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, July 28, 2017

Feline Refugees

Jimmy & Boots - BC
To anyone aware of the media, anxiety about the fires in the Interior of BC is no news. Even for those of us not directly impacted by the flames there is concern about friends and family members, and, at RAPS, about the situation at other rescues. The news tells us what shouldn’t surprise us – that people are wonderful in stepping forward to help refugees, both human and animal, and to give temporary shelter to those in need.
Boots wants company - MW
So far only two of those refugees have actually come to us at the Cat Sanctuary. One of the things we have to bear in mind when we accept temporary residents is that we don’t know what they have been vaccinated against, or how their immune systems may deal with other cats – so they have to remain safely caged while they’re here. And we actually don’t have that many cages, especially if we want to keep them in a quiet low-traffic area. So, large as the Sanctuary is, there is limited space for feline visitors.
Jimmy prefers to hide on the top shelf of his cage,
where he can keep an eye on the world - BC
Our two refugees are safely tucked away in the Moore House with the senior cats; both are pretty senior as well.  Boots is a snowshoe Siamese. At some stage in his life he has probably been a feral in a TNR program, since both ears have been clipped. Typically Siamese-vocal, he loves to have attention, and the Kitty Comforters are always ready to wash their hands and climb into his cage with him. Like Romeo, he appears to be a bit arthritic, and his movement is restricted, though when the door is open he is anxious to jump down and investigate. He’d love to explore a bit more, but for immunity reasons, it won’t be allowed. I’ve folded myself into his cage on several occasions, and he’s been eager to come and lap-sit.
Boots being a lap-cat - BC
Jimmy, in the adjacent cage, is more wary, less ready to come for pets. Both his ears are crumpled, which is often seen in cats who have suffered from ear-mites, and it's likely that he, like Boots, has come from a feral background in which that condition is more common. He has been suffering with a haematoma ear which has required treatment, and, like many cats, he objects to medical attention! Perhaps I remind him of someone he doesn't like, because with me he remains huddled on his high shelf, and shrinks from contact.  Anne Marchetti heads up the Kitty Comforters, and says
I have found Jimmy to be quite affectionate and demonstrative. He really isn't as withdrawn as he'd lead you to believe; he just needs you to make the first move. The second I begin petting him, he leans into my hand, rolls onto his side, and kneads the air with his paws. He'll stand up, rub against the side of his cage, and flop down again for more petting. He really seems to enjoy our visits, despite occasionally flashing me a wary, watchful look. 
Anne is a cat whisperer!

"I don't really think I want you any closer...."  - MW
When Boots and Jimmy’s owner is able to return home, our visitors will go home as well. We’ll miss them, but we’re glad to have been able to be a part of keeping them safe, and we hope that their little stay in the Lower Mainland has made them some new friends.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult and Michele Wright

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tiny Cats

Silky - MD
Visitors to the Sanctuary often notice one of the small cats like Little Mama in the Single-wide trailer or Tricia in the Double-wide trailer and assume that they’re kittens.  It’s true that they do look like kittens but both of these cats are fully-grown and, in fact, quite mature.  There are a few other small ones around, like Sara Lee, Gizmo, and newly-arrived Bengal Jinx but none of them are kittens either.  So why are these adult cats still kitten-size?
Sara Lee - MM
In the case of the females, like Little Mama, Tricia, and Sara Lee, there’s a simple but somewhat sad explanation for their being so petite.  They all had litters of kittens when they weren’t much more than kittens themselves.  As any human female who’s been pregnant can testify, pregnancy takes a lot out of the body!  Humans are generally aware of the nutritional care required during pregnancy and are able to supplement those elements and calories that the growing baby takes from them.  Sadly, homeless female kittens don’t have that luxury. Cats can become pregnant when they’re as young as four to six months old.
Tricia - MM
At that age, their own bodies have certainly not fully developed and having a litter will most likely result in them never attaining full size.  For a young feral cat, their intake of nutritional food is erratic at best, and almost certainly insufficient to support a litter of growing kittens in utero.  They often have small litters of only two or three kittens, have difficulty giving birth, and may lose some or all of their tiny offspring shortly after birth.  Then they have to feed the voracious little babies, again at the expense of their own nutritional needs.
Little Mama - MM
Little Mama, Tricia and Sara Lee were all young and pregnant when trapped, which most likely explains their petite dimensions.  As a cat from a Bengal breeder, Jinx was unlikely to have been a teenage mom, but, despite being eleven years old, she still looks like a kitten.
Jinx - DW
There are, of course, other possible reasons besides early pregnancy for a cat being on the small side. Gizmo, known as “Gizmo the Grey”, is not nearly as large as the average adult cat but, since he’s a male, early pregnancy doesn’t explain his size.  He’s a feisty young ex-stray so probably didn’t get enough food to help his little body grow to a normal size.
Gizmo - MW
There are several other diminutive female cats at the Sanctuary, such as Jax (Jacky) in the Single-wide and Marilee in the front courtyard, but the reasons they’re small aren’t always known.
Tiny Merilee likes to snuggle with Little Orange
- who is not as small as his name implies!  - MM
Like humans, cats do just come in different sizes as a result of genetics and/or nutrition.   The “runt” of a litter or one who was ill or poorly nourished as a kitten has a decreased likelihood of reaching normal mature cat size.  Or, a small cat may simply be a member of a small breed or have parents of a small breed.  As they become elderly, cats who were normal sized or even large in their salad days lose muscle mass and begin to look as if they’re much younger.  Cheetah and Taboo in the front courtyard, and Booster in the Double-wide are all examples of cats who, as humans also do, have become smaller since they became "senior citizen cats".
Cheetah sunning his old bones - MW
So, when you visit the Sanctuary and see cats that are smaller than the others, it’s not because they’re kittens.  They’re fully grown but for some reason don’t look it.  But they do look especially cute!  

Blog by Marianne Moore
Pictures by Melanie Draper, Marianne Moore, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Solar-charging kitties

At this time of the year, it’s not unusual to walk into the Sanctuary and see sprawled bodies all around!
Lazy afternoon in the back courtyard - DW
With the exception of cats who are caged for medical attention, or because they have just arrived with us, all our cats have pretty free rein to go wherever they want. The Single-Wide cats don’t actually get out into the courtyard, but at least they have access to light and air on the back deck, and space by windows on the front. Similarly with the leukemia cats in Old Aids – their courtyard is shaded, but depending on the time of day, patches of sunshine are available.
Miche in the SW window - MW
Humans rely on sunlight for Vitamin D and their health; cats get all they need through their food, and sunshine isn’t a necessary factor. Because they are obligate carnivores and dependent on protein, their bodies process food differently from omnivores.Their natural body temperature is warmer than a human’s and their metabolism tends to run higher. As predators, they are made for bursts of activity, followed by quiet.
Stella sunbathing - MW
If a cat can run on solar, it will. When they sleep, there is a drop in their basal metabolism that is part of shutting down the body for the sleep process. If they can offset that drop with external application of warmth – whether from a heater or from a bout of sunbathing – they can conserve energy.
Salty - MW
On the hottest days, the ambient temperature may be sufficient, and the bodies will be sprawled in shade. But we all know the cats that will wake up every 30 minutes or so and follow the patch of sunlight to its next location.
Timmy - MW
We do need to be aware of sensitive skin – especially ears; white cats, in particular, can get sunburned ears, and we have had several white cats who have developed skin cancers on their ears, needing careful supervision and treatment.
Mona - BC
Age, of course, comes into it.  The younger the cat (as with humans), the more likely it will be active despite the temperature.  Most of our Sanctuary cats are older (rather like we older humans who look after them!) and they prefer to conserve their energy for important things like mooching for treats!
Bobby knows how to relax - DA

soaking up sun’s rays
absorbing its energy, cats
are solar powered   

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Derya Aydede, Brigid Coult, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Friday, July 7, 2017

Pen 2 cats - 3: Orange Is The New Black?

In the first blog introducing the Pen 2 cats we met the two blacks – Kevin and Palma – and the two tuxedos – Booty and Tubby. Last week’s introduction was to the tabbies: Calvin, Chase, Sophie, Celeste and Zivko.   All the cats in this week’s group have the gene that gives rise to orange colouring in one format or another. The majority of orange cats are male – statistically only about 5% are female – but it is the orange gene that can give a female cat either tortoiseshell colouring (black and orange) or calico colouring (white and orange – generally with some black). And torties and calicos are always female.

I have noted in other blogs that it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between one black cat and another. That can also be true of the coloured cats – sometimes the identity is clear; sometimes it’s only subtle markings or behaviour that distinguishes one cat from another.
Parry - MW
There are three orange males in Pen 2.  The most friendly and outgoing of the three is Parry, who loves to have human attention, and is always eager to be fussed over. The pale tail-tip is a giveaway of his identity.  Also friendly, but preferably at ground level, is peachy-orange Taffy; he was caged for a while for health reasons, and the Kitty Comforters obviously made him feel happier about human contact.
Taffy - AM
The third orange boy is Pavel – with no white tail-tip, and much more shy than Parry, he will often be found snuggling with someone on an upper shelf in the hut, or hiding out in the undergrowth at the back of the pen.
Pavel & Paula - DA
All the other coloured cats are female.  Paula is classic calico; white fur with strong orange and black markings. She is pretty shy, preferring to hide out with Pavel in the hut, or just out of reach. She will accept treats as long as you don't get too close!
Paula - PH
Minnow is another calico, with much paler colouring; she is outgoing and friendly, and clearly pretty dominant in the colony.
Minnow - MW
The remaining two cats are dilute torties – the strong colouring of regular torties like KitKat, Blaze and Toes in the front courtyard takes on a much more subtle shade in Barbie and Salina. Barbie's colour-markings are clearer than her buddy's, and she is pettable, especially if treats are on offer; Salina is much more muted in colour, and she can be clearly distinguished by a little white dot on her nose; she is much more skittish and wary about interaction with humans.
Barbie - AM
Salina - BC
Sanctuary Manager Janet Reid tells me that we will probably be opening up Pen 2 sometime in the near future. If these ones follow the pattern of other cats from opened pens, we will probably find that the majority will continue to make Pen 2 their base, even as the braver ones start exploring the full range of the back courtyard.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Derya Aydede, Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Angelina Mak & Michele Wright