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, July 30, 2020

The Pen 1 Club

Fable & Roland - KN
Pen 1 in the back is the one closest to the Tea Room, and is a favourite for some of our shyer semi-ferals. It’s the only pen that has never, in my ten years at the Sanctuary, been closed (other than for the occasional catching of a cat for medical care) and one where many of the Double Wide cats wander in and out to visit, or to bug someone, or to find somewhere special to curl up for a while.
Roland - MW
Most of the permanent residents are feral and wary of human attention. At the core is a trio of orange cats. Roland has been with us since he was very young, and has a reputation as having been a brat – behaviour that led to his nickname of  “Juvie” (Juvenile Delinquent) . These days he’s a mature gentleman, and long past his brattish ways (though he’s quite capable of dealing with the brats who come visiting).   He’s no lap-cat, but he will allow human attention, enjoying a little petting when he’s in the mood, and very happy to play when the right kind of toy comes out.
Chumley & Siskel - KN
I think a lot of Roland’s hesitance is that he hangs out with Siskel and Chumley, who are much shyer and more wary with visitors. Inside the cabin they will cuddle together, and though they will tolerate people bearing tidbits, there’s always a paw ready to smack. Outside the cabin they tend to stay away from us, though as with Roland, toys are usually acceptable.
Three orange boys & their black buddy - KN
There is usually at least one black cat, sometimes more, in their vicinity. The usual companion inside the cabin is hissy Twyla, who would prefer to stay out of reach.  Out and about, you’re more likely to have the orange trio teamed with black Fable (not to be confused with Siamese Fable in the front courtyard).
Zivko - KN
There are sometimes another couple of black cats in pen 1, but they're not interested in the orange guys. Booty and Kevin are often found in here, but their interest is with tabby Zivko.  All three have (mostly) relocated themselves from Pen 2, and Zivko has turned out to be another Salty in that he is a cat-magnet.  He was always shy in his old location, and that’s not changed much – he doesn’t have the outgoing personality of Calvin and Chase, who have both remained in their Pen 2 territory. But with other cats, it’s a different story,  Often, sitting in the tea room, you can hear Zivko calling, and see Booty and black Kevin and all his various buddies come to find him, and rub up against him.
Booty getting a little grooming from Zivko - KN
The other permanent resident of Pen 1 is tuxie Rocky – known as Rocky Slippers.  Like his sister Twyla, he’s been at the Sanctuary since he was a kitten, but has never warmed to humans. Approaching Pen 1’s cabin in the morning to open it up and remove the dirty plate, I find that it helps to talk to any cats outside.  If Rocky is at floor-level, he panics when the door opens, and there’s a mad scramble to escape; if he hears me coming, he can hide, and pretend he’s not there, taking his time to get out later. He’s actually happiest in the kennels rather than the cabin, safely out of our way.
Rocky Slippers - KN
Because it’s the closest open pen, it gets quite a lot of casual traffic in the way of feline visitors. The local residents, though, are just that – very much resident, and rarely venturing much further than the immediate courtyard area. There’s no place like home!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Senior Love

Jamie & Calista  - CT
So many Sanctuary cats living together quite happily is something that surprises people.  Many of us will have had the experience of bringing a new cat into our home, to have all the feline relationships go sideways, and cats have a reputation for being picky about their company.
Jasper & Sophie: tabbies with 'tude  -  KN
Somehow at the Sanctuary, that’s rarely a factor. We have the occasional trouble-maker (are you listening, Jasper?) who wants to throw his weight around, and we have several “don’t get in my space!” cats (yes, I mean you, Sophie!). But for the most part, there is enough space that cats who don’t get on are able to avoid each other.
Three Romeos: Mario, Salty, Daniel    (CF/MW/MD)
The ones we love to see are the cats who draw other cats to them. You will have read about our gentle giant, Mario, who had a harem of feral boys and girls – and of Salty, who inherited Mario’s mantle, and made the Double-Wide couch his cuddle-puddle. In the front courtyard, the cat-magnet, until the year before last, was orange Daniel, and his passing left quite a space among the ferals.
Jamie - CT
It seems that Jamie has stepped into Daniel’s place.  When I first met Jamie, he was a wary feral, spending most of his time in the covered yard named “The Old Rabbit Area”. This is a favourite space for the ferals, with covered shelves, hidden baskets, a heat-lamp, and the security of knowing they are rarely bothered by humans.
Jamie - MW
There’s a window between this area and the adjacent Hill House, and depending on how secure cats are feeling, they may come through and visit in comfort. For quite some time, Jamie was a window cat, and the more time he spent in the Hill House, the more comfortable he became with attention.
Calista - sleeping beauty - CT
Calista based herself next door in the shed with the yellow door. But she’s an old lady nowadays, and getting frail, and the attraction of the heat lamp drew her to the “O.R.A” and then into the Hill House. She and Jamie found themselves sharing space quite frequently, and have become very much an item – sometimes just snuggling together, but often grooming each other and bunting together.
Jamie & Calista - CT
Other cats are part of the menage -Jamie is a cat who draws rubs and bunts from all his buddies.  But when Calista is out and about, you’ll probably find her with Jamie.  Both of them are getting up there; At at least 12 years of age, Jamie counts as a senior, and Calista is a good three years older, having come to us with her sister Renee around 2005. But the years don’t diminish the affection, and we love to see the two of them purring and snuggling together.
Jamie & Calista - CT

Blog by Brigid Coult (with thanks to Cheryl Townsend)
Photos by Melanie Draper, Claire Fossey, Karen Nicholson, 
Cheryl Townsend & Michele Wright

Thursday, July 16, 2020

One Thousand Blogs

Pistachio (now adopted) - MW
Just over ten years ago, I discovered the Cat Sanctuary.  There was no signage; it was known in the early days as Richmond’s best-kept secret – mainly because they didn’t want people just dumping off unwanted cats, but instead needed them to do surrenders at the City Shelter. Like many newcomers to the Sanctuary, I must have driven past it many times, not knowing of its existence – and experiencing it for the first time touched my heart deeply. Sanctuary was the perfect word – this was a place of safety for cats and humans alike. Juggling several part-time jobs, I was concerned that my commitments would conflict with giving time here, but I signed up for a regular shift.
Hot summer evenings - CF
At that time we must have had nearly eight hundred cats in residence.  The legacy of a feral cat problem in Richmond, tackled head-on by Carol Reichert and her team, meant many cats who were unadoptable for one reason or another.  Wherever I went, I met new cats – how would I ever learn who they all were?
Mario and Shrek - CF
I was introduced to Claire Fossey’s Neko Blog. Claire had begun volunteering at the Sanctuary a year before, and in August 2009 she began a pattern of feeding the Double-Wide cats on a Monday evening, and then wandering the Sanctuary with her big camera. Initially her subjects were the cats she adopted from the Sanctuary, but she quickly branched out, introducing readers to cats all around the Sanctuary. Sometimes one of the med staff would suggest a subject, but more likely, a cat would take her fancy, photos would get taken, a little research done with one of the staff, and a blog entry would appear.  A Monday night’s work would produce material for several blogs. In the first four months, Claire wrote more than 70 feline profiles, posting three times a week.
Hannah - CF
For new volunteers, this was golden!  You got introduced to a new cat, and quickly hunted up their bio in Claire’s blog – with background details to round out the picture, you were much more likely to remember the cat when you encountered it again! Claire’s beautiful pictures were also a great memory aid when it came to identifying a new friend.
The always unpredictable Baby - CF
Life got busier for Claire. And while she still kept up her weekly volunteer shift, by 2014 the blog was getting fewer entries as her available time was reduced.  In the fall of 2012 I had headed up the first Sanctuary Calendar (2013) in which Claire was one of the contributing photographers.  In 2014 I suggested that I might take on coordinating the blog, with entries from other volunteers. I moved it to a weekly release, but looked to have entries in a bit more depth and detail than the earlier vignettes.  My most consistent contributor was our beloved Marianne Moore, who wrote lovely profiles of some of our senior cats, as well as sharing with us the trials of taming scared or semi-feral cats like Chimo.  Marianne’s last entry was her portrait of sweet Nova, in the Single-Wide.
Selena Marchetti's portrait of Marianne Moore
with all her favourites
Since Marianne’s passing, a number of blogs have been offered by volunteer Pauline Chin, and we’ve had entries from Moira Langley, Lisa Parker, and from several volunteers who have blogged for us about cats they’ve adopted from the Sanctuary. But most of the blogs in the last six years have been mine, and it’s been a pleasurable challenge to plan ahead for each entry.  Sometimes the words flow easily; sometimes I need to rework in detail; I usually need to check back-stories with one of the med staff before each one goes to Manager Lisa Parker for approval.
Tinker - MW
Recently I added an upcoming blog to the draft list on the website, and realized that the blog count stood at 999!   So this thousandth blog is a tribute to all the writers, co-writers, and subjects both human and feline that have made it possible – about two-thirds of the actual count is Claire’s, but it’s been a labour of love for us all.
Darius - KN
The blog would not be what it is without the contributions of many photographers, and I need to extend particular thanks to Michele Wright and to Karen Nicholson, whose beautiful work occurs again and again. Thanks also to Lisa Brill-Friesen, Joanne Nicholson, Debbie Wolanski and all the staff and volunteers whose photos have appeared on Facebook, only to be appropriated for a blog entry.
The ferals are coming: Steele, Smithy & Quinn! - KN
A thousand blogs....  and that will be many more than a thousand cats, since sometimes a blog is a single profile, but sometimes it’s about a group of cats, or a common feature.  Somehow, I don’t think there are going to be any lack of future subjects to blog about.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Claire Fossey, Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright
Drawing of Marianne Moore by Selena Marchetti

Thursday, July 9, 2020


The Moore House is a favourite space for staff and volunteers to sit and chill at the end of a long shift. The majority of the cats there have come to us for peace and quiet in their advancing years, and many of them enjoy the chance to sit and cuddle with a human whenever possible. Even scared Jimmy, who came to us as a refugee from the fires of 2017, now can be found sharing space on the deck.

Just one cat has staked her claim to a bit of real-estate, and is unwilling to move out of her space.  Smokey came to us early in 2019 at about 9 years of age.  We are told that she had an elderly owner who passed away. After her owner's death the family had problems dealing with her because she became very aggressive. Obviously she was not considered adoptable, and when she came to us, it was decided that she would be best off in very quiet surroundings with the oldies, despite the fact that she’s not a senior.
I think people sometimes choose to adopt a cat because they think it will be a low-maintenance pet – and on the surface, that’s true. You don’t have to take your cat for walks, like a dog; you feed & water, scoop its box, that’s all... 
Well, actually, no, it isn’t – as anyone who has had the pleasure of being owned by a cat will tell you. A cat is not as obviously needy as a dog, and will often appear aloof – but most cats develop a strong relationship with someone in the household, and when that person is gone, the cat will grieve too.  And as we know, one of the facets of grieving is anger – and I think Smokey is still stuck in that stage right now.
As you can see, she’s a very beautiful cat – almost Russian blue in colouring, with gorgeous eyes. Unfortunately, her behaviour doesn’t match her beautiful appearance. When she first came to us and had her initial cage time, you took your life in your hands to enter her cage. Her “turf” is now the area on top of the cages in the west room, and volunteers needing to clean it have to develop strategies to avoid what are known as Smokey’s “murder mittens” - distract her with treats on one side while you lift down the litter box to clean it; distract her with a toy so you can change her bedding.  If you don’t exercise caution, those claws are sharp!
Smokey - with Jimmy dozing above  -  DJ
Much of the clue for Smokey’s behaviour can probably be found in the way she was treated before she came to us, and we hope that quiet patience will, over time, help to offset it.  Smokey has her champion in volunteer Daphne, who insists that Smokey is actually a very sensitive soul, and needs quiet conversation and coaxing. Daphne reminds us that “Behaviour usually has a deep rooted reason so Smokey gets a pass for that. Her expressive face alludes to that. There are days when her beautiful golden eyes sparkle and she seems happy to see me. It’s her mystery that makes her lovable as is.”  Smokey’s sensitivity, however,  doesn’t extend to the other cats.  Jimmy used to claim the other side of the cage-tops, but has given up and decided that humans on the deck are less scary than his angry housemate. Bangles, who is gradually overcoming her anger issues with humans, often occupies the cat-tree that is Smokey’s way up and down, and the language, when they come face to face, is not fit for pretty Chanel’s ears.
What hasss it got in its pocketsssss....? -  KN
Smokey will make her way down from the cage-tops, if there’s something worth coming down for. We discourage the use of treats from visitors, but often a few Temptations can be enough incentive for a cat to reconsider her views on humans.  Now, if she can just learn to accept them nicely, with no blood shed...    Daphne is giving her love, time and patience, and we are beginning to see a little softening in Smokey’s behaviour.

Blog by Brigid Coult

Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Daphne Jorgensen, Karen Nicholson