By Marianne Moore
Whether they arrive as strays from someone’s back yard, are surrendered by their owners, or are trapped as part of a feral colony living in a soon-to-be-developed empty lot, cats at the Richmond Animal Shelter (operated by RAPS) are considerably more fortunate that those who end up at many other animal shelters. While their intentions are admirable, many shelters simply don’t have the space or resources to keep large numbers of cats indefinitely, especially if they appear to be feral or otherwise unadoptable. Sadly, such shelters are forced to euthanize even healthy, tame cats who aren’t adopted within a given time period. RAPS’ no-kill policy means that even the least adoptable cat who comes to us will live out its natural life safely and comfortably in our care. RAPS’ Cat Sanctuary – a large, enclosed facility in the heart of Richmond’s farmland – makes it possible for us to keep that policy, and the cats, alive. Feral cats or those whose chances for adoption fade over time are transferred from the City Shelter to the Sanctuary.
Usually, depending on the circumstances and the space available in both locations, cats are transferred to the Sanctuary singly or two or three at time. Each one starts out in its own large cage where their personalities and potential for taming. if necessary, can be assessed. Then, they’re soon released to roam, either inside one of the large trailers or outside in the fenced courtyards. Staff and volunteers, particularly kitty comforters, focus their attention on those cats who, despite appearing quite anti-social, show potential for taming or re-taming. After just brief periods of gentle, non-threatening interactions, amazing and very satisfactory results have been seen with many such cats!
A few years ago, a large group of cats (about a dozen) was transferred together from the City Shelter to the Sanctuary. This group included Walker, May, Adam and chubby Capilano – you can see their photos and read more about them on The Neko Files blog – http://neko-raps.blogspot.ca/2015/07/find-me-home-1-adam-may.html. They were placed in one of the large enclosed back pens, where they quickly learned to enjoy their cozy little house and the surrounding grassy area. They blossomed in this new and comfortable environment, where they could interact with each other and people like “real cats”. A few were eventually transferred back to the City Shelter and subsequently adopted from there.
Recently, another large group of tame and healthy adult cats arrived at the Cat Sanctuary from the City Shelter. It seems that there just aren’t enough suitable forever homes for adult cats, especially those that might have a touchy personality or an occasional lapse in litter box usage. Also, there’s usually stiff competition from a few adorable kittens at the City Shelter! This latest group has happily taken up residence in another large outdoor pen, much to the chagrin of a few other cats who used to claim it as their territory. Fortunately, there are plenty of other outdoor spaces for them to re-locate into and they’ve all sorted themselves out elsewhere.
Like the previous group of transferred casts, this new one includes some real sweethearts! There’s long-haired black and white Tubby, handsome orange Parry and pretty lap cat Minnow, a few very sociable tabbies and others of assorted colours. There will be more photos and stories about them soon in The Neko Files blog – http://neko-raps.blogspot.ca// . It’s a mystery why some of them hadn’t been adopted, despite being at the City Shelter for a long time. They certainly won the hearts of the staff and volunteers there – several of them visit the Sanctuary regularly to spend time with their old friends, evidence of the fond attachments that form between the cats at RAPS and their caregivers. So, although these transferred cats may not (yet) have been adopted into a forever home, they’re safe, happy and very much loved in at least one RAPS location and, in some cases, in both.