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 26, 2019

Pops & Jack Sparrow

Jack Sparrow is a one-year-old black cat with one eye and a missing hip socket. His dad, Pops, who is five, has feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and deformed rear legs. Despite their challenges, they’ve come a long, long way—literally.
The pair were seized by California animal control officials in California in January 2018 from a breeder who was apparently attempting to create a new “specialty” breed of small cat, but in the process developed a number of animals with severe physical issues. Along with them were Jack’s brother and mother.
Pops was kept in a cage for the first years of his life, allowed out only to breed.
Once they were placed in a California shelter, they faced euthanasia due to their obvious disabilities, but were saved and brought to B.C., where Jack, Pops along with Jack’s brother who is also disabled, lived in foster care for the past year. The brother was adopted by the foster family and, though Jack and Pops were also up for adoption during that year, they had no luck finding a forever home. They now happily reside at the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, eagerly soaking up the affection and care of staff and volunteers.
Dad and son are deeply bonded, very sweet with people and other cats and also very active.

From an article written by Sanctuary Manager Lisa Parker

For some time we kept Pops and Jack separate so that we could monitor their health and their movement. We were uncertain about releasing them into the nearby “New Aids” pen, which would have needed considerable cosmetic and structural improvements to make it safe for them. Instead, we consolidated the smaller group of cats with Feline Leukemia (FeLV) into the “Old Aids” area, and reclaimed the Val Jones corner for new use. There was much work to be done to sanitize it and to make it safe for disabled cats; the flagged stone floor has a washable mat over it, and the two cabins have washable carpet on the porches. For safety’s sake, some of the ramps and runs were removed, and others installed.
The decision was made to bring some of the friendlier cats from the “New Aids” pen into this enclosure; we were pretty sure that there would be a lot of human visitors, and there were several cats that we thought would benefit from it. Many people don't understand that cats with FIV are actually adoptable, and that they suffer more from the stigma of the label than from the condition itself. We hoped that having them more accessible would help educate visitors about feline immunodeficiency virus, and dispel some of the myths about FIV cats. Friendly Arnie (always looking for a handout), orange Magnus, grey Felix, tabby Tia – all made the move, and settled well into a new space.  They have been joined by a pair of cats from Alberta, and another pair recently trapped locally. More of them in future blogs...
Pops and Jack have taken it all in their stride - if you can say that about cats with their disabilities. Jack actually walks on his front paws; Pops also uses his front paws for the most part, with a little stabilizing from his immobile back legs. Both can manage steps, and Jack actually uses his upper body strength to climb to the top of a cat-tree. We have to keep a bit of an eye on him; like many teenagers, he likes to push the boundaries, and his bugging of some of the more senior cats is not appreciated.
In many places, these two would have been euthanized. With us at the Sanctuary, they have a real quality of life and much loving care; adoption is not out of the question, but there would have to be many restrictions to keep them safe. All the other FIV cats in this enclosure are actually adoptable. With the RAPS Hospital nearby we can react quickly to any of their health needs, and there are always staff and volunteers to spend time with them – as well as visitors on Sunday afternoons.
Pops and Jack have fallen on their feet – even though they don’t have as many as the other cats!

Blog by Lisa Parker & Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Daphne Jorgenson, 
Jennine Kariya, Karen Nicholson, Lisa Parker, Michele Wright

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Taylor & Company

Another blog from Sanctuary volunteer Pauline Chin
Taylor & Luke - VL
Spring 2019 brought in 3 young feral cats – Luke, Taylor, and Gomez (introduced here).  They were all estimated to be about a year old.  With his loving personality, the master biscuit maker Gomez was quickly whisked away for adoption.
Gomez - PC
While Gomez and Taylor were clearly kittens, Luke appeared filled out in a full-sized body.  If I had to guess, he was either a singleton wanting company, or a brother from a prior litter.  Luke is the most feral of the bunch; he chooses to live on the back deck and has befriended other ferals.  He’s curious enough to peek at us, but not socialize.
Luke - MW
Little black Taylor divides his time between the deck and being in the trailer.  The reason?  Toys!  Although he keeps a gap around people, his kitten spirit sparkles when he sees new toys.  While caged, he played with balls when no one was looking.  Within a month, he became open about it and didn’t care if we were standing nearby.
Taylor - PC
After he was released from the cage, he took a fancy to a certain toy wand.  The irresistible sound of tassels lures Taylor over within seconds.  The same sound also brings out shy, grey Bubbles.  What’s beautiful is this pair will play with the wand at the same time.  There’s no competition or hissing.  Bubbles sits behind Taylor and patiently waits for the toy to fly over to him.  Taylor will watch if Bubbles has it in his grasp.
Now it's your turn...   PC
Taylor loves to reach up and grab at the wand.  He can jump, but will more likely lean on his hind legs and stretch his lanky body.  It’s amusing to see him upright, with his teeth and tongue out.  I wonder if he’s aware of his funny facial expressions?  He also enjoys the ring toy.  He’ll charge into it and push it around the floor.  Taylor is a catnip fan and revels in carrying off the little pillows.
Bubbles reaches for a toy - KN
Bubbles plays more gently than other cats.  He’ll sit upright and either grab a toy, try to catch between his paws, or pin it to the floor.  He doesn’t make a deadly swat or lunge.  Occasionally, he’ll pounce (more like hop) onto the toy.  The thing that spooks Bubbles away is people talking loudly.  He’ll vanish to the deck and return once the noises are gone.  The pom pom tassels are just that enticing to him.
Taylor has discovered the back gardens - KN
After 3 months, Taylor’s kitten wonderment has waned.  Although he doesn’t pursue the toys as heartily, he still wants to see the sights and sounds.  Sometimes he uses the litterbox as a cover to watch the action.  New toys pique his interest.  He’s one of those “I’ll play, but don’t touch me” cats.  Out on the deck, he’s more suited to quiet attention.
Bubbles says, "All mine!" - PC
Unlike Taylor, Bubbles still adores the wand.  These days, it’s more likely to find Dazzle and Delilah hovering nearby for a chance at this magical toy.  Perhaps it’s the only toy of its kind here?  It’s always a plus to see Bubbles outside the deck.  He’s a cat who needs more self-confidence and the chance to explore the grounds.
Taylor with new buddy Bodhi (L) and Luke (R) - VL
When Taylor wants downtime, he’ll go find Luke or Bodhi and share cuddles.  For being labeled “all-feral”, he’s made incredible progress in his first few months and has settled in now.  Most cats are content to receive their favourite foods, while others want physical affection.  For Taylor, nothing makes him happier than being surrounded by toys.  With all the volunteers around, he and all the resident cats are guaranteed a lifetime supply!

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Pauline Chin, Vicky Lo, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright

Note: as we go to press, poor Taylor is in a cage in Newcomers, having had some pretty radical dental surgery. He'll be out and about by the end of the month, and glad to have access to toys and playmates again.   BC

Thursday, September 12, 2019


“Sisters, sisters, never were there such devoted sisters...”
In fact, we have no DNA evidence Topaz and Onyx are related by blood at all – they came in at separate times, and the vet estimated them at different ages.  But they came from the same place, they look remarkably similar and they tend to be found together.  Mostly, in the Sanctuary, we tend to think of them as Topaz-and-Onyx, and back when Claire introduced them on the Neko Blog, they were already an established pair.
They are part of the little-black-cat population in the back courtyard, joining Celia, Sara Lou and a few others in the “who is that cat?” reaction from volunteers. They are less easily confused with their black Sanctuary “brothers” Ninja, Tyson, Jay-Z, all of whom are larger and glossier; these two old ladies show their age with less energy and rougher fur. They’re among the semi-ferals; they prefer not to have a lot of human attention, but they’re ready to accept the odd treat, and they love chicken handouts.
Topaz (KN)
We think that they are among the oldest cats in the Sanctuary; the vet's original guesstimate at her age would put Topaz at 19+; they are among what we call the Donni-cats, coming to us from a hoarding situation. There are very few of those cats left – bob-tailed Huey and pretty Princess still live in the Double-Wide.  Every day Topaz receives a dose of medication for a hyperthyroid condition; luckily she is more ready than her sister to enjoy human contact, which makes the medicating job easier.
Onyx (KN)
Onyx, who is listed as being a couple of years younger (though it was an estimate, and she may be the same age as Topaz), is much less interested in human touch and will shy back from contact. When you see them together, it's easier to distinguish them; separately, it’s possible to confuse the two.
When it gets colder, Topaz and Onyx will probably move back to the warmth of the laundry room; for some years their favoured turf was on top of the hot-water tank in the small storage room. That’s off-limits to cats now, but there are plenty of beds there where the old ladies can be cosy.
But for now, they’re loving the waning summer, finding places to lie together, and enjoying the sun and each other’s company.

Blog by Brigid Coult
("Sisters" from "White Christmas")

Photos by Brigid Coult and Karen Nicholson

Thursday, September 5, 2019


Another blog from volunteer Pauline Chin
Tootsie, the tuxedo girl, arrived early this summer. She was surrendered due to inappropriate urination issues and it was discovered that she had a wound on her hindquarters that refused to heal.  Less than a month into her stay, staff were noticing her cage door was open frequently. It turns out, she’s another escape artist!
We’ve had cats chew their way out of a cage, squeeze through a gap, force a loose door open, and make a dash for an open door. Tootsie is the first one sneaky enough to unlock her door.  For a couple of weeks, her lock was duct taped over.  It seemed to prevent her from unlatching it…
It wasn’t long before she was finally free to roam.  She is a sweetheart with a loud purr.  Once you pet her, her purr motor can be heard across the room.
She is entirely accepting of attention, but she doesn’t beg for it, either.  As for feline company… she welcomes other kitties in her space, but she stays on her toes when passing by other cats.  Most surrendered cats are either agitated or depressed on arrival because they can’t be with their human family anymore.  In addition, their surroundings are brand new and filled with so many different smells, living creatures, and noises.  It’s understandable if they just want to hide behind a curtain for a month or two.  Unlike those cats, Tootsie seemed friendly from the start.
Watch out, world - here comes Tootsie! - KN
Tootsie goes for strolls outside regularly and is curious enough to investigate the planters.  Perhaps rousing her curiosity is the way to her heart?  When it’s naptime, she returns to her cage.  What a great way to enjoy the summer!
Independent, intelligent, inquisitive, and lovable is how I would describe her.  She has the classy tuxedo look, too!  With those qualities, I would not be surprised if she was adopted out within a year from now.  Come get to know her, if you haven’t already.  She’s happy to be kept entertained.

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Pauline Chin & Karen Nicholson