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, September 27, 2018


One of the questions a number of Sunday visitors ask is, “Do you have any white cats at the Sanctuary?”  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, because in fact we have very few real white cats, though there are several white ones with black markings (like Hillie and Yma) and others that are white, tinged with orange (like Tara and Ollie).
Dexter (PH) & Timmy (MW)
Dexter, in with the Leukemia cats, is white, as is Timmy in the front courtyard, who hates other cats, but loves to find a human who will offer a lap for a while.
In the back area, our only pure white cat now is Lumi, and I was interested to note that she had never been blogged, though she’s been living here for nearly ten years now.  Lumi came to us from the home where she’d lived for several years since being adopted as a kitten. We don’t know much about it, but we were told that she became very aggressive, and both husband and wife were nervous about being around her, because she would suddenly attack. When she came to us, med-staff Leslie pulled on her big bite-me-now gloves and went in to visit her;  she says Lumi was most disappointed to have no reaction to her attack.  It sounds as if, like Chimo, Lumi had been encouraged to play-fight, with hands as targets, and had never learned that there were better ways of interacting with humans.
She’s still a little dangerous to be around; she “makes nice” and then suddenly turns and swats. Mostly now, it is just swats, though for some years Lumi wore a red collar – Sanctuary shorthand for “This Cat Bites”.  The collar is no longer there, though still present in the minds of a few volunteers who have been on the receiving end of Lumi's attentions.
Lumi is one of a number of cats who prefers not to meet us at ground level, but likes to take the superior position high on a shelf or on a cage-top. There she is excellently sited to make a decision about whether she will allow a little gentle petting, or whether the offered hand will be slapped away.
A recent bout with pancreatitis has had Lumi caged for a while and within reach. Once her initial physical discomfort had decreased, she seemed to enjoy sitting in her cage and watching all that was going on – letting us know with loud vocalizations when a plate of food had been placed on the floor near her cage and her own plate had not yet arrived. Now the cage is open again, she can return to the upper levels, but so far she is still remaining in “her” space, and apparently enjoying her interactions with humans.

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

Friday, September 21, 2018

One-Eyed Love

At the Sanctuary, we’ve had our share of one-eyed cats, many of whom hold fond memories for us.
Val, Harry Potter, Fred, Simba - we loved you!
Sometimes the cat has come to us with only one eye; sometimes an infection necessitates the eye’s removal. It’s never a decision taken lightly, but is always one made for the better health of the cat in question.
At the moment we have three one-eyed cats in residence.
Fiona - CP
Fiona is the sister of tuxedo Miller, and of the late Schatzie who once preferred to live in the parking lot. Fiona was the shyest of the three, and still prefers to be out of the way when visitors arrive, emerging from her hiding place at 4:15pm when everyone has been ushered out of the gate.
Fiona with two eyes - MW
As well as her lovely torbie colouring, Fiona was notable for having eyes of two colours, one yellow and the other dark brown.  Last year, showing signs of discomfort, she was taken to the vet, where it was determined that the dark brown eye had a tumour, and immediate enucleation surgery was called for.
Fiona - MW
Fiona sailed through the surgery, and has learned to compensate for the monocular vision loss, managing to negotiate jumps without falling.
Barn-cats enjoying a fishy treat - MW
Pen 7 in the back is known as the barn-cat pen. Browsing through the Neko Blog, I was surprised to note that none of these cats have previously been featured in the blog. They have lived there for almost ten years and are still pretty feral, though some of them will allow touch, and they love their share of chicken or tuna treats used by the med staff to encourage trust. They came to us as a farm-cat colony, and they are obviously related – a number of them are gingers, there are a few stumpy tails, and several of them have a tendency to eye problems.  Med staff take particular care with orange Vera, whose eyes frequently flare up with an infection.
Rodan - MW
My own favourite in the pen is one-eyed Rodan, whose cage stays for eye-treatment, and for occasional colds have left him very comfortable with human contact. Rodan is frequently found at the front of the pen waiting for a volunteer to come and pet him, and he’s the only cat in the enclosure that will lap-sit.
Popeye - BC
Popeye is a newcomer to New Aids, but he has been quick to make himself at home with us.  He is one of the Island cats, coming to us from a shelter in Courtenay. Few shelters are able to give dedicated space to FIV cats (much less FeLV), and we have established a relationship with several of them that allow us to give these cats a home.  AIDS cats, unlike leukemia cats, can live long lives and do not transmit the virus to other cats unless they fight. Several of our AIDS cats are quite adoptable, with the one restriction (common to all RAPS adoptions) that they should remain indoor cats.
Popeye poses for attention - MW
This sweet boy arrived with us bearing the name Sambuca, but with another black Sambuca already in the population, his name was changed. Popeye is a quiet affectionate boy who enjoys petting, and appears to get on fairly well with the other cats.
"I'm so lovable" - VL
All three are delightful cats who would welcome your sponsorship in the RAPS program!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Vicki Lo, Chris Peters, Michele Wright

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Two Old Gentleman Cats

This week's blog is offered by Kitty Comforter Pauline Chin. Pauline introduces us to two old boys who like the DoubleWide cages they were first offered so much that they insist on remaining in them, even though the doors are wide open.
Binx holding court - BC
Many of our cats are long time residents.  Our youngest ones are around 2 years old; while our oldest may be in their twenties. Most of our current cats average between 12-15 years.  They are in various states of health; some need help in the form of daily medication, while others act like playful kittens.  Every cat receives love and attention everyday.  Yes, a perk of the volunteer job is enjoying feline company after the shift!
Binx seeking attention - PH
Binx is a 17 year old black kitty who arrived from 5 Road last year.  His amber eyes make him unique, since most of our blackies sport yellow eyes.   Binx loves a warm lap and quiet time.  He is not as spry as his younger days, as we are reminded by a sign in his cage that reads, "Binx is not an athlete.  Please keep his chair next to the shelf."  If his chair is moved, he looks at us with big pleading eyes, "Someone moved my chair!  How do I get up or down?"  
"Don't move that chair!" - BC
With some coaxing, he does take up a spot on the couch.  He’ll sit up straight, puff his chest out, and make the perfect photo op.  These days, he can also be found on the mattress on the double wide deck.  Binx is friendly and knows his name, but don't expect a warm welcome from the other semi-ferals on the deck. Benji, Jolene, Mary, and Ringo do not enjoy the company of humans.
Deenie says "This is MY box - ask before you visit!" - BC
Another elderly black kitty who arrived last year is Deenie.  He has yellow eyes, a white whisker on each side of his face, and grey-black fur.  He’s about the same age as Binx.  He’s also a homebody, preferring his cage over anything else.  Once in a while, he walks outside and rolls around on the warm tiles.  
That sun feels good on the belly! - KN
Deenie’s backstory involves coming from a household with 2 younger cats who terrorized him, forcing him to hide.  His owners felt this was a much better place for him.  He spent his time acclimating to the place in one of the middle cages.  Apparently, he was so great at hiding in the shadows of a box, he needed a sign that said, “Please feed Deenie”. 
Though he doesn't much like being brushed, he tolerates short attempts on our part to keep his coat from getting too matted.  One privilege our older cats get is… they don’t have to groom themselves; we groom them.  Give him time and the right amount of attention, and the reward is lots of headbutts and paws on the shoulder.  There’s just something magical about being acknowledged by a cat, especially one that may not appear friendly at first.
No matter what age a cat is, they have a place at the Sanctuary to spend their golden years.  Some of these cats really are enjoying the best years of their lives as they’re guaranteed food, shelter, safety, toys, and human attention everyday.  The happy memories we create and the photos we take last our lifetime.  We never know when they’re going to go, so young or old, we treat them like gold.

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Karen Nicholson

Saturday, September 8, 2018

So Shy...

Mama Gali with kitten - waiting for adoption - MW
Of the cats in the Sanctuary, perhaps 70% have feral origins – the others are mostly behaviour- or health-related surrenders.  Popular wisdom says that in order to have a tame cat, you need to make sure that the kitten is handled and familiarized with humans from four to twelve weeks, and that after that it’s unlikely to become truly tame.
Foster-mom Kati handfeeds our orphans - KdG
Feral kittens or kittens born to a feral mother will frequently hiss and attack, or cower in fear; the feral instinct can be strong.  Our wonderful RAPS foster-parents, and the staff at the City Shelter do much to diminish that fear, and most of our kittens go happily to new homes.
Pancake as a kitten - CF
Pancake was one of the exceptions; his feral mama was Autumn, who remained an angry feral for some years; Pancake’s brothers and sisters all tamed and were adopted, but Pancake was so shy that no adoption was possible, and he ended up returning to us.  Three years later, he is fairly comfortable around humans (especially with tidbits) but backs off from much physical contact – he’d rather have the company of his cat buddies.
Pancake is still wary - ML
Like him, many of our feral cats never make the breakthrough to allowing themselves any degree of trust in humans. So it’s an enormous triumph when someone reports an easing of tension in a scaredy-cat.
Keira is not sure about contact - MW
Keira KnightStreet was named for the place under the bridge where she was found about 5-6 years ago. She’s a slightly tubby little black cat with a thin tail who easily fades into the crowd of indeterminate black cats.
Dare I come closer? - BC
Initially she hid under the drapes round the entrance to the DoubleWide, but in the last few years she’s made herself more at home in the laundry room area, and can be found as part of the crowd at mealtimes. Usually she shies away from being touched, but recently the cringing has reduced to a faint tension as she realises that the sensation of being petted is actually pleasant.
You can't see me! - KN
Boop came in with Plum, both of them victims of Manx syndrome. Plum was initially shy, but has settled well into DoubleWide life; Boop hated everybody, bit the med staff who cared for him, and when released, vanished into the same hidey-hole Keira had once used. Once settled there, he started to explore further afield, disappearing into the garden foliage, which was frustrating for the med staff who needed to make sure his bottom was being kept clean.  More recently Boop has been venturing out into the open in the morning and the evening. When I was petting Albi last week – Albi loves to roll over for belly-petting – Boop ventured closer and closer and finally allowed me to give him some gentle touches.
Anything tasty for me? - BC
Donni is another little black feral who has spent much of his time hiding away.  He was one of many cats brought in to us by Donni Derr, and was frequently confused with another little black long-hair, Matt, now at the Rainbow Bridge. Both loved the tuna handouts brought by Donni-human, and Donni-cat adores chicken when it’s offered, crying out for his share. He used to stay safely behind netting or hidden behind drapes on his shelf, but more recently he’s found sitting hopefully in the courtyard, and though he’s not quite sure about being petted, he’s not shy about gnawing with a toothless mouth on a chicken-flavoured human finger.
Pen 1 do-not-touch ferals: Juvie, Buddy and Peanut - MW
We certainly have a large number of semi-ferals who are quite easy with being handled, though they’re not usually good adoption prospects for fear of what might happen if they escaped.  But it is so satisfactory to allow a formerly terrified cat take their time to learn that there can be safety in human touch here at the Sanctuary.

Blog by Brigid Coult

Photos by Brigid Coult, Kati DeGraaf, Claire Fossey, 
Moira Langley, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright