|Daisy the unique – lover of everyone (MW)
In the summer of 2014 I took over the Neko Blog from its creator, Claire Fossey, and moved it from being (initially) a series of 2 or 3-times weekly vignettes built around Claire’s photographic close encounters with a variety of RAPS cats, to a weekly feature that used the work of our many talented photographers to explore the situations of some of our cats in more detail. I had hoped that it might be something I could coordinate rather than create single-handedly, but though I have had some wonderful contributions from the late and beloved Marianne Moore, Pauline Chin and several other contributors with whom I co-wrote or ghost-wrote material, I discovered that keeping it a weekly regular event required regular solo writing.
|The yin and yang of Yogi and Wobbly Bob (VL)
More than seven years later, this is my 300th solo blog, and I had to think about whether I wanted it to be just another cat-profile, or how I might approach it. Having discovered the Sanctuary in the spring of 2010, I’ve encountered my share of cats with a variety of purrrsonalities. And its those cats who’ve kept me coming back, week after week, and kept me writing their stories – both for other volunteers, and for the many people who may not be able to visit in person, but have come to know the Sanctuary through the blog, through Facebook and Instagram. So here, for my 300th blog, are some of the cats with whom I have had deep attachments.
My volunteer shifts in the first few years were mainly in the front – either the main courtyard or in the Leukemia area, which we called Old Aids. Tigger was an early encounter. A front courtyard icon, he was a loner, as far as cat society went, often found contributing to what I called Pooh Corner. But a little attention was welcomed, and once Tigger had established you as one of His People, he would come trotting over, and reach up, asking to be carried. His favourite carrying position was upright, over the shoulder, and he would dig his claws in to hold himself in place – I have more than a few T-shirts with Tigger claw-holes on the back.
|Kojak – the opposite of his namesake (MW)
Kojak did not want to be friends for some time. He was a stray cat who found us but took a while to walk into the trap; he proved to be leukemia positive, so had the sense to come to the one place where he would be safe. He didn’t feel safe for some time; I have memories of cleaning in Old Aids, while one of the med-staff tucked herself into the cage with this hissy, defensive cat, gradually acclimating him to human contact. Month by month he emerged from his shell, encouraged by tidbits initially, and then by the lure of love and laps.
|Heart-cat Skittles (BC)
Other RAPS cat-loves have come and gone – Skittles transformed from feral to friendly over the course of a year, and adored his lap-time; Shadrack was a wary cage-top feral when I arrived, and a devoted chickaholic in his last few years. I was one of a number of people who adored handsome Dell – so fierce when he came to us, and such a cuddle-bug in the end; sneezy Yogi, and needy Emery, gentle Gilbert and grumpy Leland, and many more, are all part of what is at the heart of the RAPS Sanctuary for me.
|Our sweet lion, Dell (MD)
We have been able to be a home for cats who would probably not have survived otherwise: disabled WobblyBob, crippled Terry, genetically challenged Daisy who loved everyone, and many cats with Manx Syndrome.
|Sylar – wondering whether to get closer (KN)
But it’s not just retrospective – every week I try and find out something about a new cat, by observation or by picking the brains of one of the med staff. Because I work in several areas in the Sanctuary, I have the chance to get to know a wide variety of cats, and to establish relationships with them. Little old lady Sara-Lee is a regular companion – on a lap at coffee break, or helping quality control at feeding time. Grey Sylar hears my voice, and though he’s still not ready to be touched, he’s now venturing close enough to accept tidbits from my hand.
|Treats, please? (KN)
I can’t enter the SingleWide without Bossanova’s pleading eyes asking for attention (and chicken). I am loving getting to know the cats who came to us from Alberta – especially now that Pen 3 is open, and they can explore, and become braver by the day.
|William Shakespurr, Jason, Golden – Pen 3 cats (LBF)
And I feel blessed to work with so many wonderful people who risk all the scratches and scars that come with dealing with scared cats, who scoop poop and clean up messes, who turn up to work on Christmas Day, or who brave rain and snow and heatwave to make life more bearable for these sweet creatures who depend on us. There are volunteers who are new, and for whom everything is a discovery, and there are volunteers who have served for a long time, and who continue to serve faithfully because they won’t let the cats down.
|Sara Lee loves Sanctuary life (LP)
There are Kitty Comforters with their endless patience; photographers waiting to catch the perfect “catness” of a model; students learning new things; people who bring in donations of special foods or furniture or cat-toys – there are so many generous hearts on this team. Volunteering at the RAPS Sanctuary is a privilege, and one I value immensely – and I look forward to sharing more cat profiles in future blogs.