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, September 24, 2020

Kenji & Allen

Right now it feels like the Sanctuary is full of little black semi-ferals!

Allen (left), Kenji (right), Dawn (front) - LBF

Black cats, of course, come to us with a handicap – even at the City Shelter, people can pass them over because they don’t take time to get to know the personality behind all the black fur.  In some ways, the pandemic has been good for the Shelter adoptables, because the staff there do take time to learn the quirks of each cat, and will make recommendations based on personality.  Adopters come for a meet-and-greet with a specific cat rather than a “pick one of these” session – so black cats get equal time.

Kenji on the climbing frame - KN

At the Sanctuary, though, many of our black cats are feral, or semiferal at the least, and getting them habituated to human contact can be hard when a) they would rather hide, and b) so many look alike, at first glance!  

Allen is getting braver - KN

Kenji and Allen came to us in April a year ago, trapped near the home of a retired volunteer whose house seems to send out welcome-cat vibes, as we have often brought in cats from that area.  In fact, it’s not that far from where we did a major trapping effort last summer, bringing in 50+ cats and kittens from a situation in which someone was feeding ferals without calling to get them spayed and neutered first!  

Kenji's worried face - LBF

These two arrived before the crowd, but may well have been part of the same family – they are a bit older than most of the more recent ones, but there is definitely a family resemblance – perhaps Zeus (former Val Jones area, now adopted) was the father.  In fact, there were three of them: first named Kingsley, Kuma and Kenji  - but Kingsley’s name was changed to Allen, and Kuma proved to be FIV+ and is now one of the very shy boys in New Aids.

Shy Kuma, in New Aids - KN

When Allen and Kenji arrived, they were caged briefly and then released in the front courtyard. They promptly discovered the sheltered courtyard we call The Old Rabbit Area, and the basket-beds high up – and disappeared up there.  Occasionally they would emerge for dinner or a little feline socializing, but mostly we saw Allen’s slightly worried face watching from the basket, and Kenji lurking behind the shelf curtains.

Allen watching the wand toy - LBF

A year after their arrival, and both have relaxed a lot.  Though they’re not really tame, they are at least willing to visit with humans. Kenji loves to play, and has frequently joined in acrobatics over wand toys;  both are venturing away from the “safe zone” and exploring the other side of the courtyard, and the climbing “ship” that so many of the cats love.  Allen’s little white chest-blaze is a useful signal to differentiate him from other short-haired blacks like Beetle and Salem.  

Melon making friends with Kenji - LBF

Kenji also has a little blaze, but if that's not visible, I find I have to see him with other long-haired blacks before I can be sure who is who. Lancelot, Twining, Benny, (Devil-Child) Dawn and Kenji can easily be mistaken for each other, and behaviour is often a better key to identity than looks. Kenji is a little larger than most of the others, and is becoming more relaxed with his black buddies, though it can still take a while to coax him out of hiding, initially.  Kitty-Comforter Lisa has made something of a project of these two boys, and we hope that, with time, they will come to know that they are in a safe place, and need not fear human attention.

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

Thursday, September 17, 2020


BB came to the Sanctuary about a year ago.
Anxious newcomer - LBF

Anxiety is an emotion with which many of us are familiar, and we don’t always know what has caused it. Perhaps we can link it to a specific event, to environmental or social factors. As humans, we can sit with a therapist and perhaps work out what causes it, and perhaps find some coping mechanisms. Animals – cats, in this case – can’t analyse, they just react. An anxious cat may hide, it may cling to its owner or poop on their bed to show its discomfort, or it may lash out, and show aggression.

If I close my eyes, perhaps you'll go away...   - KN

BB was surrendered as an aggressive cat. We understood that she had been acquired as a kitten, and we don’t know what happened in her first three years, but her owner found her impossible to manage, and we agreed to take her into our care.
What is this strange place?  -  LBF

Like all our new cats, she was caged for awhile to give her a chance to acclimate to a new residence. Her cage was marked with caution signs, but the Kitty Comforters would go in and sit with her for periods – not forcing contact, but just allowing her to know that someone was there.  Gradually she relaxed, and the hissing and spitting ceased, though we were still regarded with distrust.  The med staff gave her extra cage time to get used to new surroundings, and we think it was good for her.

JJ - that's my bed you're sleeping in...    BC

For most of the newcomers, once the cage door is open, there’s a period of caution, and then they begin exploring.  BB did not want to explore. Her cage was HERS, thank you very much, and she was staying right there!  Matters were not helped by her neighbour, tuxedo JJ, who was territorial in the extreme, and aggressive with cats and humans alike.  Occasionally BB would venture out and claim another cage;  when “her” cage was repurposed by the med-staff for a newcomer, she reluctantly relocated, and now it’s been more or less assumed that her new cage is actually hers (unless we get a flood of new cats).
You may kiss my paw...   KN

This BB is not the people-friendly girl her predecessor of a few years ago was.  BB1 struggled with health problems, but purred like an engine with the people she loved.  BB2 is something of a Garbo-cat, preferring to be left alone, She is regal without being demanding. She has warmed to people a bit more, and allows gentle petting, but she stays to her restricted territory, rarely venturing outside the Double-Wide or even onto the back deck.

She allowed dress-up as the Easter bunny...   - KN

She’s not a deliberately nasty cat in any way; we don’t see any of the aggression of JJ or Jade, for instance. She’s diffident – some cats, like Orlean or Horatio, will demand attention, and be miffed when they don’t get it. BB is often happy to receive petting as the volunteers clean cages, or do the feeds, but if it’s not the best time, she doesn’t get all snippy about it!  It’s too bad – she sort of fades into the background.  We remember the troublesome ones, the demanding ones, but the well-behaved quiet ones can easily be overlooked.  Time for a Kitty Comforter campaign for BB!


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

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Leona and Star

Leona - MW
Two little feral mamas came from Vancouver Island where they were trapped in a colony to be TNR'd. The rescue found out they were both pregnant, and they were sent to separate foster homes to have their kittens. Once all that was done they were spayed and were going to be returned to their colony, only to have it found that the caregiver had disappeared leaving the colony unattended, and unsafe. They decision was made to find them a new place to live, and they came into our care.
Star practicing being an owl - KN

They may have been trapped at the same time, but having been fostered separately, they were not treated as a bonded pair, and were put into separate feral pens.  Star went into Pen 4, at the back, where there was lots of space, places to hide, and a variety of cats she could ignore or get used to, at her own pace.  Leona was estimated to be the more potentially tameable of the two, and was put into Pen 4, along with all the little “mythology” cats; we knew that these guys would have frequent visitors as staff and volunteers worked at taming them, and hoped that Leona would take the hint.

Watching with caution - MW

In Pen 4 many of the feral cats have remained very feral, in spite of the encouragement of grey Ranger;  who, having come to us as a very hissy feral boy, has now reconciled to human contact, and even appears to welcome it.  When Ranger was obviously having a good time with treats and toys, it wasn’t entirely surprising that other cats in the pen would do the cat-curiosity thing and investigate. So far, though, Star is remaining aloof and not ready to join in cat-games.

Star says "No closer!" - KN

Leona, in Pen 6, decided that she wanted nothing to do with this clowder of cats in her space. She’s not aggressive in any way, but she doesn’t want to live on top of them and has claimed the corner nearest the gate as her own. For some time she would cringe away when a hand reached towards her; she didn’t actually go and hide, but she was obviously not comfortable, and we didn’t push her.  Gradually the thought of being touched was less scary, the bum would go up in the air, and she would occasionally fall over on her side and offer her belly for rubs.   Occasionally she has allowed herself to be picked up briefly, but she never wants to be held for long, and we let her set her own pace.

the flirt...   KN

Star is a hidden feral; Leona is on the edge of breakthrough, and the volunteers working in those pens are very much aware of the two of them. Neither cat will ever be likely to be truly adoptable;  a feral start like this is very hard to overcome, and unless they bond with someone, they will likely always be happiest in the space they know.  But there are lots of other little semi-ferals around, and with us they can take their own time, without pressure, to settle in their Sanctuary home.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright

Thursday, September 3, 2020


Just as we have a reputation for taking in and caring for the Feline Leukemia and FIV cats from across the province, and beyond, so those in the know are aware that we will also take in a category of cat that can have a short life in a kill shelter.
Monty exploring - BC
Many people are fascinated by Manx cats, and will sometimes try to breed them.  A true Manx needs to be bred with care, because Manx cats carry two genes – one for a full tail and one for taillessness, and kittens that inherit the tailless gene from both parents will generally not survive.  The tailless condition in Manxes can lead to Manx Syndrome, which generally shows up as incontinence or constipation – and people who take on a Manx, thinking “how cute!” are often disillusioned by the extra care and cleaning that it necessitates.
Cookie Mills (KN) & Plum (MW)
We have several Manxes with this condition – Cookie Mills and little Plum need baths pretty well every day, and there are several other Manxes that need regular checking by the med-staff.  Often our Manxes are very friendly – Sweet-Pea and Pee-Wee adored attention, though for our sake, it had to come with a thick towel attached.
Ready to accept cage attention - BC
So when we were asked to take on a tabby and white Manx, we had little hesitation.  Monty started life at a kitten-mill in Maple Ridge.  Whether this was an inbreeding situation or not, we don’t know, but when he was adopted his owners discovered he had a lot of problems with his bladder, which led to a surgery that resulted in urine incontinence.  Because of that, he was surrendered to the Sanctuary, where he can dribble to his heart’s desire!  It was a hard decision for his owner, who loved him dearly, but the problems of having a leaky cat in a rental home were just too great.
Long-legged elegance - KN
He came to us with the name of Mr Money – I don’t know whether that was a reference to a Hindi movie, or to the cost of cleaning up after him – but the med-staff changed that to Monty before long.  He’s a beautiful boy – not the usual tubby build of many Manxes, but more of the elegant shape of Emery, who we lost early this year.  He also has some of Emery’s quirks.  He does NOT like other cats. Emery would just run and hide if confronted; Monty tends to be the aggressor, and when he’s in paranoid mode, we need to watch that he doesn’t swat perfectly innocent cats.  Like many of the more antisocial cats, he is quite capable of finding himself a place to hide where he won’t be bothered.
Will you pet me? - BC
A summer of being able to get away from other cats in the back gardens has suited him well; when it gets colder it will be interesting to see if he will opt for solitary chill, or for warmth and the over-abundance of feline company.  He will tolerate humans when in the right frame of mind. He’s not an affectionate cat like Wickem, or needy like Emery; Monty will allow himself to be petted briefly, and will then remove himself from contact – though he will sometimes hang around as if asking for more. We hope that he will warm to us, and feel more at home in our care.
Bliss! a basket all to himself! - KN

Blog by Brigid Coult (& Leslie Landa)
Photos by Brigid Coult, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright