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, March 25, 2020


There are some cats that you just know are comfortable with themselves and the world around, and there are some for whom it’s a hard place, and worry is in their eyes.
Sir's basket was his 'safe place' at first - KN
Sir came to us a while ago through the good offices of a friend of the Sanctuary. She had heard about this cat whose owner had passed; nobody in the family seemed to want him, and he was left alone in his “home”with someone coming in every few days to throw food at him – and from what we gather, that was exactly the correct phrase.  When it came time for the funeral, the family decided that he should be euthanized and put in the casket with his owner.  Our friend persuaded them to sign him over, and brought him in to us.
First explorations - KN
Initially, his name was “Survivor” (we don’t know what his home name was), and that was about all he was doing. He was very confused by what had happened to him, and obviously overwhelmed by coming in to the Sanctuary.  This is why all our “new” cats have at least a month of cage time; it allows them to settle without having other cats in their faces, and to get used to unfamiliar humans in their lives. The med team and the Kitty Comforters spent time with him, coaxing him to eat, and to re-learn that gentle hands were to be loved and enjoyed.
More comfortable with Sanctuary life - BC
“Survivor” was shortened to “Sir” before long, and he came out of hiding.  He’s a quiet cat, a little reserved, but usually approachable, and he explored his way around the Double-Wide.  He likes to know what’s going on, and can often be found watching while a Kitty Comforter is working with a caged cat.
Watching to see that the KC's are working correctly - KN
He is nominally part of the tuxedo club on the back deck, but he holds himself a little aloof from the others – like an elderly gentleman tut-tutting and saying “these kids nowadays....”  There is often a black-and-white sprawl over the big bed – and there will be Sir looking on from his own little basket. Sanctuary Manager Lisa tells me that Sir would be adoptable to the right home; he needs to be an only cat in a place where he feels a lot of love.
Sir practicing social separation - BC
He reminds me of Larry – another tuxie with a worried face – and I think a lot of our volunteers will make time for Sir to have a cuddle, be reminded that the world is really not as scary as he thinks it is, and that there is a lot of love for him at the Sanctuary.
Doesn't he dress up well? - KN

Word of warning: don't confuse Sir with JJ (for future blog);  Sir is thinner, and has the little white 'tache. JJ is almost identical, though not so thin, and has no 'tache. She will also lash out with very little warning, which Sir will never do....

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Karen Nicholson

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Nikki Sixx-Toes

One of the hardest things for our med staff to deal with is offering treatment to a feral cat who just wants to say “No way!”
Nikki hiding from us - BC
Nikki came to us with his tabby friend Annie via VOKRA (Vancouver Orphan Kittens Rescue Association) from a reserve in Semiamhoo.
Nikki and Annie in Semiamhoo - JC
He’s a polydactyl, with six toes on his front paws, and was named ‘Six Toes’ prior to arrival at RAPS. His name was tweaked to Nikki Sixx-Toes, after the Mötley Crűe bassist Nikki Sixx.  We caged Annie and Nikki together, hoping they would comfort each other; Annie was not happy with humans encroaching on her territory, but Nikki eventually allowed us to touch him.
The famed six toes on each foot - BC
Nikki was diabetic, and he needs insulin to get his body chemistry balanced. But as a semi-feral cat, we also knew we couldn’t keep him in a cage. So the decision was made to release Nikki and Annie into Pen 3, and take it from there.
Hiding in his tunnel - KN
Like many feral cats, when released, Nikki and Annie decided they wanted nothing to do with humans. They took shelter in the little kennels around the pen; Nikki’s favourite place was in a long metal tunnel. Every day the med staff would come with a snack and the insulin; the snack would be consumed, but all too often Nikki wouldn’t allow the injection. With insulin, it’s virtually painless – the insulin needle is very thin, and most cats don’t notice it, but Nikki didn’t want to allow the med staff to get close.
In his new home - BC
The decision was made to relocate him to the single wide trailer where he could be treated more easily. Whilst caged during the initial transition from outdoor pen to building, Nikki became more relaxed with people and enjoyed attention from humans. When his cage was finally opened, he decided that the area was his, and he refused to leave. His appetite is good; he loves petting from the people he knows; since his cage is right next to Shelter Manager Lisa’s office, he gets a good traffic flow and lots of attention.
Enjoying attention - BC
Annie has remained a feral out in Pen 3 – she seems to have bonded with the other little tabbies, and with Dell
Annie watches warily - LBF
Nikki will probably remain an indoor cat; it will be interesting to see if he ventures out of the cage to explore the territory, or whether, like KeKe in the DoubleWide, he feels that all good things happen in his own space.
Nikki holding court in his cage - BC

Blog by Brigid Coult, with input by Leslie Landa and Louise Parris Rupp
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Brigid Coult, Janet Cox, Karen Nicholson

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Second Chance at Love

Cats that prefer to be alone are a cliche for good reason, but at the Sanctuary we have many cats who truly enjoy each other’s company.
Plum (R)  just looooves her Tugboat!  - KN
A quick visit to the back pens reminds us that cats are well used to living together. The closed pens hold cats who are used to sharing space, but the open pens also hold colonies of cats who prefer to snuggle with each other, and who can always be found in the same cabins.
Spicer and Shaggy - VL
Cats will often have real attachments to each other – all have been spayed/neutered, but love is about much more than sex.  Often cats have come in to us as a pair, and the bond is apparent. And when one of the couple passes, there can be very real grieving.  Shaggy and Spicer came into the Moore House together, and settled very happily; an older couple, they comforted each other through the transition of moving to the Sanctuary. They were rarely apart; where you sat with Spicer, Shaggy would also come, and the deck was their favourite area.  
Shaggy with Chanel - MW
But Spicer was not well, and when she eventually passed, Shaggy was bereft. Volunteers and staff would make a point of visiting with him and giving him what comfort we could.  But comfort was also gradually offered by Chanel. She had come to us as a very scared girl, and preferred to spend her time on top of cages, though she allowed occasional petting. Increasingly, we found her in Shaggy’s company, and the two are now a settled pair. 
Samantha in her cover-girl days - MW
Samantha was, in her younger days, one of the most beautiful of the cats – you couldn’t get a bad picture of her. She’s still pretty, but a more senior lady now, sometimes a little more bedraggled – and she doesn’t always appreciate grooming.
Basket means coziness! - LP
Her guy was VanDyke, a very shy black boy with a double haematoma – both ears crinkled by burst blood vessels. He was one of our many cats with kidney disease, and it wasn’t always easy for the med staff to give him the Sub-Q fluids that made him feel better because he was so wary of us.The only times he seemed really relaxed were when he was with Samantha.
Eclipse with Samantha - how close can I get?  - KN
When VanDyke passed, Samantha retired to Waldi’s Hut, where she had the comfort of Chimo and his buddy PawPaw. She’s still there, even though PawPaw’s gone;  Chimo remains her best gay friend – but the cat she has come to love is another shy black boy, called Eclipse. Eclipse came from the same place as Jay-Z and may be his brother or his father; the two don’t interact, and Eclipse prefers his own company or Samantha’s.
Dusty with her beloved Salty  - DW
Long-term Sanctuary volunteers still talk about our Romeo cats in the back area – Mario, and Salty, both of which had a harem of both boyfriends and girlfriends.  After Salty passed, his best girl, Dusty, was bereft – like Mario’s Nelly, she seemed to be looking for him.
Ridley with Dusty - BC
Inasmuch as one cat can take on Salty’s mantle, it seems that it’s fallen to Ridley, who was also part of the Salty cuddle-puddle. Ridley is something of a magnet for our shyer boys like Ringo (who is now venturing outside more regularly). But he’s also become Dusty’s guy, and the two can often be found cuddled up together, or flirting at the Double-Wide entrance.
Lounging together - BC
At the Sanctuary they all have choice, just like humans – to be introverted and alone, to indulge a full social like without specific emotional links, or to find a soul-mate to love and be loved by. And when/if, sadly, their partner passes, if they’re open to it and lucky, someone else will fill the space in their heart.

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

Thursday, March 5, 2020


We have a new Sanctuary arrival – and everybody is in love!
Tinker is curious - KN
All around the world there are pockets of dedicated people who give their time to making life better for animals who have no home.  We are in regular contact with other shelters around BC, and we have worked with others in Alberta and in the USA.  Tinker takes the prize for coming the longest distance to find his home with us – and we’re so glad he did!
He loves to burrow in his blankets  -  LP
Tinker has come to us from China!   Sanctuary Manager Lisa Parker says, “So ...... sometimes when you are rescuing animals from not-so-great-lives you make decisions that defy logical reasoning. And you go with your gut. This is the face of one of those decisions”
You can't see me....  KN
Tinker was hit by a car, as a kitten, and has no mobility in his back legs.  We understand that the people that rescued him and helped him out also save cats from the meat trucks and slaughterhouses. But there are no RAPS style sanctuaries where Tinker came from - he was going to be kept in a small cage for the rest of his life and would have had very little quality of life. Lisa figured we could do better than that.
You know what they say about curiosity and cats....?    KN
She agreed that we would take him if they could get him to us.  Somebody has a pull with one of the airlines, because Tinker made the long journey and arrived safely with us. He is currently living in the office, where cranky Kitty says “I’ll leave you alone, if you leave me alone!”, and lovable Graycie is willing to be friendly.
Miss Kitty   (PH)      &      Graycie    (KN)
Unlike our beloved Terry, who passed last year of kidney disease, Tinker has no use of his back legs. Terry had some mobility and was able to use his stiff rear end to balance. Tinker can only drag himself around the floor, so it was important to have a space that we could keep clean, and clear of most other cats. He has no bladder control, but rather than being incontinent, Tinker has to have his bladder expressed several times a day by the med staff. Lisa feels that there is some response in his legs and will introduce some gentle physio, hoping to encourage movement. A wheelchair was found, but proved to be too large; however, an afternoon of in-and-out of the wheelchair exercise gave us hope that if we can find the right size for him, he may regain some mobility.
Who can resist that face?  -  MW
From having been the room of the Cranky Old Ladies, the office has now become The Place for Cuddles. Graycie (who Lisa has promised to blog about) is happy to accept cuddles from anyone at any time – and for as long as they like!  And now she has her own cuddle buddy constantly at hand.
The tail compensates for the legs...   PH
Kitty, the remaining Cranky Lady, rolls her eyes and stays out of the way. Tinker has no language issues (like Neko in Old Aids, who prefers conversation in Japanese – watch for another blog...); he understands the language of love, and has made himself totally at home with us at RAPS Sanctuary.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Phaedra Hardman, Karen Nicholson, Lisa Peters, Michele Wright