Michele Wright

Friday, October 6, 2017


This handsome guy is the newest resident of the Old Aids area, which houses our leukemia cats.
Cappuccino is one of the cats who has come to us from another shelter.  When a cat is diagnosed with feline AIDS or feline leukemia, decisions have to be made by many organisations that house homeless cats.  Cats with AIDS can live quite peacefully with each other and with non-AIDS cats, as long as there is no fighting – and once cats are spayed/neutered, they become much calmer and less likely to fight to the point of drawing blood.  But with feline leukemia, the virus is carried in the saliva, so the cats need to be isolated from non-leukemia cats, both for their own sake (their immune systems are compromised by the virus) and for the sake of leukemia-negative cats who can be infected by sharing a plate or a water bowl with a leukemia-positive cat.
Sadly, this means that in many places leukemia cats are euthanised because there are no facilities for keeping them separate. RAPS is one of the places that has such facilities, and many of our leukemia cats have come from outside our normal catchment area.  Cappuccino is one of those cats, having been transferred to us from the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, along with two other AIDS cats, and one very shy one from a hoarding situation.
This sweet boy quickly made human friends. Initially he was very shy in his cage, but it didn’t take him long to learn that he was in good hands, and to come forward for petting and attention.  He had quite an appetite, and volunteers soon learned that “seconds” were always welcome.
Once released from his cage, he decided that he didn’t much appreciate the feline company in the main room, and took himself to the “outside” area, where he can usually be found on one of the beams above head-level.  It only takes calling his name, and he comes hurrying down the ramp to get the attention he wants.  He shares the area with the shyer cats – tabby Ooly and black Chateaux are the usual company, and they all pretty well ignore each other.  Once the weather turns colder, we’ll see how he makes out – the heat-lamp over a basket makes it a pretty good place to be – IF you don’t mind cuddling with other cats.
An afternoon visit with him proved that he has become more accepting of company – he and Merlin were able to sit together fairly peaceably, and nose-bumps were exchanged with shy Ooly. Even with the offering of chicken, the three were able to share without too much dispute, although he wasn’t ready to go inside for the second course. He knew that dinner was on the way, though, and there was some anxious pacing and whining going on until Alice arrived with a full plate.
Many of our volunteers work mainly in their own areas and don’t necessarily get to know cats in other places. It’s well worth the extra fuss of sanitizing to have a visit with this lovable boy and the other leukemia cats.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Phaedra Hardman, Debbie Wolanski and Michele Wright

Friday, September 29, 2017

Black Winnie

Winnie arrived at the Cat Sanctuary a couple of years ago from a situation in which her owner was no longer able to  care for her at home.  She was with her owner’s mother for a while, but the woman’s health declined, and Winnie came to us.

Winnie couldn't be more different from the previous Winnie we had here - a little tabby/siamese cross that wanted nothing more than to love the humans who cared for her.  This Winnie excels as a Garbo cat - “I vant to be alone.” In her cage she rumbled and grumbled; once released she made a point of finding places that would not be invaded by other cats.  Winnie is a large lady, but finding those islands of safety often meant climbing up on top of the can-cupboard outside the SingleWide – not a easy climb for a not-very-athletic cat!

Once out and about, she was cautiously tolerant of humans – too much attention and she had no problem telling you where to get off. But other cats – no! Winnie was Queen in her own little world, and didn’t want invaders. I often found it funny that she shared space with the other extreme loner, Leland – he on his chair on the left of the porch and she in her basket on the right – both carefully not looking at the other.

Through the summer months, Winnie has mellowed somewhat; she ventures down into the courtyard for some sunning, and is ready to interact with visitors and volunteers.  With the people she trusts the attention span is longer, but woe betide the cat that ventures into her orbit!

As far as we know, she’s not a pee-er; she’s just a cat that would have to be an “only” in a home situation, and with a human with whom she is comfortable.  But when you have the double whammy of being large and black, and a bit grumpy, it can be hard to find a home. She wouldn’t be able to handle being at the Shelter, so the Sanctuary is her home, unless someone falls in love with her, and can live with her little quirks.

Blog by Brigid Coult
All photos by Michele Wright

Friday, September 22, 2017

Moody, but Cute - CHER

Cher - guard-cat at the gate - BC
Visitors to the Sanctuary are quickly accosted in the front courtyard by a very pretty little grey tabby. Cher came to the City Shelter a few months ago, stuffed in a bag with her friend, and surrendered by someone who said they’d been hanging around his home.  Both Cher and Christina were transferred to us when it was obvious that they were not socialized, and they lived in adjacent cages in the Connor building.
Cher loves to play - MD
For the first while there were warning signs over both cages, and a fair amount of growling and swatting.  In Cher’s case, the growling eased off as the curiosity increased, and she spent more and more time at the front of the cage.  Christina still prefers the safety of her cage, even though it’s open now; Cher took very little time to venture out and explore the big wide world.
A first encounter with bubbles - MW
Cher’s mood swings are pretty marked – she’s obviously prone to over-stimulation, and she transitions from cuddle-kitty to killer without much warning. We’re used to warning visitors about Puffin, who also has mood swings – now we need alarm bells for Cher!
Where did it go? - MW
Puffin typically sidles up to people and demand petting – he is particularly susceptible to young women! But you have to watch his body language carefully – he’s nice till suddenly he isn’t, and the twitching tail doesn’t give much warning.  Similarly with Cher – she will launch herself at a male visitor and demand attention, and then suddenly turn on him.
Who's the next victim? - BC
Part of it may just be her age and upbringing (or lack thereof) – we see similar behaviour from grey Gizmo in the back, who can be a very brattish teenager when he chooses.  Part of it may just be that she has never learned how to interact with humans – when Chimo came to us it was because his usual mode of interaction was attack - especially when human hands and feet were within reach. With a lot of patience from the Kitty Comforters, he's now a pretty mellow fellow.
Chimo at his most cute! - MW
But I suspect that it’s a bit more than that with Cher; she’s more in the Lumi mode. For a long time we had white Lumi wear a collar as a warning that this cat was cute but would bite. And as with Cher and Puffin, there’s little or no warning.  Orange Buster-Baby, who we lost a couple of years ago, used to have to be caged when visitors were around because something in his brain just made him attack for no reason.
Such a pretty face - but not to be trusted! - MW
Visitors very often forget that cats are carnivores who are hardwired to hunt, and moving fingers are irresistible. It’s up to us to provide cats like Cher and Gizmo with interactive toys to exercise their hunting instincts, and not offer them fingers to practice on.  And we hope that as they mature, they do so, not into the Baby/Lumi mode, but into the Chimo one of being lovable and loved.

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

Friday, September 15, 2017

Black Cats in the New Aids pen

Norman and Denzel - BC
Many of the volunteers at the Sanctuary work in specific areas, and get to know the cats there really well, while not knowing cats in other areas. I do quite a lot of fill-in in the main complex, but somehow I rarely spend much time in New Aids and the Moore House.  Following a shift last week, rather than sitting down with my usual cuddle-buddies, I decided it was time for a visit with the Aids cats.
Max and Tiberius - BC
In part, this was prompted by plans for next year’s RAPS Cat Sanctuary Calendar. Two of the pictures we’ve selected are of cats from the New Aids pen, and though I was in on the selection, the photos had been taken by Michele. In fact, both are black cats – notoriously difficult to photograph – and though you’ll have to wait for the calendar to see the final beautiful pictures, this is a quick introduction to some of the personalities involved.
Norman - MW
Claire introduced us to Norman several years ago. He came to us through VOKRA  – he was found as a stray and taken to Killarney Vet Hospital.  When it turned out he was FIV-positive, and a little nippy, it proved more difficult to find him a home, and he was transferred to our care. He’s a handsome black panther of a boy, very friendly now, and ready to interact with humans; he’s a little more picky about his own space with other cats.  Petting at the front end is encouraged; an old hind leg injury left him a little sensitive about rear-end touch.
Norman - MW
It is worth noting again that, though communicable, the FIV virus is only transmitted through blood, i.e. cat-bites, and as such is more often seen in unneutered male cats. Once the cat is neutered and settled down, he can actually co-exist with Aids-negative cats quite happily, as long as the cats get along. The story of Simba and Jack, a couple of years ago, was an example of a pair that didn’t want to be separated.
Denzel - MW
If you’re sitting with Norman, the chances are that Denzel will be somewhere close. These two are not exactly buddies, but they both like human attention, and the chance of treats. Denzel is one of those cats whose black fur is flecked with white hairs, giving him a slightly grizzled appearance. He’s another “import”, coming from Keremeos.
Denzel - PH
Tiberius - MW
Tiberius is not a friendly cat – but there’s been a big improvement in his behaviour since he first came to us as an angry feral. He prefers to use one of the many shelters in the courtyard rather than enter the house, and because he was so unapproachable in his first years with us, he was frequently very matted, developing dreadlocks that had to be shaved off under sedation.  
Tiberius - BC
These days he is much more a part of the courtyard crowd, even entering the house on occasion, and he is no longer spooked by the sight of a human in his space. He’s ready to hover at treat-tossing distance, and risk another cat moving in on his prize.  It takes a while, but we’ll bring him round...
Minew - MD
This pretty girl is the second of the black cats to feature in the 2018 calendar. Minew is one of the smaller population of female Aids cats – Holland was introduced in an earlier blog – and has come to us from one of the shelters on Vancouver Island. I don’t know whether Minew’s name derives from “minou”, which is the French word for a little cat.  Minew is still pretty shy, and seems to hang around Holland – two timid girls giving each other courage.  She’s more ready to interact with humans than her older buddy, and is often happy to play with a string toy.  You need to be careful when petting her – she’s one of those cats who is very particular about where she’s touched, and very quickly overstimulated by sensation. She’s so cute, it’s easy to forget about those teeth!
Minew - MD
We’ve recently had more cats come into New Aids, transferred from other rescues.  I can see that I need to spend more time here to make new friends and introduce them through the blog.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Pictures by Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Phaedra Hardman, Michele Wright

Friday, September 8, 2017


There are certain areas where you can usually meet certain cats.  Jamie is a boundary cat!
The Hill House is something of a cat co-op, with lots of beds and plenty of shared space. Often you can go straight to a specific bed when you want to find Faline, for instance, and Treacle always had her own little corner. Other cats will migrate from bed to bed, and there is often a puddle of mutual adoration on the top of the trolley that divides the room.
The trolley also abuts the window into what we call the Old Rabbit Area (it’s a long time since there were any rabbits there!) which is usually the home for the feral cats. In contrast to the open beds in the Hill House, this area has all its shelves draped with sheets in the summer and with blankets in the winter, so that timid or shy cats can find a space to hide.
Jamie can’t quite make up his mind where he belongs. Sometimes he’s tucked in a basket with the other ferals, other times he’s rubbing and bunting and purring with the other cats in the Hill House – especially when food is in the offing.  For some time he’s been a very shy cat, but the last year or so has seen great progress, and Jamie has some devoted human fans who always spend time with him.
Leslie tells me that he came to the Sanctuary in 2008 when Carol Reichert trapped a mama cat, who was named Caroline, and her three babies. Mama-cat disapproved of the whole thing, and excavated her way out via a vent in the Hill House (which has since been securely blocked). Two of the three kittens were recovered, but Caroline and baby III made a clean getaway.
Jamie was named for Leslie’s daughter Jaime, and initially it was thought he was a she, but the inevitable vet-check straightened that out and the spelling was adjusted.  Jamie’s sister is the pretty little grey and white Janine, who was featured in the 2015 calendar.
Janine - MW
The love-puddle in the Hill House is usually led by ginger boy Daniel, who seems to be very popular. A variety of other cats get into it – tabby Cloverleaf, black Shady, grey Sarah. But Jamie is always there in the middle of the action, and accepts caresses from cats and humans alike with great enthusiasm.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper and Michele Wright; video by Carol Porteous

Friday, September 1, 2017


This beautiful flame-point ragdoll came to us from a home where he was dearly loved, but where he persisted in leaving his signature in all the wrong places!
Sometimes a cat-pee situation can be tracked down to some sort of stress at home: a new baby, a nearby dog, a new person (as in little Bengal Jinx). Sometimes it’s a medical problem, which is why a vet visit is always a good idea when the behaviour starts.  Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the size or quantity of litterboxes.  And sometimes it’s because the cat just likes to do it!
Ollie likes to pee outside his litterbox – and after seven years of cleaning floors and replacing furniture, his family finally admitted defeat and Ollie came to us. Initially he was in a cage in the Connor, where he instantly endeared himself to all the volunteers, begging for attention.  He was moved briefly to a Double-Wide cage, and since release, has made himself thoroughly at home in the back courtyard area.
His favourite perch is the one he has stolen from Eli, on top of the canned-food cupboard in the Double-Wide, but he has little fear of exploring, and can be found in a variety of hideouts.
Unlike Jobie, who was brought to us labelled as a ragdoll cat, but who had very different ideas about what that might mean, Ollie is very happy to receive human attention.  He’s a typical cat – when he wants to be petted, he wants it Right Now, if you please!  If he’s perched up on the cupboard it’s because he’s in his “I want to be alone” mode – but not in any sort of nasty sense; he just wants quiet time.
We’re very happy to have him with us!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Phaedra Hardman, Jennine Kariya, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Friday, August 25, 2017

Jax (a.k.a."Jackie")

Jax (a.k.a. “Jackie” - because we already had a tabby/white Jax) is one of those tiny cats who, although fully grown at almost three years old, still looks like a kitten.  I’m not sure if that’s because she had a litter of kittens while still young herself or not. Whatever the reason, she won’t get any bigger!
Before coming to RAPS, Jax alternated between two homes and, during that time, began to show signs of unpredictable aggression.  Perhaps she was confused or frustrated, not knowing where her real home was – who knows?  Fortunately, her owner found RAPS and Jax was surrendered to RAPS’ City Shelter.  She was adopted from there twice and returned shortly after both times because of her anti-social behaviour.
During renovations at the City Shelter last year, Jax was transferred, along a with a few other cats, to the Cat Sanctuary.  This was supposed to be a temporary stay but, because her behaviour didn’t improve, it was determined that her chances of being adopted were not great, so she’s stayed at the Sanctuary.
Over the past year, cute little Jax has become a much nicer cat!  She’s less likely to lash out unexpectedly and will sometimes gently paw a visitor’s leg for attention.  She enjoys (okay, maybe “tolerates” is a better word) being picked up and held up to the window where she can look out onto the activities in the front courtyard.  Just recently, she even climbed on to my lap and was I honoured with a few “head bonks”.  Despite several such cozy moments with her lately, I’m still waiting to hear her purr.
Jax’s favourite spot is at the base of one of the tall scratching posts, with her back safely up against the outside of a cage wall.   She’s definitely not keen to mingle with the other cats in her area.
Despite her shyness, Jax is one of the most playful cats in the Single-Wide trailer.  She’ll play for hours with a catnip pillow or toy mouse and will happily chase a mop, a string toy or, her favourite, a laser light.  She’ll chase that for as long as someone is willing to wave it around and will then spend twenty minutes afterward searching for it!
I have no doubt that, given a bit more time and lots of reassuring love, Jax will become a very nice little cat.  And maybe even start to purr!   Then, with a better attitude, she could still find a forever home.

Blog and photos by Marianne Moore