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.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Oh my gods...!!

Handsome Pax - MW
It’s one of the jobs of our med staff to find names for incoming cats arriving into our care as anonymous kitties – and this is particularly a factor when we take in a colony of ferals.  When they are very young and adoptable (like the kittens at the Shelter) the names of a litter may all begin with the same letter, or they may all have fruit names or some similar theme – we know that their adopters will probably rename them, so having the perfect name isn’t really an issue. But when they come to us as feral adults or adolescents, the names they are given are the names that they will probably carry most of their lives.
Freya - Norse goddess of love - KN
Last summer we took in a big group of semi-feral cats that were being fed by a well-meaning Richmond resident, who became overwhelmed when suddenly there were kittens everywhere. Leslie and Louise spent hours trapping cats, and our team of fosterers sprang into action.  Moms and kittens went into fosterage, knowing that early handling was likely to produce more adoptable kittens. The adults and the adolescents came to the Sanctuary to be assessed, and likely to find a permanent home with us.
Odin - (a somewhat wary) Father of the Norse gods - KN
This was a big naming proposition!  What names could they have that would link them together in some way?  Leslie decided to go for the pantheon of Greek and Roman gods of mythology, and lists were generated.
Zeus, Father of the Gods - and feeling much better after eye surgery - KN
The two big black males proved to be FIV+, as is common with feral males, who can share the virus when blood is exchanged in fighting.   They were moved into the Val Jones area, with the most people-oriented FIV cats, and named Zeus, for the father of the Greek gods, and Pax (which is actually a Roman goddess’s name – though it doesn’t seem to worry him too much.  Zeus, who proved to be very friendly,  was adopted - FIV cats are good candidates for adoption as long as they are either alone or can get on with other cats.  Pax is still with us. His distinctive pointed face and luxurious mane showed up in a number of the kittens that were adopted, and also in a few of the adolescents.
The magnificent Pax - KN
Pen 6 was turned over to this group. They were too old to be easily tamed – old enough to know that humans were scary things. Old Kiko, the only resident of Pen 6 to be left, occupied the cabin, while the young ones scattered to the many other hidey-holes we’d established. When the fall gardening took out all the vegetation that screened the pen, more screening was woven in to give them a sense of privacy. Through the fall and much of the winter we would see them early in the morning or late at night; they discovered the cabin heating and many of them moved in. With spring came new bravery and an increase in visits from staff and Kitty Comforters.
Floofy Aphrodite - LBF
The most outgoing of the bunch is long-haired tortie Aphrodite – named for the goddess of love, and very lovable she is!  She has been the bravest in daring to come forward and accept treats, and finally contact; she’s also probably the most photogenic of them all.   Her short-haired tortie sister is Vesta (Roman goddess of hearth, home and family) and is much shyer; if the others are around, Vesta may come out, but she’s rarely seen alone.  You'll quite often see her with black short-haired Athena (goddess of wisdom) or twin black Atlas
Aphrodite, Athena, Vesta and Nyx - LBF
There are two long-haired black girls – probably sired by Pax. Nyx (goddess of night) and Juno (queen of the gods). At first sight they are identical, but Nyx’s eyes are yellower and Juno’s are green.
Nyx & Juno - LBF
The shyest of all of them is Mercury (the messenger of the gods, but also the Roman patron of merchants and finance!).  You can’t mistake him if you’re luck enough to see him – other than his colouring, he has a look of Pax about him, but he lacks his dad’s confidence.
Mercury - KN
We also have, from Kamloops, Freya and Odin (from the Norse mythology pantheon) and Loki, (the trickster god) who came to us separately.  We don’t yet have one named for the Egyptian cat-goddess Bastet – but there’s plenty of time, and many as-yet unnamed cats out there.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2020


Another traveller from the North-West, Ranger, like orange sibs Titan and Dixie, came to us through the good offices of Masset Animal Helpline
Ranger - KN
The Masset rescue folks know all the local cats - which is why they were so surprised when Ranger appeared one day, in a trap set for another cat. They guess that he was dumped or escaped from a boat that was docked there. He has the sort of muscular build and big jowls of an un-neutered tomcat, and that was the Masset rescue's first job, to get him "fixed". It was clear that he distrusted humans and he was not adoptable, and so he was flown down to us.  Deeply suspicious of us and of this place in which he’d arrived, Ranger crouched in his cage behind a drape and let us know that he did not want to be disturbed.  Gentle approaches from the staff and Kitty Comforters were scorned, and  the decision was finally made that he would join the feral cats in Pen 4.
Don't disturb me! - KN
Most of the cats in Pen 4 take one look at an arriving human, and scatter for cover. Only OJ (always hoping for treats) and Pebble (sister of feral Sandy) will normally allow contact, and both are increasingly willing to approach and interact with a visitor. The others hide in the shrubbery or at the back of the pen.
Only leaves here...   KN
When Ranger joined the group he was equally wary at first, but the dominant tom-cat inside quickly established that this was his territory, and we began to encounter him more often at the gate, letting us know that we were stepping on his turf. He wasn’t actively aggressive, but he was obviously watching us very carefully.
Advancing with suspicion - LBF
In these days of pandemic shut-down, the Kitty Comforter program has been on hiatus, but Ranger became a project for several of the staff and volunteers. Suspicious glaring gave way to curiosity, and closer and closer approaches. Tidbits were gradually accepted directly from the hand, and then he discovered the joys of petting, and of a good ear-rub.

Grass-stalks became the summer go-to toy for many of the cats, and Ranger was no exception. Despite his stocky body, he plays with the best of them, and he plays hard.  He's becoming more sociable with the other cats, and he and Pebble can often be found hanging out together
Pebble, Ranger (& OJ in the background) - KN
Many of our feral cats end up with us because they’re simply not tameable, and we don’t force them to accept contact with us – that’s why we have pens 3 & 4.  But it’s so satisfying when a cat like Ranger - feral or mistreated - decides that they can trust us. Obviously his earlier experiences with humans were not happy ones, but with us he's discovered that we let him go at his own pace and decide when he want to make contact.
Play with me, please... - KN
It’s starting to look like his confidence is rubbing off on some of the others, because cats who formerly avoided us, like Amelia Earheart, are beginning to join in the grass-stalk play. But
Ranger leads the way – ankle-rubs and petting that would not have been possible six months ago are now the norm – perhaps he’ll decide to try being a lap-cat next!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Pics by Lisa Brill-Friesen & Karen Nicholson

Thursday, June 18, 2020


At last! We have a cat called Neko!
Relaxed in his bed - KN
The RAPS Neko Blog has been around since Claire started it eleven years ago. A couple of years living in Japan gave her the first experience of working with feral cats, and she named the blog with the Japanese word for cat.
Watching from a shelf - BC
We occasionally have cats come to us because someone has a connection with us and is able to pass the word that we are a possible resource. A TNR (trap-neuter-release) program in the upper Fraser Valley took in a very handsome Siamese boy – very scared, so either born feral, or lost for some time. When he was neutered, the routine blood-test showed that he was FeLV – leukemia-positive – and because leukemia is so dangerous for other cats, it was impossible to allow him to be released back to his territory. But at the same time, he was too feral to be homed, and unlikely ever to be adopted by himself. Luckily our friends got word of him, and they were kind enough to drive him all the way to safety with us.
A very scared boy when he arrived - CF
Ferals usually get named by the med-staff, but Neko came to us with that name, and was brought immediately to the area with the leukemia cats. Like all our newbies, he had the first few weeks in a cage to give him time to assimilate to his new surroundings, and to give us a chance to get to know him. Volunteers and Kitty Comforters reported that he was a very scared boy – not aggressive at all, but not willing to venture out of his shelter.
He spent the first few weeks hiding behind his drape - MW
New cats in the leukemia area do one of two things on release – they make for the cage-tops, or they head for the outside area. “Outside” is a covered courtyard, with lots of shelves and high-up spaces. Neko vanished into the rafters there and made himself at home in a basket under the heat lamp. There are several other cats who prefer living outside, but will make occasional visits indoors; Neko wasn’t going to try that.  And after all, why should he? He had a toasty warm bed, he had litterboxes scooped twice daily, there was both canned and dry food delivered to his area
He felt safest close to the rafters - CT
And then, little by little, we began to see more of him.  He would perch up on a shelf and watch as the area was cleaned. Any approach, and he would scurry back to safety, but more and more, curiosity won the day.
Allowing closer contact - KN
He’s getting braver all the time – the last time I fed in the building I had a little bit of pre-feeding snuggles with Smoochie on the couch, and looked up to find that Neko had come through the cat door – presumably, to find what the hold-up was with dinner.  He stayed, watching me, until I got up – and then his caution took him back outside again! He’s starting to allow brief contact, and there are certain people with whom he is obviously more comfortable. He may never be a lap-cat, but he’s coming to know that he’s safe at the Sanctuary.
Is that dinner I see you bringing?  - BC

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Chelzea Freeman, Karen Nicholson, 
Cheryl Townsend, Michele Wright

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Titan and Dixie

Litter-mates Titan and Dixie came to us from one of the shelters with which we work elsewhere in the province. Masset Animal Helpline serves Haida Gwaii, and sent us this pair who had been adopted and then abandoned when the owners moved. Because they had been living most of their lives outside the home, they were unsocialised and not considered adoptable. Pacific Coastal Airlines generously flew them down for free and we were able to pick them up at the South Terminal.
A very shy pair in their early days with us, they huddled in their cage in the Connor and didn’t want to respond to overtures from the Kitty Comforters.  Once the cage was opened, Titan, the braver of the two, went exploring, and for a while the two were separated when he seemed to be unable to find his way back to his sister.  Titan has always been the venturesome one – when you see an unfamiliar orange front courtyard cat, it’s probably him – Little Orange has those distinctive haematoma ears, and Tigger has quite defined white markings.
The other orange boys: Tigger & Little Orange - MW

Dixie - BC
For a while we had Dixie caged for medical care, and once released she zeroed in on the feral area as a place to feel safe.  In the very early days of the Sanctuary, there were rabbits as well as cats, and a covered courtyard space is known as the Old Rabbit Area. It is noted particularly for its draped shelves, well suited for scared ferals to feel they have a hiding place. Dixie has chosen “her” shelf, hoping to avoid contact with more than the occasional human visitor.  Not having weekend visitors during this COVID-19 time has actually been something of a blessing for the ferals.  We try to keep the Old Rabbit Area off-limits to visitors, but the cats are aware of new people around, and a bit on edge.  With no visitors, they seem much more relaxed.
Titan - KN
Titan has made himself at home, without settling in one place. He’s a cat that walks by himself, mostly – he tolerates other cats, but doesn’t interact with them much.  However, he does go and visit with his sister from time to time. He is starting to allow contact with humans; he will usually shy away unless he knows you, but his favourite people are allowed to offer gentle petting and treats. We hope that he can persuade Dixie that she should try it too.  Dixie accepts contact reluctantly, being cornered in her bed. The med staff have been bringing her tasty plates, so she is being more enthusiastic about what the appearance of a human might mean.
a happily-fed Dixie - BC
The two are very similar in appearance, but it’s on the rare occasions that Dixie ventures out that we see the big difference – she’s a “longy” - a cat with a stumpy tail, like Spooky in the back courtyard. This doesn’t necessarily make her a manx – manxes are about much more than the length of their tails. But it does make her more easy to identify!
Safe together - MS
Fourteen years ago RAPS founder Carol Reichart brought two orange siblings into the Sanctuary. Daniel and Henrik were a much loved pair – we lost Daniel last year and Henrik very recently.  It’s good to have a pair of orange siblings with us again in the front courtyard! Welcome to RAPS, Titan and Dixie!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Liaa Brill-Friesen, Brigid Coult, Karen Nicholson, 
Molly Sjerdal & Michele Wright

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

....aaaand.... ACTION!

In every area of the Sanctuary, there are boxes or pots filled with cat-toys.
Tyson chomps on a commercial toy - KN
And I think most cat-owners are probably in the same space – we think “I’ve not been playing enough with Chonky; I’ll get him some new toys”, and he plays with them for a bit, and then they go under the couch or behind the fridge, or wherever, nevermore to be used.
Silky - LBF
Ah, but summertime.... when the playing is easy....
Autumn - KN
It’s the season of LONG grass stalks, which are the perfect cat toy – they have exactly the right amount of spring to tempt a hunter, claws don’t get stuck in them, if they get broken, there are plenty more where they come from.
Kiwi - LBF
So big thanks to Lisa Brill-Friesen and to Karen Nicholson for some stretchy happy-cat pictures....

Leo - LBF
Used-to-be-feral Ranger reaching for his goals....

"Take that!" says Tigger, getting unusually energetic!

Mozart (Poptart) is just a little quicker to grab than his brother Benny.

Dodger doesn't do the streeeeetch very well, but the intent is all there
Christina Aguilera, who is one of our polydactyls, thinks that it's really useful to have extra toes when you want to grab some grass.

Aphrodite, floofy as she is, can stretch with the best of them!

Even Licorice, who is rather arthritic, and not much into action, wanted in on playing with grass stalks.

There was a lot of action throughout the day - and there were a lot of tired cats at the end.

Blog (minimal) by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen & Karen Nicholson