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, 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

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Cats love our Students!

Tiffany, Lauren & Karen - BC
During the summer months many of our regular volunteers are away on holiday, and managing to keep the shift board filled is often a hard task. It couldn’t be done without the assistance of our students, made possible by a government grant, for which we are most grateful. This year we were fortunate enough to have three of them at the Cat Sanctuary. Lauren, Tiffany and Karen filled in for missing volunteers as cleaners and feeders, and tackled projects that we’re normally too busy to deal with – painting the benches in the back courtyard, pulling out cages and scrubbing walls, cleaning grout between paving stones, and giving cat-trees a much-needed brush-up.
Lauren scrubbing scoops - BC
LAUREN is a long-term Sanctuary worker. Her dad found out about us when Lauren was just 11, and wanted to work with animals.  Normally volunteers have to wait till they’re 16 to do a shift, but we always make an exception for parent-child teams, and Dave and Lauren have been feeding the front courtyard cats on Sunday afternoons for nine years now.
Eva - MW
Lauren has been exploring possibilities in study and is doing wildlife and fisheries management in the fall. She says this summer’s made her really used to dirty work (which she tackles with great gusto!)
She has one cat – Kiya – at home, and at the Sanctuary, her favourite is Eva in Old Aids, who she describes as sweet and cuddly (also round, and looking like a meatloaf!)
Karen cleaning the cat-tree -
a horrid job, but it has to be done! - BC
KAREN says: I first visited the sanctuary when I was 6 years old, soon after moving into a new house. My new neighbor Stephanie Ross had introduced herself and invited me to visit the Cat Sanctuary and after that first visit, I was enthralled by cats. Unfortunately, the rest of my family is allergic to cats, so I had to wait until I was old enough to volunteer by myself, then I spent a summer volunteering at the 5 rd shelter. At the end of that summer, I convinced my family to adopt two kittens from the same litter at the shelter. Apparently I am very purrrrsuasive. Those kittens are now 3.5 years old and are two of the greatest joys in my life. I also help Stephanie rescue feral cats.
Fussing cats in the back courtyard - BC
In September, I'll be entering my 3rd year of Applied Animal Biology at UBC, while hopefully still coming to the sanctuary to lend a hand. Working at the sanctuary this summer has taught me that there are over 400 different cats with over 400 different personalities at the sanctuary and each one directly benefits from the hard work the staff and volunteers do each day.
Spirit - MW
It's difficult to choose one cat as my favourite, but I would have to choose Spirit. He's a shy but slightly mischievous boy, but once he gets to know you, he becomes very chatty and friendly. The first time I met him, I thought he had escaped his cage, but once I opened the cage door, I saw his blanket move slightly - he had burrowed under his blanket and was sleeping soundly.
Tiffany working at the litterbox "bath"  - BC
TIFFANY says:  I started as a volunteer at the cat shelter about five years ago in the Single-wide and Leukemia room. I heard about it online and was excited to check it out since I don't have cats of my own. My favourite kitties back then were Belinda, Shilo, and Butterbean. Over the next four years, I've been working as a summer student at the shelter - I couldn't get enough of the cats and kept coming back.
Pets for Tyson - BC
I'm headed to my fourth year at UBC in the fall and will graduate with a Behavioural Neurosciences major and Applied Animal Biology minor. I'm also contemplating applying for veterinary school in Saskatchewan afterwards! This summer has taught me that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Working two jobs has definitely taught me how to manage my working hours and off-time.
Chimo - Tiffany's photo
The cat I keep near and dear to my heart is Chimo (our orange little tabby with the pig tail, often in Waldie's hut). I met him when he was a little rascal when he arrived at the shelter. When I learnt he wasn't making friends - he's a little socially awkward - I spent more and more time with him and eventually fell in love with his antics. He loves belly rubs (if you're slow and careful) and playtime so please give him some love if you can. :)
Thanks for getting to know me, and many thanks to Brigid for allowing a feature of us summer students here."
Snuggles with Chimo, Romeo and Matt - BC
We are so lucky to have had these three wonderful young women working at the Sanctuary this summer!  Cats, volunteers and staff alike offer thanks to them for their energy, enthusiasm and empathy.

Blog compiled by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Michele Wright

Friday, August 11, 2017

Reluctant Lions

Bear in full fur - MW
With the summer heat also comes a regular phenomenon at the Cat Sanctuary – lots of hair! Volunteers  regularly spend extra time with a variety of brushes and combs in hand, grooming blissful and grumpy cats alike. Some of them seem to be able to attend to themselves fairly well (bar the odd hairball); others definitely need human assistance. Our summer students (see future blog) are cleaning all the nooks and crannies where cat-hair accumulates; we could probably compile another dozen cats from the fur that comes off each week. Long-haired, short-haired, they’re all shedding like crazy.
Dell's fine hair mats easily - MW
But there are always a few cats for whom grooming is a problem. We have our share of tubby cats who don’t do so well at cleaning themselves because the rear end is so hard to reach – a little shave job around the tail area is usually enough to prevent messy backsides.  Often these are short-haired cats who otherwise have no difficulty in grooming.  However, there are several long-haired cats whose fine fur always seems to mat, and for whom being combed is a real problem.
For anyone who wondered if Bear was big or just fluffy... - DW
The first one this summer to get the traditional lion cut was Bear. Formerly an inhabitant of the Leukemia Room at the back of the Single-Wide, Bear and his buddy Smoochy have become inhabitants of the Val Jones pen (extended now, for Bear, to the Old Aids area). Bear is not always the most approachable cat, and certainly not an easy one to keep groomed; by late spring it was obvious that his mats were giving problems, and he was finally whisked off to the vet for a full lion-cut.  It was obviously something of a surprise to everyone to discover that this enormous ball of fluff was actually a scrawny little body underneath.  We offered him a sweater, which was not appreciated! When the summer heat finally arrived, Bear must have been one of the few who really approved.
He’s now grown out a couple of months of fuzz and is looking quite good!
One of the back-courtyard regulars, Matt doesn’t appreciate being groomed in the regular way, with the inevitable result that he’s a mess by early summer. Last year he got away with just having the worst clumps taken off; this year our lumpy fuzzball got the full treatment, and is now going by the nickname of De-Matt!
"Do you have chicken? Or shall I go back to bed?  -  BC
He’s obviously a bit embarrassed about it all;  he’s found himself a comfy bed to retreat to, and emerges only when he thinks it’s worth showing his face.
Former Pen 6, now Moore House resident Sophia is a constant grooming problem.  She came to us from a closing shelter on the Sunshine Coast, and a volunteer there told us that she was always grumpy for them too – until she got her haircut.  Then she would be sweetness and light, soliciting petting and being very affectionate – for about three weeks, before she reverted to her “Don’t touch me!” mode.
Pet me, please! - BC
Sophia’s just had her summer lion-cut, and as predicted, she can’t get enough attention. The challenge for us will be to keep her enjoying being handled, and to prevent the mats recurring in the first place.
Undressed, but still handsome!  - BC
Handsome Dell in pen 3 is another with long fine fur that mats.  Two years ago we gave him a lion cut, and then managed to keep him groomed so that it wasn’t necessary last summer.  But during the winter months a fallen tree meant limited access to his pen, and his regular grooming partners couldn’t keep him brushed out, so that by the time the summer came, it was obvious that Dell would need attention. Leslie and I managed to get the worst mats off in a cuddle session, but it was not an elegant look!  So when Dell had to go in for a dental (five teeth out!) they took the opportunity of having him sedated and gave him the full lion cut.  Currently he’s in a cage while his mouth heals, so by the time he returns to his own pen, he should have a little protective fuzz.
Come in and pet me - I'm bored!  - DW
There are one or two others with clumps of fur that may need a bit of attention – though we hope not the full works – but for the time being, we’re all busy with combs, furminators, grooming gloves and the like, to keep ahead of the summer mats.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Debbie Wolinski, Michele Wright

Friday, August 4, 2017

Jinx times two

front Jinx - MW / back Jinx - BC
Marianne recently introduced us to Jinx in the front courtyard, in the course of a blog called The Silent Meow.  Jinx has become a familiar figure to us – comfortable with her space, not interacting greatly with the other cats, but not aggressive with them, either. There’s a little heartache for some of us when we see her, because her colouring is so much like that of our beloved Paulo, who we lost last year. Paulo’s meow was anything but silent, however, and our little girl is much more gentle in how she requests our attention.
Another Jinx joined us more recently and is living in the DoubleWide. This one was one of a pair of Bengals who came to us as pee-ers – sadly, a failing of Bengals. Jinx, with her companion Jersey, took a dislike to their owner’s fiancĂ©e, and when peeing on belongings became peeing on the person, they were surrendered to us with great sadness.  Unfortunately Jersey’s reported sensitive stomach turned out to be cancerous, and he was not with us very long.
11-year-old Jinx was obviously hit hard by the loss – first losing her home and coming to the Sanctuary, and then losing her buddy. She was already a small cat, and lost further weight, worrying us all. Kitty Comforters made a point of visiting with her;  she wasn’t much of a lap-cat, but would sit in her bed and listen to visitors, though she didn’t always want to interact with them. Volunteers cleaning her cage needed to be careful, because she was anxious to get out and explore.
As with all new cats, she was kept caged for about six weeks, to give her time to assimilate the new smells and the human and feline visitors. Once her cage was opened, other cats promptly moved in. She wasn’t very happy about that, but shifted her base of operations to an adjacent cage.  She has been discovered to be a chick-aholic;  offerings of chicken-breast are greeted with great eagerness, and she has no hesitation about pushing other larger cats aside if she thinks they have a choice morsel. Providers of tidbits need to guard their fingers; she has sharp teeth, and doesn’t distinguish between chicken and the hand that offers it. And she’s very vocal about her appreciation, greeting each mouthful with loud Nom-nom-noms...
Since emerging from her cage, she’s put on a bit of weight, and is looking good. We’ve been pleased to see her out and about a bit more; she’s discovered the cage-tops and the runways that connect them, and has started to explore her way into the back courtyard.  She’s an amusing contrast to our other Bengal, Dandelion, who is twice her size, and as sedentary as she is active. In true Bengal style, she is not very social with other cats; with humans, if food is not on offer, she will occasionally sit beside an offered lap, but not on it.  If there's food, all bets are off!
Nom nom nom...    BC
Losing a home is tough for any cat – and you can’t tell them it was all their own fault. All we can do is offer her an alternative home, and as much love as she will allow us to give.

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