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, October 27, 2017

Pumpkin Cats for Halloween

Tradition holds that black cats are the symbols for Halloween – but with an abundance of pumpkins around, this Halloween I’d rather think about the Sanctuary's crop of orange cats.
Pumpkins - DW
Pumpkin is obviously a great name for an orange cat – in fact, I’m surprised we have had only two Pumpkins at the Sanctuary – one a feral leukemia cat, now passed, and our current Pumpkin, who was actually named more for his orange eyes than for his pale orange colouring
Pumpkin - MW
This Pumpkin is mostly an inhabitant of the Newcomers area; he’s an excellent example of a semi-feral cat who appreciates humans bearing food, but is not really happy about all the touchy-feely stuff – he will allow a little stroke here and there, and he’s a long way from being the angry feral that came in to us, but he prefers to stay at arm’s length, other than with specially favoured visitors like Moira.
Simba - DW
The intense orange of a good pumpkin is better echoed in the colouring of a cat like Simba. This sweet boy came to us as one of the first from a closing shelter on the Sunshine Coast; since the pen he was in has been opened, Simba has enjoyed the chance to wander and make new friends. 
Simba - MD
He excels at finding laps and making himself comfortable – and as all cat-lovers know, there’s no better therapy than a purring cat in the lap. Apparently he was initially surrendered as a pee-er – probably a protest against not being allowed outside. Here at the Sanctuary he has outside privileges in safety, and lots of friends to love him.
Simba lap-cat - MD
OJ is not only pumpkin-coloured, he’s also pumpkin-shaped! He is one of the few cats in pen 4 (ferals) who will allow touch, and it usually needs to be accompanied by treats. 
We recently opened pen 2, all the inhabitants of whom had come to us last year from the Five Road shelter. Some of that colony have stayed safely in the area they know, but others have enthusiastically ventured out to explore. Parry is one of those cats, happily visiting with volunteers in the tea-room or poking his nose into the double-wide. His orange friend Pavel is much more wary about passing the gate...
Parry - BC
A long-time back courtyard feline pumpkin is Albi, though his solid-orange coat is a darker shade than Parry or Simba. Another semi-feral, Albi will cautiously allow touch, though he’s obviously not that enthusiastic about it. 
Albi - MW
Another pumpkin-shaped orange cat lives in the Single-Wide; Paylan came in with Mom Marisa (now passed).  After several years living with us, a vet-visit informed us that “he” was “she” and the renamed Sarah Paylan can usually be found tucked away on a shelf. She belongs to the school of cat behaviour that calls for as little exertion as possible – hence the shape! We do have several other orange female cats (statistically, 95% of orange cats are male) but most of them are orange and white, and only Blanche and Paylan are predominantly ginger
Sarah Paylan - DW
The front courtyard also has a good collection of orange cats – sweet Gilbert, shy Lucky, brothers Henrik (in the Val Jones area) and Daniel, as well as orange and white Tigger.
Fall in the front courtyard - DW
But a feature on our pumpkin-coloured cats wouldn’t be complete without a look at the not-so-small Little Orange, friend and protector of Merilee, worshipper of Sunday visitor Allison, and one of the softest-furred cats in the Sanctuary.
Little Orange - MW

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

Friday, October 20, 2017

Food, Fun and Feline Friendship

Precious claims her own bag! - DW
Every Sunday afternoon visitors arrive at the Sanctuary, and many of them bring gifts.  Often, they’re very practical and welcome gifts – a new cat-bed, a couple of bags of dry cat-food, a bag of Fancy Feast cans. More often they are intended for immediate use – the inevitable bags of cat-treats!
Some visitors are known to bring tasty food! - MW
It’s inevitable, I suppose. We want these cats to want to be with us, and for many food-motivated cats, treats are a way of attracting them.  When sweet Gilbert first came to us he was an untouchable feral.  Many Temptations later, he has learned that humans carry good stuff, and are no longer to be feared.
But it’s sometimes hard to get our visitors to see that handing around cat-treats is like having many boxes of cookies open at a children’s party. One or two treats – no problem.  But a handful of them from each of a dozen visitors, and cats are so full of goodies that they no longer want to interact.  Lori brings fish and chicken – good food for obligate carnivores – and many of the cats are already sated.
Little Orange and Latte anxiously wait for Lori to arrive - DW
I usually try to get visitors to restrict treats to just one at a time – just as you would only offer a child one cookie. What I find it’s often more important to teach is that cats love attention from their visitors as much as they love goodies – though what form that attention takes may vary.
Saffron loves bubbles - DW
Some cats are fascinated by bubbles - quietly watching them, or leaping to bat them and watch them disappear
Ninja hunts bubbles - MW
I rejoice in the Sunday visitors – many of them regulars – who “get it”. Some come almost every week, and make a point of sitting quietly with the cats who need a quiet lap and no action. Timmy, Tigger, Leland and several others have all benefited from this gentle approach.
A preferred technique for one visitor
Catnip is a favourite for many cats - though there are some that couldn't care less.  Feline opinion is divided over a preference for drooling over a catnip bag vs. the privilege of claiming the fresh green stuff.
Leland in a catnip coma - MW
Our sweet departed Bobby claimed this plant for himself - DW
Almost as much appreciated is the cat-grass that some of our volunteers grow at home and bring into the Sanctuary.  The back courtyard cats have access to grass in most of the pens, but for the indoor cats and the caged cats, a nibble of greenery is much enjoyed
The SingleWide cats enjoy a cat-grass treat - DW
Scott and Mel go from area to area, calling in with favourites all over the Sanctuary. They encourage play – they always bring fishing-pole toys, and many of “their” cats have a wonderfully energetic session with them, leaping and chasing feathers (and not fingers).
Slim jumping - AM
But they are also able to be quiet and patient when needed; they groom and pet, and sit patiently waiting for the shyer cats to approach. Mel has been doing some wonderful work with timid grey Mischa in the back courtyard.
Mischa allowing a closer approach - MD
This, of course, is the basis on which our Kitty Comforters are selected – noticing the people who are able to be quiet and patient with nervous cats; to groom, or play, or treat on occasion, and never to force interaction if the cat is not yet ready for it. Many of our former ferals will never be ready for adoption, and it’s one of the blessings of the Sanctuary that we are able to allow that, and know that feral or friendly, the cats have a safe home with us for the duration of their lives.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Angelina Mak, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

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