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, May 30, 2019

Who Lives In The Moore House?

Volunteer Pauline Chin offers the blog this week.
The Moore House, a.k.a. GeriCatrics, a.k.a. the seniors’ home, has seen many new residents in the last several months.  We’ve had to say goodbye to some dear kitties and hello to some new ones.
Jack - MW
Black Jack is usually the first one seen, snoozing on the chair by the door, or parading around on the counter-tops.  He’s one of those cats whose mood depends on the amount of attention he receives.  The more he gets, the happier he is.  If his attention tank is empty, he will tap, grab, and block your path to the exit until he gets what he wants. Jack was edgy and aggressive when he first came to us; thanks to the work of the Kitty Comforters, he's now a happy lap-cat!
Pretty bob-tailed Chanel - CP
Sophia has an intense stare - MW
Chanel and Sophia are more selective about company.  If they feel comfortable, they will quietly approach and accept a bit of petting.  Other than that, they prefer to remain on higher ground and observe. Sophia's fur mats easily and she doesn't much like being groomed; once the summer comes she will get a lion-cut and feel much better about being pettable!
Shaggy in his favourite place - MD
Shaggy, Marble, and Bluebell are drawn to the couch.  On good days, the trio can be found sunning themselves on the deck.  Shaggy and Marble are gentle giants.
Marble holds court - MW
Marble is the nicest tortie girl I’ve ever met and is never pushy.  I recognize her by the orange lightning bolt mark on her forehead.  I must admit, it feels empty without the furry presence of Spicer, Peng Peng, Princess, and Nalah all jockeying for the seat next to me, with big girl Orio beckoning me over to her shelf. 
Lou claims the heater - PC
Orange Lou is the quietest resident.  This 15 year old arrived last autumn and has claimed the heater for himself.  Just like late Momo, Lou also has his own bed on the floor, so he never has to walk far for food or navigate shelves.  He’s thrilled to receive human attention and takes pleasure being brushed.  He’s a cat who wears a permanent smile on his face.
Smokey glares from the safety of her cage - DJ
Smokey’s owner had to move to a care home and couldn’t take her along.  Smokey is still a work in progress.  She is known for being aggressive towards humans.  She has been released, but hasn’t quite opened up yet.
Blanche keeps an eye on the outdoor area - KN
Blanche, who came to us as a cat who couldn't get enough of being outside, has been transferred from the Double to the Moore for her lack of mobility - she has three torn ACLs.  But that doesn’t keep her from jumping on shelves! When she’s relaxing in a bed, she’s open to pets and belly rubs.
Sweet Jimmy is very shy - PC
Grey Jimmy is a foster-turned-resident.  He arrived with his buddy, Boots.  Both were wildfire refugees from Cache Creek.  After months in our care with no response from their human, a SNAP test was done, revealing Boots to be FLV+.  Boots joined the Leukemia crowd and Jimmy stayed in the Moore.  I find Jimmy likes to peek out from the cat tree.  Sometimes he’s friendly.  Sometimes he seeks refuge atop the cage.  Boots gave us plenty of purrs and cuddles during his short stay.  He loved to say hello during visits to Leukemia, but we had to say a final goodbye in March.  Just goes to show quality time ranks higher than quantity!
Bluebell is queen - MW
Four more Golden Oldies - Rufus, Fluff, PomPom and Wink - were introduced in the blog about a month ago (sadly, we've just lost PomPom).
For us volunteers, the Moore House is an endearing place.  We know time with some of these senior felines is very limited.  Time spent is precious and gratifying for everybody.  For cats suddenly separated from their humans, we step in to heal their heartache and accompany them for the remainder of their journey.  When it’s finally time to cross the Rainbow Bridge, there’s love and kindness on both sides.

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Pauline Chin, Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Daphne Jorgenson, 
Karen Nicholson, Chris Peters, Michele Wright

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Grumpy Old Ladies

The blog this week comes to us from Sanctuary Manager Lisa Parker
Tammy on semi-snooze - BC
In Oct. 2018, I was privileged to be offered a position as manager of the RAPS Cat Sanctuary.
This was a dream come true for me. Of course this new position meant that I would have to meet, and get to know a tremendous number of purr-sonalities – my new staff, a ton of volunteers and, of course, literally hundreds of cats. This is definitely something I consider a perk of my job. As I was settling in, and setting up my new office, I learned that I would be sharing my office space, and my work days, with three old lady cats with extremely strong personalities. This space had been re-purposed several times when an area was needed for special cases (such as difficult old kitties that really don’t get along well with other cats).
Kitty Desk Cat - BC
Two of my office mates are different versions of tortoiseshell and one is a calico. Tortoiseshell cats are a breed that is commonly known to have what is called "tortitude". Anyone that has gotten to know a tortie knows exactly what "tortitude" means. Little did I know how interesting they would make my work days.
Mindy enjoying the deck - BC
Mindy is a dilute grey tortie, meaning her colours are faded, as if she has been in the sun too long. She came to RAPS from another rescue in July 2017 and was exhibiting signs of arthritis and some bathroom issues. It became obvious that she did not like other cats so the decision was made to keep her in the room that would become my office, as it was quieter and had fewer cats to deal with.
Mindy sleeps - notice the stuff, arthritic legs...   LP
She was estimated to be 13 years old, but I can honestly say that she is most definitely older than that. With rescue cats we're never really sure of their true age. Mindy is also most likely suffering from dementia,as she has exhibited behaviour that is symptomatic of such a condition. She seems old and fragile, but she is probably the toughest of the three.
Don't disturb me! - TV
Then there is the beautiful pale calico girl Kitty. She is tiny and has the sweetest appearance, but isn’t thrilled with other cats or most people for that matter (unless, as I discovered, you share your lunch with her). Kitty was surrendered to the sanctuary by her owner in the fall of 2017 after becoming aggressive when her owner had a baby. She is 15 years old and lives in my office because she was bullying other cats where she was originally placed. She and Mindy have a strong dislike for each other which is most often settled by staying away from each other. Occasionally there is an encounter that is very noisy with a lot of swatting, usually when both are trying to access the cat door to the patio at the same time. Most of the time they are sleeping and ignoring each other.
Since I have become a regular in their lives, Kitty actually appreciates my affections and tries to be close to me whenever possible. She will likely never be a cat to sit on my lap or let me pick her up, but her desire to be close to me tells me she has accepted me.
Beautiful Tam-Tams - MW
The third old lady – Tammy - is very special to me. She is a small, gorgeous traditional tortie with big green eyes. Tammy was surrendered to the sanctuary in Jan 2017 by a RAPS volunteer on behalf of her great grandparents that needed to go into care. We were told she was 17 years old at that time. During one of her escape-artist adventures back in 2004, she was hit by a car, and ended up requiring a pin in her leg. After being at the sanctuary a little while, Tammy went to a foster home with my aunt as an alternative to being at the sanctuary. She was unhappy and quite anxious at the sanctuary which causing her to be quite volatile. She developed some medical issues and was diagnosed with advanced kidney disease which sadly is not uncommon in older cats. Because she requires IV fluids and can be a bit…..difficult, she had to return to living at the sanctuary.
Tammy - CN
I instantly adored her upon meeting her. And I am pretty sure she knew that, because she quickly became my best buddy. We have a bunch of little daily routines and I have been told she can hardly wait for me to arrive everyday. She is my lap cat and I often have to try and type around her. But I don’t mind. Her purring and slow blinks are worth it. Recently, she needed to spend a couple days at the RAPS animal hospital and I was lost without her.
Kelley - MW
In the last couple of weeks another very sweet old lady cat named Kelley has been vying for a permanent position as office cat. She is almost 13 and isn’t nearly as grumpy as the other three. She mostly just ignores their unwelcoming hissing and growling. She just wants to sleep in the sun on my deck and know that I am nearby. Kelley and I bonded early in her time here because she was so small and fragile looking compared to the 3 other cats she came with. She also has the herpes virus and her little face needs to be washed regularly, which makes her think of me as a mother figure.
Kelly mid-grooming...   BC
Sadly the three other cats that she used to live with have all passed. You have undoubtedly heard the story of Mme. Hooch and Mr. Bojangles. They were Kelley’s housemates and they all came here with a handsome all white male named Legolas after their human passed away suddenly. Kelley is a heartbreaker and sits outside my office door waiting for me when I am not around. So the volunteers send me pictures to pull at my heartstrings.
Let Me In! - MW
I was unsure how this was all going to play out with all of us sharing this space, but I truly look forward to seeing my grumpy old ladies every morning.

Blog by Lisa Parker
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Caitlin Norman, 
Tanisha Vincent, Michele Wright

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Cattitude!

HoneyBear is known for his wonderful eyes and his neurological problems
- but he has social problems too, with other cats - MW
Most of our Sanctuary cats are ferals, semi-ferals, owner-surrenders and health problems.
The third category – the owner-surrenders – are often surrendered for their bad bathroom habits (which are sometimes a result of human-caused stress), but we also have several cats who have come to us with an “aggressive” label on them. In fact it’s rare to find a truly aggressive cat – we see it more as “cattitude”, resulting from the owner’s unwillingness to let the cat set the pace in being handled - and many of these quirky felines are very truly loved at the Sanctuary.
Bentley looks cute - but is not entirely to be trusted! - LP
We probably all know a person who shies away from much in the way of physical contact, who pulls away from hugs. Cats can be like that – though unfortunately many people tend to expect them to conform to “cute and cuddly” norms of behaviour.
Licorice's "cattitude" is mostly with other cats - CF
Once a cat has been returned to the Shelter for “aggression”, it is not easily re-adoptable. It comes to the Sanctuary where the staff and voluteers around it know that we need to allow it to move at its own speed in interacting, and where, if there is to be any hope of a final home, we can take our time to make sure that a potential owner is truly cat-savvy and understands the quirks of the cat they’re choosing.
When an "aggressive" cat comes to the Sanctuary, we will give it the time it needs to feel safe – fear is often the primary cause of a cat lashing out.  We allow the cat to choose its time to come for petting or to jump up in a lap – and we warn Sunday visitors that picking up a cat is never a good idea.
Jobie can appear very suspicious of a visitor! - MW
Jobie is our resident Grouchy cat – she never got the memo about how cats should (theoretically) be cute and cuddly, and her initial time with us was punctuated with growls and swats.  We let Jobie know that she could have time alone, or she could be near humans, as she pleased; she has discovered that she has favourite people who let her sit with them, and let her go with no pressure; when she’s in a good mood she will reach out for petting, and when she isn’t, she’ll go and hide somewhere until she's ready to cuddle again.
What IS it about cross-eyed cats?  - MW
Eli was surrendered for aggression – like Jobie, he is very beautiful, and it’s easy to see that people might have reached out to pet him or pick him up when he wasn’t ready for it. He lounges around elegantly, with a “you will worship me” attitude, and he’s not afraid to let other cats know that he’s boss.  We’ve actually seen very little real aggression from him.
Puffin is king! - MD
Puffin is a cat that we always have to warn Sunday visitors about. In fact, in the right mood, he can be very affectionate (especially if the cat-fan is a female teen!) but when he hasn’t asked for petting, he’s not slow to say “Stop! Now!” He is exactly the sort of cat that is behind our closing the gates to under-six children and requiring careful supervision of older ones – he’s not nasty, but he’s quick to react when he’s not ready for contact. Like many of our reactive cats, he actually has quite a fan-club!
Cher - KN
The same is true for pretty Cher, who loves attention, and then gets overwhelmed by it. Cher’s favourite people know that to allow her to sit on a lap, with moderate touch, also requires an awareness of her body language, so that you know when she’s about to be overcome by sensation and has to react.
Sophie - MW
In recognition of her extreme cattitude, Sophie wears a collar. She is another girl who will be affectionate with her chosen people, but can suddenly feel she’s had too much. Gentle petting around the head and ears is often appreciated, and she will leap into laps when she’s in the mood, but you will also sometimes encounter Sophie in serious grumble mode.
Gizmo in ambush - MD
Grey Gizmo has kept the attack aspects of his feral origins.  We tend to think about Gizmo as a brattish teen, because he’s so small, but he is actually a mature adult, and just likes acting the brat – both with humans and with other cats. He has recently come up against another cat as sparky as he is – Jasper has been moved from the front courtyard into the back, where he has more room to roam, and more cats that will stand up to his bullying ways. He’s discovering that he is no longer the big fish in a small pool.  Jasper likes human attention and has his fan-club – but we all know that teeth and claws are only a whisker away.
Jasper - looking for trouble - KN
These are all cats who would not show well at the Shelter, and who would need someone who was very cat-savvy, and ready to make them The Only Cat. Sadly, most of our experienced adopters have established cat-families already, and these furry over-reacters just have to learn to make their own space at the Sanctuary. Most of them are so full of purrr-sonality that their cattitude only endears them to us even more!



Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Chelzea Freeman, 
Karen Nicholson, Lisa Parker, Michele Wright, 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Brunet & Blonde

TV
Two cats came in to us about six months ago, and were initially placed in adjacent cages to acclimatize. They arrived within a few weeks of each other, and for similar reasons – both are beautiful cats, but not easily adoptable.
BC
The more senior, in terms of Sanctuary time, is black Lindor. He was surrendered as a result of a family move, and was not happy about being caged. He was one of the cats that needed a drape over the front of his cage to fend off passing prowlers who thought it funny to pee in his direction. His beautiful appearance and glossy fur prompted many volunteers to offer petting, which was mostly turned down after a touch or two. We could see that in a Shelter situation, he would not present himself well to potential adopters.
TV
The cage next to him was taken by blonde Parker, who had been surrendered when her behaviour changed with the arrival of a new baby in the family. Like her neighbour, she was not all that keen on attention – she would allow a visitor to sit and talk to her, and offer the occasional stroke, but she was antsy about it. I gather she had been surrendered for aggressive behaviour; like so many of our “aggressive” cats, most of the behaviour problem lay in the human’s non-understanding of her body language, and we were ready to give her as much time as she needed to settle.
BC
Lindor was the first of the pair to be released; he didn’t wander far, preferring initially to stay on the table near the cage (basking in the un), and then to claim the top of the cupboard where the food cans are kept.  He kept an eye on Parker’s cage, and as soon as it was open, he went visiting.
BC
Parker preferred to remain in “her” cage for quite some time; she investigated the surroundings a little, but was not entirely happy to leave her space in order to get some dinner, and come back to find Lindor in possession. Being to some extent a lady, she didn’t make a great fuss, but preferred to ignore the interloper.
BC
We wondered if we might have a pairing here, but brunet and blonde were not to be...
Lindor began exploring a little further afield, and can quite often be found visiting in the back courtyard, especially when volunteers are sitting over coffee. He’s mostly a loner, not interacting much with the other cats, but he is much happier to accept human attention than he used to be – especially where treats are concerned; Leslie says he could be used in a Temptations commercial
KN
Parker’s explorations began with the laundry room, and the wonderful assortment of shelves with comfy beds – as well as the less comfy perches that offer a great viewing point.
JC
With the warmer weather, she can also be found investigating outside in the back courtyard; she likes to sit on the high shelf near the New Aids entrance, but she’s recently been seen going all the way to the back, and into pen 5, as well as exploring in the flowerbeds.
BC
She’s very affectionate with her chosen humans, and will sit on laps when she feels safe.
BC
Neither cat is showing anywhere near the edginess they had when they first came in; both seem to be enjoying the freedom to explore, and though they’ve not made feline friends yet, they can take their own time over that – the agenda is all theirs!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Jackie Chappell, Brigid Coult, Karen Nicholson, Tanisha Vincent

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Progress in Pen 6

Eighteen months ago we took in a group of cats that had come from another shelter.
I understand that they had been gathered up as part of a hoarding situation; we were pretty surprised to hear this, because all six exhibited feral behaviour, and it’s hard to see how they might ever have been homed. When released into Pen 6, they did as only scared cats can do, and found a small hole under the cabin where they could wiggle through and be thoroughly hidden.  It was hard to find a way to get them all out while it was blocked, but once being in the dark under the cabin was denied them, they took up residence in the cabin itself.
Butterscotch - MW
There was nothing wrong with their appetites – they ate all the canned food they were offered and left polished plates. And they all seemed to be in good condition. There were two long-haired tabbies, two agouti tabbies, a little tabby with white markings and a larger one with strong classic tabby markings - and they were nicknamed the Candy Cats: Skittles and Cadbury, Hershey and Butterscotch, Sweetheart (or SweetTart) and Purdy. We let them be for the first little while, and allowed them time to adjust.
Skittles - KN
The first overtures were made by the biggest boy, Skittles. He and Sweetheart were curious, and Skittles was very food-motivated, so the Kitty Comforters were able to establish contact, and regular visits got the two of them in the habit of emerging whenever the gate opened. The other four stayed resolutely out of sight.
Sweetheart  - TV
Because we felt there was room for a couple more, two more cats were added – tabby Kiko who had come from the Moore House, and grey Wylee, who had come from another shelter. The Kitty Comforters ramped up their efforts to familiarize the cats with humans.
Hershey - MW
For a good part of last year, most of the group preferred to stay in the hut most of the time, emerging only in early morning and late evening. With the coming of spring this year they have all started coming out more frequently, and interacting with volunteers.
Skittles remains the boss-cat, the one most interested in humans. He was the first to discover that humans were A Good Thing – especially when chicken is on offer. He is happy to be petted while sitting on the shelf around the pen, but he is still wary of contact on the ground, and frequently very hissy while in the hut.  Sweetheart, who was his faithful sidekick at the beginning, has regressed to shyness – I think it’s partly that she is less in his company these days.
Fuzzy-buddies Skittles & Cadbury - BC

Her place has been taken by Cadbury, who adores his buddy Skittles; he is now starting to enjoy human company (especially when play with a wand toy is offered) and he accepts two-handed petting once he knows you.  Now his confidence is increased, he’s starting to throw his weight around, and we need to watch that he doesn’t bug old-lady Kiko too much.
Kiko
Kiko, who was very cranky in the Moore House, is emerging more often, and enjoying petting from volunteers. Wylee is also more confident, and once he gets to know you, he is anxious to jump up and lap-sit. He’s still pretty young, and has a spark of Gizmo naughtiness about him, but he's the most obviously affectionate cat in the colony.
Wylee - MW
Hershey and Butterscotch are now happy to wander round the pen even when humans are visiting, but they’re not yet ready for much in the way of contact. A little wand-play is sometimes accepted, and they play solo, but are not food-motivated. The barest finger-to-nose touch is permissible as long as you’re not actually looking at them.  Purdy, the shyest of all of them, does not want to be touched at all, but is ready to sit in the sun and watch, just as long as you don’t come too close.
Purdy - BC
The work of the Kitty Comforters in gaining the confidence of this little colony is consistent and steady. This team of dedicated volunteers is briefed each week on the cats that need attention, on those that have made contact with us, and on which techniques work for which cat. The Pen 6 cats are certainly not ready for Sunday visitors, but Skittles happily follows people around the perimeter of his pen, ready to accept through-the-fence petting.  It's lovely to see such progress being made!

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