RAPS is short for Richmond Animal Protection Society, a registered charity and operator of a sanctuary which houses and cares for more than 400 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.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pen 2 cats - 2:Too Many Tabbies!

Calvin - MW
The Pen 2 cats were introduced in a recent blog, with some specific focus on the black, and black-and-white inhabitants.
Too many tabbies - DA
I hesitated over tackling an introduction to the cats in this pen, because five of them are at first sight seemingly identical tabbies, and it’s difficult to tell them all apart until you spend real time with them.  All of them have the characteristic tabby M marking on their foreheads, but their subtler markings vary.  Most tabbies have lines that appear to go from the corners of their eyes, and may run parallel or otherwise; it’s worth looking also for cheek markings and for the chest rings that may run cleanly or be interrupted
Sophie - MW
The most outgoing and confident of the Pen 5 tabbies is Sophie – she frequently meets visitors at the gate and demands attention. Sophie is a tubby-tabby, and not afraid to indulge in leg-rubs; she solicits petting, but really wants it to consist mainly of head-rubbing, and she is quick to object when the hand moves too far down her back.
Calvin - MW
Insofar as a tabby can be elegant, it’s personified (?catified) in Calvin.  He is leggy and streamlined; his facial markings are the easiest to distinguish, because the outer strokes of his M marking are brown smudges rather than black lines. Both he and his buddy Chase have yellow eyes; Chase has the clearer M marking, and his cheek lines are slightly divergent, where Calvin’s are more convergent.  Chase is a bit more wary of human contact than Calvin, who, like Sophie, solicits petting.
Chase says "I'm not ready for contact!" - MW
Calvin is photographer Michele Wright’s favourite of the Pen 2 cats, and her affection is clear in the beautiful pictures she takes of him.
Calvin - MW
The other tabby that is easy to distinguish is Celeste, who has the most beautiful big round green eyes  – they remind me of the eyes of our recently departed Sophie’s, in the Moore House.
Celeste - MW
Celeste is a bit smaller than the others, and her M marking has a strong dark strokes on the outside. She has dark under-eye shading and convergent cheek-lines
Zivko - BC
Looking very like Sophie, but much less outgoing is Zivko.  His tabby M markings are much darker, the outer strokes being black smudges, and his cheek markings are more varied than Sophie’s clear lines. He also has a small white chest-spot. He does not want to be petted – he would rather stay away from humans, but when approached, regards the finger offered for sniffing with great disdain; his expression says “You expect me to bunt against THAT?”
Zivko - MW
A challenge to volunteers to get to know these five!  When pen 2 is opened in a month or so, they’ll be venturing out – and then we have to be able to distinguish them from Stella and LouLou and Jody and the many other back-courtyard tabbies in our care.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Derya Aydede, Brigid Coult & Michele Wright

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Cheddar, Keanu & Reno

Cheddar & Reno - MW
Many volunteers have probably never met these three young cats in the Leukemia Room of the Single Wide, an area that doubles as the Sanctuary office. Although it’s a nice bright room, it’s a bit “off the beaten track” for even the most regular volunteers. In September, 2016, Keanu, Cheddar and Reno were transferred to RAPS from a shelter on Vancouver Island that didn’t have the facilities to keep cats who’d tested positive for the leukemia virus. Fortunately, we were able to take them into our care and they came to the Sanctuary. Reno was only about one year old at the time; Keanu and Cheddar just a few months old. 
Keanu & Cheddar - MW
Because the Leukemia Room was temporarily occupied by a few cats from the City Shelter, the youngsters started out in “Animal Care Staff Only” cages in Hill House before being moved to their present location in November. Sometimes, young cats who test positive for leukemia overcome the virus and test negative when they’re a little older but, unfortunately, that hasn’t happened with these three cuties. They’ve just recently re-tested positive so will soon be on the move again, this time to a larger area in another building. It has an open deck so they’ll be able to enjoy the breeze, watch the birds go by and, best of all, be accessible for visits from more volunteers.
Keanu - MM
The two boys, Keanu and Cheddar, were quite shy but enjoyed being petted right from the start. Poor Keanu had a bit of a setback when he had to be treated for a cold and eye infection but seems to have forgotten that. Although they’re still easily startled, the guys have progressed to rolling over for tummy rubs! It’s hoped that more encounters with people will make them much braver still.
Cheddar - MM
Reno, being that much older when she arrived, has had a more difficult time trusting us. Up until just recently, any attempt by me to touch her or even get close to her with a string toy or treat was met with a loud hiss and swats. But then she learned that the wand of a string toy rubbed on her chin felt good and that if she wanted a treat she had to edge in close to the other two, even if that meant being touched by my hand – eeek! 
Reno - MM
However, after many visits with her and quite a bit of blood loss (all mine, none hers), she one day took a leap of faith and rested her front paws on my hand. Breakthrough! She then quickly moved past that to sniffing my finger and allowing a few little cheek and ear rubs. If I move in too fast, she’ll slap my hand but with her claws retracted and, when her back is turned to look out the window, she’ll even tolerate some proper petting down her back! I don’t expect that she’ll ever turn into a cuddling, purring lap cat, but I like to think that she’ll at least come to find pleasure and comfort from us big, scary people and that she’ll be healthy enough to enjoy those interactions with us for many, many years to come.       

Blog by Marianne Moore
Photos by Marianne Moore & Michele Wright

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Pen 2 cats - an introduction

Tubby - MW
RAPS runs both the City Shelter, on No 5 Road, and the Sanctuary, and there’s some give-and-take between the two. When we have a cat come to us who turns out to be very friendly, it will often be taken over to the Shelter, where it has a chance of being seen by more people, and potentially adopted. Conversely, cats who have been at the Shelter for some time and not been adopted may end up with us.
Kevin - AM
Last year we had a batch of such cats come to us. Pen 2 was cleared out and closed to back courtyard cats, and the transition was made – there were more than a dozen newcomers: four tabbies, three oranges, a handful of calicos and torties, two blacks and two tuxedos.
Booty - AM
Why were they not adopted? There was a variety of reasons. Some were very shy; when potential adopters appeared, the cats would vanish, only to re-emerge when the coast was clear. Others were more approachable, but erratic in reactions – biting and swatting does not encourage people to offer a home to a cat. Still others proved to have bad bathroom habits – peeing in odd corners, probably to try and establish territory, or just managing to miss the litter box.
Palma - MW
It was decided to keep them all together as a colony, since they came together from the Shelter.  For the first few weeks they kept mostly to their cabin, but visits from volunteers – including some of the people who had cared for them at 5 Road – made them more comfortable with new surroundings. Some settled in very quickly; others remained wary.
Tubby - MW
Those of us who clean the back pens quickly realised that this was the pen that would always need work. In spite of generous litter-boxes and outside areas in which to do their thing, there is very often poop on the floor, litter all over the matting and well paw-dabbled dirty water.  We established a feeding station at the back of the cabin for the shyer cats who preferred to hold back, as well as the usual water and dry food outside the door and inside.
Kevin - DA
Personalities began to emerge. Nobody can miss tuxedo Tubby – the only long-haired one in the set. Tubby is one of the erratic-reactions cats – mostly he’s very friendly, and then suddenly he’s had enough and out come the claws and teeth. Poor Tubby has some reason – he’s one of those long-hair cats that mats easily, and sometimes needs shaving in patches; occasionally you will find Tubby-hair around, where he’s either been self-grooming or been in a fight with someone.  The other tux in the family is Booty – Booty is shy, but more willing to explore the ranges of the pen than some of his buddies.
Booty - PH
There are two black cats with a small white patch on the chest : Kevin and Palma, both of whom are extremely shy. I understand that the only way to tell the difference between them is that Kevin has white hair inside his ears!
Tubby sunbathing - MW
Over the next couple of months I will hope to learn to identify more individuals in this lovely clowder of cats, and introduce them to a wider circle of friends.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Derya Aydede, Phaedra Hardman, Angelina Mak, Michele Wright

Saturday, June 3, 2017

I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat!

For a handsome tuxedo cat, there are some names that immediately come to mind.  Who doesn’t remember the antics of Tweetie-Pie’s arch-enemy?
So with the number of Bobbys that have passed through our hands at the Sanctuary, it’s interesting that there have been so few Sylvesters.  The first Sylvester I knew, you can meet here – he was a large cat who lived in the Moore House with the older inhabitants.   Today's Sylvester came to us as a pretty suspicious boy in the winter of 2011, and it took him a good while to decide that humans were to be trusted. I understand there was an earlier Sylvester who passed in 2009
He was picked up from a farm near Steveston Highway, but we think he may have been a stray rather than a feral. He had already been neutered, and his right ear is slightly notched so he may be a TNR (Trap/Neuter/Release) cat like Luke or Marilee, though their ear-clip is much more obvious. He is one of the cats with a shortened tail, with a lump at the end - whether an injury or a genetic marker, we don't know. For a good while he held himself apart from the usual swarms of cats that greet a visitor, but he’s very food-motivated, and it wasn’t long before he was hovering hopefully on the edge of the crowd.
He caught the eye of long-time volunteer and Board member Karen Yu, who made something of a project of him, coaxing him closer and closer until he allowed himself to be handled.  He’s still very picky about who he allows to touch him; if there is no food on offer, he’d rather curl up somewhere separate and watch what’s going on.
Karen says:
Sylvester only made himself known to me a couple of years ago, even though he’d been at the Sanctuary since 2011.  One day, I showed up and noticed that there was a black and white face peering through the fence.  Since that time, I’ve found him at the gate almost every time I arrive so I make it a point to spend time with him, whether to give him treats and/or give him some attention.  Last year, Sylvester had some balance issues so I spent quite a bit of time in his cage with him.  His short crooked tail reminded me of one of the first cats I took home from the Sanctuary, Lanny, and Sylvester’s habit of waiting for me by the gate was reminiscent of another favourite, Tex.  Seeing Sylvester faithfully wait for me is hard to resist, so I have to admit that he gets the majority of treats that I bring, although other front courtyard cats like Cagney and Blaze have learned that being in Sylvester’s vicinity gives them some benefits.  I hope that because of the time (and treats) I spend with Sylvester that he has become more comfortable being around other people, so that others can also see what a special cat he is.
Sylvester hanging out with Little Orange - MW
He’s not one of the actively antisocial cats like Leland, but he’s pretty picky about his feline company as well – not a snuggler, but willing to sit next to a chosen friend for a little while. He and his tuxedo pal Miller are two of the cats that are not interested in volunteer Laurie’s Sunday fish offerings; they would much rather pig out on Temptations!
He knows and loves Karen, coming to meet her on the evenings she’s working at the Sanctuary. The fact that she has a pocket full of treats doesn’t hurt!  And you won’t hear him saying “Sufferin’ Succotash!” like his namesake.  It's more likely to be "More crunchies, please!"

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Moira Langley, Debbie Wolanski & Michele Wright

Friday, May 26, 2017

Honey Bear

This sweet boy is another that has come to us from a private shelter that is closing.  Normally a snowshoe Siamese like this would be much in demand, but Honey Bear has some handicaps.  He has a neurological disorder that affects his rear end, making him incontinent, as well as more liable to kidney infections.  He’s likely not more than a couple of years old - and yes, his eyes really are that blue!.

We had him caged for a while when he first arrived, and he proved to be very ready for contact with humans, welcoming visitors, though occasionally getting a little over-excited. His cage needed to be cleaned several times a day, since he had no control over bladder and bowels; fortunately his stomach seems to be in good order, and his poops are easy to clean up.
Just hangin' out - MW
Since being allowed out into the general back courtyard population, he has become a little more skittish and less willing to interact with people. He’s not particularly social with other cats, though he’s quite willing to explore around his territory.
The slight awkwardness of his back legs can
be discerned in this photo - CP
Watching him move is rather like watching WobblyBob, though we don’t think their handicaps are identical. We think Bob may have had a stroke that has affected him rather like some form of cerebellar hypoplasia; he’s not very coordinated in walking, or in focusing on offered food. Honey Bear’s handicap is specifically rear end; his front end moves normally, but his back legs in walking move in high “trotting” motions. Interestingly, when he runs, he can often coordinate them.
Watching the world from his cat-tree - CP
Despite his handicap, Honey Bear loves to climb, and his favourite hiding place to chill is right at the top of a big covered cat-tree.  Volunteer Marty spends quite a bit of time with him there, offering the head-rubs he loves.

Like so many of our cats, this is truly Sanctuary for Honey Bear – he would probably be considered unadoptable by other organizations and his chances of survival would be poor.  With us, he has the opportunity to make himself at home, he has the medical monitoring he needs, and he can find many humans who will love him.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Chris Peters and Michele Wright

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Twin by Name

The two Lincolns share a shelf - DW
When we welcome newcomers to the Sanctuary, various things come into play with naming them.  If we know nothing of the cat in question, it’s usually up to the med staff to choose a name – preferably one that’s not already used, and one that begins with an alphabet letter that’s not too well populated.  The cat may be named after someone responsible for catching it (like Zimmer) or if it found its own way to us, it is given the name of a TV detective (Magnum, Kojak, Cagney, Watson...)
Sophia (top) & Sophie (bottom) - BC
But if it comes in to us with a name in place already, we try not to change that – we don’t know how much cats recognize their own names (though they certainly recognize voices). And so, inevitably, we have a few naming duplicates.
Orange & tabby Hannahs - MW
Our two Hannahs both live in the back courtyard.  Neither shows much interest in the other; tabby Hannah prefers people to other cats – vice versa for orange Hannah
Tabby & b/w Lucys - PH
Both our Lucy-cats are ladies of solid proportion, and again, both are back courtyard cats. Tabby Lucy would rather stay in the warmth of the laundry- or tea-room, unless the sun is out, in which case she sunbathes happily; black-and-white Lucy is usually found somewhere round the entrance gate
Cinnamon Bun Lincoln is less elegant and pushier than his long-haired "twin" - MW
The two Lincolns are Double-wide cats who occasionally visit in the back courtyard; both love human attention.  Handsome Lincoln can usually be found posing on one of the DW shelves;  Cinnamon Bun Lincoln (named for his curled tail) can be pushy when it comes to getting human attention, and is occasionally known to make his pee-mark!
Sophie/Sophie/Sophia - MW
 We have several Sophies: there’s tubby Sophie in Pen 2, who’s ready to greet all visitors; tortie Sophie in the Single-Wide; sweet Sophie of the beautiful green eyes in the Moore House – and there’s Sophia, also in the Moore House.
Calista - front (MW) - and back (BC)
Calista is not the most common name – but we have two of them, and they’re both shy. Front courtyard Calista is Renee’s sister; she has her favourite people, but tends to stay out of the way when there are too many visitors around. Back courtyard Calista is still pretty feral, but volunteer Marty has been working with her, and she’s allowing feeding, and (finally) a little petting.
WobblyBob (BC) & BellyRub Bobby (MW)
At one stage we had four or five Bobbys – the only ones now are Belly-Rub Bobby in the front courtyard, who loves everyone (but especially volunteer Chris) and Wobbly Bob in the back, who really only loves people when they have chicken in hand!
Mary SW (MW) & DW (CF)
Mary in the SingleWide is a sweetie; a former feral who has lost her shyness and enjoys attention. Her namesake in the DoubleWide is still very feral, and prefers to stay hidden up on the cage-tops.
MadMax & New Aids Max - MW
Mad Max, also in the DoubleWide, is something of a misnamed boy – neither mad-angry, or mad-crazy; Max is very shy, and wary of humans unless they have something worth hanging around for – he’s another chick-aholic. Beautiful orange/white Max in New Aids is something of a newcomers, and has not had his Neko-profile done yet – watch this space!
Princess with BFF Spike (DW) / manx Princess (MM)
I guess Princess is a fairly common name for female cats. Our royal trio in the Sanctuary includes the beautiful girl who is Spike‘s BFF and hangs about near the med cage, the little black and white manx in the Moore House – less beautiful but entirely lovable – and the elegant Princess Diva, who is the cat who walks by herself in the back courtyard.
Her Highness, Princess Diva - MW
Repeated names -  but all very individual personalities – there’s no confusing one of these cats with his/her “twin”!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Claire Fossey, Phaedra Hardman, 
Marianne Moore, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Silent Meow

Mona - the silent meow - MM
Mona and Jinx are two long-haired girls who came to the Cat Sanctuary from another shelter this past January and, until just recently, I couldn’t tell one from the other.  Although Jinx has tabby colouring and Mona is a tortie, they’re both little, friendly and long-haired and hang out in the Front Courtyard, around or inside the little building known as Connor House.
Jinx - MM
And, they’re both darn cute, more so because they frequently do the “silent meow” thing – they look at you earnestly, their little mouths gape open and it looks like they’re meowing but with the sound turned off.  For some reason, this makes them look particularly cute and appealing.
Booster yelling - MM
Most cats have audible meows and a few, like Booster, make their presence known by yelling, loudly and persistently, to get attention so I wondered why, and how, Jinx and Mona are silent meow-ers.
Jinx the sun-worshipper - BC
Upon consulting “Dr. Google”, I found the scientific explanation of how some cats meow silently.  Apparently, the cat is actually making a sound but at a frequency which mere human beings can’t hear – we can hear up to a measly 20 kilohertz only, while cats can hear sounds of a much higher frequency than that.  So, if a silent-meowing feline wants to tell another feline to shove off, their intention is just as clear to the intruder as if it were screeched.  Okay, so that explained how they do it but didn’t tell me why.  
Mona - PH
Dr. Google goes on at length with the many reasons why cats meow, silently or otherwise – they want food, attention, to be let out and then immediately back in, are annoyed or in pain or just want to greet you.  However, if your cat makes a habit of using a silent meow to communicate with you, it’s possibly because it’s just clever and manipulative enough to know how adorable that looks and is taking full advantage of that to get what it wants.  Fluffy or Tom-Tom quickly figure out what’s going to be most effective to get their people to hop to it and do things their way. And if it works, they’ll keep doing it.
Mona dozing in the sun - BC
Dr. Google concludes by saying that if your precious cat really wants something from you and wants it now, it probably won’t hesitate to let you know, one way or another. Playing cute, for example with a silent meow if the cat do it, pretty much guarantees a positive result.
Piper hopes for a tidbit - MM
Having done the on-line research, it was time to do some practical work – a walk around the sanctuary was called for, with eyes open for silent meows.  It’s interesting how meow-free the place usually is – cats are not vocal in the way dogs are, and cat-noise is the exception rather than the rule. There are a few cats with particularly distinctive voices – Gabby lives up to his name, and Desi can be heard through the back area when he decides to talk. But yes, there are a few silent-meow-ers: Freckles is noted for her voiceless yell for chicken and cute little Orlean uses it to get attention.
Freckles sees chicken coming;  Orlean says "Pet me now!" - MW
Owners of particularly yappy cats might welcome one that meows silently but it seems to be an on again-off again thing.  Jinx and Mona can, and do, meow loudly when they want to get someone’s attention for an important message like “Feed me, now!” or “Why aren’t you picking me up?” but for sheer cuteness appeal, they can really work that silent meow.

Blog by Marianne Moore
Pictures by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Marianne Moore, Michele Wright,