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, August 27, 2020

Kittens from Kamloops

All over the province there are rescues doing great work to address the problem of feral cat communities.
Barbara, Bruley & Baxter - KN/BC
Life for feral cats is hard and usually short; prey may be scarce, predators are always at hand, and humans add to the danger with traffic, poisons and non-humane traps. Nature causes cats to mature rapidly so that the population is maintained – or increased. This was the situation near Kamloops last fall, just outside the city limits, where a colony of cats which had been almost trapped out in 2015 was found to have grown again. A private rescue team went to work to live-trap the inhabitants and get them spayed and neutered, in the hope that the numbers could be got under control permanently.
Bruley & Arial - LBF
When this sort of project is applied to a colony like this, various things may happen to the cats.  The very youngest will be taken into fosterage (if possible) and given careful handling to get them used to humans. These kittens will often be adopted easily. The adults will be assessed, and either tamed if that is possible, or released in a controlled colony. They will still have to deal with many of the perils of living wild, but the colony caretaker will feed and check on them. The “teens” will vary; with luck, caging and handling will tip the balance to tame them. However, for a small rescue, it requires resources of materials and people that are not always accessible.
RAPS is the Regional Animal Protection Society – and this sort of situation is where we can sometimes help cats outside our own municipality. At the Sanctuary, large cages, attention from staff and volunteers, and time are all factors that may take a spitting kitten to a purring lap-cat.
Barbara - KN
Our first Cariboo kittens were a trio of little tabbies – Barbara, Bruley and Baxter. Barbara, in particular, caught our attention, because she has a facial similarity to our loved-and-lost Daisy – probably caused by a mild chromosomal imbalance.  All three were initially very wary, but scared-wary rather than aggressive-wary, and they soon got used to handling. Beautiful Baxter – a classic-pattern tabby – did so well with contact that he was adopted by one of our volunteers, and has himself a home and much love.  Bruley, who is shyer, had relocated to the back deck of the Double-Wide, and joined the crew who like to lounge around on the mattress.
Ruff makes a big fluffy mattress for Barbara - KN
Tiny Barbara has fearlessly ventured out all over the back area;  she has joined Sara Lee as quality-control at mealtime, she visits with the tuxedo boys on the deck, and she has made herself totally at home with us. Unfortunately, she is one of those cats that often has a low-grade cold, and frequently needs to have her face cleaned. Barbara really likes other cats, and can often be found snuggling, if she can find a tolerant body to lie on - in fact, eating and sleeping are definitely her favourite things!
Arial supervising the morning clean-up - KN
These three were followed to Richmond by two pretty calicos.  Arial settled in fairly quickly, and like Barbara, explores the back courtyard. She is particularly fascinated by the green hosepipe used for watering the gardens; it obviously reminds her of Cariboo snakes, and gets slapped accordingly.
Aspen - LBF
Aspen was caged rather longer than her sister, again, for upper respiratory care, and was not happy with human attention; she’s another who’s moved to the back deck, where she can hide behind the mattress.
Sailor - KN
From the same colony, but obviously with different genetics, is Sailor. Not a big cat, but slim and leggy, Sailor’s tabby/white makes him look very different from the others. Very wary at the beginning, Sailor quickly decided that he likes humans – almost too much, because he gets so excited by attention that he bites. He’s learned that this is not appreciated, and it’s more of a mouthing of fingers these days, but if he were ever to be adopted, it’s a trait that would need to be monitored.
The latest from that colony are Zsa-Zsa and Ursula, two more tiny tabbies.  Part of the size factor is genetic – some cats are just naturally smaller.  Part of it is malnutrition in both mama and kittens; a mother that is not much more than a kitten herself will probably not have the natural nutrients to grow big healthy kittens.  Zsa-Zsa and Ursula are still wary of contact; they will accept a touch, but much more than that will result in a smack – with or without claws.  Like “brother” Bruley, they have gravitated to the deck colony of semi-ferals.
Ursula & ZsaZsa - KN
We also took in four other kittens, who were rapidly transferred to the Shelter and adopted. Other shelters around the province have also taken cats from the same colony, which has now been completely cleared. We can only hope that nobody goes dumping their unwanted cats there again, to begin the cycle over again.

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

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Beautiful Ollie....

Usually my blogs introduce a cat, or tell a story;  sometimes an update on a previously featured cat will give a new perspective, or show how s/he has progressed.
Not this week...
Ollie came to us three years ago, a victim of his own bad bathroom habits.  His family loved him dearly, but his steadfast refusal to use anything BUT his litterbox finally brought him to the Sanctuary.
He is a truly beautiful cat, and many visitors have asked if we're really sure he's not adoptable. Yes, we're sure - the world is Ollie's litterbox.  And cat-pee smell can be very hard to get rid of in a house; we do our best at the Sanctuary, but we're all pretty much inured to it.
So, Ollie's not changed - but because he is SO photogenic, I thought we'd have a picture-blog on him just to celebrate how beautiful he is!
He's not the most social of cats - either with people or with other felines.  He has his human favourites, but he's happiest on his own.
Clean laundry is his favourite thing - if you don't fill the shelf all the way, Ollie will take possession, and resist being moved.
He's not really attached to other cats or to people - but he is very much attached to his own tail;  he can often be found curled up in a ball, firmly holding it with his front paws.
Height is his other "thing"; he likes to be where he can look down on the world, and decide for himself whether to come and join us. He can most often be found on the high shelf in the Newcomers area
but if that space is not available, he's happy to tuck himself into a cat-cave.
We're currently choosing pictures for the 2021 Calendar;  Ollie was featured in a recent edition and isn't eligible for the upcoming one, but he is SO photogenic, I suspect he'll be in the 2022 edition at least...

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Jennine Kariya, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Twilight & Dawn

Twilight & Dawn share playtime - KN
Pretty Twilight and her kitten, Dawn, came to us early this year.  Hoping that we might make some progress on socializing them, they went into residence in the Moore House kitten room – separated from the “gericatrics”, and with its own little deck for access to open air.
Mama Twilight isn't much more than a kitten herself - KN
Like many of our new residents, these two have come to us from elsewhere in the province.  They originated from a rescue in the Shuswap area which had also sent us last year the group known as ‘the teens’ - Mozart, Caleb, & Pistachio. There are several shelters that don’t have the facilities to keep cats that cannot be tamed easily, and who may remain feral most of their lives.
Anything for me?  - LBF
Cats like this come to us when they’re past the time for easy socializing (which is why any RAPS kittens are in fosterage for early handling).  Up to eight weeks they will usually settle very easily; anything past 12-15 weeks will be a much slower process, and for some cats, may not happen at all.
Around 8-9 months they are physically mature (enough to sire and to have their own kittens) and their interactive patterns are pretty well set.
Dawn deceptively angelic - KN
Twilight was a young mother like this, and not much more than a teen when she came to us. Her daughter Dawn was past the easy-taming stage, and with their fear feeding off each other, they were a challenge to the Kitty Comforters. We were further challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic which limited much of our program, including the Kitty Comforters, from March onwards, and staff had to make time to visit with these two and continue the socializing efforts.
Dawn steals her mom's treats - KN
You probably know someone who has one of ‘those’ teens – pushing the boundaries, acting up, stubborn except when it suits them....  That’s Dawn.  Karen says “Devil-Child Dawn got her nickname because she flings herself across the room with reckless abandon and launches herself up walls (and fences) screeching her head off when she sees people. And she steals food out of her mother's mouth.”
Dawn in focused play - KN
Toys that could be chased and attacked were favourites for this active girl – and when working next door with the “oldies” one could often hear Dawn flinging herself around the deck in pursuit of a crinkly ball or some other thing. Twilight also liked to play – but Dawn would usually get there first!
Twilight - LBF
Sometimes the quiet time in the Moore House kitten room does the trick – and sometimes it doesn’t.  Silky, Sage, Cricket and Beetle all found their confidence with people after their transfer to the main courtyard. Similarly with Mozart, Caleb & Pistachio (so much so that Pistachio was eventually adopted). Twilight and Dawn were more comfortable with human contact, but were not really tame, and it was decided that they should also move to the front courtyard – initially to a cage in the Connor, and then to release.
Typical teenage "cattitude" - LBF
Both have settled in well with the other cats. They are often found together, but they seem to have established their favourite places to be, and are exploring new experiences – being in the rain, climbing in the planters... Twilight remains small – typical of cats who are young mothers; Dawn is growing past her mother’s size, and will probably have more growth to come. We hope that their comfort with new surroundings will extend to interaction with the humans caring for them.
Happy dozing together - KN

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen and Karen Nicholson

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Ooly the Oldie

From kitty-comforter Pauline Chin: 
Hiding in the upper residence of the Old Aids area is an inconspicuous, quiet brown tabby named Ooly.  It often requires some effort to find her, as she habitually conceals herself… unless you have delicious chicken!  Even then, she makes no sound – just beckoning with her glowing green eyes.
Ooly may look like a typical tabby, but it’s worth it to find this gal because she is 18 years old, which is equivalent to a 80-90 year old human. What makes her extra special is she is FeLV+.
Before anyone hits the panic button, feline leukemia is a virus that can be active or inactive, and the cat may or may not show any symptoms.  Leukemia in humans is a cancer, with a whole host of different symptoms.   In comparison, most strays with feline leukemia will not make it to their first birthday. Those living indoors may live 2-5 years.  A healthy housecat might average 10-20 years.  It’s tough to say how long a cat really lives, as demonstrated by some of our beloved residents who have surpassed age 20.
Despite all the years Ooly has lived with us, she is still wary of humans.  She’s still a chicken-lover, but she prefers it if you leave it and well… leave.  She’s gotten a bit thinner, but her green eyes are full of life, and she still has spring in her steps.  She’s more semi-feral than feral now.  I haven’t seen any aggression from her, compared to her earlier days.  Perhaps being an oldie has made her more gentle?
The most coveted spot is the high basket in the back.  All the leukemia cats can easily access it via catwalks, but us humans have to climb a ladder to even see who’s in it.  At which point, we’re likely met with suspicious stares from the basket occupants.
Chateaux with Ooly - PC
Ooly may have outlived her old friends, but she’s made new friendships.  Her current closest friend is Chateaux, who might share cuddles, body rubs, and headbonks.  I once saw them staring out the back fence together.  Recently, I noticed the newer residents, Kilo and Neptune greeting her as they passed on the catwalk and cat tree.  It’s charming to watch, since only some cats accept close encounters.  Then, Ooly jumped into the basket and joined Neko for cuddles.  I was able to pet the latter, but Ooly stayed just inches out of reach.
Neko & Ooly - PC
I would say Ooly is very much an independent old gal.  She’s gentle.  She’s not needy.  She‘s not vocal.  She might be enticed by a sparkly toy, and of course, chicken.  We’re not expecting her to suddenly turn friendly after 15 years, but it’s a nice thought.  If at anytime she wants cuddles or a warm lap from a human, she’s definitely welcome.  We would love to celebrate her 20th birthday with her!

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Pauline Chin, Phaedra Hardman, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright