Cat Sanctuary


The life of a cat living in the wild is often a short one, with dangers from the natural world and from humans. Even living in the cat pens with us, injuries can happen – sweet William Shakespurr, from pen 3, was found one morning with a broken leg, probably from an awkward jump, and has had a long convalescence before he could rejoin his buddies in the back courtyard. He was fortunate that we discovered his injury so soon, and that the RAPS Hospital was at hand for immediate surgery. Other cats are not so fortunate. We have two little tripod (tri-paw’d?) cats in the feral area of the front courtyard, and in the last few months another three cats have come in with leg injuries that have necessitated amputation.

Come too close and I’ll smack you!

The first of these three is a cute little tabby who came to us from Animal Allies in Alberta. RAPS has good relationships with rescues throughout the province and outside; Animal Allies was the rescue that all the Pen 3 cats came from, as the result of a major hoarding situation. In the most recent case, they rescued a mostly feral clowder from the home of an elderly man who had passed, and managed to neuter and rehome them in a rural area. Alberta weather doesn’t allow for the same set-up as our Sanctuary, and Animal Allies relies on farmcat placement when it comes to ferals.

Oh, really? You have tasty things?…

However, one of the cats turned out to have a broken leg – in fact, not so much broken as shattered – and the vets decided that it required amputation. The question was then what to do with her – as a tripod, she would always be a bit more at risk, but she was not tame enough to foster out. They reached out to RAPS and we took her in, with the understanding that if she tamed enough, she might be adopted, but if she remained feral, she would have a permanent home with us. She came to us with the name of Sweet Pea, but with three recent Sweet Peas – one of them resident in the front courtyard – the Sanctuary staff decided that a name-change was in order. The two resident tripods are Marmalade and Chutney, and this little tabby was renamed Jelly.

Hanging out in the courtyard (KN)

For a while she was resident in a cage at the back of the Single Wide; a quiet place for her to recover, but one in which she really didn’t get the human attention she really needed – and when she got it, there was mostly a lot of hissing and swatting! Then she was moved to one of the larger cages in the Connor. This was a very successful move – there were more volunteers around for interaction, and most of the Kitty Comforters would start there with her.

Playing outside the Hill House

Everyone who met Jelly fell in love with her!  Initially she would hiss and dab at a visitor, but it was less an angry hiss than a fearful one, and with every visitor who braved the greeting and persevered with petting and treats, she became more confident and more ready to trust. Before long it was decided that her cage would be opened, and for a few days she would scurry from the space she knew towards the door and hide on a lower shelf for a bit, and then dash back “home”. But there’s lots of courage in that little body, and it wasn’t long before she was out in the main courtyard, and then making her home in the Hill House.

“I love you too” slow blinks

Unlike Marmalade and Chutney, who hang out with the ferals in the Old Rabbit Area and who are wary of humans, Jelly is quite happy to approach someone new and chirp at them; she loves being petted, especially when she’s in her favourite bed on the table of the Hill House, where she wriggle-squirms and makes biscuits while enjoying caresses. The feral little girl who came to us has blossomed into a people-loving kitten, and I suspect there will be some competition over who may have the privilege of adopting her at some point soon!

Watch the blog for upcoming stories about our newer tripods…

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Anne Marchetti & Karen Nicholson