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.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Update from Pen 6

Last summer I introduced a group of cats who had come in to us and had taken up residence in Pen 6. There has been quite a bit of in-and-out from that pen, and I thought readers might like an update.
The two big black girls, Cookie and Carla, came out of the pen. Crabby Carla was making everyone else’s life miserable, and it was hoped that we might be able to get their weight under control.  They were caged together for a while and then released. Sister-love did not prove a dominating force, and the two split up. Carla has established herself on the double-wide deck with the semi-ferals there; she continues as crabby as ever.
Cookie - MW
Cookie can usually be found in the volunteer tea-room, and appreciates human attention. Both are still large – it’s very difficult to restrict food in the Sanctuary set-up, and we rely mostly on getting large cats moving a bit more. Carla apparently likes to play, so volunteers are encouraged to use wand-toys with her.
Laredo - BC
Old Tana passed in the fall., but in happier news, a few of the original inhabitants have been adopted: Mrs Trotzki, Doodlebug and Rebecca have all got their own homes now, and we couldn’t be happier for them!   We were told that Rebecca and Laredo were a bonded pair, but saw no sign of it, and she was such a sociable people-cat that splitting them up wasn’t hard. Laredo is cautiously friendly with people, but is also known to swat occasionally, and he seems to have settled in with the rest of the Pen 6 inhabitants.
Sophia - MW
Grey and white Sophia went to the Shelter too, but had health problems, which have taken a while to deal with; medical attention has not left her happy to receive other attention, and she does not welcome the prospect of a good grooming, which she needs! She’s now living in the Moore House with the oldies!
Blue - MW
Still with us are Blue, Simba and PawPaw. Blue is not sociable with the other cats, but enjoys human attention on his own terms. He likes to be above and behind me when I am sitting with one of the other cats in my lap,  and he plays in my hair. He’s a lap-cat in a limited way; you can have him on your lap, but don’t touch too much!
PawPaw - MW

Simba - MW
Simba continues to be a greeter and a lover; he adores attention, except for the grooming kind, which, like Sophia, he needs. Some cats just matt very easily, and I suspect Simba may be sporting a lion cut when the weather warms,  Sweet PawPaw proved to be diabetic; now we have his insulin under control he is no longer looking so fragile.
Faith - BC
Other cats from the same source have joined them; they include white Faith, who tends to be the cat who walks by herself – for the first few months of her time with us she preferred to live in one of the outside kennels rather than mingle with the other cats. The cold weather has driven her in, and she’s tolerating them now.  Crackers is a calico, but one with a lot of black in her fur patterning, and cautiously friendly. The two tuxedos are handsome Troy, and the rather older and less glamorous (but very cuddly) Mabel.
Crackers - MW
Troy & Mabel - MW

All these cats came to us from a private shelter which is now closing down, and another six of them have just arrived at the Sanctuary, with the promise of at least a dozen more to come. We’ll be working to make more space for incoming cats – and more space to introduce them in the Neko Blog

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Michele Wright

January 2018 - Crackers, Troy and Mabel all went for adoption in the past year and are happily settled in their fur-ever homes. We were saddened to lose Laredo suddenly and unepectedly

Friday, January 20, 2017


Ringo came in to us about two years ago; two feral cats were reported not far from the hospital, and med staff Leslie went on the hunt. She managed to trap two unneutered males, one rather older than the other. Both showed the characteristic big head and chubby cheeks of an older tomcat; both were taken to the vet for their surgery and a checkup, and then they were popped in adjacent cages in the double-wide. The older boy, Guinness, relaxed quickly; he allowed the Kitty Comforters to sit with him, and pet him.  He turned out to be diabetic, and his willingness to be handled was a blessing for the med staff who had to medicate him daily. Ringo, in the next door cage, was the opposite; he cowered in the corner, always chose to hide behind the drape, and resisted any attempt to allow contact. Given appearance and relative age, he might well have been the son of the older cat.
Guinness - CP
Sadly, Guinness’s diabetes was too far advanced by the time he came to us, and he passed. Ringo was released, and quickly discovered the back deck area of the double-wide, where he joined the other ferals. For more than a year, all we would see of him was a hunched shape high up on the northwest corner; we knew that he could come down to eat and use the litter-box, but as soon as a human appeared in the doorway, he would scuttle up the ramp, or climb the cat-tree to reach the safety of his corner. Volunteers cleaning the area were careful to make sure that he had a bedding pad there, and water and dry food not far away.
This has been the typical scared-Ringo face for the last year - BC
Recent cold weather has made the double-wide deck not the most comfortable place to be. The south end holds a mattress and a heat-lamp, and there’s usually a cuddle-puddle there, but Ringo appeared to be enough of a loner that he didn’t want to share with other cats. In the last month or so, he’s been braving the cat-door to come into the warmth of the double-wide, especially when there are few humans around. Med-staff Catherine and Phaedra are both feral cat-magnets, and early mornings are a good time for him to feel safe risking contact, but he’s now started appearing in the evening as well.
Phaedra moved very carefully to get this shot.
Last Saturday I fed in the double-wide and then took some quiet time on the couch to cuddle cats. I had put a plate of food on the deck, and had seen Ringo there at floor level; I talked to him as I put it down, but was careful not to make eye-contact. From the couch in the main room, I was in a direct eye-line with the cat-door, and watched Ringo venture into the room. Initially he stayed near the door, popping back into safety whenever med-staff Mollie went past; then he ventured further out.
Ringo ventures out - BC
Dazzle took a swat at him, as did CB Lincoln, but he did no more than jump out of the way.  Salty came to take a nibble at a plate of food; Ringo edged a little closer and sniffed at Salty, but didn’t follow when Salty went and found a shelf on which to rest.
Hedging his bets - BC
I moved into the open cage at the corner, and watched for him to appear again; he seemed to be calm and interested in the sound of my voice; I was permitted to lean round the corner and get a couple of shots, but not to get any closer.  However, this is big progress from a cat who always hid; now that the weather is warming up again, it will be interesting to see if he is still willing to venture through the door, or whether he will allow the Kitty Comforters to sit with him out on the deck and further the taming process.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman & Chris Peters

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Silent Singers - Carly & Celine

In the summer of 2016 thirteen cats were trapped at a farm not far from the Richmond Nature Park. Many of them displayed signs of likely inbreeding – abnormalities in tails (both “rumpy” and “stumpy” manxes) and in facial structure – and possibly also in internal physiology. Two of them were young females – they may have been sisters or mother and daughter: we don’t know.  As with the majority of young females cats that come to RAPS, both were pregnant, and were handed into the tender care of one of our dedicated foster-moms, Kati.  Kati already has a houseful of animals, but doesn’t hesitate to take on the round-the-clock work of tending young kittens, dropper-feeding runts and orphans, and shedding blood drawn by protective moms.
A very pregnant Carly Simon - JD
The two were named as part of the “C” litter with which they came. Carly, named for Carly Simon, is a light-coloured tabby with orange shades in her fur (generally known as a torbie) and Shelter Manager Julie reports that she put up a horrible fight during intake, scaling the walls, biting, and attacking.  With Kati, once she’d settled, she proved to be friendly, if shy – until she had her litter of kittens in mid-August, at which point she became very defensive of her little family of five. They were the “F” litter, and named Farley, Finlay, Freyja, Fini and Finnegan. The latter was the runt of the litter, and in spite of extra care from Kati, he didn’t survive – always a heartbreaking experience for a foster-mum.
Carly's kittens - JD
Celine (named for Celine Dion) had her kittens at the end of August, and the surviving ones became the “I” litter – given musical names to match their mom: Ives (Burl), Idol (Billy), Isaac (Hayes) and Issa (Isabel Bigley). Though Celine had not been as friendly as Carly, she had allowed Kati to offer treats and petting until the babies arrived when she too became a hyper-protective mama.
Celine & kittens - JD
By mid-October the kittens were sufficiently old and socialised to be moved to the RAPS Shelter. Julie tells me that Carly’s Freyja turned out to have a heart defect, and didn’t make it, but her brothers were all adopted out.  Celine’s kittens have proven to be a sickly litter, catching every bug that goes around the shelter.  Julie says “We all feel terrible for them because they have struggled for their entire lives with upper respiratory infections, eye problems, bacterial outbreaks anddiarrhea.  Poor Isaac has had the worst go of it - he has a huge hernia and he is now suffering from a severe eye issue.”  Ives and Idol are up for adoption and Issa has been approved to go home with a cousin from another litter.
Ives (L) has just had a neuter and is a little wary;
Issa (R) is waiting for her new human to claim her
These two little stubby-tailed kittens originate from the same farm:
these girls are KitKat and Kaos
The two moms, who were not so tame, came to us at the Sanctuary.  For some time they were caged side-by-side in the Connor building; they permitted some attention from the Kitty Comforters, and when their cages were opened, they opted to stay in the area they knew – the cold weather was an added incentive to stay safely in the warmth of the room.
Carly - out and about - MW
Carly is now more confident and ready to interact with staff and volunteers. Her stumpy little tail, rather like Chimo’s, makes her easily identifiable, and she seems to enjoy hanging around with Hope and Shady in the open cages; a favourite place is on the steps in the centre. A lot of her aggression is probably about being trapped in a small space, and it’s an issue the med staff will need to bear in mind when she has to make vet visits.
Curious Carly
Julie says, “At the Shelter, surprisingly enough, the staff formed a stronger bond to Celine because she was calmer than Carly and would respond to baby-talk by purring.  She spent a lot of time in the office with me and she reached the point where she would welcome petting."  At the Sanctuary, Celine is more wary; she has joined the cats who prefer the top of the cages, and prefers to stay just out of reach. A challenge for the Kitty Comforters!
Celine up top - MW

Celine has something of her namesake's reserved demeanour
Given a little time to relax and realise that the humans who are around bring good things and petting, we hope that she too will join the more sociable crowd who welcome visitors

Blog by Brigid Coult, with thanks to Kati Degraaf and Julie Desgroseillers
Photos by Brigid Coult, Kati Degraaf & Michele Wright

Saturday, January 7, 2017

An evening in the Single-Wide

When Richmond Homeless Cats first established the Sanctuary in 1999, the first structure there was a single-wide trailer. First located near the road, it was subsequently moved to its current position on the east side of what would become the main courtyard.
Irene and her fanclub outside the Single-Wide - BC

Before renovations - DW
Trailers like this are not really expected to have a long life – especially when exposed not just to standard problems like damp and ants, but also to cat-pee and busily digging claws. This past summer the single-wide trailer was closed for renovations.  That in itself was a major operation, made possible only by the deck on the east side; all of the furniture was relocated, a barrier was built across the main room, and finally the cats were ejected into the south side and the deck.
Building the barrier - DW
Ask any of the staff or single-wide volunteers about the renovations and eyes will roll. The loss of a washer-dryer and sink was a pretty significant difficulty, given the amount of laundry we get through. Handy-man Doug could be found working at all hours – the boiler was replaced, the wiring re-done, the piping moved, new cabinets and sink installed, new windows, repaired walls and ceiling, and finally the washing machine and dryer replaced and finally the divider was removed.
The new look of the Single-wide - BC

Quickly the cats moved back in, taking over the space with great delight. The crowded back deck suddenly became vacant (especially when we were hit with a cold snap) and furry bodies claimed any warm spot they could find.  The following video comes from long-time RAPS supporter Ed Ng, who sponsors several of these cats.

The cold snap just mentioned produced a number of vacancies in volunteer slots, as people found it impossible to get to their shifts. Recently I covered someone else’s feeding shift in the single-wide. I’m rarely in there unless I’m subbing for someone, and what I find frustrating then is that there’s nobody I can ask about identifying individuals in a roomful of cats!
Feeding time - MW
It was nice to work in the single-wide again, with counter-space and storage all well-organised, Counter-space, of course, is rapidly taken over by the cats, hoping for advance tasting.  I usually get the first four plates of food down to the floor quickly, and get them distracted, while I dish out the other platefuls for the cage-tops, the deck, and the porch and Newcomers area. Once the cans are washed out for recycling, it’s time to be changing water-bowls and checking dry food.

A post-dinner nap, now...    BC
This is time I enjoy – feeling less rushed, and able to interact with cats, and make some new acquaintances, which I will blog about in future weeks. We have three youngsters who have tested positive for FeLV, and they’re making their home in the office at the back; all three are still very nervous and the kitty comforters are working on getting them more relaxed with people. Three of the cats who had a temporary home in that room when they were relocated from the Shelter are now with us permanently in the main room and are still acclimatizing; Spooky in particular does NOT like other cats, and wants to get back into the Leukemia Room! Big Debo has just been moved in from the Moore House, and needed a little extra fussing. Chrissy has had chronic diarrhea, which we finally have under control, but it will probably mean that she will need to live caged or separate in order that we can monitor her diet.
Meet Debo - DW
With everything checked and tidy, I went to see who was out on the deck. Though it was cold, there were a couple of cuddle-puddles up on the shelf, and the three cow-cats – Mya, Teagan and Kirsty – were all out and about.
Kirstie, Mya & Teagan - PH
Teagan is very snuggly – she immediately demanded a lap and my attention. Kirsty was already settled on the couch by us and didn’t want to move, but was ready to accept petting. Mya was not certain – she hovered anxiously and then finally came up onto the back of the couch. Part of her nervousness was because big Bossanova was also hovering and wanting to come in on the cuddle. He has made such progress – from the angry feral who first came to us, to the shy boy who wouldn’t come down off the shelf, to this cat who wants attention, to the extent of coming up on a lap. He’s also going through into the main room at last – something most of the cow-cats aren’t quite willing to do just yet.
Bossanova - BC
The evening ended with treats – I usually bring a baggie of chicken bits, and there is much competition over who gets what. Then lights out, and time for cats to sleep...

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