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, November 24, 2017

Love you.. love you... HATE you...

Many of the cats at the Sanctuary are here for behavioural reasons.  For the most part, that means that they have been surrendered because they pee and poop in the wrong places; the third common behavioural category is aggression.
Smithy warns us off - BC
I’m not including ferals in this category; ferals are by nature fearful, and frequently believe that attack is the best defence. For the most part their “attack” consists of hissing, and trying to look as fearsome as they can. You can’t walk into Pen 8 without a display of teeth from Smithy – but it’s interesting that he hangs around while I scoop the back litter-box, and listens while I talk to him. As long as I don’t make eye contact and don’t make obvious moves towards him, he’s ready to listen (though not to be touched).

When I think of aggressive cats, I’m thinking more of the ones who have been surrendered to us because their aggression has been unmanageable in a home. And it’s interesting that very often those same aggressive cats calm down at the Sanctuary and show little sign of the reason they were surrendered.
A relaxed and happy Eli - MD
Handsome Eli was apparently adopted out twice, and returned because of his behaviour. With us, he appears pretty calm – he’s not always friendly with other cats, but with humans he shows no signs of aggression (other than assertively wanting to get into the med cage!). I think it’s likely that he was mis-handled in some way;  as cat-people know, some cats just don’t like being picked up, or are over-sensitive to petting, and it becomes very important to read their body-language.
Cole - MW
Big black Cole was very aggressive in his home, and when he first came to us, his cage was labelled “med staff only” because he was an angry boy.  Since being released, he has calmly made himself at home in the front courtyard, and solicits attention from people. Like Leland and Tigger, he will occasionally ask to be picked up, and his only fault is that he really wants to be on the other side of every door.
Puffin has great presence - MW
For a good while we’ve had Puffin labelled as a dangerous cat for visitors; he asks for petting and then suddenly changes his mind – probably when the petting over-stimulates him. Though we still warn new visitors, Puffin has his fan-club; he is particularly fond of attention from young women, and absolutely adores Anne’s daughter Selena, who lets him cuddle with no sign of aggression.  Selena’s a very calm person, and Puffin obviously relaxes and feels at ease with her.
Grey Gizmo would rather be exploring - MW
But on the flip side, we have our share of cats who have not settled in like this.  Gray Gizmo persists in being erratically aggressive with both cats and humans; for the most part, he’s The Cat Who Walks By Himself, but occasionally he will allow a little petting. It’s rather like living with some teenagers – a perfectly nice person suddenly has a mood swing, and Dr Jekyll becomes Mr Hyde.  Gizmo is young, so hormones may still be at play.  That’s also true of his lookalike in the SingleWide – gray Jax (Jackie) will sit quietly with Marty for ten minutes of petting, and then suddenly attack.  I suspect that with both Jax and Gizmo, the sensation of petting builds up to the point where it is no longer calming; we all need to be really aware of tensions and twitches.
Deceptively elegant - that's Lumi - MW
Age and hormones are no longer a factor for Lumi – this pretty girl has her mood swings just for the sake of it. For a while she wore a red collar as a warning for people around; she’s a little calmer these days, but we all have to be aware that she may not be in a petting space.
Sophie looking innocent - MW
Tubby Sophie is one of the cats that has come out of Pen 2.  While the pen was closed, Sophie was often the greeter at the gate, and visitors quickly discovered that it was necessary to restrict petting to Sophie’s head, and not touch her back at all.  Now that she’s out and about we’ve found it necessary to put a collar on her to distinguish her from all the other tabbies. She has become even more sensitive about being touched – and yet she’s often the first to leap onto someone’s lap in the tea-room.  And with Sophie, it’s not just claws, it’s also teeth.  The collar alone may not be enough – she may need a warning bell as well!
Cher on guard - BC
The cat who wins the prize for mood swings is pretty Cher in the front courtyard. She is anxious for attention, weaving around legs and quick to jump into laps. With male visitors in particular she is very affectionate – until with no warning, she suddenly swats. The presence of other cats doesn’t help, but anything can set Cher off!

These are all cats that under other circumstances would probably be “euthanised” (a term I object to, in this context). I am so thankful that here at the Sanctuary they are allowed to have their mood swings, just like humans sometimes do, and that, other than the occasional “time out for bad behaviour”, they can just get on with the business of living with a bunch of other cats.

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

Friday, November 17, 2017


Merran came in to us last July, the latest in a series of cats trapped by Stephanie at a nearby waste-processing facility.
Shy Merran - DW
Stephanie tells me that there is a resident male, definitely the dominant one, which she calls Tenor; his predecessor, who passed (probably from rat poison) was named Pavarotti. Both cats were predominantly white with black markings, and there are various other Sanctuary cats with that colouring which are probably Pavarotti’s offspring.  When Stephanie first saw Merran there, she thought he was probably a young female, since the cat usually ran to Tenor for protection. The facility is a big area, and Stephanie’s usual pattern is to drive the circuit and see if any cats can be seen, and then to place the traps accordingly. She leaves them in place for an hour or so, and then rechecks.  On this particular day, Merran was in the last trap to be picked up, though Steph and her trapping partner Karen (summer student) hadn’t seen any cats that far.
still suspicious - PH
As a long-haired tabby, Merran’s very unlike most of what we think of as the “cow cats” and Stephanie thinks that there’s not just a resident colony there, but that someone dumps unwanted cats and kittens in the vicinity. It’s a heartbreaking situation, because RAPS will always take in strays, and living in the wild, their lives are usually dangerous and short.
I see you; I don't like you! - DW
Merran didn’t appreciate the fact that he’d come to safety in the Sanctuary, though – in a cage he hissed and cowered, and Leslie tells me he chewed his way through the mesh in short order. He was not happy about being recaptured, because after a second jail-break, he disappeared onto the deck, to wherever he could find cover – behind the couch, hidden behind a drape, crouched between the jugs of litter and the board that tops them.
You can't get me here - KN
And then gradually, gradually, he has started to emerge. He has made his way into the main room of the trailer – usually first thing in the morning or late at night. He prefers it when there’s only one person around, and is still wary, but he is definitely interested in human activity. He has joined the chicken club, hovering hopefully on the fringe when tidbits are being handed out; mostly he waits for something to be tossed his way, but if the pushier cats are not present, he will edge closer and accept a bit from the hand.  He doesn’t seem to interact much with the other cats, though he has been seen snuggling on occasion,
Safe up in the corner - DW
and is quick to back away if challenged, but he no longer constantly looks fearful. The Kitty Comforters are very aware of him, and spend some time checking on him when visiting the SingleWide, and most of us feeding or cleaning in there watch for his presence.
Merran much more relazed - MW
We hope that, with other ferals who have turned the corner and gone on to interact comfortably with us, Merran will be another success story. Gilbert, Bossanova, Pumpkin and many others have been allowed to take their own time to integrate and feel part of the Sanctuary community; welcome to safety, and a home where you are loved, Merran!

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

Friday, November 10, 2017


Traditionally November is a month in which many men grow a moustache as a part of raising funds for issues around men’s health (Movember).  There’s no ‘tache-growing going on around the Sanctuary, but an interesting variety of facial fur markings can be seen.
Digby is one of our relative newcomers, and his moustache marking suits his personality, which is dominant, to say the least!  He’s not afraid to tell other cats where to get off, especially when they encroach into his space.  Digby came in at the same time as Magpie, who has a similar ‘tache, but in reverse – white on black fur. Magpie is a pretty hissy feral, and has not cooperated over having his picture taken.
Smoochie’s little Hitler-moustache belies his gentle nature.  Very timid for a while when he lived in the Leukemia area, he has now a wide variety of human friends. He hangs out with his buddies Bear and Hendrik in the Val Jones area.
Mya - MW
Feline moustaches are not, of course, confined to males. Mya, one of the ferals from the composting facility, has a most impressive Chaplin-type moustache marking. Her late sister, Teagan, was one of the cats with a half-tache, and shy sister Kirstie’s marking covers her entire nose. It’s too erratic to be called a moustache, but she does have a little black chin that might double for a goatee!
Brighton - CP
There’s obviously something genetic here – Brighton and Hillie also came from the same venue. Hillie’s nose is mostly black; Brighton has a much more impressive spread of coloured fur over her upper lip.
Woody - MD
Woody is one of the relative newcomers to New Aids, and like Brighton, his ‘tache has a good spread. Many men who grow their facial hair find that it comes in quite dark; it’s pretty rare to find someone with dark hair and a fair moustache. We do have a few white moustaches in the Sanctuary. Magpie, mentioned above, is a prime example, 
Salish - MW
but so is shy Salish, whose pencil moustache is just visible in her long fur.
Honey Bear - ChrisP
Honey Bear’s ‘tache is as off-balance as he is, with more white on the right side than the left
Comet (MW) & Rocky Slippers (DW)
And these two look almost identical, though as far as we know, they’ve never met. Comet is an assertive lady who dominates the cage-tops in the DoubleWide; Rocky Slippers is a nervous and shy feral boy who hangs out mostly in Pen 1 area and won’t allow anyone to touch him.
This is not taking into account all the cats who have half-taches on one side or the other – Chester, Mischa, and many others
But I think one of my favourites is an implied rather than an explicit moustache – Emily’s dark markings in all her tortie fur always look to me as if she has a little pencil-thin handlebar moustache, though to be sure, it’s stronger on one side than the other!
Emily - PH

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Phaedra Hardman, Chris Peters, Carol Porteous, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Friday, November 3, 2017

Nothing Stops Terry

Terry came into our care a few months ago, and has walked straight into everyone’s hearts.
This is the second ginger Terry to come our way – Terry (I) was a long-term resident who passed only a few years ago; he was one of those ferals who became half-way tame in his last years.  Terry (II) came to us a couple of months ago as one of many cats who arrived with us because the place he was living couldn’t manage his problems any longer. With some cats, like Ollie, peeing problems occurred because that’s what Ollie wanted to do; with other cats, the peeing is symptomatic of a stress situation at home – a new baby, a barking dog, loud arguments...  Terry’s problem is entirely involuntary: he was hit by a car several years ago. For whatever reason, his injury was not treated properly and his pelvis and legs “healed” in a twisted position that left them entirely stiff. Not surprisingly, he has no control over his bladder and bowels.
I talked to Leslie about him and discovered that Terry is actually an immigrant!  He was picked up  following his accident on a road in some middle eastern country – Leslie wasn’t sure where.  His owner had him for some years, but when she moved, her partner said “Him or me!” She was obviously concerned that surrendering him to a regular shelter would mean he would be put down, and she found a private shelter that was willing to take him on.  The shelter had him well vet-checked and was told that there was nothing to be done now in the way of rehab or corrective surgery. He was much loved there, but living with a cat that has no control is very hard on a home.  So Terry came to us.
For the first while he lived in a cage in the SingleWide.  Immediately he endeared himself to all his visitors, enjoying attention from humans (in his cage) and from cats (sniffing through the mesh).
Terry with visitor - DW
Because of his disability he was set up with a small staircase so he could access the upper level as well as the floor. It’s astonishing to watch him climb – he obviously has developed front-body strength, and effectively he walks on his front paws, using his back legs just to help balance.
The higher, the better! - MD
It was decided that he would probably do better where he had more space to roam; the Single-Wide is limited in area, and though it appeared that the other cats were going to accept him, it would be very difficult for him to get away if another cat took against him.  He was relocated to the Double-Wide, and then released, under a degree of cautious supervision.
Terry exploring with Honey Bear,
who is also disabled - DW
Terry loved being out again. He has no fear of exploring, and can be found roaming the back pens quite happily.
On walkabout - DW
Our concern for the behaviour of other cats was, to some extent, justified. Cats, like people, are not always kind to those who are disabled or different in any way. However, Terry is not afraid of a scrap and is quite ready to defend himself! Unfortunately, two other recent newcomers – Licorice and Digby – seem to have taken him in dislike, and Terry is usually caged at night for his own safety. Currently he’s recovering from an injury inflicted by Licorice;  as a recently-neutered male, the latter is probably reacting to the smell of Terry’s pee, which he perceives as a territorial challenge.
Terry is getting lots of love and attention from the med staff and from the Kitty Comforters – but he’s obviously longing to be out and about the back pens again, or mountaineering his way to the top of the cages.

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