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.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Remembering Friends

Back Pens - everyone loved  Chatter - MW
At the end of each December, we wish each other a Happy New Year – but we also look back at the year just past and remember the triumphs we've won and the trials we’ve survived.  And especially at the Cat Sanctuary, we’ll remember the cats we’ve lost.
SW - Georgie & her Christmas Mouse - MW
We actually memorialize them in the summer at a pot-luck event held at the Sanctuary and attended by humans and cats alike (it can be a little hard to keep them off the tables!)  And part of the event always includes the reading of the names of the cats who have passed in the previous year – a moment that is named for raggedy Chance who got a second chance of life when he came to us. We are reminded of the legend of the Rainbow Bridge, and the cats who are waiting for us to cross as well – and there are always tears and fond memories.
Front - Gilbert, much loved - MW
But remembering Big Personalities who have passed is more common in the media at the turn of the year – so here are just a few of the beloved cats who have been in our care, and have gone on to the Rainbow Bridge.
Moore - Spicer, missed by her buddy Shaggy - MW
In the Moore House, established by and named for our beloved Marianne Moore, most of the cats are seniors (it’s affectionately known as “geriCATrics”), and though we grieve their passing, we know that these are cats who have had their final days with much love from us
Moore - PomPom (BC) & Fluffy (MW) -   both came to us
when they were already seniors
Moore - Jack went from being a cranky aggressive cat
to one who loved being petted - MW
Our FIV+ cats may not ever develop full-blown AIDS, but many of them have lived feral, rough lives before they came to us, and their bodies are more fragile than in the general population
NewAids - Mr Moochie - BC
NewAids - Achilles - MW
The FeLV (feline leukemia) cats’ fragile immune systems mean that we tend them with great care for cleanliness. Of the cats we’ve lost this year, two stand out for me:
OA - Zanda loved to come and cuddle - PH

OA - Cleo was disabled, but gutsy! - MW
Those of us who work in the SingleWide quickly develop our favourites
SW - Zoe was a member of the Dryer Gang - MW
SW - Tammy hated other cats - but loved Shelter Manager Lisa - MW
Some really significant cats in the front courtyard have passed
Brothers Tommy & Pogo were well-loved by everyone - MW
We lost Daniel in 2018; Cloverleaf has gone to be with his buddy - MW
Many of the Double-wide cats who have gone are either seniors (Binky, Deenie) or the cage-top shy ferals (Pixie, Peanut, Mary). The cat that I still subconciously look for is Sativa, whose Manx-Syndrome incontinence brought her to us, and whose human family faithfully visited her every Sunday.
DW - we all got used to cleaning up after Sativa - MW
So many big personalities in small furry bodies in the back courtyard have passed.
PawPaw happily made the transition from an outside pen
to live inside with his buddy Chimo - MW
B/w WobblyBob and his grey buddy Yogi went
within weeks of each other - VL
Terry never let his disability stop him! - PH
And I can’t pass up the chance to memorialize the two I adopted from the Moore house, and had in my care for all too short a time – much loved and not forgotten.
Mr Bojangles and Madame Hooch - MW
Many of these cats came in to us as ferals, and as ferals they would have had short, hard lives. In our care they were loved by staff, volunteers and visitors. Their passing was grieved – but it also left space to accept other homeless cats – ferals, strays, rejects – all of whom are now discovering that life can be good at the Cat Sanctuary.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Vicki Lo, Michele Wright

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas Wishes

Volunteer Pauline Chin has been exploring what Santa Paws might bring....

In celebration of the holiday season, let’s have a look at what might be on the Christmas Wish List of our kitties.  This is a shortened list.  The full list would keep you reading until next year.
Leland: My dream is of a life where I am the only cat – my favourite humans around to cuddle me, but no other felines.

Wickem: I’m a simple cat.  I’d be happy with warm laps, snuggles, and dry feet.

Rufus: Food, glorious food.  Chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon – I’ll eat them all!  Just make sure you serve me first.

Jody: All I wish for is a cozy corner where I can curl up comfortably and get scritches all day. (Jody is one of our senior ladies, at more than 20 years old)

Graycie: I want my humans (mostly Shelter Manager Lisa) to spend all day and night with me.  I will ensure they work hard, feed me on time, and take frequent breaks so they can love me.

Huey: An appointment book and my own secretary.  I want one-on-one time with humans without the wait and without interruptions.

Skittles:  Laps! Lots and lots of laps!  And chicken bits too. But laps are the most important.  Can I climb up on your lap right now?

Plum: No more baths!  (poor Plum has manx syndrome, and a dirty bum that needs daily washing)

Smoochie: More toys!  I love play time!

Our cats have various ideas on what makes them happy.  Generally, it’s having humans around to give them attention, an all-you-can-eat meat buffet, or an infinite amount of things to play with.  The cats don’t care what day it is, as it feels like Christmas when we fulfill their wishes throughout the year.

Blog by Pauline Chin, with Brigid Coult
Photos by Phaedra Hardman, Alice Lai, Karen Nicholson, Lisa Parker, Michele Wright

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Divorce is Called Off

Princess & Spike are back together! - BC
Many people think of cats as solitary creatures – and we certainly have our share of felines who would be perfectly happy if every other cat at the Sanctuary disappeared.  But we also have many cats who are happy to tolerate each other’s company – and even a few who have clearly bonded relationships.
Dusty & Ridley - BC
A quick scan of past blogs will give us an array of Best Feline Friends: Adam & May, Rudolph & Salish, Samantha & Chimo, (Chimo's love, PawPaw, is gone, but he and Samantha are good buddies), Dusty & Ridley.  Some have been bonded for most of their lives with us; others have had bonds with other cats, now passed, and have sought out a new BFF.
Princess & Spike - MW
Spike and Princess have been a “couple” for some years. Though they didn’t arrive from the same place, they could almost always be found sharing a bed in the Double-Wide – preferably somewhere close to the med cage and the possibility of treats.
Princess - LP
And then at some stage in the last few months, they started drifting apart – I noticed it most often when showing visitors around, and finding Spike occupying his regular space, but Princess high up on the cage-tops, or out in the back courtyard.  Various other cats shared Spike’s bed, but Princess seemed to prefer keeping her distance.
Watching the old med-cage door - JN
About six weeks ago, the med-cage (and that’s really all it was – a walk-in cage where the med-staff could track cats and dispense medications) was enlarged to about twice its size by expanding into the space of an adjacent cage and the equivalent corridor.  And it just so happened that this bit of corridor was the home base for Spike, Buddy, Tugboat and half a dozen others.  Of course, there is no lack of available alternate space, but there was a week or so of negotiating feline realty, and of deciding who wanted to base themselves where.  During this period, little smoke-cat Sara Lee had a cage-stay for some dental care, and with her release, all the patterns seemed to change again.
Sara Lee - KN
For years Sara Lee has been my quality control assistant at mealtimes, but now her place has been taken over by Miss Parker, who is much less ladylike (though equally enthusiastic) about getting the first taste. Sara Lee normally hovered on the other side of the laundry room, but I started to find her in the space she had once shared with her friend Kiddie.
SaraLee, with her late friend, Kiddie - DW
 And then, suddenly, there were three – Sara Lee occupying the middle of a basket, and Spike and Princess flanking her.  Couple mediation?  A menage a trois? I don’t know – but the three can often be found together, with the alternate combination being Spike and Princess being lovebirds once again, with Sara Lee in an adjacent bed.
A small bowl - and three loving cats - BC
All our cats are safely spayed and neutered, of course – but, as with humans, loving relationships are less about biology and more about psychology. And these three seem to have found a balance (like Capilano, Walker and Chinook) in which they all have a part to play in making each other happy.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Joanne Nicholson, Karen Nicholson, 
Lisa Parker, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Thursday, December 12, 2019

RAPS and the Cats of Many Colours

After a summer when it seemed that we were being overrun with little black kittens, it’s good to be welcoming an assortment of coloured cats.
Kiwi - MW
The Last Chance Cat Ranch in Lethbridge AB faced a crisis when the owner had health issues that necessitated a move back to her family in Edmonton. The shelter had been in existence since 2003, and over the years she had helped save more than three thousand cats.  Sadly, nobody was willing to take over her shelter and she reached out to other rescues to relocate as many cats as possible.  We have nine of them with us, and all are settling down to various degrees.
Melon - MW
Seven of them were initially put into the Connor building.  Tabby Ziggy was given a cage to herself. She was not happy about the move, about the other cats around, about life in general....   Now she's out, she still mostly hides behind a drape and growls, and she objects to other cats looking in on her. She’s going to be quite a project for the Kitty Comforters – we don’t know her background, but she’s very distrustful.
Honeydew - MW
The other six knew each other well, and were paired for mutual comfort.  Black cats Salem and Obelix initially shared space, but Obelix was discovered to be FIV+, and was relocated. Three of the others were calicos, coming to us as Melon, Honeydew and Kiwi; the fourth was Siamese-mix Shiver.  Salem, Honeydew and Kiwi were released first and ready to explore; they’re a little wary about humans, but sufficiently food-motivated that they will come and feed at the table where the wet-food plates are being prepared.  Kiwi is the darkest of the three – a very pretty girl who is interested in the area around her. She appears to be tolerating the other cats, and has settled comfortably on one of the shelves as her base.
Kiwi - LL
Her buddy Honeydew also appears relaxed, and was quick to discover the above-cages area, scaling the mesh to find her beloved Salem – the two can be found snuggling together. The cage-top cats – Layla, Celine, Spooky and the others – are all a pretty easy-going bunch, and the newcomers have settled in with them in no time.
Salem getting a little lovin' from Honeydew - KN
Melon and Shiver were caged a little longer for some dental attention, but are now out and about in the front courtyard.  Shiver appeared the most wary of the group, but is no longer looking as spooked as when he arrived, and he and Melon chirp happily at each other.  Caging cats in pairs may give them less room (though our cages are pretty roomy) but it often gives them comfort and confidence in a new situation. Melon and Honeydew look pretty similar; we’re guessing that the three girls are litter-mates.
Shiver is another handsome blue-eyed boy - MW
Two other cats came with them, but like Obelix, they have gone into the New Aids pen, since they are FIV+. Sadly, too many people don’t understand that the FIV virus doesn’t make cats any less adoptable – and these two are prime candidates for a home. Orange & white Dango is insatiably curious – he wants into everything, and is constantly on the move. He’s very friendly with people and at ease with the other cats.
Austin & Dango - KN
Black Austin is definitely a people-cat; he loves to lap-sit, and he has the characteristic erect tail of a happy and confident cat.  We would love to see more of our FIV+ cats go to their own homes; unlike the FeLV virus, which does affect the cat’s health, FIV is a virus that causes AIDS in cats; however, there is a long asymptomatic period before AIDS occurs and care can prolong this period. Many of the FIV cats live long lives, and may never actually develop full-blown AIDS.
Austin - KN
Austin and Dango are used to living together, but since they are relaxed and happy, they might do well with a non-aggressive FIV- cat or with a dog; like all RAPS cats , we would want them to be indoor-only pets. Black Obelix is very shy and will not be an adoption candidate.
Dango - KN
There are many privately-run shelters across the country, often set up by cat-loving people who may not have a succession plan for their beloved cats when health issues intervene. There aren’t many shelters who can take on nine cats at a time, but RAPS is glad to be able to welcome these newcomers to the Sanctuary family.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Leslie Landa, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright

Thursday, December 5, 2019


Darius is a cat with whom everyone falls in love!
We think he has some British Shorthair in him – obviously, we have no idea of his breeding, but he has many of those characteristics: the broad face and stocky body, and a plushy dense coat. British Shorthairs come in a full range of colouring, though the Blue is the desired standard for showing. Darius has classic tabby markings, with the characteristic whorl pattern on his sides.
He came to the City Shelter in early summer, picked up as a stray, but he was so aggressive and angry that it was thought he might actually be feral; in any case, he was obviously not a candidate for adoption, and was transferred to the Sanctuary.  As with many trapped cats, cage life was a bit overwhelming for him – until he discovered that the visits he had from staff, Kitty Comforters and other volunteers, were not in fact so scary, and often resulted in play and treats. Darius became less and less inclined to hide in his box, and more ready to interact with us.
Looking down at us, from a back deck shelf - BC
The initial few weeks in a cage is intended to give cats a chance to assimilate their surroundings, as well as getting used to the humans who will care for them. When the cage is opened, some cats (like Ruff and Sprocket) resolutely stay in their familiar corner until they feel much more confident, while others make a bee-line for the cage-tops or the back deck to put some distance between them and us. Darius was cautious, but it wasn’t long before he watched more confident cats using the door to the laundry room and then out via the cat-door, and he too made his way outside.
Now he felt he had the best of both worlds – the freedom he remembered, but also the human attention with which he had become familiar.  He explored every inch of the back courtyard area, poking his way into open pens, finding toys to play with, and other cats to get to know. He’s a pretty sociable guy – not bonding with anyone else, but not afraid to interact with them. He is often one of the “on the table” cats at coffee time, migrating his way from one person to another and enjoying the attention.
Darius being a lap-cat - KN
As he settles with us, it becomes obvious that he is a stray – a cat who once knew a human home – rather than a feral – born wild and not comfortable with handling. However, we will probably only adopt him under the semi-feral principle of bonding with a prospective owner. Our experience has taught us that unless a semi-feral or very wary cat really bonds with a human, then moving from a place where it is comfortable to a new home is a stressful experience - which is why Darius was as as angry and aggressive as he was when he arrived.
Most of the successful adoptions in this situation take place when a staff member or a volunteer takes the cat – sweet, shy Mischa bonded with med-staff Jess, and has settled well in his new home.  But Mischa saw Jess almost every day; for a  cat like Darius to have a relative stranger take him would be very difficult.
The look of love (or begging for goodies!) - KN
So for now, Darius is a happy cat, with places to explore and other cats with which to interact, and we’ll see if there is a volunteer or a regular visitor to whom he is drawn, and with whom he might find a home, and safety for the rest of his days.

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