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.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Nova - a new star!

guest blogger: Marianne Moore, with Phaedra Hardman
Pretty Nova arrived at the Sanctuary in May of 2017, along with her three young kittens, Orion, Vega and Pluto.  The little family came from a shelter in Nanaimo, where all four had tested positive for feline leukemia (FLV).  The shelter there didn’t have the resources to keep FLV cats but fortunately RAPS was able to accept them.  Nova and her babies were made comfortable in the “staff office” area of the Single-wide trailer, quarantined from the healthy cats in the rest of the trailer.  Having kittens at the Sanctuary is a novelty for staff and volunteers so they were a great attraction, although only a few staff members were able to interact with them.  Everyone else could only watch them in delight through the glass door.
And what a delight they were!  As soon as they were old enough to explore outside their cage, the youngsters took over the office!  As kittens tend to do, they raced around the room, tipping over food and water dishes, pulling bedding off shelves, and trying their best to destroy the staff’s computer equipment.  They engaged in mock battles with each other, chased balls and flung soft toys into the air.  Keeping their area tidy for more than an hour or two was a challenge!  Fortunately, being kittens, they slept a lot, too, always curled up with their protective mother. 
Although staff were able to handle and cuddle the growing kittens, mom Nova was a different matter entirely.  When her babies were near her, no one dared get close to them without getting a loud hiss and spit from her.  Even when the kittens were happily romping on the floor on their own, she would hiss and run away from anyone trying to make a friendly overture towards her.  Eventually, her kittens grew to be as big as Nova but she still felt the need to protect them and to kept herself aloof from people.
Kitten portraits pre-adoption - MW
Fortunately, when the kittens were fully grown, they and Nova were re-tested and all tested negative for FLV.  Sadly, little Pluto died during neutering surgery but Orion and Vega found a forever home together.  Now an empty-nester, Nova was moved out of the office and into a cage in the Single-wide.  Everyone hoped that she would follow the behaviour of some previous mother cats in our care who, once separated from their babies, no longer felt the need to be aggressively protective of them and that’s exactly what happened!  Much to our delight, Nova almost immediately accepted gentle petting and head rubs, even demanding them.  She nipped one of the Kitty Comforters who briefly dared to stop paying exclusive attention to her! 
While she’s still a bit wary of quick movements and loud noises and makes herself scarce during busy visiting hours, Nova has gone from not trusting us and slashing offered fingers to accepting those fingers and rubbing all over us to make herself look just as cute as possible. She’s now a sweet and gentle little lady who’s almost as playful as her kittens were.  A laser light will send her into a frenzy of chasing and pouncing!    It was obviously just her “mother hormones” that made her seem not so nice in the past.
As soon as she was released from the cage, Nova began exploring the trailer and making friends with some of the other cats.  Phaedra reports seeing her sharing a bed with Mary and also says that Nova has joined the gang of early-morning greeters in the Single-wide trailer.  Although she’s usually on the outskirts of the group along with little Kirstie, Nova eventually makes it to the front of the line for pets.  Just the other day, she greeted me from Little Mama’s usual spot on the shelf above the dryer so she may soon become part of the famous “Dryer Gang”.  Whatever the future holds for her, Nova’s already become a star!

Blog by Marianne Moore, with Phaedra Hardman
Photos by Jill Morisset and Michele Wright

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Large Ladies Looking for Love

For most of our existence, we have categorised the Sanctuary cats as being unadoptable – and for the majority of them that is still the case. A series of blogs several years ago  (Jan 2015) introduced the unadoptable categories – the ferals, the behaviour problems, the health problems, the semi-ferals – and also introduced some potential adoptables.  Many of those have lived at the Sanctuary long enough that we are reluctant to uproot them to the 5 Road Shelter, and still more reluctant to let them go to any but the perfect home for them – i.e.to someone with whom they have truly bonded.  But every now and then that perfect person comes to visit, and cat and human fall in love with each other.  Often the human is a regular volunteer, and the bond has grown over time. But sometimes it’s just a visitor who comes every Sunday to spend time with the cat they love.
Recent discussions have led to increased willingness to be open to adoptions, or to fostering in some cases, and there is now a list on the RAPS website at rapsbc.com under the shelter & adopt menu. Sunday visits to meet possible cats, an adoption approval from the City Shelter (all the paperwork happens there) and then discussions with the Sanctuary Manager and the med staff mean that the process may take a bit longer than a regular adoption, but we hope the end result will be happy.
The cats I’d like to introduce you to here are all adoption prospects, they all have their quirks, and they could all do with a loving home, a little dietetic control and some encouragement to exercise!  One of the problems at the Sanctuary is that cats have different style of eating, and we have to have some dry food out all the time – which is not necessarily good for cats that put on weight.
Marble is one of our older girls; she has lived in the Moore House (“gericatrics”) for about six years, and we reckon she’s probably around 14 years old. She’s much less cranky than she used to be; a recent encounter with a visitor saw her lying on the floor to cuddle his boot, and loving the attention she was getting.
Her next door neighbours are in New Aids. Most of our Aids cats are male; Heidi and Tia are two of the  four females. Heidi’s tortie colouring is almost as dark as Marble’s but she has quite a lot of white, which qualifies her as a calico. What we now know about Aids in cats is that they can live full lives, and in conjunction with non-Aids cats, as long as there’s no fighting. Her room-mate is tabby Tia, quiet and shy. Tia came from a shelter on Vancouver Island, having lost her home when her owners moved. Anne, who heads up the Kitty Comforters, says Heidi and Tia are both real dears. They just don't like the close company of the other cats (Heidi even more so than Tia, maybe because Tia has had longer to get used to the rest of the kitties?) Heidi is affectionate, loves to have you sit with her and pet her forever. Although she does enjoy her nap time, she'll get up to greet you when you arrive or if you call to her. She's not shy with any visitors, and willing to meet anyone who wants to give her some lovin'.
Tia was not amused being a Christmas decoration prop! 
Tia is also a sweet affectionate cat, friendly and fairly quiet, trying to find some space of her own away from the other cats. She enjoys being pampered and having lots of human attention. Both cats would like nothing better than being doted on by a favorite human. They would both make lovely companions and family members, just not in the same family - only one cat per household would be best.
Carla and her sister Cookie came in together, and they have to qualify as the largest cats we have.  The med staff regularly take Carla on walks, much to her disgust – she’d much rather find a quiet shelf and curl up.  When she first came she was really cranky – the crank is now considerably dialed back and she’s willing to accept attention (as long as it doesn’t immediately involve exercise!).  We think that with the right home, she might become a loving companion.
Cookie - with summer highlights 
Cookie is much sweeter, but equally sedentary – we’re holding off on her adoption prospects for now till she gets some treatment for her ear polyps. Her favourite thing is lying in the sun - and by the end of the summer her brown fur has reddish highlights.
Mookie was adopted out from 5 Road and came back super-sized!  This sweet girl is picky in the humans she likes, and has no hesitation in letting us know she hates ALL cats.  She has claimed a cage in the Double-Wide, and lets the other cats know very clearly that this is her territory.  She does explore a bit, but always returns to her turf. Mookie needs someone who will take time to earn her trust, and who will promise her a loving home with no other intruders – a bit of grooming, a promise of snuggles, a careful diet, and you’ll have a wonderful companion. She reminds me of a less aggressive version of Buster, who was adopted a couple of years ago, and is the complete cuddle-cat nowadays.
Mookie being cute
These are all cats who really need attention and love, and who struggle with communal living at the Sanctuary. For most of our cats, Sanctuary life is a joy; sadly, these ladies are not cut out for it and need a home where they can be the centre of attention from their very own human.

Blog by Brigid Coult
All photos by Michele Wright

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Update: Bossanova - the love-bug...

One of the great joys of volunteering at the Sanctuary is seeing how certain cats relax into handling as they learn that we can be trusted
Bossanova came to us six years ago as a feral cat trapped on Mitchell Island, and is barely recognizable now as the boy who first snarled and hissed in his cage.  Claire’s blog of April 2012 introduced him and detailed his progress in the early days with us, culminating in allowing himself to be petted by volunteers brave enough to visit with him.  A move to the Single-Wide followed, but when released, Mr B headed for the farthest corner he could find, high up on a shelf, and declined to come down to us.  However, unlike Ringo on the Double-Wide deck, Bossanova didn’t mind being petted, so long as the petter was ready to stand on a chair to do it!
Almost a year passed, with Bossanova sharing his corner with his buddy Meepos. We know he could come down – but he always preferred not to, at least when humans were around.  And then, slowly, slowly, he began appearing at the top of the ramp leading to the shelf, and venturing down into the range of head-scratches and gentle loving. We let him set his own pace – it must have been almost a year before he was found on a cat tree or the back of the couch, and he preferred to be petted only when he was off the floor. If you entered the deck area to find him at ground level, he would hastily scuttle for the ramp and safety – though he was willing to be touched once he was there.
The couch on the back deck is a favourite venue for cat-cuddlers, and more and more often, Bossanova would venture onto the back of it while someone was visiting. He joined the ranks of the chickaholics, and when chicken bits were offered, he was ready and waiting, getting closer and closer to lap-sitting. Soon we were getting reports from volunteers and visitors alike that he was enjoying lap-time, and even allowing himself to be picked up – though he’d still rather sit than be cuddled.
Sunday visitors are often amused when I take them on the back deck, and Bossanova hurries down the ramp when he hears his name. I think it’s probably less that he knows his name, and more that he knows my voice, and that I often have a little bag of tidbits. He’s often found in the main room with the other cats – especially at dinner-time.
Bossanova has a devoted following of volunteers who schedule their working shifts and their visits in order to have time with him – Kim, who took some of the photos here, hurries through her tasks so that she can sit out on the back deck for a little one-on-one time, offering the head-rubs he loves, and the bum-scratches that have him licking happily at anything within reach. Once the visitor has gone, Bossanova climbs up the ramp to be with his cat-buddies again on the shelf above. He has the best of both worlds!

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

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Digby headed up a blog entry last fall titled Meowvember – mostly due to his prominent ‘tache!
This handsome tuxedo gentleman came to us in the spring, almost a year ago, having been picked up as a stray Richmond street cat. He came to us in company with Licorice, though the two were not trapped together.  An unaltered male, Digby bore the scars of life on the streets – bites and scratches, a bloody ear, a bad case of fleas. He spent the first few weeks at the City Shelter, but having proved himself to be a pee-er, he was transferred to the Sanctuary.
In common with all our new cats, he was popped into a cage to give him time to acclimate to new surroundings.  He was to be a back courtyard cat – having been a wanderer, it’s often better to allow such cats to have space to roam a bit – so his cage was in the Double-Wide. Early visitors reported a generally good attitude from him, though he was easily over-stimulated and could only take so much handling before swatting or biting. Many of our Kitty Comforters are prepared to spend a good chunk of time sitting in a cage and just talking to a cat like this;  touch can always wait till the cat is truly comfortable.
By the time Digby was released, he was more than ready to take in the surroundings. His neutering hadn’t done a lot to change his tom-cat-in-charge attitude; he was quite ready to throw his weight around if he felt he could get away with it, and on more than one attention he was caught beating up on some unlucky victim who happened to get in his way – earning a time-out period for himself.
With the sunny weather Digby discovered the gardens and obviously felt less surrounded by other challenging cats; he was more ready to laze around and enjoy himself, and other cats felt able to give him a wide berth.  Human visitors were more attractive to him, and his whole attitude relaxed. 
Though the colder days of fall and winter have kept him and the other cats mostly indoors, the return of springlike weather has found Digby basking in the sunshine, and enjoying life at the Sanctuary – infinitely preferable to his former life on the street.

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

Thursday, March 1, 2018


This lovely boy has made himself a favourite with visitors to the Hill House
Wickem is another of the cats that has come to us from the closing private shelter on the Sunshine Coast.  We were told that he and his buddy Gidget were bonded and should be kept together, and they were given the big cage space in that cabin to settle down and assimilate all the other cat-smells and activities around.  Gidget was usually wary of attention, but Wickem was happy to have lap-time with visitors, and relaxed with human interaction.
Once the cage door was opened, Wickem was pretty comfortable with coming out, though he rarely went past the door of the house.  Gidget remained tucked in her corner for some time, then ventured out and ended up relocating to the Connor – obviously these two were not as bonded as we’d been given to understand!
Wickem's buddy Gidget
Wickem adores getting attention from people entering the room; he hops down from his favourite chair and approaches the visitor.  He is the only “rumpy” or tailless Manx in the front courtyard – a “stumpy” Manx has a short tail that is curved, knotted or kinked, like Carly Simon, and a “longy” has an almost full length tail that may have a lump at the end of it, like Abby or Sylvester.  Rumpies are often prone to Manx syndrome, in which the shortening of the spine affects the cat’s ability to eliminate, and it may become incontinent. Our dearly beloved Sweet Pea, who we lost last year, was one of those cats, and there are currently four others in the back area of the Sanctuary.
Wickem is mostly free from that problem, but when he’s really happy and relaxed on your lap, it’s worth having a towel under him!  Not only can he drool with happiness at being petted, but he can also dribble a little pee when he’s really relaxed – one of the staff calls him “Wikileaks”
Gradually he is becoming more comfortable with moving into the courtyard. He doesn’t yet interact much with the other cats, but he’s a long way from being the sort of antisocial cat that Leland is. He seems to be very comfortable in himself, but his favourite thing is definitely human attention. Come visit us on a Sunday afternoon, and cuddle with him!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Michele Wright