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.

Friday, November 27, 2020


 “MEOW!” Little but loud.  


That’s the best way to describe Sparks’ personality.  Sparks is petite-sized with a black coat and sports a single white whisker amongst her black ones.  You’ll see this odd fashion trend amongst the black cats around the place.  This little old lady is another kitty from Happy Cat Haven of the Sunshine Coast.  Think Gidget, Twining, & Sweet Pea – the friendly group of retirees living in the front.


Besides the white whisker, her other distinguishing feature is her pair of amber eyes.  Like the gemstone/resin, they’re rich shades of gold with red and burgundy lines and inclusions.  I wonder if she knows just how unique they are?
Sparks is not one to mingle or cuddle with other cats.  It’s humans or the solo life for her.  She’s been around since summer of 2019.  I recall during her initial arrival she showed no fear or apprehension - rare for an in-take.  When I opened the door to interact with her, she let me pet her, but she was far more interested in trying to walk out of the cage to explore.  It’s clear she had a lot of love and care to carry herself so confidently.

Hear me roar! - KN

Being small and black, it’s easy to overlook her if she stays silent.  It may be one reason why she raises her voice often.  Like a greeter cat, she frequently watches for visitors to enter the front gate and calls them over for attention.  I feel like she should wear a sign that says, “Greetings. Give me cuddles.” At times, she will string together multiple meows, trying to form a conversation.  Her vocals are more along the lines of, “Hey, over here! Pet me!”  Don’t worry, it’s not as deafening or relentless as Dexter’s demands.

Curiosity...   - KN

Lavish her with undivided attention, and she’ll follow you around.  Her little feet prefer the high road.  You’ll see her hopping up and down on furniture to keep pace with you. 


Find a seat and Sparks will likely occupy your lap.  Or, at least put one paw on and possess it.  She can be sweet to people, but spicy when she sees any cat competition.  Having a cat spat on your lap is one way to live on the razor’s edge.  Or in this case, in-between tiny razors!  Best keep other cats away temporarily.

Waiting at the gate  - PC

If she’s not staring out of the fence, you’ll find her on the wooden set prop and peacefully walking by other cats.  Again, the sweetness comes out when she sees you. She’ll perform a bit of a happy dance with her front paws, or knead invisible bread dough, in exchange for receiving pets.

Determined stare - you WILL pet me....  PC

Friendly kitties are always nice to have.  As they age, it’s ever more important to make sure they stay happy and sociable.  If they ever shut themselves in, it’s challenging to draw them back out.  If you still haven’t met Sparks yet, come and have a chat with this lively little lady.  She’ll add some spark to your day.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Meowvember furry faces

November is the month when guys who can, grow their facial hair, and then shave it off at the end of the month to raise funds supporting men’s health issues. In the feline world, facial hair is not limited to the males.  Obviously some cats are furrier than others, but it’s not just the quantity of face-fluff that’s noticeable, but also the markings.

Magpie - KN

Last time I wrote about Meowvember, we admired the defined ‘tache of Magpie, who usually hangs out around pen 8 and Waldi’s Hut. Magpie is no less hissy, but some of us have now been introduced to Sweet Pea, in the front courtyard, with similar markings. Sweet Pea has been with us a while, but is very feral and wary, and prefers not to be seen (unless you carry chicken!)

Sweet Pea - KN

Digby, Smoochie, Mya, Salish, Comet and Rocky all featured in the Meowvember blog back in 2017, but since then we’ve an assortment of new facial markings to join the ‘tache club.  One of my favourites is sweet Winston, who lives in Waldi’s Hut – he’s still a little shy, but loves being petted when he knows he can be safe with you

Winston - KN

Spirit and Tootsie are both one-sided ‘tache wearers – Spirit (front courtyard) on the right and Tootsie (back courtyard) on the left. 

Spirit (right) and Tootsie (left) - KN

It’s easy to tell them apart because of where they live; distinguishing facial markings are more important with sisters Sandy and Pebble in Pen 4. Pebble quite likes human company and presents herself for petting; her twin sister Sandy is more likely to greet you with a claws-out swat in true feral fashion. Pebble’s marking is on the left of her nose, and Sandy’s on the right.

Many of the tabbies in Pen 8 have facial markings that help us distinguish them. Johnny is the alpha, hissy boy, with a single smudge to one side of his muzzle; his sister Hailey carries little balanced patches on both sides. 

Johnny & Hailey  -  LBF

Fellow feral Selena is the only one in the pen who now approaches to ask for petting; her markings cover both her muzzle and her chin - ‘tache and beard.

Selena   -   MD

My favourite boy Skittles not only has a hint of ‘tache markings, but he also has a serious quantity of facial fur.  But it’s all his – he is not going to be shaving it off at the end of the month!

Skittles  -  MW

Our magnificent Dell has relocated to the Single-Wide (for insulin injections), and will also not be doing any shaving at month-end.  Dell has wonderful fur, and usually an impressive set of whiskers – we noticed that some of his whiskers were much shorter than they should be, and guessed that his little tabby girlfriends in Pen 3 had probably been doing some over-enthusiastic grooming. Now that he’s made himself at home in the SW, we hope he can regrow his nibbled whiskers.

Dell - with nibbled whiskers - KN

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

Thursday, November 12, 2020


"The edgy emo kid" - KN

It’s a while since we’ve had a Detective Cat at the Sanctuary. We say that the Detective Cats are the ones smart enough to find their way to us, rather than us having to go out and get them.  In some cases they may be cats who have been dumped on the property; in others, they are feral or semi-feral cats who are drawn by the feline society and by the potential of food.  If trapped, they are given the name of a fictional detective. Detective Cats have included Magnum and Kojak (now passed), Watson (adopted), Cagney and Horatio.  Steele, in the back courtyard, not only found us, he cat-burgled his way in, and was rewarded by being named for Remington Steele. 


Rico is our latest detective – named for Rico Tubbs, from "Miami Vice",  When the staff get reports of a strange cat hanging around outside, traps are set at dawn and dusk and watched carefully.  We’re not sure where Rico came from, but he was at least semi-feral, and savvy enough to know how to look after himself.  On the edge of fields and woodland, there are always rats and mice around – the stupid ones actually get into the Sanctuary – and a cat can live quite well if it can avoid the raccoons and coyotes.


There were no flies on Rico – it actually took at least a week to catch him. Once safely behind bars, we were able to begin the process of coaxing him into trusting us. He’s obviously had some contact with humans, and was willing to be petted, though he doesn’t solicit touch. Typically, once “released”, it took awhile before he was ready to exit the cage, and he made the acquaintance of a few of the local host cats. Newcomer SophieCat wasn’t exactly a welcomer – she just believed that every bed was there for her benefit.

Bunk bed roomie with SophieCat - BC

Sharing with SophieCat was not what Rico had in mind. New cats in the Double-Wide either make their way to the back deck and the “Red Light District”, or brave two sets of doors to get into the back courtyard.  Rico had had the taste of freedom, and the back deck was too confining; it wasn’t long before he was exploring the back pens and enjoying the combination of safety and freedom.


We have no idea where he’s come from – he has a look of our “cow cats” from the composting facility, but he is slimmer and more active. He’s not bonded with any of the other cats yet, and he’s wary around some of the dominant males, but we think he’s still pretty young, and feeling his way in feline society. He often hangs out in Pen 1 with newcomer Odin, who is also wary, and he has been found cuddled up with Darius, who’s a pretty easygoing boy, and a good mentor for him.


Now he’s out and about, he’s less likely to approach us for petting – but he loves to play, and attention with a wand toy gives him a pretty good sense about which volunteers are good for a game. As the colder weather approaches, it will be interesting to see if he prefers to remain an outdoor cat, or if he also discovers that there are warm and cosy beds indoors.


For now he's happy to lounge around and catch what's left of the fall sunshine. Good detecting, Rico - you chose the right place to come to!


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

Thursday, November 5, 2020



Many of the cats in what we call New Aids are FIV+ males – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is most commonly transmitted in blood through bites inflicted by feral males doing battle over access to females. And almost every case, whether the cat is feral or tame, this has happened because the cats in question have never been spayed or neutered. 


Some of our guys have come into us as very friendly boys – they may once have had careless owners, but they are used to human contact.  Others are definitely feral, and both staff and volunteers may take years in getting them to the point at which they will relax with us.

Zimmer & Tiberius used to watch warily from the cage-tops

Zimmer wants love from Mel;
Tiberius hopes Karen has tidbits!

Sweet old battered Zimmer, and feisty little Tiberius are two of the cats that are gradually coming around; having spent most of their time hiding away on the cage-tops, both are living at floor-level now. Zimmer loves to be petted and comes for some lap-time;  Tiberius is happiest when chicken bits are on offer – bribery was the way to his heart.

Don't bug me!  - KN

There are probably volunteers who have not yet encountered Francis. For much of his time with us, this handsome boy has stayed out of sight unless he really knew the human intruder. When he first came to us he was one of the escape risk cats, and would climb between the wall of the enclosure where the rabbits once lived, and the netting over the pen, so that one could look up and see this cat-shaped lump pretending that he wasn’t there. All the outside of the pen needed to be reinforced – we don’t like to think of cats escaping with local coyotes on the loose.

Francis hangs out with Drake - as shy as his buddy  -  KN

Francis has lots of other places to hide. He rarely goes inside the cabin, but there are many kennels and cat-beds from which he can choose, and he can often be found right at the very back, in what we call the Prince of Wales pen, with the other ferals.


Very few of our Sanctuary cats are pure-bred – and those that are, frequently come with behavioural problems. Francis is so beautiful, I was sure there had to be some deliberate breeding there – but I couldn’t find anything that perfectly matched his appearance. He’s more or less a seal-point, with dark face and legs, and blue eyes, his facial markings are tabby, and all his floof indicates some ragdoll – but he doesn’t ever relax enough with us to give us the behavioural indications of a ragdoll. It’s sad to think that a cat that may come from a breeding intended to give us a relaxed happy animal is so anxious and fearful.


Francis has been with us for more than two years now, and we have in fact seen progress; I find that I can sit in the courtyard with the other cats without him hiding, though he still doesn’t much like to be approached.  At least, he knows with us that he’s safe, he has regular food and water, and other timid cat-buddies with whom to snuggle.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright