RAPS is short for Richmond 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, March 15, 2018

Update: Bossanova - the love-bug...

One of the great joys of volunteering at the Sanctuary is seeing how certain cats relax into handling as they learn that we can be trusted
Bossanova came to us six years ago as a feral cat trapped on Mitchell Island, and is barely recognizable now as the boy who first snarled and hissed in his cage.  Claire’s blog of April 2012 introduced him and detailed his progress in the early days with us, culminating in allowing himself to be petted by volunteers brave enough to visit with him.  A move to the Single-Wide followed, but when released, Mr B headed for the farthest corner he could find, high up on a shelf, and declined to come down to us.  However, unlike Ringo on the Double-Wide deck, Bossanova didn’t mind being petted, so long as the petter was ready to stand on a chair to do it!
Almost a year passed, with Bossanova sharing his corner with his buddy Meepos. We know he could come down – but he always preferred not to, at least when humans were around.  And then, slowly, slowly, he began appearing at the top of the ramp leading to the shelf, and venturing down into the range of head-scratches and gentle loving. We let him set his own pace – it must have been almost a year before he was found on a cat tree or the back of the couch, and he preferred to be petted only when he was off the floor. If you entered the deck area to find him at ground level, he would hastily scuttle for the ramp and safety – though he was willing to be touched once he was there.
The couch on the back deck is a favourite venue for cat-cuddlers, and more and more often, Bossanova would venture onto the back of it while someone was visiting. He joined the ranks of the chickaholics, and when chicken bits were offered, he was ready and waiting, getting closer and closer to lap-sitting. Soon we were getting reports from volunteers and visitors alike that he was enjoying lap-time, and even allowing himself to be picked up – though he’d still rather sit than be cuddled.
Sunday visitors are often amused when I take them on the back deck, and Bossanova hurries down the ramp when he hears his name. I think it’s probably less that he knows his name, and more that he knows my voice, and that I often have a little bag of tidbits. He’s often found in the main room with the other cats – especially at dinner-time.
Bossanova has a devoted following of volunteers who schedule their working shifts and their visits in order to have time with him – Kim, who took some of the photos here, hurries through her tasks so that she can sit out on the back deck for a little one-on-one time, offering the head-rubs he loves, and the bum-scratches that have him licking happily at anything within reach. Once the visitor has gone, Bossanova climbs up the ramp to be with his cat-buddies again on the shelf above. He has the best of both worlds!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper, Kim Howe, Michele Wright

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Digby headed up a blog entry last fall titled Meowvember – mostly due to his prominent ‘tache!
This handsome tuxedo gentleman came to us in the spring, almost a year ago, having been picked up as a stray Richmond street cat. He came to us in company with Licorice, though the two were not trapped together.  An unaltered male, Digby bore the scars of life on the streets – bites and scratches, a bloody ear, a bad case of fleas. He spent the first few weeks at the City Shelter, but having proved himself to be a pee-er, he was transferred to the Sanctuary.
In common with all our new cats, he was popped into a cage to give him time to acclimate to new surroundings.  He was to be a back courtyard cat – having been a wanderer, it’s often better to allow such cats to have space to roam a bit – so his cage was in the Double-Wide. Early visitors reported a generally good attitude from him, though he was easily over-stimulated and could only take so much handling before swatting or biting. Many of our Kitty Comforters are prepared to spend a good chunk of time sitting in a cage and just talking to a cat like this;  touch can always wait till the cat is truly comfortable.
By the time Digby was released, he was more than ready to take in the surroundings. His neutering hadn’t done a lot to change his tom-cat-in-charge attitude; he was quite ready to throw his weight around if he felt he could get away with it, and on more than one attention he was caught beating up on some unlucky victim who happened to get in his way – earning a time-out period for himself.
With the sunny weather Digby discovered the gardens and obviously felt less surrounded by other challenging cats; he was more ready to laze around and enjoy himself, and other cats felt able to give him a wide berth.  Human visitors were more attractive to him, and his whole attitude relaxed. 
Though the colder days of fall and winter have kept him and the other cats mostly indoors, the return of springlike weather has found Digby basking in the sunshine, and enjoying life at the Sanctuary – infinitely preferable to his former life on the street.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Phaedra Hardman, 
Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Thursday, March 1, 2018


This lovely boy has made himself a favourite with visitors to the Hill House
Wickem is another of the cats that has come to us from the closing private shelter on the Sunshine Coast.  We were told that he and his buddy Gidget were bonded and should be kept together, and they were given the big cage space in that cabin to settle down and assimilate all the other cat-smells and activities around.  Gidget was usually wary of attention, but Wickem was happy to have lap-time with visitors, and relaxed with human interaction.
Once the cage door was opened, Wickem was pretty comfortable with coming out, though he rarely went past the door of the house.  Gidget remained tucked in her corner for some time, then ventured out and ended up relocating to the Connor – obviously these two were not as bonded as we’d been given to understand!
Wickem's buddy Gidget
Wickem adores getting attention from people entering the room; he hops down from his favourite chair and approaches the visitor.  He is the only “rumpy” or tailless Manx in the front courtyard – a “stumpy” Manx has a short tail that is curved, knotted or kinked, like Carly Simon, and a “longy” has an almost full length tail that may have a lump at the end of it, like Abby or Sylvester.  Rumpies are often prone to Manx syndrome, in which the shortening of the spine affects the cat’s ability to eliminate, and it may become incontinent. Our dearly beloved Sweet Pea, who we lost last year, was one of those cats, and there are currently four others in the back area of the Sanctuary.
Wickem is mostly free from that problem, but when he’s really happy and relaxed on your lap, it’s worth having a towel under him!  Not only can he drool with happiness at being petted, but he can also dribble a little pee when he’s really relaxed – one of the staff calls him “Wikileaks”
Gradually he is becoming more comfortable with moving into the courtyard. He doesn’t yet interact much with the other cats, but he’s a long way from being the sort of antisocial cat that Leland is. He seems to be very comfortable in himself, but his favourite thing is definitely human attention. Come visit us on a Sunday afternoon, and cuddle with him!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Michele Wright

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Vesper and Fable - bromance or marriage?

Vesper, Fable - and the Valentine's heart! - MW
These two handsome guys arrived with us a couple of months ago, and everybody loves them!
Vesper and Fable have come to us from a family who had a number of cats. They’re not from the same litter, but they’re about three months apart in age, and from all accounts, they have been bonded together since they met. They’re about 10 years old, and have been living as inside-outside cats – which makes them very lucky, since outside is full of perils like coyotes, raccoons, cars, poisons and other things that can make a cat’s life much shorter.
Vesper - MD
They’re neutered, but even neutered cats can get a bit territorial, and that may be what happened – one too many encounter with a stray cat, or an unexpected stress,  and they started peeing in the house.  Hoping to prevent their other cats from indulging similarly, their owners brought them to us. It will be interesting to see if the abundance of cats at the Sanctuary will mean they continue their bad habit, or if they just say "whatever..." and learn to tune out all the other smells.
After a short stay in the quiet of the Moore House, they were transferred to roomy central cage of the Hill House, where they held court for several weeks. Cleaning/feeding volunteers and Kitty Comforters alike took opportunities to sit with them, and once over the initial anxiety of their move, they relaxed and enjoyed the attention.
Fable - MD
Fable is the more dominant of the pair; he’s very protective of Vesper, and now that the cage is open, he’s keeping an alert eye on his buddy, making sure that everything’s all right. He’s a cat that’s not always easy to photograph, because he’s always on the move.
Fable - MW
Vesper is a cuddle-bug, happy to lap-sit. He’s the more stay-at-home of the pair at the moment, preferring his cage territory, and defending it from other cats with warning squeaks.  Once he gets out and about, he will be easily confused with Miller – the latter is a bit bigger, with a slightly harsher coat; Vesper’s coat is softer, he has more flecks of white in it, and a little Harry Potter scar-like marking of white hairs on his face.
Vesper - BC
Both are now venturing further afield, especially in the evening, when things are quieter and wet food is on offer. They’re not interacting much with other cats, but they love human attention.
We’ve had cat-pairs come in before, and then drift apart – Wickham (soon to be profiled) came in to us with his buddy Gidget and inhabited the same central cage in the Hill House. That was a relationship that didn’t last; Gidget has relocated to the Connor, while Wickham remains in the Hill.  I have a feeling that it won’t be the case with Vesper and Fable – after 10 years together, they’re not going to let a relocation to the Cat Sanctuary affect a very happy relationship!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Chris Peters and Michele Wright

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Who could ever look at this cute face, and not fall in love?
That was certainly the case for this pretty girl, who came into the SPCA in Vancouver as a pregnant mom, and was adopted by a couple who just fell for her. Like many cats in a shelter situation, she was very shy, and they took her home and named her Pixie, confident that the shyness would wear off and she would warm to them.
Didn’t happen!
They must have been very good cat-parents, because they were endlessly patient with her shyness, and her ability to hide herself away.  They didn’t push her to interact, but as any owner of a feral cat knows, you wonder how long you can live with a shadow permanently lurking under the bed.  By the sixth year of her time with them, she had progressed to sitting beside her human dad on the couch, and allowing just a little petting before running away to her hiding place again.
Then something happened that made it necessary for them to move – and not just a single move, but one that would probably involve several transitions.  They loved her, and they knew that this would be very stressful for her. And so they brought her to us, seeking sanctuary for her, and a place where she might feel safe.
Her original name of Pixie suited the scared, wary creature she was at the beginning, but Leslie thought she needed a name-change to suit the classy little cat she could be.  Her lovely dilute colouring reminds us somewhat of Princess Diva and of Latte - both of whom are very much their own personalities - and Leslie named her Chanel, hoping that she would grow into the confidence of her classy namesake. For the first while Chanel lived in the DoubleWide, in a quiet corner cage. She accepted visitors from the shelter of her box, but firmly stayed inside – the volume of her purring made it clear that petting was welcome, but her non-appearance also sent a very clear message.
Finally she was moved over to the Moore House – the area also known as “GeriCatrics”. Chanel was not that old – probably no more than 7 or 8 – but the quiet life in the Moore House was much more to her taste.  For some time she preferred to hang out in a shelter of some kind – preferably one that was just out of reach. She didn’t allow for our determined Kitty Comforters, who were quite prepared to perch precariously on a chair in order to pet her and remind her that humans have their uses.
In the last year or so she has improved in confidence, wallowing in caresses when offered, and interacting fairly peaceably with the other cats – in particular, with Sophia, with whom she can often be found snuggling. For Chanel, the Sanctuary is truly a place where she can feel secure.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Chris Peters, Michele Wright

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Front Courtyard Trio

Figaro - MW
From time to time we still have cats coming in from a privately run Sunshine Coast shelter that is reducing numbers in preparation for closing. One trio that arrived together ended up caged together in the Hill House, and, a year later, they can still be found in the same area, now that they’re out and about.
Figaro (L) & Spirit (R) - MW
The most striking one of the three is Figaro, introduced a few weeks back. Figaro is sometime confused with Spirit, also a handsome tuxedo, but Figaro’s facial markings are much more defined, and he is definitely more shy with humans.
Figaro hiding - MW
He is interested in us, and will accept treats if they’re thrown his way, but he’s usually not ready for more than the odd fleeting touch; he's very selective in the people he will approach, and from whom he will accept petting.  What he does like is to be touched by other cats! He has shown himself to be something of a cat-magnet in the front courtyard, and has a following of friends to rival Daniel’s.
Reefer loves to play - MD
Many of them are little black cats – I’m still trying to sort out Beetle and Frisky, Cyrano, Shady and Reefer.
Handsome boy! - MW
Reefer was the second of the trio in the Hill House cage. He’s less shy than some of the others, and is one of the cats that seems to have a constant low-grade cold – at least, he can mostly be distinguished by a slightly snotty nose, though it doesn’t slow him down at all. He and Figaro romp and play-fight, especially when egged on by a little catnip
Reefer & Figaro haing fun - MW
The third of the trio is a very different sort of cat.
Hunny Bun - MD
Her name is Hunny Bun, and we’re told she was found as a kitten in the same place as Honey Bear, the stunning Siamese cross in the back courtyard– it’s possible that they’re litter mates, despite their very different appearances, because female cats in heat are quite indiscriminate about their partners, and litter-mates may have more than one sire.  Honey Bear came to us before the other three, presumably because he has a neurological problem and was therefore easier to catch!
You can't see me! - MW
Hunny Bun is very shy, wary of humans, and quick to find herself a hiding place when approached. Like Reefer and Figaro, she spends most of her time in the feral cat area we call “The Old Rabbit Area”- a section of the courtyard that is covered but has an outdoor feeling. All the shelves in it are draped so that feral cats can feel safely hidden – unlike the beds in the Connor or the Hill House, which are uncovered.
Hunny Bun on the guarded prowl - MW
We have a number of cats who arrived as ferals and now are quite relaxed with human contact – Jamie, Gilbert, Pogo, Latte... to name just a few. We hope that with time and patience, these three may join the “I Love Humans” club at the Sanctuary.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper & Michele Wright

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Oops! - wrong name!

One of the joys of being a RAPS staff person with the right sort of home is that you end up looking after a variety of temporary visitors. Sanctuary Manager Janet is an experienced foster-mom, as well as all the other things she does for RAPS, and she stepped up when a tubby little black cat came in, possibly pregnant.  RAPS pregnant moms are always fostered, so that the kittens can get lots of handling and socialization before coming to the Shelter for adoption. It was almost impossible to do any sort of examination;  this was a cat who was NOT happy about being approached, let alone handled. So Janet tucked the little black cat away in her kitten room, named her BeyoncĂ©, and waited for her to pop – and waited... and waited...  
With this belly, no surprise that we were fooled!  BC
Weeks later, there was still no sign of kittens. Concerned, Janet finally managed to maneuver the cat into a cage and headed off to the vet. One sedative and examination later, the vet said, “Well, actually – she’s a he....”  Rather than the expected C-section, there was a quick neuter surgery, and a one-way trip to the Sanctuary.
BeyoncĂ© was obviously no longer an appropriate name, so he was re-named Jay-Z. Once the hormones had stopped driving his body, he calmed down quite a lot, and it wasn’t long before first staff and then Kitty Comforters were in, visiting with him. He proved to be quite playful, and a small black paw was often seen under the cage door, dabbling after a toy that had escaped.
with Pancake, and a wand toy - MD
Once released, Jay-Z settled well into life in the Double-Wide.  Sometimes black cats can vanish into anonymity, but the cone he wore after surgery left enough mark on his fur that it was easy to distinguish him from the other cats, and by the time it had faded, his personality had made itself obvious. His other distinguishing mark is his eyes – most black cats have yellow or gold eyes (something to do with the melanin in the skin) – Jay-Z’s are the most beautiful pale green.
With four on the floor, he’s a stocky little boy; but he’s often found lying on his back, and it’s easy to see how the belly might have fooled everyone at the beginning. He loves to play – wand toys in the hands of a human are his favourite, but he’s often found batting something around by himself. He’s cat-social and ready to join the crowd when treats are on offer, but also happy to have a caressing hand from a human sharing the DoubleWide couch with him.
playing on a sleeping visitor - VL

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, Michele Wright
Video by Vicky Lo