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, February 28, 2019


Delilah came to us about a year ago, having been trapped and found to be pregnant . She went into fosterage with one of our staff, and produced the “C” litter of kittens. They were all (including Delilah) adopted from the City Shelter, but Delilah was subsequently returned to us for being a pee-er. Her owners did all the right things – got her vet-checked, changed litter, and so on – but this quirky girl wasn’t about to cooperate. She’s proved to be not only bathroom-challenged, but also a girl of considerable mood-swings.
Some of the cats that come in with an “aggressive” label settle very well at the Sanctuary – nobody here is going to pick them up and try and snuggle if they don’t want it, and most of us understand cat body-language well enough to tell when an approach is welcome, and when the cat is in “leave me alone” mode. We have often had cats who are aggressive in a cage, and who relax into being pussycats once they’re free to run around.  Delilah, unfortunately, is not one of those – she’s wired to be on edge, and both humans and cats need to be super-aware around her.
Delilah mostly hangs out on top of the cages in the Double-Wide; she will occasionally come down and investigate on a lower level, but the top is her preferred stomping ground.  And I use the phrase deliberately – a quiet time in the Double-Wide is often interrupted by the thunder of feline feet as Delilah chases an unwise cat away from her vicinity, or from whatever she is claiming as her own.
Delilah thinking about ambushing Pixie - PC
Volunteers and staff who have to climb up to clean or to medicate a cat learn to keep an eye out for Delilah, to gauge her mood or to distract her attention.
Like her fellow cage-top cat, Lumi, she can be friendly, begging for petting – but the line between “enough” and “too much” is a fine one. It’s one of the reasons we no longer allow young children to visit on Sundays; there are too many visitors who don’t understand that the presence of strangers is a stressor to some of the cats, and who may get swatted for petting a cat like Delilah, because they can’t know how many earlier visitors may have pushed up her stress levels.
On her good days, Delilah does enjoy attention, though she’s not a lap-cat, and not one of the Double-Wide couch crowd. Fellow-blogger Pauline, who is the Double-Wide Ambassador on Sunday afternoons, describes Delilah as the little kid who just learned how to run, but has no etiquette and no sense of boundaries. She will literally stick her face into anyone and anything. She gets away with it because she's young and cute. This week she has taken on a new habit - run up to a human's face and scream. When she's overstimulated, she can lash out without any typical warning signs. I've seen her attempt to bite, scratch, spray, and dash off within 5 minutes. Delilah and Comet clash frequently and they usually end up chasing each other around the catwalks until the chaser loses sight of the runner. On the plus side, she responds to her name and will sit on people... when she wants to. Toys are the easiest way to get her attention and she'll seemingly appear out of nowhere with her eyes locked on the target. 

Vicki offered this video clip of Delilah suddenly deciding that Orlean was the feline target on which to set her sights.

Blog by Brigid Coult, with Pauline Chin
Photos by Pauline Chin, Brigid Coult, Jennine Kariya, Tanisha Vincent, Michele Wright
Video by Vicki Lo

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Cole - Tall, Dark and Handsome

This big black cat came to us with an attitude problem!  He still has attitude – but we’ve learned to work around it.
Cole arrived with anger management issues!  He was not happy with his owner for bringing him, he was not happy with us for taking him in, he hated being caged, and he took out his frustration on everyone with whom he initially came in contact. The “Med Staff Only” label on his cage in the Connor remained for longer than usual, and when he was released, everyone working in the front courtyard was warned that he was a bit unpredictable.
The front courtyard has its share of cats with their own attitude problems, and it was finally decided that Cole might do better in the back, with less active competition. The trouble then was that Cole knew that there was cat activity on the other side of the gate, and he became one of our gate-busters. For a large, leggy cat, he has an uncanny ability to be “not there” until you open the gate; then he appears out of nowhere, and he’s though. This activity is why we have the double-gate system – the area between the gates become a cat-airlock, giving us the opportunity to vent it either way.
Between the gates isn't the only door he tries to bust! - MW
There are techniques for dealing with gatecrashers. You never attempt to pick Jasper up when he’s busted in; instead, you put down a cat-carrier, and within five minutes he’s usually in and you can carry it into the courtyard.  Cole is not interested in cat-carriers. Nor is it a good idea to try picking him up if he’s in a mood – better to let him grumble and cool off for a bit, and then see if a treat will get him moving.  It’s not that he can’t be picked up – but if he’s really miffed he’s quite capable of wriggling free and biting hard. Usually when he decides the between-gates area is pretty boring, he’ll go back by himself.
Just chillin'...   LP
For those of us who have been bitten by Cole, it’s a little unnerving that he has mostly taken up residence in the Laundry Room. When I feed at the sink, I am occasionally aware of this looming presence – and I’m quick to give him his own plate to keep him busy. Volunteers and staff on Double-Wide cleaning duties know that when the stepladder comes out so that the cage-tops can be accessed, Cole will be there, either supervising the cleaning, or getting in the way on the steps.
Go away and let me be....   KN
But his favourite place, especially on cold winter days, is to tuck himself into the bedding shelves – preferably the stuff that’s just come out of the dryer and is still warm. Totally ignoring the notice that says “towels only”, he claims the shelf and blisses out, only opening his eyes enough to warn us that he does not care to be disturbed.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Karen Nicholson, Louise Parris, Tanisha Vincent & Michele Wright

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Pairs of Purrs

How can I pass up a Valentine’s Day posting without giving some time to all the cats who prefer each others’ company rather than being the stereotypical Cat Who Walks By Itself?
Semi-ferals cuddle under the heat lamp - KN
Most cats do tend to be solitary by nature;  some, like the “Garbo” cats, actively dislike the proximity of any other cats; others – the majority, I think – can take it or leave it. Many cuddle-puddles come into existence for the sake of physical comfort rather than any emotional attachment.
Walker and Capilano - MW
The Sanctuary has had its share of cat-magnets – some loved and now lost, like Mario, Salty or Daniel; some still with us. Blond Walker, in Pen 5, is loved by Capilano, and by Chinook (neither of whom cares particularly for each other), and is usually found in company with either one.  The trio share a cabin with two other pairs of love-birds: Rudolph and Salish, and Adam and May. Pen 5 is definitely Valentines territory! ❤️
Rudolph and Salish are always together - KN
Sweet semi-feral Tibet is affectionate with the humans he knows, but reserves his real love for feral girlfriend Judy; Judy has been at the Sanctuary since December 2011 and resolutely refuses human contact.
Tortie Judy loves to snuggle with Tibet - KN
The group of cats that came in to Pen 2 a couple of years ago still tend to hang out together, and many of them prefer to stay in the privacy of the cabin – so it was good to see this pair of good buddies have a mutual affection moment in the courtyard.
Tux Booty tells his buddy Chase how much he likes him - KN
In the Moore House, Shaggy and Spicer came in to us as a bonded pair, and their love is very clear; both enjoy human company, but they are most often found together.
Grey Spicer and the aptly named Shaggy - VL
The February page in our calendar features front courtyard BFFs Vesper and Fable. These two boys are less dependent on each other than when they first arrived, and both enjoy interaction with human visitors, but togetherness is still their favourite thing.
Vesper is very possessive of his buddy Fable - MD
Spike and Princess, in the Double-Wide, did not arrive together, and have come from very different origins, but these days, they are nearly always found together, somewhere near the med-cage. Princess is perhaps the more adventurous of the two, but she always gravitates back to her buddy.
Spike and Princess - ML
In the Single-Wide, Babylon is probably the nearest we have to a cat-magnet – he can most often be found cuddling with Presley or with Harvest, but many of the other cats gravitate to him for reassurance.
Babylon snuggles with shy Siamese Presley - MW
And the quintessential Sanctuary love-in, of course, is the Dryer Gang, who rotate in and out of position as the mood and the warmth takes them.
The "core" Dryer Gang - DW

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Moira Langley, Vicki Lo, 
Karen Nicholson, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Sage & Silky

Sage (L) and Silky (R) - MW
For some time after the establishment of Richmond Animal Protection Society, our focus remained on the care of animals in our own municipality – both those brought in as ferals and those surrendered to 5 Road. That remains the focus for the Shelter; we have the contract with the City of Richmond for animal care for animals brought in from within city limits, though now we are the Regional Animal Protection Society, we may be reaching further afield on occasion. But the Sanctuary is not funded by the city, and we have always worked with other shelters where possible, to ease a burden on what might be an organization with fewer resources than we have. Many of those cats have come in because they were FIV or FeLV positive, and the places they have come from are not able to deal with those health concerns. But we have also taken in groups of cats from other places in the province, where the burden of a group of ferals is not a tenable prospect in the local shelter.
Silky - MD
Three or four years ago we were informed of a hoarding situation in the Kootenays, in which some of the many cats involved died. The nearest shelter was unable to deal with the surviving influx of largely feral cats, and we were one of the organizations that took on the refugees.  Five cats came into our care;  three were little black cats, very similar in appearance, and the other two were a pair of tortie girls, probably younger than the other three.
Layla is the only immediately recognizable one of the three
because of her milky right eye - MW
As usual, the newcomers were caged to give them time to settle in. The three little black cats went into the Connor, and were named Layla, Oscar and Spooky; all three showed no inclination to trust humans, and when finally released, they largely took to the cage-tops to stay out of our way. They do occasionally come within reach if treats are offered, but we are not their favourite thing!
The two torties were caged together in the Hill House; they were named Sage and Silky, and because they were younger, we hoped we might have a chance of taming them.
Sage - AM
Silky proved minimally approachable; Sage was very shy. Because we were reluctant to let them loose too soon, to maintain their feral ways, they were transferred to a separate room in the Moore House.  Most of the Moore House inhabitants are geriCatrics, but the so-called Kitten Room is kept to give groups of cats the chance to interact with our Kitty Comforters.
Sage & Silky lounging together - KN
They were joined there by Cricket and Beetle – similarly, half-grown kittens – and another little black one, Frisky. Volunteers and staff alike spent time with them – mostly without a great deal of obvious progress. Treats were accepted, but none of the five really wanted to interact with visitors.
Silky in the Moore House - PH
There is only so long we can keep the Kitten Room free before it’s needed for somebody else. The decision was made to release all five teenagers into the front courtyard and see how they would do.  The big winner with this decision was Cricket, who blossomed with freedom, and has become Miss Popular with humans and cats alike.  Beetle and Frisky largely hang out in the feral cat area next to the Hill House and have joined the population of little black cats that are so hard to tell apart; they’re not terrified ferals, but they would rather be apart.
Silky appreciates being back in the Hill House now - MW
Sage and Silky began in the same area, but quickly discovered the window that leads through to the Hill House; whether it felt familiar to them or it was just more comfortable, I don’t know, but it rapidly became their space, and they interacted with cats like Jamie, Daniel, and Tracy who were enjoying human attention.  Sage and Silky jumped right on the bandwagon.
Sage snuggling with her buddy Tracy - KN
Silky is the more outgoing of the two, and the more active in her play; both love to chase feather toys, but when it comes to being petted, Silky is more territorial than her sister.  If you're paying attention to her, you'd better not be paying attention to other cats! and offers little love-nips; she likes to be with other cats, while Silky is more independent.
Silky has caught the feather! - MD
Sage, who was once the more wary of the sisters, is now calmer and more accessible than Silky; she is a drooler, and likes belly-rubs once she settles, offering little love-nips in return. Both will occasionally sit on a lap, but they're not yet lap-cats like Pogo - however they are certainly not just touch-me-not ferals any more! They still love each other's company, for snuggles or grooming.

You’ve come a long way, girls!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Phaedra Hardman, Angelina Mak, Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright
Video by Chris Peters