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, May 28, 2020


From RAPS volunteer Pauline Chin:
At the door, waiting for attention - KN
Loki, our grey and white friend, arrived 2 years ago from 5 Road after it was found out he was a pee-er.  Contrary to his somewhat disapproving appearance, his personality is friendly, sweet, and playful.  Cats don’t seem to mind him and humans are eager to interact with him.
"Alien kitten"  -   JK
While caged, Loki often reached through the mesh to grab at toys.  We’d be playing with other cats and then a grey paw would pop out and latch onto the toy.  Even other cats, like Dazzle, looked surprised at his enthusiasm.  Inside the cage, he’d scale the mesh and bounce around.  There just wasn’t much room to play.  Loki couldn’t wait to be free!

Loki's favourite pose.    BC
Most of Loki’s time is spent sleeping.  Sometimes, he hangs out with the deck crew.  When he’s in play mode, he turns into a wild thing!  If he spots a favourite toy, he will race up and down the catwalks.   At times, he will fly across the cage-tops in pursuit.
...Watch that wand twitch....!    PC
He faces playtime competition with Baxter and Delilah up top, and from Dazzle and Hannah at floor level.  Once Loki snags a wand, he’ll attempt to carry his prize off someplace.  He has a strong grip, so be prepared to have wands yanked out of your hands.
You know how you sometimes wake up with "bed-head?"
Loki has permanent "bed eyebrows"....   JC
The main red flag that bars Loki from adoption is his habit of peeing outside the litterbox, and spraying the walls.  Rarely is there a cat owner that tolerates such behavior.  People can tolerate sweet and sometimes swatty, but turning walls yellow just isn’t fun.  Around 60% of our cat population are pee-ers. Like Loki, they can all play and spray to their heart’s content without worry.  We just mop up their messes afterwards - and love them anyway.

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Jackie Chappell, Pauline Chin, Brigid Coult, 
Jennine Kariya, Karen Nicholson

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Quarantine Coiffures

During this time of social distancing, we have had fewer people around at the Sanctuary.
Big floofy Ruff needs careful grooming - MW
Many of the regular volunteers are obeying the stay-home instructions, and in the interests of everyone’s safety, there are clear instructions about staying in one area at a time. The med-staff, of course, have to bustle around everywhere, but the other staff and volunteers no longer visit as freely as we used to, and the Kitty Comforters were put on hiatus, to keep everyone safe.
Dell The Lion Sleeps Tonight - LBF
A lot of Kitty-Comforting is about working with new caged cats, or in the pens with the shyer ones. And most of the KCs carry little tidbits around with them to tempt wary cats a little closer.  But many of them also carry grooming tools, and they take the opportunity while visiting to tease out some of the mats that inevitably form on some long-haired and older cats.
Smithy having (another) bad hair day - BC
The mat-King is Smithy. Smithy is part of the feral bunch from Pen 8, and although many of the Pen 8 cats have tamed down quite a bit, Smithy still hisses when he sees us.  He’s also curious about us, though – he will quite often hang around while I’m scooping, and listen while I talk to him.  Smithy has never been good at grooming himself, but, to be fair, he is the stocky sort of cat who would probably find it very hard to get at the back bits.
That was quite a mat! good work, Smithy!  - BC
Some weeks ago we noticed that Smithy was developing a major dreadlock on his chest – the hair had matted solidly and was hanging down in front of him, attached only by a few clumps. Smithy had tried to be his own barber, but the chest beard he’d created left much to be desired. Had he been a tame cat, it would have involved a simple fix, but Smithy defied every attempt by volunteers and staff to help get it off. Several days later, much to our amusement, the dreadlock was found, lying on the ground like a strange, furry creature.
Lying in the sun is OJ's favourite thing.  Grooming? not so much....  KN
Mr Mat in Pen 4 is OJ.  OJ is definitely getting on these days, and with his stubby little legs and stocky body, self-grooming is not in his vocabulary – and he doesn’t much enjoy it when delivered by humans either.  The only time OJ makes a real effort to do anything, is when he bites the hand holding a brush.
Dell in last summer's haircut - MW
Dell, in the pen opposite, is not a fan of grooming either, though he’s pretty good-natured about tolerating it for just a little while.  Dell’s problem is that he has very fine fur that mats very easily – and because he’s had fewer visitors than usual, his grooming has definitely got behind (in more ways than one!)
Once the hot summer weather finally settles in, some of these cats will be treated to a professional lion cut (or some approximation of it), and they will appreciate not carrying a weighty coat around with them.  Like them, I can’t wait to get rid of some of my shaggy (but not matted) fur!

Blog by Brigid Coult

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

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Jim & Frank

The Val Jones corner has seen a variety of uses and inhabitants.
Jim - MW
When it was first conceived, with a bequest from the estate of Sanctuary angel Val Jones, it was simply a couple of cabins in a quiet site – a place for the shyer cats to avoid the crowd (and in those days, it WAS a crowd!), and a nice corner to sit and cuddle with feline friends.
Frank & Jim like each other's company - DW
In 2014 we had a sudden influx of FeLV cats. Feline Leukemia is transmitted in saliva, and cats who share dishes or who groom each other may pass it around. Most small shelters don’t have space to give such cats the isolation care needed for their health and that of others, and it used to be that they were often euthanized. Many BC shelters now know about the RAPS Sanctuary, and most of our leukemia cats come from outside Richmond. There is a vaccine against the virus, but there is no cure, once it is acquired (though sometimes it goes into spontaneous remission). The Val Jones corner got fenced off, with a double-gate to prevent inadvertent escapes from either side, and the leukemia cats had more room to move around.
Frank - MW
Over the next four years the population of cats in the area declined – once cats have the virus, their immune systems are compromised, and in many cases, we don’t have them long.  At the same time, we were seeing an increase in the number of FIV cats coming into our care.  So last year the Val Jones area was sanitized, and repurposed for a group of cats from the New Aids pen, and several newcomers joined the clowder.
Jim posing - LBF
Pops and Jack Sparrow were the centre of this new group, and their mobility issues meant that floor covering was an issue, so we also needed to know that the others were not consistent pee-ers. Because the new pen was just off the main courtyard, we wanted the population to be made up of friendly cats, and there was a little mix-and-match-ing until we got a combination of cats who were confident without being too assertive. Arnie, orange Magnus, Jerry and Tia were considered the best options and the group was joined by Zeus (now adopted) and Pax, two of the adults from last year’s bounty of trapping. Shortly after, newcomers Jim and Frank arrived on the scene, and the population has stabilized there.
Jim on the prowl - MW
The newcomers were very shy when they first arrived from a shelter in Alberta, where their FIV status and wariness with humans made them unlikely candidates for adoption.  Initially they were also very wary with us – Jim had the big bug-eyed “don’t touch me” look – but by the time they’d been in the Val Jones for a little while, they were comfortable with people and confident with other cats. We already had a Jimmy, and we had cranky Frankie (and had loved and lost sweet Franko), so I wanted to change their names – perhaps Hendrix and Zappa? - but they have just remained Jim and Frank (or, as Karen calls them, FrankenJim).  Jim is a big chunk of grey fluff who loves cuddles – he’s quick to leap up on a lap, put paws up on your chest and give head-rubs. His one fault as a cuddle-bug is that he’s constantly on the move; he loves to be held, but he doesn’t relax for long.
Frank - MW
His buddy Frank is a smaller tuxie, with smoke pale fur under a black exterior - also very friendly, though less demanding of attention. A little time with Jim and Frank is usually spent with Jim bunting my face and Frank offering ankle-rubs.
Jim's look of love - KN
In these days of pandemic, with no visitors and fewer volunteers, it’s sad that more people don’t get to meet these two buddies. FIV cats are as adoptable as any – they just need to be in a situation where they don’t fight with other cats, and be monitored for health issues. Many of our FIV cats live long healthy lives, in spite of their condition, and these two would make wonderful companions.

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Loaf Cats

Blog from volunteer Pauline Chin....
You may have come across  the terms loaf cats, cat loaves, loafing kitties, platter cats… the list goes on. The key feature is the way the cat is sitting, which resembles a loaf of bread.
Dusty - MW
The cat will tuck its legs and tail underneath its body, hence the name, loaf. In the classic loaf position, no paws can be seen, through some do a partial loaf with a leg or two showing.  Sometimes, they fall asleep that way with a face plant.  Extra-large loafing kitties look closer to a turkey on a platter.  Our long-haired cats might resemble a big poof with eyes, or a certain fictional alien race.
Jobie - MW
Why do cats sit this way?
Mostly it’s because it’s comfortable.  They can relax, take a nap, stare at you from a distance, but still be on their feet in a second. Most cats refuse to expose their weak spot – the belly.  Think about it.  How tempting is it to give cats belly rubs? In cooler weather, it helps conserve body heat.  Tucking their tail and legs in prevents people from stepping on them, too.  The loaf is also a position for cats to hide injuries;  cats are masters at concealing pain.
Kramer - MW
In this time of quarantine, when baking your own bread seems to be the Thing to Do, feast your eyes on some loafing kitties:
The first kitty loaf many visitors will think of is Jay-Z.  He enjoys loafing around everywhere.  He and several cats favour the spot in front of the fridge.  Given his big, solid body, Jay-Z can easily block paths in the trailer while simultaneously looking cute.
Jay-Z - MD
Buddy prefers loafing at petting level; you'll usually find him in the laundry room or just inside the Double-Wide, where lots of people will be within reach.
Buddy - Jennine
Little Keira Knightstreet is also affectionately known as the Tiny 'Tato
Keira - PC
Our Leo is a big boy, but when he's "loafing", he can fold himself into a surprisingly small space
Leonardo diCatprio - MW
The whitest of cat-loaves, Ollie tucks himself out of the way.
Ollie - MW
Three loaves in a bowl, only Princess's tail overflows a bit.
Spike, SaraLee, Princess - BC
Petunia demonstrates one of the paw variations for loaf pose - rather than with pads on the floor, she curls her paws under her chest
Petunia - KN
Bluebell is one of the cats who combines the faceplant variation with loaf pose.
Bluebell - KN
I believe the ultimate kitty loaf king is… Chimo!  This boy has a toasty orange coat, a white center, and a short, round body, just like the perfect loaf of bread.  He likes to chill and cuddle with everyone.  Chimo would happily leave his loaf position for extra body rubs.  Just don’t touch that belly!
Chimo - PC
Although it’s extremely tempting to sneak in some petting on loafing kitties, I advise against any impulsiveness.  Always let the cat know you’re next to it first and get their permission before physical contact. Surprise the cat and it will surprise you – and, unlike bread loaves, cat loaves can bite back.    Luckily, most of our cats are open to attention - hold out your hand to them and they’ll let you know immediately whether they want your touching.

Blog by Pauline Chin with Brigid Coult
Photos by Pauline Chin, Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Jennine Kariya, 
Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright