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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Oooooh.... double Spooky!

At the Sanctuary we actually have not just one, but two cats with the suitably Halloween-ish name of Spooky!
Spooky is not sure she wants to be disturbed  -  BC
The front courtyard has at least 8-9 little black cats with few features that distinguish them.  Our cat-savvy med-staff seem to be able to tell them apart, and it was from med-staff Molly that I heard of Spooky in the Connor building.  She’s a pretty shy girl, preferring to live on the top of the cages with her longer-haired buddy Layla, with whom she arrived from a hoarding situation.
Feeling safer with a buddy at hand - BC
A lot of the floor-level black cats in the area are more substantial in size – Slim should really be renamed Chunky! - Winnie has lost a lot of weight in the last year or so, but is still a solid cat. Spooky is about the same size as Shady, who prefers to base herself with the cuddle-puddle in the papasan chair outside the Single-Wide. Mostly Spooky places herself out of reach, but occasionally she can be found curled in a basket, and will accept attention.
Ready to accept a little petting - BC
Molly told me that Spooky is a pretty messy drinker, and walks away with water all over her face. But a visit from Karen leads us to think that Spooky has more in common with Shady than just colour and size. Shady LOVES to be petted, and gets so excited that she drools all over her petter.  Karen coaxed Spooky into accepting petting, and this drooly mouth was the result.
"Love you so much; you make my mouth water!" - KN
Another distinguishing feature is the colour of Spooky’s beautiful pale green eyes – almost blue-green.
Note the little droplets on her face....  MS
The other Spooky lives in the back courtyard.
Spooky loves to sit IN things - DW
She came to us, having been dumped in a carrier, and with no explanation, at the door of a cat-boarding facility. They, of course, brought her to the Shelter at No 5 Road, where she was checked out and found to carry an identifying tattoo.  Tattoos and microchips are useful tools for finding the original homes of stray animals – IF the original owner keeps the identification up to date. In Spooky’s case the tattoo information gave us her name, but nothing that helped us find an owner.
Hanging out at the top of Newcomers steps  -  MW
Because she was not in great health, she was transferred to the Sanctuary where she had quiet cage time to recover, and careful medical supervision.  The health concerns continued; she suffered from eye infections and respiratory problems.  When planning for the 2019 Calendar, I turned down a lovely photo of her, because I was afraid she might not last through the year.
Spooky was a candidate for Miss April - MW
I’m very glad to see that I was wrong!  Spooky usually hangs our around the Newcomers area, though she has recently been seen more frequently in the Double-Wide.  She is a variety of Manx called a Stubby (Manx cats are categorized by tail length from no tail at all [a Rumpy] through Riser / Stumpy / Stubby / Longy); her tail is about half normal length.  Most cat faces look serious in repose (feline "resting-bitch-face"?) - Spooky's fur colouring around her mouth often makes her look as if she is smiling.
Dappled light on her fur makes her look almost a dilute...   MW
From having been a wary and stand-offish girl when she came to us, she has become more social. She’s not much of a fan of other cats, though not actively hostile, but she has become increasingly friendly with people, occasionally joining the table-top visitors at coffee-time – if there’s not too much feline competition.
The table is a favourite site if there's a box or basket  -  MW
There’s actually nothing scary about either cat; nothing that leads us to discover why they received their names.  But they make the perfect pair of subjects for a Halloween blog!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Karen Nicholson, Molly Sjerdal, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Chilly Diva

Princess Diva is a Cat Who Walks By Herself.  She’s a true “I Vant to be Alone” Garbo-cat – disdaining the company of lesser felines, and occasionally bestowing her dignified attention on a suitably humble human.
Sometimes I sits and thinks.. and sometimes I just sits..   MW
Most of Diva’s time is spent outside in Pen 1; she can occasionally be found up on the roof, but she quite enjoys the dog-houses at the back, and she really loves the little bed that was put up for her.
From up on the roof she can look down on lesser beings! - KN
Sometimes she puts on her cat-blinkers and makes her way into the Double-Wide, where she will sit on the back of the couch and watch the comings and goings in the parking lot, occasionally accepting the homage that is due from staff and volunteers.
Diva has her own little bed - LBF
She’s a beautiful girl, but because she lives outside so much of the time, and disdains being groomed, she does get a bit matted occasionally.  She was actually doing OK in the early summer, when Smithy, Dell and a couple of others got lion-cuts, but we noticed recently that the mats were back, and she was taken in for a beauty treatment (under light sedation, which is the only way possible with Diva!)
Shorn and itchy - LBF
Beauty it was NOT!  Apparently they found that the mats couldn’t easily be removed, and they ended up giving her a full lion cut, as the only way to solve the problem.
OK in the sunshine - but it gets chilly! - LBF
Given BC’s usual fall temperature, that shouldn’t have posed any difficulties, but we’ve had the coldest early fall ever. The med staff and Diva’s human fans sprang into action with a variety of little sweaters for her to wear.
This is a Diva purrito - LBF
Unfortunately, she was Not Amused by them, and all volunteers need to keep an eye open for little discarded garments in the back pens, which have to be washed and kept on hand in the Diva pile.  She does seem to have had the sense to move into the warmth of the cabin in Pen 1, taking over an entire block of shelves, and relegating “the boys” to the opposite side of the room.
Safe and cozy on her shelf - LBF
Diva’s people are keeping a careful eye on her, and she’s getting as much cuddling as she will allow- followed by the inevitable struggles to get a sweater back on her.  By the time she’s got used to it, she will have grown enough fuzz that it may not be so important. And we know that she always has the option of being inside – when she stays out, she’s just being obstinate, as only a cat can be!
Diva proudly making a bold fashion statement - KN

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Can there be such a thing as Too Many Kittens?

The summer months are always kitten season.
The Single-Wide kittens - MW
The concept of spay-and-neuter is a relatively recent one – but one that is vital to the management of a feral cat problem.  Those of us who grew up in an agricultural community will remember that cats were mostly kept as pest control; we may have played with barn cats, even tamed some of them, but the majority lived hard short lives.  There was often a similar mindset in an urban community: let your cats out and they’ll deal with the rats and mice.
adoptable Flora  - MW
But those of us who love our pets know that the hard short life is a factor for a cat in the big outdoors. Even when the cat has a loving home, the outside world holds many potentials for injury or death: traffic, coyotes or other predators, other cats and contact with feline leukemia and FIV, poison, people who don’t like cats... the list goes on.  When RAPS adopts cats out, the agreement to keep your cat indoors is an important part of the contract.
Aphrodite is in Pen 6; not adoptable (yet) - KN
Inevitably, there are feral cats.  Not far away from the Sanctuary is a green belt where assorted wildlife can always be found. Cats may be born feral, or be strays, but it doesn’t take long to grow a colony.
Leslie Landa, senior med staff at the Sanctuary, wrote
There once was a kind woman who loved feeding raccoons and squirrels on her big, overgrown property. One day a cat showed up, so she fed that, too. Before long, there were more and more cats coming for dinner and the woman loved them all. Soon, she was dumping entire bags of kibble on the ground and all the critters were well-fed and happy. Unfortunately, the time came when the kind woman could no longer live on the property and had to sell it. She was very worried about all the kitties she had created in just 2 years, so she finally called RAPS for help...
This little one was so new that his umbilical cord was still attached.  LL
Over the course of three weeks, Leslie, Louise and other helpers captured 35 semi-feral cats - mostly kittens, though there were also pregnant females. We think there are several more still on the loose.  The older cats had a short cage-stay and were then moved to create their own colony in Pen 6; a couple of the males were FIV+ and ended up in the Val Jones pen. Very young kittens went into fosterage where they could be bottle-fed if necessary.
He flourished in foster-care!  LL
The 5 Road Shelter was already full of kittens from the usual summer influx. The “Kitten Room” attached to the Moore House was home to a group of feline teenagers, getting used to being handled. So we had to break our usual rule and bring a batch of kittens into the Single-Wide.
When they first came in, all we could see was black fur and bright eyes.  LL
Most of them have names from Roman and Greek mythology. Theirs became a no-entry cage, handled only by the med staff, and with no access to the general population; because the older cats live together they have developed decent immune systems, but the young ones are still fragile.
Hermes & Pluto - up for adoption - MW
Now that they’re old enough, we’re getting the word out about an adoption event (by appointment) this weekend  (Oct 19); any kittens not adopted will probably have to stay with us until there is more room at the Shelter.  For adoption information, check HERE
Three Little Kittens - Apollo, Mars, Pluto - LP
How we wish more people would call us to fix their stray cats before kitten season!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Leslie Landa, Lisa Parker, Michele Wright

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Oliver: Cuddle-monster

Oliver is the Sanctuary cuddle-champion!
Oliver explores the cats' play-tunnel - KN
We have a number of cuddly cats – often thanks to the work of the team of Kitty Comforters, who focus their attention on the caged, or shy, or newer cats.
Fido makes an acceptable cuddle-buddy - KN
Some cats, of course have come to us because they are NOT cuddly – Eli, Jobie, and many others are beautiful to look at, and occasionally allow themselves to be petted, but they’re not lap-cats, and they object to being picked up and fussed over if they’re not in the mood.  And when their objection gets labelled as “aggression”, they end up with us.
Oliver is very much a people boy, and loves to be picked up and held. His problem is that he suffers from feline herpes virus.
There were so many people to snuggle at the volunteer party! - DW
The most common virus, as we humans know, is probably the cold. And the more people you have together, the more a cold gets passed around.  Mostly it runs its course, and the body recovers; sometimes we fight through it; sometimes we curl up and sleep it off.  It’s the same for cats – the various cold germs that inevitably float around will affect cats from time to time. Mostly they have minimal effect; occasionally a cat will be snotty-nosed or congested enough that a period in a cage for treatment is recommended.
Oliver loves being outside - TV
Sometimes the cold stays in the cat’s system – sweet Tibet is often sneezy; Ridley has to be watched for recurring congestion. Some of them may carry this feline herpes virus, but for them the effects are minimal. In extreme cases, the eyes are also affected, with lesions in and around the eyes, and eye ulcers. These viruses are specific to cats – humans are not affected by them.
Enjoying the sunshine - DJ
(the lesions round his eyes are very apparent in this photo)
We understand that Oliver contracted herpes virus in utero; we have no knowledge about the rest of his litter-mates, but he has been under care since being a kitten. His eyes are severely affected, and his vision impaired, though not enough to prevent him getting around easily. During his initial cage-period with us he constantly called for someone to come and sit with him, and give him some fussing.  Not long after release, some dental work was needed, and much to his annoyance, he had another cage-stay.
Open the gate right NOW, and cuddle me!   TV
Now Oliver’s out and about again.  If things are busy, he’ll find a corner where he can curl up till someone can pay him attention; as soon as a lap’s available, he’s ready to be held – he prefers the upright posture against a shoulder where he can nuzzle into a neck or into hair.  Flare-ups of the virus can be provoked by stress, but now Oliver’s assimilated himself into the feline population, he seems to be doing very well.
Snuggles with med-staff Louise - LL
Oliver would be at his best in an only-cat home (or one with another herpes virus cat) where he could get lots of attention, but where his humans were aware of his health issues. Ideally, cats with herpes virus shouldn’t be around other cats – it’s not as dangerous as the feline leukemia virus, but for cats with a compromised immune system, any infection is a bad idea. But we’re simply not able to cage all the virus-carrying cats in the Sanctuary; we rely on staff and volunteer awareness about washing hands and bedding, and on the fact that so many of those cats wander freely outside in the courtyard and the back pens.
Oliver loves to snuggle into Kitty Comforter Chris's beard! - VL
Oliver is the sweetest most affectionate boy ever at the Sanctuary, and joins Emery in being a cat whose cuddles give as much comfort as he gets.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Daphne Jorgenson, Leslie Landa, Vicki Lo, 
Karen Nicholson, Tanisha Vincent, Debbie Wolanski

February 2020 - I am happy to report that Oliver has been adopted by the parents of one of our volunteers. They know that he will always need a little more care, but that it's more than balanced by all the love he will give!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Shy Winston

This big boy came to us late fall of last year.  He was brought in to the City Shelter as a stray, but acted pretty aggressive, and was transferred to our care.  It was noted that he had not been neutered, so that was quickly taken care of, and Winston’s tomcat days were done.
During his cage-stay he was visited by the Kitty Comforters, who found that rather than being aggressive with us, he was very shy, but not feral-reactive. Many ferals don’t like contact with humans, and react with aggression. A stray who has known human attention but lived as a feral may shrink from contact, but the reaction tends to be fear rather than aggression; something in them knows that humans can mean good things.  Winston hid in his box, but allowed touch, and eventually emerged to permit some petting.
It’s always a hard decision for the med staff to know when to release a cat. We don’t want to keep them caged indefinitely, but there have been many cats who were touchable in a cage, and then hid from contact. One of my sponsor cats, Sylar, is like that – caged, he hisses, but allows contact (and enjoys it, from the bum-in-air reaction) – out of the cage, he doesn’t want to get closer than ten feet or so. So we were concerned about how Winston would react to freedom.
Winston quickly managed to make his way out of the Double-Wide trailer and into the courtyard, mostly basing himself in the Newcomers area. We call it Newcomers because it’s quieter, and offers less chance of dealing with scary humans, so many of the newly-released cats spend some time there.  Sadly, Winston is one of those cats who really is a pussycat – he carried a big label around that said “Bully Me!”. And our resident bullies – Jasper, Chester and Gizmo (particularly the latter) did just that.  Winston found a few hidey-holes where he could retreat, and occasionally vanished down to the bushes at the back of Pen 2, but he preferred to be in warmth and comfort.
In the late spring, the decision was made to open pen 8, the pen where Smithy, Splotch and their feral buddies lived. A procession of cats visited in and out of the gate; interestingly the ferals relaxed quite noticeably with all this new company, and dared to venture outside, though maintaining their base there.  At some stage, Winston discovered this area, and now he can often be found in “his” box, still shy, but approachable and ready to accept petting. I'm never sure whether it's the name or the voice, but like Skittles and Bossanova, Winston is a cat who will often come when I call, and he's now starting to put paws on my lap (though not yet ready to sit and relax there).
The corner he has chosen was largely the territory of feral Magpie, who is not entirely happy with human attention, but who obviously enjoys the company of his new buddy enough that he will tolerate us in the vicinity.
Magpie & Winston
If you’re at the Sanctuary, please come and introduce yourself to this gentle boy with the muscular body and broad cheeks of a former tomcat, and the wariness of a cat who has not always had gentle handling from humans. Gradually we’re changing his mind.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Karen Nicholson