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, April 30, 2020

The Tuxedo Club - part 2: The Catsino

There are various areas around the Sanctuary where cats who prefer to live “outside” can find warmth and comfort.
Now she's getting frail, this is Calista's favourite spot
in the front courtyard - BC
Often the shyer cats prefer not to be inside one of the buildings, but are willing to compromise by living on an enclosed deck.  When the weather is chilly, they can find warmth on an enclosed shelf, or, if they’re lucky, in a basket or a papasan chair under a heat-lamp.  Once a new cat is released from its cage in the Double-Wide (DW), it will often make its way to the deck, for an area with good hiding places. Draped chairs and shelves, a walk-way around the wall, and the reassurance that there won’t be many visitors gives cats the chance to settle, and eventually allow contact.
The "regulars" are joined by Hickory and Aspen - BC
The favourite place on the DW Deck is on a mattress, built out in an area that overlooks the volunteer tea-room below. The heat lamp hanging over it gives a secondary name to the area – the Cats Red Light District.  Bodhi, Hamlet and Luke were introduced last week as the core members of the feline band PURR .  But volunteer Daphne Jorgensen has been visiting with them regularly, and feels they need to push the boundaries a bit more.   Daphne posts regularly for our Staff/Volunteers closed page, but with her permission, I’ll share some of her musings on the DW deck inhabitants...
You want into this Catsino? - DJ
from Jan 28...  Everyone out there was cozy under the heat lamp. They let me know that life is good in the “Red Light District.” Wow, that’s aptly named. Apparently, what happens in the Red Light District stays in the Red Light District; it’s like Las Vegas.
Hmm, I thought, see no evil, hear no evil; that’s not always good. That’s when I noticed that Jade had followed me out onto the veranda. Oh no, the slasher had arrived. She reminded me that whatever she does to me cannot be disclosed. I looked to the others for support but found a bunch of giant lazy Mafia looking cats with faces that registered nothing. Last week was the ladder incident and now she just drove me off the armchair.
Perhaps I shouldn’t linger too long in the Red Light District. I feel like I just escaped an illegal gambling den
Waiting for refreshments - DJ
from March 17 ...    I checked in with the occupants in the Red Light District in the Double Wide. I let them know that all casinos are shut down. I asked the Hamlet if his casino was closed pursuant to the government mandate. He was eating when I was asking. It looked like his in-house restaurant was still open, contrary to the government order for quarantine.

from April 14 ...   I was visiting the Mafia cats in the Double Wide. It’s business as usual for them. I asked what was new and happening and they let me knew that they are starting a band that will always front line at their Catsino.
Barb & her Boys

Slayers - with Baxter leading -  LBF
They showed me their debut album cover, which is posted. Their band is called the Slayers. Barbara is the lead singer, Hamlet is on electric guitar, Luke on bass, Bodhi on piano, and Bubbles on drums. I asked them if they had a title for their new album and they confirmed they do. It’s called Tails of the Red Light District. Nice and hard core!
These are the songs on their album so far:
- Pandemic Blues;
- Ain’t Got No Kitty Comforters;
- JJ’s Revenge;
- Feed Me Now;
- Don’t Crap On Me; and
- Cat Slaves Are My Bitch.
They’re still working on more material. I asked who their manager and promoter is. Hamlet said they don’t have one yet.
Working on the love ballad album - LP
Hmmm...opportunity for me? But I’m not sure if my values align with theirs. I mean singing about Cat Slaves Being Their Bitch? Well, I might (ahem) resemble that remark.

Quarantine is obviously producing a variety of cultural inspirations at the Sanctuary – we’ll have to see if performers and audience alike are able to maintain interest, or if, being cats, it’s simpler just to find somewhere quiet and enjoy the required hours of snoozing.

Blog by Brigid Coult and Daphne Jorgensen
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Brigid Coult, Daphne Jorgensen, 
Karen Nicholson, Louise Parris

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Tuxedo Club - part 1

Some of our semi-feral inmates can be pretty nervous when there are strangers around.
Hamlet in what used to be Ringo's corner - MW
In regular conditions, the number of weekend visitors increases as the weather improves, and we have to be careful to allow the shyer cats space to get away from unfamiliar faces. The Moore House is closed, and also New Aids - our friendlier FIV cats live in the Val Jones area. We block off several areas for “Cats Only” - the front courtyard section where the ferals hang out, the approach to the office in the Single-Wide, the Newcomers, Pen 8 and Waldi’s Hut,  and the back deck of the Double-Wide.
Hamlet, Bodhi, Luke - LBF
The Double-Wide deck has become the popular gathering spot for the more timid cats in that building, and in particular, for the tuxedos. Grey Bubbles is an honorary tuxie, and there are a few tabbies like Kin and Guthrie who ease in and out of the crowd, but the mattress under the lamp is dominated by black and white fur.
Hamlet at ease - KN
Hamlet arrived in company with Ruff – a pair of ferals who were brought in for their own protection when their territory came under construction. Ruff settled himself in his cage and declined to emerge for almost a year; he’s now become Mr Sociability in the back courtyard. His buddy Hamlet (actually, they weren’t the friendliest of buddies) went in the opposite direction and ended on the deck. For some time he was to be found up on one of the high shelves with Ringo, hiding from human attention; these days he’s more often to be found just inside the door, and ready to accept attention from loving hands.
Bodhi & Luke - LP
Bodhi and Luke arrived about the same time, but from different place; Luke came with Taylor, and once released, the two went in different directions. Black Taylor made for the back courtyard and joined the “who IS that black cat?” crowd. The poor boy has had quite a lot of dental problems, and been in and out of a cage, getting treatment. Luke preferred the comfort of the deck and a more sedentary life-style. He has bonded with Bodhi, who is probably a little older. Bodhi came to us from a hoarding situation and was very wary about contact with humans at first, but the two of them are now ready to approach volunteers, and enjoy some petting.
Luke & Bodhi  - KN
Bodhi, Luke and Hamlet can often be found cuddling together on the big mattress under the heat lamp.  They are sometimes joined by Pancake, though he’s much more social, and prefers to be in the main building, around humans. Sir (who came in as Survivor) will often tuck himself into a nearby basket. Jolene sometimes shares their shelf, but not often the cuddles.  Little Smudge, after quite a lot of medical attention and cage living, had moved himself to the cage-tops in the main-building – warmer than the deck, especially with the big boys hogging the heat.
Pancake, Jolene, SIr  -  MW &BC
When we get our tuxedos together, with their striking markings (especially Bodhi) we think the boys should form a band and call it PURR

Next week: the Red Light Cats band.... (with thanks to Daphne Jorgenson)

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

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Easter Bunnies at the Sanctuary

For the past couple of weeks there has been discussion (at two meters apart) about which of our Sanctuary Cats might substitute for the Easter Bunny, since there was no knowing if Bunnying was an Essential Service.
Huey-bun - did someone say rabbits?
For the most part it came to a draw between two of our manxes – sweet Huey, and shy Cookie Mills. And then on Easter Day there were suddenly Easter Bunnies everywhere!
Cookie Mills-bun - do these ears make my bottom look fat?
Karen Nicholson began as a student volunteer, worked as summer intern, and is currently on the staff. And where Karen goes, her phone goes too, and there is a flow of wonderful photos.  She conveys the personalities, the quirks, the embarrassing moments, and the love.  You will see Karen’s work appear often in the Neko Blog, and on the principle that a picture is worth a thousand words, she contributes an enormous amount to the weekly offering.
Jodie-bun - we are NOT amused!
Cats don’t always appreciate dress-up – but as long as it is simple, many of them will tolerate it. Karen crocheted the rabbit ears, and it was often an easy job to drop them in place, fasten them, point, aim and shoot. A little treat box of dried chicken was often the best incentive.
Tigger-bun - a dignified senior gentleman - but willing to cooperate
The Easter bunny-cats appeared in the staff/volunteer group on Facebook, but for all our blog readers who don’t see that, here are a few of the invading rabbit horde...
Leo-bun - I can be a bunny just as long as I don't have to DO anything
Skittles-bun - make sure you get my good side...
Parker-bun - now you have to get it off without shedding blood
- yours, that is...
Fido-bun - well, OK - if there's chicken afterwards...
Ruff-bun - the last time I saw a bunny, I wanted to eat it.
Lindor-bun - where's the chocolate?
Baxter-bun - bunnies like tummy-rubs too!
Princess Diva-bun - this is really beneath my dignity...
Darius bun - I quite like the attention!
...and the green stuff that bunnies eat!
Thanks for the smiles, Karen - and thanks to all those Oh-so-tolerant cats!
Happy Easter, everyone!

Blog (with very little work) from Brigid Coult

ALL the pictures by Karen Nicholson!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Baby and Bangles

The Moore House is unfamiliar to many of our Sunday visitors because it’s off-limits to them – many of the inhabitants do much better with the people they know, rather than strangers. But it’s home from home for many of the Kitty Comforters.
Bangles - BC
The KCs’ primary task is working with the cats who are caged for medical reasons, or with the ones who are very new or very shy. But almost all of them end their shift in the Moore House. Cuddles with Chanel and Shaggy, with Rufus and Tikki and Earl, are a pleasant way to end the day. But the Moore House isn’t all sweetness and light. Cranky Smoky is very clear that she is at the top of the feline hierarchy here. And we have two newer females who have their own diva-like tendencies.
Baby - BC
Orange Baby arrived first. She’s a large girl who suffers from arthritis – as usual, with that condition, it’s a vicious circle – you hurt, so you don’t move, so you don’t get enough exercise, so you put on weight, so you don’t want to move.....  When she came to us, Baby had a hard job reaching the shelf in her cage, and need a half-way step to get higher.
Baby - IM
Once out of her cage, Baby took over Lou’s favourite place by the heater in the small room, and made herself comfortable, holding court with visitors. She’s not actually that cranky, but occasionally she must hurt, and is more reactive with humans.  She has to be encouraged to get up and move elsewhere – we have found that Moore House peace is best maintained by giving the cats their own individual dishes of wet food, but at least for crunchies and water, she has to leave her comfy spot and move a bit.
Sitting pretty - LP
Shelter Manager Lisa says “My favourite story about Baby is when we realized she preferred not to move and it became essential to get her going.  Walking would help out her stiffness and arthritis and inevitably it would become easier. I would pick her up, put her on her feet and lightly tap her butt from behind to get her to walk. She would walk - but she would yell at me and tell me off the whole time. And as soon as she could, she would flop onto the ground to lay down again wherever she was. I would pick her up again and put her on her feet and we would start all over again. Me poking her butt and her telling me off - lol. We did this every day for a while. And Karen helped keep it up when she was in there. I can't help but laugh at all the "swear" words she muttered at me .”
Can I come out? - LL
Baby’s initial cage space was taken over by Bangles, who is a most beautiful long-haired dark calico. In many ways she’s a tortie rather than a calico – the white that makes her calico is just her front bib and paws; her attitude is all tortitude!  Bangles was not happy about coming to us, and who can blame her? she was dropped off in a big taped-up box with the words "please look after her, I can't look after her anymore".
Acting coy - BC
We don’t know the rest of her back story- whether her behaviour got too much for her owner, or whether whatever happened has created her behaviour. Whatever, there was a steady string of complains about the service in this hotel – noisy neighbours, wrong food, limited space, etc. etc. Now the cage door’s open for her, and she’s starting to explore a bit. If you encounter her in a good mood, it’s quite possible to get in a pet or two, but her usual greeting is a growl. She reminds me of a senior home resident whose family insists she has to be in care, and she Doesn’t Want It, and wants everyone to know she’s here under duress.  I hope that, like many of her human equivalents, she will discover that it’s really not so bad, and that the care staff want her to be happy and comfortable.
Bangles - JK
Neither girl is particularly sociable with other cats – but then, it’s really only Shaggy and Chanel who spend much time together; all the others maintain social separation from each other.  We just hope that neither Baby nor Bangles gets any ideas from Smoky on how to interact with humans!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Jennine Kariya, Leslie Landa, Ish Manji, Louise Parris

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Jade & JJ

From volunteer Pauline Chin:
Many people automatically assume it’s only un-neutered male cats who want to pick a fight.  That is untrue.  Any cat may act aggressively if they feel the need to defend themselves or their territory.  Luckily for us, the majority of our cats either want company, share their space, or at least tolerate each other.
Jade at her best - BC
Jade and JJ are two females who have shown their unfriendly sides since their arrival.  Both were owner-surrenders for their aggression towards strangers.
Jade (presumaby named for her beautiful green eyes)  is all-black and 4 years old.  She can be kind and then suddenly turn into a ferocious feline.  She might be full of purrs and head butts while petting her, and suddenly, she will swat and gnaw on hands repeatedly, with no warning signs of swishing tails, flattened ears, or angry vocals. At that point, we leave her cage.  Jade enjoys her freedom, as she has been known to push her cage door open and go for a walk.
On the prowl - LBF
After her release, she had a knack for fighting with other cats in the vicinity, earning her time-outs and battle scars.  Her sleek black coat became peppered with scratches and bald spots.  It’s taken months, but she’s calming down.  She’ll at least let other cats near her without hitting and she favours a particular shelf for naps.  She’ll hop down to leg-rub her favourite humans.  Nowadays, she gives some warning signs of her tolerance level.  Some are “blink and you’ll miss it”, but it’s better than nothing.
Keeping an eye on her surroundings - BC
Jade can be interested in toys, but can get possessive of them and will lash at other cats who approach.  You just have to use two toys sometimes, for distraction purposes.

JJ says "Grrr..."  - MD
Tuxedo JJ (the one you MUSTN'T confuse with last week's feature cat, Sir) is frequently found near the door of the DoubleWide.  Her way of announcing her presence is to growl at everyone.  A typical interaction goes like this:
Human: Hi, JJ
JJ: Grrrr
Human: Would you like to play?
JJ: Grrrr
Human: Should I leave you alone?
JJ: Grrrr
*Human leaves*
JJ.: Grrrr
Ready to defend  her cage - LBF
Simply put, JJ is protecting her territory.  Her territory is the entire floor but especially the immediate 5 foot radius around her.  Any human who doesn’t frequent the place is considered a stranger – an intruder in her eyes.  Any cat who invades the radius around her is also an intruder.
Cats have varying degrees of warning vocals and flicking tails.  JJ just growls.  They are not bluffs, as she will stand her ground and smack offenders.
On her shelf, and waiting for the next victim - VL
While caged, she growled at everyone who entered her space. Unlike other new cats, she didn’t hide.  She’d stay on her bed and eye you suspiciously with her dilated pupils.  JJ likes wand toys, although sudden noises will put her back into high alert. Since release, she’s made some peaceful progress.  She’s begun to see the DoubleWide as a communal space.  JJ has allowed a handful of humans to pet her for a few seconds; she seems to like men better than women.  It was shocking to find her walking up to me without growling. She wanted to sniff me; I got a brief pet without bleeding.  She’s okay with touching people, but not vice-versa. She's particularly wary of hands, and it's often best to pull sleeves right down so she can't see fingers. (Experienced volunteers will remember Marianne Moore foot-petting Combo #5, who hated hands in the same way.)
She will play - but note the wary eye  -  KN
The biggest leap forward I’ve witnessed was JJ lounging on the armrest of the couch with visitors and cats. I didn’t think it was her because Jay-Z was in the exact same spot minutes earlier.  And she was silent!  What a miracle!
Sharing a cage with BB - mostly by ignoring her - BC
As with ANY cat, it’s important to respect their space.  We’re not expecting Jade or JJ to be cuddly cats (although it’s a sweet thought).  We’re here to give them a safe place to thrive and experience cat life.

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Vicki Lo, Karen Nicholson