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, December 31, 2020

Cuddles in the Heart

Henrick (May 2020) - Leukemia area - MD
brother of Daniel, who passed in 2018
The passing of a year and the beginning of another are always marked by retrospection – we assess our lives, we remember things past and think about how we hope they will be different.  

Emery (March 2020) - KN
I will miss the best hugs from this boy....
In company with almost everyone else, 2020 has been a difficult year at the Cat Sanctuary. We closed down to visitors in the spring, and the fear of Covid-contagion has meant the loss of some of our volunteers, and more work for those who remained, and for the staff. Closure to visitors has meant a loss of income from donations, but cats don’t stop needing us, and we don’t want to turn any away that truly need sanctuary.

Merilee (Nov.2020) & Latte (Feb.2020), front courtyard - BC
Latte was something of an entitled princess;
Merilee never really warmed to people....
We take in unadoptable Richmond cats, but we’ve also been taking in cats from Haida Gwaii, from Kamloops, the Okanagan and many other places. It’s good to welcome them, but the other side of the coin is that we have places for them because we have lost good friends over the course of the year. 

Calista (Dec2020) front courtyard - KN
Renee's sister; shy and sweet
Many of our cats have lived here for years, they have grown old in our care, and though we keep them going as long as we can, there always comes the inevitable day when those little bodies are just too fragile, and we have to let them go peacefully.
Jody (May2020) - MW
was our longest resident, living here nearly 20 years

Dell (Dec2020) - Pen 3, then Single-Wide,
has gone to be with his beloved Gregory (2018) - BC
Others do the stoic-cat thing of not showing discomfort until the point at which their condition is too far advanced, and nothing can be done. 

Debo (Feb.2020) and Graycie (May 2020), Single-Wide
taking comfort from one another  - LP
Many volunteers have acquired the habit of checking at the beginning of a shift to see who we might have lost – it’s so hard to find that the cat you’ve spent half an hour looking for had passed several days ago.

Sir/Survivor (May 2020) - KN
he had much too short a time with us
And we live in a toxic world – though we try to feed good quality food to our cats, the scientific world still doesn’t know what causes tumours to develop and shorten a life prematurely.

Fido (May 2020) - JK
Sweet incontinent boy - so much loved...
We’ve lost nearly seventy cats over the course of 2020 – some of them enormous personalities, others very reserved and touch-me-not. Our wonderful med-staff know every cat, and go with each one on their last journeys; when Covid concerns have not allowed hospital entry, the loving staff at the RAPS Hospital are with them at the end.

Napoleon (March 2020) and Princess Diva (May 2020) - LBF
-  both loved and loving because of the hours Lisa spent with them.
For many of these cats, the RAPS Sanctuary has become home; they are cats who, in another jurisdiction, would probably have been put down as unhandleable and therefore unadoptable. With us they have been allowed to settle at their own pace, or to remain their usual cranky selves without penalty. 

Leland (Sept.2020) front courtyard - MW
Debbie's favourite and always-loved boy...
I don’t think there’s a staff member or volunteer here who hasn’t had a cat whose passing hasn’t tugged on the heart. But much as we mourn them, somehow there’s always space in the heart for another cat who needs our love. 

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Anywhere But On The Shelf

The Sanctuary is decked for the Christmas season, even though it’s only the staff and volunteers that appreciate it – we miss our visitors!  But one visitor has been making his presence felt.

Tinker says "Who is this guy, anyway?"
Whoever came up with the concept of Elf on the Shelf has a lot to answer for – including the Christmas neuroses of many children!  But not cats...  Cats have more sense than to get freaked out because someone is watching them. They like to be watched – because as all good pet parents know, they are the central point in the home. So having an Elf around at the Sanctuary was probably more weird for staff and volunteers than for the feline inhabitants.

In some cases it was a guarded interest - who was this interloper, anyway?

Bantam photo-op

Merrin gives him the side-eye
In some cases the interest was more in the smell - could there have been a little catnip involved?

Phoebe does a little hopeful licking...

Bentley thinks Elf has been walking somewhere interesting...

The Elf made a few excursions into the back pens....

Cadbury says "Can I sit on your lap?"

...appreciated by some - but not by others

Darius is NOT happy about this visit!

He finds admirers in the New Aids pen, where he is very popular with the girls....

Amaretto sharing secrets

Holland getting quite snuggly...

..even possessive....
But the place he was most popular was in the Single-Wide, where Mya constituted herself his fan-club.

smile for the camera....

mine, all mine....

...so she said to me...

you can't leave so soon!

Shiva and Elf want to wish everyone a happy Christmas, and a joyful and safe holiday!

Blog (minimal) by Brigid Coult
Photos (and Elf) by Lisa Brill-Friesen


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Where's Dinner?

 When you’re dealing with nearly 500 cats, it’s hard to make allowances for everyone’s culinary tastes.

Austin making sure he's not forgotten - BC
The experts tell us that we should feed our cats at specified times, give them measured amounts, and find the food that suits their systems.  Unfortunately, at the Sanctuary, it’s like catering to a holiday camp with a limited number of cooks.

Cole knows the tasty stuff is in the cupboard - MW
There is always dry kibble on offer – there are many cats who don’t really like canned food. We’ve moved from the early days’ instructions of “two full bowls” to “no more than half a bowl” - that way we can better gauge where the greatest need may be. Only half-filling a bowl helps, too, when a slug moves in and leaves a slimy trail, or an over-eager cat gobbles and then throws up in the bowl – there’s less food to throw away in wastage.

Any food for me? - BC
In the back pens we will occasionally arrive in the morning to find all the outside bowls are empty. That, combined with dirty water, tells us that the raccoons have staged a raid – another reason not to leave too much food out. We’ve never had a cat/raccoon confrontation – the cats quickly retire to the cabins – and a little kibble is a small price to pay for keeping the peace.

Barbara helping with dinnertime cleanup - KN

Canned food is offered in the evenings – generally allowing the equivalent of about half a can per cat. For some, that’s the most important meal of the day; others will still be nibbling when the morning cleaners come to gather up the plates. The med staff keep an eye on the cats that need coaxing to eat a little more, and offer tempting morsels of choice varieties.

Buzz will always be first - JR
Some cats are very anxious about their food. Buzz (Single-Wide), Dexter (Leukemia), Austin (New Aids) and Rufus (Moore)  are quick to let us know when the service is not meeting their expectations. Their demands are often vocal, but are usually accompanied by walking all over the plates (or sitting on them). Volunteers have different ways of dealing with this; if there’s a spare cage I may fill a plate and put it in there with Buzz, so he’s out of the way. It’s best to do the same with Rufus, though he doesn’t need a cage.  Both Dexter and Austin help themselves from each plate as it is filled.

Dexter is booooored by waiting! - DW
For other cats the draw is not so much the food as the gravy. We warm the cans in hot water before opening them, and there are usually cats who wait anxiously for the juice, before it gets all mixed up with the meat. SaraLee (Double-Wide) is my quality control girl at mealtimes, checking that each batch of juice is up to standard.

SaraLee taught Barbara the finer points of quality control - BC
There is always a certain order to food service. In the Double-Wide, Colin and Lincoln are always anxiously waiting for the first plate; Colin is ready to swat if he thinks I’m not moving quickly enough. The other cats take their time – usually there is only one cat per plate; the next one moves in as the first vacates.  In the Single-Wide, on the other hand, as a plate is put down, there are half a dozen cats immediately in place. There’s no fighting, but they’re all determined to get their share. The more timid cats wait till plates are put on the deck or the cage-tops.

The SingleWide mealtime pinwheel - LPR
Sometimes, if they’re very lucky, the feeders will bring special treats – not empty calories, but raw or cooked meats, or different varieties of canned food. Cats always know when those folk arrive, and there is usually a welcoming committee at the door. But for even the most food-oriented of them, the best part of the evening is the petting and interaction with the humans who love them.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Karen Nicholson, 
Louise Parris Rupp, Jill Rabin, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Kilo & Daphne

Kilo & Daphne - LBF

Old Aids (aka the Leukemia area) received quite a number of new residents this year. Grey and white Daphne came in during the spring. Long-haired tuxedo Cooper arrived, was caged briefly and was adopted within a week of release.  Short-haired Kilo arrived in the summer and appears to be a tuxedo, but on closer inspection has smoke tabby markings. Spry siblings Domino and Banshee were transferred over from the side room of the Moore House, and very shortly afterwards adopted. All were youngsters, and very lovable additions to the FeLV playground.

Kilo on the catwalks - PC

Kilo is a friendly boy with a happy outlook on life.  His pastimes include: exploring the catwalks and staring out the window, in hopes of grabbing attention, playing with or without the other cats, being held, and sneaking onto your back if you’re next to his perch.  He’s another oddball feline who likes being picked up and carried - most of the time.  With winter on the way, he makes a wonderful cuddle buddy and hand-warmer.

Enjoying the sun - PH

Initially, Daphne was known to be skittish, but super playful.  Now, she’s part of the door dasher club.  Want to be her favourite?  Bring her toy offerings.  Daphne’s hobbies include: testing out every toy in the room, looming behind you when you’re sitting on a chair, mooching for treats, giving humans leg rubs, and giving every cat a body rub, whether they want it or not.

Queen of all she surveys - PC

You’ll notice both cats bravely hover around for treats.  Daphne might even push her way to the front!  Most new cats stay wary and remain furthest from the treat dispensing hands. I have yet to find food they don’t like.  Maybe some duck or lamb?  And be sure to bring enough for everyone!

Come play with me....   MW

Playtime is always a thrill for Leukemia kitties!  Being young, Kilo and Daphne will try anything.  Wands, balls, catnip, crinkle toys, crumpled paper… they’ll chase and pounce on everything that moves!  As far as playfulness goes, Kilo competes with Daphne on who gets first dibs on new toys.  Smoochie might join in the fun, although he prefers one-on-one time.  (He’s a wise, older gentleman.)  While Kilo will share toys with other cats, Daphne prefers to keep them to herself.  Her favourite colour seems to be pink and she won’t hesitate to snatch those toys and carry them off.

With a favourite toy - PC

When visiting the new cats, it's only fair to devote time to the long-time regulars Smoochie, Bear, and Dexter.  It would be upsetting if they see the new guys stealing attention away from them.  Being keen observers, Bear and Dexter will make very loud complaints that your ears won’t soon forget.  Twenty or thirty minutes of visiting time is plenty to enough to spread around to the dozen plus cats.  We want everyone to be in good spirits, since stress is detrimental to their health. It's a good place to make a new friend or two.  Perhaps there’s room in your home and heart for a FeLV+ kitty?

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Pauline Chin, 
Phaedra Hardman, Michele Wright

Friday, December 4, 2020


Dell has moved!

Life is serious for Dell  -  MW
Dell has been with us for eight years, and he was fully adult when he came into our care. You can read more of his early days with us here and here in the blog – for the most part his life has been spent in Pen 3 with the ferals.

Gregory and Dell were a bonded pair   -  MW
He himself is not a feral, but was a stray or abandoned cat, who once knew what it was to have human friends. In his early, wary days with us, he bonded with Gregory, and the two were inseparable. Gregory was the older of the two, and we lost him a couple of years ago; there was some discussion about whether Dell might come out of the pen, but the med-staff pointed out that since he had been diagnosed with diabetes, it was easier to find him for his twice-daily insulin if he was always in the same location.

Waiting for a visitor - MD
The other Pen 3 cats were mostly not people-oriented. One of the cat-whisperers has been working with the Merritt cats, who prefer to stay out of the cabin, but they don’t socialize with Dell. The little old tabbies enjoy his company (and, apparently, chewing on his whiskers), but they are also not happy with people around. And Dell loves people. Luckily, between twice-daily insulin, morning cleaning and evening feeds, he gets regular visitors, and many of the Kitty Comforters make a point of spending time with him.

The sleeping lion - LBF
In the last few months we’ve had several cats come to us who are also diabetic, and who have been located in the Single-Wide. In October the med-staff decided to bring the diabetics together, and see how Dell might take to a relocation.  After an initial week in a cage, during which he was pretty vocal about not liking any change, he came to the conclusion that in fact he could get more time with humans this way, and perhaps it was a change for the better.
Not a fan of being caged  -  BC
In the first weeks after his cage opened up there was a steady stream of cats in and out to investigate. He took it all very calmly; aggression with other cats has never been a problem. Our lion is now beginning to enjoy prowling around a new territory – he has been investigating the ramps and getting onto the high shelves with some of the shyer cats. Because he’s a cat whose fine fur matts very easily, having him in will allow us to keep him better groomed. He's enjoying comfy chairs and heat-lamps, he's holding his own with other cats, and he's even found a buddy to snuggle with. Harvest recently lost his sidekick Babylon, and is glad not to be lonely any more.
Sharing a bed with Harvest  -  KN

The cats who live in the outdoor pens don’t have to be cold – each cabin has a thermostat-controlled heater. But there’s no denying that this will be a much warmer, more comfortable winter for Dell - physically and emotionally – with lots of company from the humans he loves.

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

Barely a week after publishing this blog we lost our beloved Dell - like a typical cat, he hid any sign of illness until too late, and all we could do was to release him from his pain.
Dell was an icon at the Sanctuary, and many of his friends - feline and human - are grieving his loss. Purr in peace, Dell