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, 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