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 27, 2020


Freya - MW
In a recent "families" blog, we were introduced to a group that recently came to us from a trapping situation in Kamloops. Barbara, Bruley and Baxter are now well settled in the Double-Wide, as is their sister Ariel, and also Aspen, who is still caged with a respiratory virus.  We are not the only shelter helping out with the work of our Kamloops colleagues. Other cats have come to other Lower Mainland shelters, where they stand a better chance of getting used to being handled, and possibly getting adopted eventually.  One of those shelters contacted us about a another Kamloops cat from the same situation that was proving unhandlable for them – would we be able to take it and see what we could do? Shelter Manager Lisa said yes – and Freya came to us.
To swat or not to swat?  - KN
Many shelters are much like our City Shelter, with limited space – individual cages for cats, outings only when the cat has proved manageable. Cats coming to the Sanctuary come to an enclosure that can be three or four times the size of a standard cage. It’s mandatory that they are caged for the first few weeks, so that we can assess them, and they can get used to us.   Freya came to us in December, and for some time all we saw was her draped cage and a notice that warned that only the med staff were to enter.
We had just transferred Mozart and his buddies to the front courtyard, and for the first week they occupied the cage next to Freya’s. She was obviously not happy about being with us at all, and the fact that she was living next to a bunch of teenagers was plainly irritating (who can blame her?) .When the teens were released to the courtyard things were a bit better for their cranky neighbour, but her tolerance level was low for anything different that affected her living conditions.
Will the neighbours just be quiet?  - EW
When the med-staff notice came down, both cleaning staff and volunteers approached Freya with caution, and were met with growls and swats. It was usually safest to make no eye contact; to scoop and get out. It took the bravest ones to attempt contact with her, and most advances were met with not just disdain but with aggression.  Any cat trying to see if anyone was at home was met with hisses and bad language, and we had to keep at least the bottom of her cage draped.
I'm very comfortable - if you'd just go away....   KN
As she became a little more used to a human presence and less inclined to hide, it became obvious that she was a very pretty cat, and many of the more experienced Kitty Comforters spent time with her, though it was not always a rewarding experience. But she was healthy, and there was no reason why she shouldn’t be released into the front courtyard – if she didn’t like human company, there were lots of other feral cats who preferred to hide in the feral area.
First day out - happiness! - KN
So the door was opened, and Madam Hyde became Miss Jekyll – she was a totally different personality once outside. She explored the whole area, she allowed herself to be petted (with caution), she established with the other cats that She Was To Be Obeyed. She’s not very good at personal space – from her perspective, it’s all her own space. I don’t know if she’s had a run-in with Leland or Tigger yet; she certainly put Puffin and Timmy in their places!
Investigating Timmy - KN
She is obviously just one of those cats who goes stir-crazy in an enclosure. We’ve had a few of them – Dell was perhaps the scariest – who became a new personality out of the cage, though we’ve never had it happen so quickly. Sadly, the caging is necessary for an initial period, and with an organization that doesn’t have a no-kill mandate, you can see how a cat like that would be assessed as “untamable” and probably euthanized. I am so thankful for RAPS, that we will always give these animals a second chance – and if they are truly “untamable”, we can still find them a home in one of the feral colonies.
Happy in the sun - BC
For Freya, life has become wonderful – and we love watching her excitement as she explores her new world.

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Feline faces of Prince Charming

Volunteer Pauline Chin spent her Valentines Day being romanced by some feline charmers.
Leo - MW
Among the 400+ cats at the Sanctuary there are several males who have high regard for their looks and utilize a charming personality. What makes these cats into princes is that they know how to give off just the right amount of charm to pull people in without looking needy, or without losing their composure easily.  In the same way cat hair is attracted to clothes, people can’t help but be magnetized towards these gentlemen.
Lincoln - MW
The most well-known charmer is long-haired Lincoln.  As a long time resident, his gentle demeanor is offered to rookie volunteers to get cat-handling experience… without getting scratched.  Lincoln’s sultry eyes, medium length hair, and tabby markings entrance many.  He will pose for photos!  He often occupies the basket closest to the Double-Wide door so Sunday visitors can spot him immediately on entrance or exit.  Lincoln is very particular about being handsome.  If he’s not looking his best, he gets depressed and hides.
Whiskers - MW
Whiskers is rough around the edges, but welcomes attention.  He loves humans and is highly enthusiastic towards females.  Call his name and he’ll stand up from the papasan chair, awaiting affection.  He can be petted for a long time and is happy to pet you in return.  In warm weather, Whiskers enjoys following people around.  He likes it most when you’re seated, so he can give you head bonks.
Colin - MW
Colin tends to be overlooked because of his brown-black coloration.  He likes to be petted, brushed, have lap-time, and knead blankets.  He leans towards the company of older gentlemen (being one himself).  But, he’s content to sit next to quiet people.  Sometimes, he’ll stand tall on the table and nudge you for pets.  Colin gets so thrilled, he nearly slides off the table at times.  He loves posing for photos and being told he’s good-looking – anything that makes him feel handsome!
Leo - KN
Fluffy prince, Leonardo DiCatprio welcomes visitors to the Tea Room.  He flirts with leg rubs and lap-time (and mooching our food!)  He’s so attractive that most people just give him anything he wants.  When there’re many humans present, he will proudly walk on the tables to get attention.  You’ll feel like royalty if he chooses to settle on your lap.  Visitors don’t mind the white fluff he leaves on their clothes, either.
Kiefer - KN
Kiefer, in the Single-Wide, is a handsome panther who likes to invite company to the couch.  He’ll hover nearby and try to convince you to follow him.  While you’re on the couch, you’ll be joined by others from his circle, like Debo, Merren, and the curious-but-wary Bossanova.  Meepos and Mya will watch from above, so no need to worry about them bouncing off your head.  Kiefer will sit for a long time and will let you know if he wants physical touch or just someone to accompany him.
Buzz - BC
Buzz is a new arrival from Shuswap and has already charmed his way into our hearts.  Fluffy and cuddly are a winning combination.  It’s a huge treat to interact with a new cat and not worry about bleeding.  Buzz is happy to be petted all over.  You can give a little or a lot of affection and he’s delighted either way.  I’ve had him climb on me to get head bonks.  He’s going to have quite a fan club once he’s released.
Whiskers - MD
These cats all adore attention and enjoy returning it to humans.  They maximize their charms in unique ways and take pride in their appearance.  If you’ve never been charmed by a cat before, take a chance with one of these princes.

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Melanie Draper, Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Furry Families

As we approach the Family Day weekend, I thought I’d take a look at some of the feline families that constitute the Sanctuary inhabitants.
Sandy and Pebble can never be mistaken for anything other than sisters! - KN
Because so many come in as ferals, we can’t always be sure about which cats are related – but family is family – through blood or through bonds of affection.
Mozart & Pistachio - KN
Some of last week’s blog cats are obviously family by blood – Mozart, Pistachio and Caleb have clear family resemblance. Their “teen” buddies, Leo and Benny are bonded, but not genetically related to each other or to the first three; however all are obviously “family” to each other.
In  Pen 6: Aphrodite, Athena, Vesta, Nyx - LBF
This past summer, we had a major trapping operation when a feral colony was suddenly discovered, with kittens and pregnant moms everywhere. All the kittens have been adopted, but we’re working on getting the young adults comfortable with us.  Pen 6 is now home to a colony of shy teens, and the Kitty Comforters are making slow but steady progress in coaxing them to accept attention.
Pax - MW
Zeus - now a cuddle-bug - MD
Two big black fuzzies are probably the baby-daddies to a number of the adopted kittens. Zeus and Pax now live in the Val Jones area with the other friendly FIV+ cats. Both have settled well, and may well have been strays rather than feral; however, an un-neutered cat is anxious to roam and find a female, and fighting males can easily pass FIV to each other in bites. 

Ariel - KN

Barbara - KN
One small family has joined us from Kamloops. Outside the city boundaries, another feral colony grew out of control. Private rescuers have been going in and trapping, and shelters in many places have been stepping up and taking in the less adoptable cats. We accepted Baxter, Bruley, Barbara and Ariel – knowing that the first three had a respiratory virus and would need careful tending. They have done well, and are now part of the Double-Wide population, and reunited with Ariel. Barbara is particularly loved by many volunteers; she has something of the chromosomal disorder that marked our beloved Daisy.
Honeydew, Melon, Kiwi - KN/LL
brother Shiver - MW
The three calico cats in the Connor House are obviously sisters; Melon, Honeydew and Kiwi all seem to enjoy each others’ company.  We don’t know whether their “brother” Shiver is related by blood – his appearance is nothing like the others. But more than one male cat can mate with a female, and it’s possible that in one litter you can have kittens that look radically different from each other, because half their genes are from another source.
Samantha loves to snuggle with Eclipse - KN
Without genetic linkage, there are cats that move together to make clear “families” - sometimes of semi-bonded pairs, sometimes just of individuals that like each other. Samantha likes to have “her boys” around – she is most often found snuggling with Chimo (who still misses his beloved PawPaw), but loves to be with Eclipse, and now Winston is often in the vicinity.
A sisterly grooming session with Sage & Silky

Little Barbara (above) has made herself at home on the DoubleWide deck with the feral boys - Luke, Bodhi and Hamlet are unrelated but bonded, and now they have a little adopted sister.
Barb and her boys - JK
Cats often have a reputation as loners, but at the Sanctuary we also see how important family can be to them.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Melanie Draper,
Jennine Kariya, Leslie Landa, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Relocating the Teens

Some of our younger cats have come to us at an age which misses the optimal window for socialization, and they hover in the cusp between feral and approachable.
Mozart (also known as "Poptart") - KN
Young kittens, living and playing together, learn to socialize with each other and with the humans caring for them; it becomes relatively easy to get them comfortable with handling, and thus ready for adoption at the City Shelter. But kittens who come to us at 6 months old or more may have missed that opportunity, and many remain fearful and not so easily handled.
Caleb exploring - KN
Sometimes, some determined play/handling therapy can turn the corner; we’ve had a number of kittens who have eventually been adopted, once they’ve learned that humans aren’t so bad. But we also have several who, though friendly enough now, remain feral at heart – easily scared, and not good adoption prospects unless they truly bond with a human. Silky and Sage, Cricket and Beetle are now all cats like that – handleable in a space where they are comfortable and relaxed, but we would be very wary about ever adopting them out.
Leo & Benny as  newcomers - LL
Leo & Benny still together - KN
We recently had a batch of these “teens” in semi-isolation in the room on the east end of the Moore House.  Regular visits from staff and Kitty Comforters got them a little more comfortable with handling, but it was obvious they they were not yet ready to be relaxed with visitors, and not likely to enjoy a move to the City Shelter. As with the other “teens” above (now full adults), it was decided to relocate them to the front courtyard.
Mason - KN
After an initial stay in the large Hill House cages, the doors were opened. It was interesting to see the different reactions.  Blond Leo was not happy – he has always been the shyest of the bunch, and he decided to hunker down in the cage and not come out for a while. That’s OK – he has time to adjust, and the Kitty Comforter visits will continue.  His buddy Benny was always braver, and was quick to emerge and explore; he likes to be around staff and volunteers, “helping” with chores. Leo now explores a bit, but prefers it when Benny is there to give him confidence.
All-black Mason was also quick to explore, and discovered a whole bunch of other little black cats – which makes it a bit difficult to pick him out!  For the greater part, he seems to have relocated himself to the feral cat area - but he does emerge occasionally to interact with his buddies.
Pistachio showing off - CP
"We pause to show paws, but the clause are no claws!'
The other three have settled in well. Pistachio was always the most social of the family; she is enjoying her explorations, and making friends. Caleb was initially cautious, but has expanded his range right across the courtyard and has joined the formal-wear crowd – between Miller, Vesper, Puck, Sylvester and Marvel – and that’s not counting the easily distinguished ones like ZeeZee, Spirit, and Mabel – it’s getting almost as hard to distinguish between the tuxes as between the many little blacks!
Mozart - CP
Nobody can mistake Mozart for another cat, though. His gorgeous floofy coat is the most intriguing mixture of grey and black. Initially very timid about relocation, he has begun to relax and to explore more readily. He joins the others in games of “get the red dot”; he’s beginning to seek out humans for interaction, and is often among the greeters at the gate.
Mozart in the snow - KN
We would love to see these six adopted, but we feel a move to the City Shelter would be too stressful for them, and we would want to be very sure that they had bonded with an adopter – whether they go singly or in pairs. In addition, they are all still very dependent on each other – Leo and Benny in particular.  For more information about any of them, we hope you will contact Shelter Manager Lisa Parker – lisap@rapsbc.com
Fur, as it should be worn - KN

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Leslie Landa, Karen Nicholson, Carol Porteous