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, November 29, 2018


Boomer came to us as one of a group of cats from a feeding site
Feeding sites are an important part of TNR – Trap/Neuter/Release – one way of dealing with a feral cat problem.  It takes two important things: the veterinary support that enables quick spay/neuter of ferals, and the dedication of a number of volunteers who not only trap the cats, but then continue to support them.
TNR was an important part of Carol’s philosophy when she founded Richmond Homeless Cats (now RAPS) more than 20 years ago. Because of urban development, it was not always possible to leave cats in the territory they know – hence the development of the Sanctuary – but where it was safe to do so, cat-colonies remained intact, with a volunteer faithfully feeding them and keeping an eye open for problems.
Boomer came from one of those colonies. When he was brought in for his neuter surgery it was discovered that he was FIV+, and it was decided to bring him into care. FIV – Feline AIDS – is transmitted in blood, usually in bite wounds as unneutered males do battle over females.  It is now known that Aids-positive and -negative cats can live together quite safely, as long as there is no serious fighting – and the impulse for that tends to fade with the neutering surgery.  But it’s irresponsible to leave an Aids+ cat living wild, and Boomer has settled quite well into his new colony with us.
Mine, I tell you! All mine!   -  KN
A lot of our former feral males show their past in their bodies; broad jowly faces, muscled-up bodies, scars on ears and nose from fights over dominance. Boomer doesn’t fit that stereotype; he’s fairly slight in build, with a narrow, elegant face, and a plume of a tail. We’ve assumed he was a feral, but in fact he may have been a stray, because he’s adapted to Sanctuary life and to human handling very well. He likes to claim human belongings for himself – a glove, a blanket, a treat-bag – he will lie on them to let you know that they’re his now.
Boomer on the boom box  -  MW
One of our volunteers tells me that he is the New Aids DJ! All our buildings have some sort of sound-system so that there can be music both for volunteers and for cats. Boomer sits on top of the radio and changes the station and/or volume, often mid-song. There are "Boomer guards" on the dials and knobs on the radio to stop him from changing things.. they don't really work because he moves them
You will usually find him hanging around the front of New Aids; quite often with his buddy Woody, though they have not always been good friends!  I understand that he used to get into fights with Woody, but since new cat Randy came out of the cage, the two of them seem to have made up and appear to have a truce - probably something to do with Randy being seen as the greater evil..
We love to see our AIDS cats find new homes where possible, but as a former feral, used to living wild, Boomer would probably not be a good candidate, and he’s probably happier, and certainly safer, living at the Sanctuary.

Blog by Brigid Coult (with input from Karen Nicholson)
Photos by Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Sanctuary Black Friday

Black Friday has become the name for the day that follows US Thanksgiving – a day when the concern is less for thanksgiving and more for the bargains to be found in stores. I have a profound lack of interest in the commercial “bargains” to be found on Black Friday, but I love the company of my black feline buddies when I work at the Sanctuary on a Friday morning!

Lancelot is usually found in the papasan chair outside the Single-Wide (MW)

Pretty Layla has one clouded eye, but it doesn't prevent her from leaping from one shelf to another (MW)

Reefer loves to play - preferably with someone else, but if nobody's available, he'll find something to do alone.  (MD)

Cole wants attention, but is a little inclined to swat when he gets it (TV)

Pretty Miss Georgie still tends to hold court in the cage where she first lived - that is, when she's not lurking hopefully near the Single-Wide door. (MW)

Tubby Jay-Z knows all the best places to lounge! (MW)

Belligerent little Celia guards the tea-room from all other cats. (MW)

The sign says "towels only", but Cole doesn't let a little thing like that bother him! (TV)

Tyson is helping to get coffee ready for break-time (TV)

Handsome Rudolph, in Pen 5, is accompanied so often by his girlfriend Salish - just occasionally he needs a little alone-time... (MW)

Gigi and Kermit, in Pen 8, love to play together  (MD)

I think the best bargain of all is to be found in the love found at the Cat Sanctuary – love between cats, between humans and cats, and vice versa.

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

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Calendar 2019 out-takes

It’s coming.... it’s coming....
Jasper: "Listen up, folks!"
It’s almost time for the new RAPS Cat Sanctuary Calendar for 2019!
Reefer: "Did you say it's coming?"
Once again, photographer Michele Wright provided a great selection of photos from the Sanctuary inhabitants, and once again, it was hard to make choices, and to bring the final numbers down to the chosen fourteen.
Pico: "Where is it?"
We hope that you will hurry to get your calendars ordered so you can see who made it – and so that you can plan your Christmas lists so that you can give Cat Sanctuary gifts to all your friends and families.
Palma - we loved the colours of this
The photos in this blog are some of the ones we loved, but that for one reason or another just didn't make it into the final selection.  Sometimes it was because we already had a photo of that cat; sometimes we didn't need another black one; sometimes it was a good shot, but perhaps not a calendar picture you might want for an entire month.
Handsome tortie Blaze was just beaten by another tortie.
I'd asked Michele for a couple of pair or group shots, and we loved this one of Walker and Capilano playing together.  But for me, one of Michele's talents is eye-contact with cats, and these guys weren't watching the camera!
Walker is the only creature Capilano loves
Pico is so photogenic!  But she'd already featured in the 2018 calendar, and much as we love her, it was too soon for a repeat - plus, we already had a tree-climber!
Pico is a fearless climber
Everyone who works in the Single-Wide knows and loves Bossanova - though his love isn't given to everyone! His was the last photo that we reluctantly moved into the "not 2019" column.
Life is a serious business for Bossanova
Sophia always reminds me of an elderly lady with wild hair - especially, when she's just had a body-shave to deal with her constantly-matting fur!  She was a cat I ended up deciding not to add because she one of our old Moore House cats, and therefore a bit more fragile than some. It's so hard when we lose a calendar cat, and have to see their image months after they've gone. We lost Tricia and Faith who featured in the 2018 calendar; Sophia and another couple of cats ended up being put in the "no" pile for potential health reasons.
Sophia says "We are not amused!"
Looking over these photos, I can't help but smile - but I think you'll be smiling too, when you see the photos in Calendar 2019. Copies will be available in all the RAPS facilities - the 5 Road City Shelter, the 6 Road Sanctuary, both Thrift Stores and at the Hospital as well as online - and they make wonderful Christmas gifts.
When you give, they live... every calendar sold supports RAPS cat-care.

Blog by Brigid Coult

Photos by Michele Wright

Thursday, November 8, 2018


November is National Diabetes Month – and not just for humans, but also for pets as well.
Bandit - MW
Just as in humans, cats (and other pets) may suffer from diabetes.  The body produces little or no naturally-occurring insulin and is therefore unable to regulate sugars in the blood. The only way to control it is by administering insulin by injection. In many cases, by the time diagnosis has occurred the cat is insulin-dependent.
PawPaw - MW
In some cases, the body creates some insulin, but not enough, or it may not be able to regulate it. An early diagnosis and prompt treatment can stave off dependency.  An older, more overweight cat is more likely to be a  diabetic than a younger one, and managing the cat’s diet, as well as balancing the administration of insulin, is necessary to maintain the cat’s health. Occasionally the onset of diabetes is linked to steroid treatment for another condition, and we quickly try to find an alternative; sometimes the diabetes will go into remission, and this is often linked to weight loss, or the speedy diagnosis and treatment of the condition.
Henrik - leukemia cat, diabetes in remission - MD
Currently only four of our Sanctuary cats are diabetic, though we have treated many through the years. In some cases it is a long-term condition, and is unlikely to change.  Bandit, who lives in the Single-Wide,  receives insulin injections twice a day. This can be a challenge – not because he objects to the injection (most cats don’t even notice it), but because he has to eat before he gets his shot, and he’s very picky about what he will accept. The med staff keep a cupboard of non-standard cat-foods to hand, and it will frequently take two or three different offerings before Bandit decides that he might as well eat.  Occasionally he has to be force-fed, which is not fun for either cat or staff!
Bandit waiting regally for medical attention - MW
Our beautiful Dell, in Pen 3, was diagnosed as a diabetic about 6 months ago.  The classic signs are weight loss, appetite, thirst and increased urination. We noticed that Dell was not looking in his usual good shape, and a visit to the RAPS Hospital showed that his blood sugars were up. Regular insulin had Dell looking much better, and the med staff keep a careful check on his progress.
Dell is looking so much better now he's on insulin - MD
Achilles lives in New Aids; his diabetes likely has no link at all with his Aids diagnosis, but it does mean that we keep a very careful eye on him for other things that might affect his immune system, and thus his general body condition.
Achilles - MW
Older and overweight – that fits for Shaggy, who came in to the Moore House with his buddy Spicer. Shaggy was one of the lucky ones; a rapid diagnosis and careful treatment enabled his body to re-balance, and his diabetes went into remission.
Shaggy no longer needs insulin - MW
PawPaw was one of the cats who came to us from a closing private shelter some years ago. He was diagnosed diabetic soon after he arrived, and is one of the cats that I think the med staff enjoy spending feeding time with, before he has his injections. He hangs out in Waldi’s Hut with his buddy Chimo, and making sure that the tasty food goes just to PawPaw and not to Chimo and their friends, takes a little careful management!
PawPaw - MW
Our diabetic cats are well-tended by RAPS med staff and the hospital vets.  Many people manage their own human diabetes as a routine thing, and there is no reason why we should not be able to do the same for our pets with the assistance and advice of a vet.  But there’s no denying that, with little experience, taking on a diabetic cat is not something most adopters will gladly do, and for those cats who are unable to find adopters because of their condition, the Sanctuary is there to maintain their health and safety.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper and Michele Wright

Thursday, November 1, 2018


Walking across the front courtyard, a distinctive white tail-tip crosses the vision – Roe is on the prowl!

This striking-looking torby girl came to us about a year ago, a victim of her own reluctance to use the litter-box.  Like many litter-box-failures, Roe has a strong personality, and when things don’t go the way she wants, she will express her feelings in pee.

When a new cat comes to the Sanctuary, the med staff take some time to consider in which area it will be placed – they try to keep numbers balanced, and take into account its background. We were told Roe had been an indoor cat, so she was placed in the Single-Wide trailer. It quickly became obvious that that she was not a fan of other cats – from her initial cage home she was quick to let the curious ones know that they should stay well away from her territory. 
Once the cage was opened, she didn’t so much defend her territory as carry it with her;  she quickly established that she liked to be near the main door, and even more, that she liked to be on the other side.
Volunteers and staff alike got used to the cry of “Roe is out!” She wasn’t nasty about being picked up and returned to the trailer; she just bided her time and waited for the next opportunity. Any door was a challenge – including the one to the dryer.
Finally Roe got her way; it was decided that she would be allowed out into the front courtyard, and we would see if she was really looking to escape, or just wanted to be in the open air. 
She can occasionally be found near the front gates, but she’s not a gate-buster like Jasper or Cole; now that she has a measure of freedom she seems to be happy – though she’s still not a fan of other cats.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright