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, August 30, 2018

Ménage à trois?

Walker & Chinook - MW
Pen 5 is best known for its two pairs of lovebirds (or should that be lovecats?) - Adam and May are usually to be found in each others company, and Salish rarely goes anywhere without her beloved Rudolph. But three other cats in that pen are hold-outs from the clowder that was brought in from the Shelter eight or nine years ago, and they are frequently found in different combinations.
Wary Capilano - KN
The centre of the group would seem to be Capilano. Cappy is a very large cat – at one stage he was really huge, but lost some weight due to dental problems, and has managed to keep it off since we dealt with his teeth. We used to call him “The Godfather”. He is not appreciative of humans on his turf; a visitor to the cabin is often greeted by ferocious hissing as he warns you away from the box or basket where he is resting.  Outside the cats’ home, he seems more relaxed, willing to lounge just out of arm’s reach, and he is almost daring enough to approach for a chicken tidbit, though he prefers not to risk being touched.
Walker - MW
He is most often found in the company of blond Walker, who is shy, but not aggressive like his friend. Walker is easily confused with Pumpkin, and he often ventures into the same areas of the back courtyard, though without his big black and white buddy – Capilano rarely explores beyond the area immediately outside the pen. 
Walker and Capilano loving it up - MW
But in the cabin or on a sunny day in the grass, the two can often be found together, either cuddled in a bed or playing together (though “play” for Capilano is pretty ponderous!)
Chinook - MW
The third member of the trio is grey and white Chinook. The most independent of the three, Chinook tolerates Capilano, but is often attached to Walker. 
Walker & Chinook - bookends - MW
The two of them are enthusiastic members of the “We Love Chicken” Club, and Chinook hauls himself up on the feeder’s knee with sharp claws that reflect the realities of his outdoor life.  He is also the most affectionate of the trio, and is quite happy to sit and be petted as long as you will allow.
None of the three are really candidates for adoption, having lived outdoors for so long – and even though you may never get to touch Capilano, all three are definitely candidates for sponsorship.  It’s very satisfying to know that they can live the lives that suit them under the loving care of RAPS.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Karen Nicholson and Michele Wright

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Jasper the Third

It's funny how names repeat - we've had three cats named Jasper, all with very distinct personalities. Sweet tabby Jasper was a front courtyard boy; Jasper II was a friendly black cat with Feline Leukemia.  Our third Jasper came into our care something over a year ago.  We were told that he was picked up as a stray on Bird Road – the lady who reported him to RAPS said that he came to her door and seemed to want attention, but that he didn’t really want to be petted. A trap was set, and Jasper went to the Shelter.
let me out! - MD
Initially he didn’t do very well there; like a lot of newly arrived cats, he was overwhelmed by his surroundings, and refused to eat for a while; with time and kindness his appetite returned, but his manners didn’t. Quite often a newly neutered tom-cat calms down quite noticeably, but the surgery had little or no effect on Jasper’s behaviour, and his aggression made him a poor candidate for adoption.
Deceptive innocence - MW
He was transferred to the Sanctuary and popped in a cage in the DoubleWide so that the Kitty Comforters could have a go at socializing him a bit. We’ve had our share of cats who have come in with a bad reputation, and have learned better ways of interacting with humans – Chimo is a prime example. Jasper seemed to crave attention, but he did it with biting and clawing; you turned your back on him to your peril, and ankles were a favourite target. Once released into the general population, he turned that aggression on other cats, and had to be repeatedly placed in time-out.
Spades: Will you pet me, or can I nip you? - KN
We were having similar problems with a black cat called Spades – also a stray, brought in by a lovely lady who continued to visit her buddy every Sunday.  In the interests of the other cats, we decided that these two needed to be segregated together, and they were placed in the “kitten room” of the Moore House – now that we no longer have kittens at the Sanctuary, it’s a good space to put cats who need room to have visitors.  The Kitty Comforters continued to visit the pair faithfully. For the most part, the two avoided each other, and though there was the occasional clash, both were able to establish their own space – Jasper usually inside, while Spades preferred being out on the deck.  Ankles continued to be targets, and though both cats learned to enjoy using wand toys with their visitors, humans had to be careful about allowing their hands within reach.
Attacking a toy - MW
Recently we found an adoption home for Spades, living as a stable cat where he would receive food and attention, but have space to roam and hunt as he used to. We were sorry to see him go but we knew it was the best thing for him. And rather than leave Jasper living alone, it was decided to try integrating him into the general population again.  This time, he was placed in the front courtyard, so he wouldn’t encounter any of the cats with whom he had previously had confrontations.  For the most part, he has become a loner, not interacting much with other cats – though we keep an eye on how he acts around the more dominant cats like Iris and Puffin.  As you will have seen in last week’s blog, he’s currently making his mark as a gatecrasher, hovering hopefully beside the front courtyard gates. He doesn’t want to escape – he just wants to be on the other side, and if he’s not in the mood to be picked up and returned, he can usually be coaxed into a transfer cage and then relocated.
Waiting hopefully - KN
Jasper is finding his place with us.  Having been less than a year old when he arrived, he’s starting to mellow out of the terrible feline teen years and into adulthood. He’s not a cat to take lightly, but he’s discovering the humans that he can love and with whom he can relax, and he can often be found riding the shoulder of summer student Karen, who is his sponsor and his favourite person.

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Meet the Gatecrashers

Our blog this week comes to you from volunteer Pauline Chin, who is a Kitty-Comforter and who supervises the Double-Wide trailer on Sundays during visiting hours. 
For blog readers who are not Sanctuary visitors, a word of explanation: at crucial points in the Sanctuary we have a double gate system – at the front entrance, at the entrance to the back yard, and at the Moore House, Old Aids and New Aids entries.  Most pen entrances are single gates.

Pauline writes:
Regulars know about the one-gate-at-a-time rule when it comes to moving through the double gates to ensure cats stay on their respective sides.  Volunteers are quick to point out if a double gate is left open.  This is important with the front set of gates, as it's the last chance to stop any adventurous cats from escaping the safety of the Sanctuary.
Hurry up and let me through! - BC
On occasion, cats make it through a gate.  Cats have their reasons... It could be curiosity, boredom, looking for a quiet zone... Two popular gatecrashers are Cole and Ninja.  Both are large black cats.  Both can go relatively unnoticed by visitors, simply because they are black.
Ninja - MW
Athletic Ninja should star in his own movie.  Ninja really is a ninja as he really can get around the Back Courtyard at blazing speed, seemingly invisible to humans.  Ninja appreciates the company of humans, but infiltrating the back pens is so much more fun than cuddles. Sometimes he hides in the plants.  Sometimes, he stands near the planters.  Other times, he appears out of nowhere.  We look around... No cats in sight.  All clear.  The pen gate is open for a whole four seconds and a black figure swoops in.  
Doing Ninja moves - MW
Cue the chase sequence.  A volunteer runs around the pen, arms outstretched, trying to grab the intruder.  Scenario A: the volunteer captures Ninja in loving hands and promptly places him outside the gate.  Scenario B: Ninja dodges and dives into the bushes, eluding capture, the volunteer gives up and leaves, defeated.  When we can't win against the Ninja... he sits in the pen until someone else lets him out.  So whose win is it anyway?
Cole likes to be on the other side of a door;
a laundry cupboard works perfectly well!  - KN
Infamous Cole of the Laundry Room arrived over a year ago.  He was huge, heavy, and very particular about who can touch him.  These days, he is leaner, with long legs and a lengthy body - a similar build to our late Bengal Lucky.  He likes the ledge by the window, which is sometimes occupied by Emery.  Cole enjoys some human attention.  He doesn't seek it out, but doesn't mind petting.  He can handle about 3-4 humans in a room, max.  Otherwise, he will go search for a quiet space. His favourite area is the middle gates.  Volunteers have been warned and keep a vigilant eye on him.  It's only when Cole gatecrashes repeatedly in a short time that we have to place him in a timeout.  It's for his own safety; we don't want him to walk out the front door.
Slim - MW
What is it with these black cats?  The grass is definitely greener for black Slim, in the front courtyard. Slim came to us with a reputation for aggression, but in his time with us he has both mellowed out, and put on weight, so Slim is perhaps no longer such an appropriate name. He loves to sneak through the first gate and reach out towards the grass beyond the main entrance – and he loves the visitors who bring cat grass as their offering.  
Jasper waiting to get into Newcomers - MW
The newest member of the gatecrashers club is Jasper.  This brown and white tabby has been moved around plenty.  He’s hyperactive, happy, and loves games.  Play gets rough for us humans when he thinks our hands are toys.  Since moving to the Front Courtyard, Jasper has been making his own entertainment - by rushing into the middle gates and earning himself a red collar. He's been ejected out of the middle gates so many times and now tries for the Newcomers’ room door.

Ninja, Cole, and Jasper are by no means bad cats.  They just have different agendas.  Ever been told not to do something, and it just makes you want to do it even more?  Cats are inquisitive creatures.  We need to feed their minds with new things or experiences.  They definitely know how to train us humans to keep them entertained.  The next time you open a gate, check behind you because you never know who might be there.

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Brigid Coult , Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Acquaintance renewed - Yogi

I try to introduce new cats to the blog as soon as they’ve settled and established themselves.  But it’s sometimes interesting to find a cat that has already been introduced some time ago, and to see what progress has been made.
Claire wrote about Yogi way back in 2012. In those days, he was a extremely shy boy, wary of contact.
Enjoying back courtyard petting - MD
Six years on, and Yogi is a different cat.  He’s a back courtyard roamer, but enjoys being in the Double-Wide; he can frequently be found on the couch as one of the cuddle crowd, or on the shelf by the door, where he can claim his share of fussing. At coffee break he often joins the cats who like to migrate from lap to lap, and he hovers when treats are offered (though he’d rather have crunchies than chicken)
Yogi (L) and Shadrack (R) - MW
He can be easily confused from the back with Shadrack, who also used to be a shy cage-top boy, and is now another Mr Social. Yogi’s distinctive facial markings and white bib make him easy to identify, though, as does, unfortunately, his snotty nose. He seems to be one of those cats who has a constant low-grade cold, and many of us have had the experience of having to go and wash off because Yogi has let loose from the back of the couch with one of his wet sneezes.

Yogi socializes well with other cats; he’s a gentle boy and doesn’t get involved with the more dominant cats like Eli and Licorice; he’d rather snuggle with his quieter buddies.
Yogi with Sandra - PH
Sweet Wobbly-Bob, with his neurological problems, is sometimes a little wary around cats that move quickly and catch him off balance; Yogi is obviously a good buddy with whom to cuddle.
Yin/yang snuggles with Wobbly Bob - VL
Many people tend to look for the big “personality” cats in the back courtyard, like Honey Bear and Ollie; Yogi, with his quieter persona can easily be overlooked, and is well worth cultivating.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Driver, Phaedra Hardman, Victoria Lo, Michele Wright

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Melting Moggies

There always seems to be a summer period when the heat becomes too much for cats and humans alike.
Figaro & Little Orange melting side by side - DW
For the greater part, activity moves to early morning and evening;  volunteers arriving for cleaning shifts will have the attention of the cats who are still making the most of cooler temperatures; by noon activity has slowed to an amble (except for Pico and Gizmo, who are still young enough to prefer running!) and many cats won’t be seen until 6pm or thereabouts
Front courtyard flat cats - MW
The preferred technique is to find a comfortable place out of the sun, and lounge in it all day. For the more sociable cats, occasional excursions to visit with friends – feline and human – make a pleasant change, but laps are too warm, heat steals the appetite, and when you have a reputation for sleeping most of the day, you might as well live up to it.
Daniel - MD
Chester - mega-yawn - MW
The gardens offer all sorts of green and cool hiding places
Dale likes the cool green - PH
And if you’re nimble, you can leap a barrier to find a nice shady space.
Reefer likes tree-shade - JP
Sun is the preference for some cats – though all that fur must soak up a lot of heat.
Deenie sunbathing - KN
No sunscreen for OJ - DW
Water bowls are refreshed morning and evening, and some cats enjoy the movement of a fountain
Chinook knows the value of hydration - MW
Diablo thinks the rear end should be kept cool too - KN
We source fans from everywhere possible for all the buildings;  some cats seem to like to be close to them, though having one’s fur ruffled is not to everyone’s taste.
Leo as a floppy noodle - KN
Sunday visiting can be a little stressful for cats who just want to be left to sleep through the hot summer days, and we have cats-only areas set aside where they won’t be disturbed.
Tubby Carla likes a nice cool stone pillow - DW
The joy of living near to the coast is that the really hot weather doesn’t last too long, and the cats will soon be on the move again

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Karen Nicholson, June Price, 
Phaedra Hardman, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright