When Richmond Homeless Cats first established the Sanctuary in 1999, the first structure there was a single-wide trailer. First located near the road, it was subsequently moved to its current position on the east side of what would become the main courtyard.
Trailers like this are not really expected to have a long life – especially when exposed not just to standard problems like damp and ants, but also to cat-pee and busily digging claws. This past summer the single-wide trailer was closed for renovations. That in itself was a major operation, made possible only by the deck on the east side; all of the furniture was relocated, a barrier was built across the main room, and finally the cats were ejected into the south side and the deck.
Ask any of the staff or single-wide volunteers about the renovations and eyes will roll. The loss of a washer-dryer and sink was a pretty significant difficulty, given the amount of laundry we get through. Handy-man Doug could be found working at all hours – the boiler was replaced, the wiring re-done, the piping moved, new cabinets and sink installed, new windows, repaired walls and ceiling, and finally the washing machine and dryer replaced and finally the divider was removed.
Quickly the cats moved back in, taking over the space with great delight. The crowded back deck suddenly became vacant (especially when we were hit with a cold snap) and furry bodies claimed any warm spot they could find. The following video comes from long-time RAPS supporter Ed Ng, who sponsors several of these cats.
The cold snap just mentioned produced a number of vacancies in volunteer slots, as people found it impossible to get to their shifts. Recently I covered someone else’s feeding shift in the single-wide. I’m rarely in there unless I’m subbing for someone, and what I find frustrating then is that there’s nobody I can ask about identifying individuals in a roomful of cats!
It was nice to work in the single-wide again, with counter-space and storage all well-organised, Counter-space, of course, is rapidly taken over by the cats, hoping for advance tasting. I usually get the first four plates of food down to the floor quickly, and get them distracted, while I dish out the other platefuls for the cage-tops, the deck, and the porch and Newcomers area. Once the cans are washed out for recycling, it’s time to be changing water-bowls and checking dry food.
This is time I enjoy – feeling less rushed, and able to interact with cats, and make some new acquaintances, which I will blog about in future weeks. We have three youngsters who have tested positive for FeLV, and they’re making their home in the office at the back; all three are still very nervous and the kitty comforters are working on getting them more relaxed with people. Three of the cats who had a temporary home in that room when they were relocated from the Shelter are now with us permanently in the main room and are still acclimatizing; Spooky in particular does NOT like other cats, and wants to get back into the Leukemia Room! Big Debo has just been moved in from the Moore House, and needed a little extra fussing. Chrissy has had chronic diarrhea, which we finally have under control, but it will probably mean that she will need to live caged or separate in order that we can monitor her diet.
With everything checked and tidy, I went to see who was out on the deck. Though it was cold, there were a couple of cuddle-puddles up on the shelf, and the three cow-cats – Mya, Teagan and Kirsty – were all out and about.
Teagan is very snuggly – she immediately demanded a lap and my attention. Kirsty was already settled on the couch by us and didn’t want to move, but was ready to accept petting. Mya was not certain – she hovered anxiously and then finally came up onto the back of the couch. Part of her nervousness was because big Bossanova was also hovering and wanting to come in on the cuddle. He has made such progress – from the angry feral who first came to us, to the shy boy who wouldn’t come down off the shelf, to this cat who wants attention, to the extent of coming up on a lap. He’s also going through into the main room at last – something most of the cow-cats aren’t quite willing to do just yet.
The evening ended with treats – I usually bring a baggie of chicken bits, and there is much competition over who gets what. Then lights out, and time for cats to sleep…