Cat Sanctuary

Jim & Frank

The Val Jones corner has seen a variety of uses and inhabitants.

Jim – MW

When it was first conceived, with a bequest from the estate of Sanctuary angel Val Jones, it was simply a couple of cabins in a quiet site – a place for the shyer cats to avoid the crowd (and in those days, it WAS a crowd!), and a nice corner to sit and cuddle with feline friends.

Frank & Jim like each other’s company – DW

In 2014 we had a sudden influx of FeLV cats. Feline Leukemia is transmitted in saliva, and cats who share dishes or who groom each other may pass it around. Most small shelters don’t have space to give such cats the isolation care needed for their health and that of others, and it used to be that they were often euthanized. Many BC shelters now know about the RAPS Sanctuary, and most of our leukemia cats come from outside Richmond. There is a vaccine against the virus, but there is no cure, once it is acquired (though sometimes it goes into spontaneous remission). The Val Jones corner got fenced off, with a double-gate to prevent inadvertent escapes from either side, and the leukemia cats had more room to move around.

Frank – MW

Over the next four years the population of cats in the area declined – once cats have the virus, their immune systems are compromised, and in many cases, we don’t have them long.  At the same time, we were seeing an increase in the number of FIV cats coming into our care.  So last year the Val Jones area was sanitized, and repurposed for a group of cats from the New Aids pen, and several newcomers joined the clowder.

Jim posing – LBF

Pops and Jack Sparrow were the centre of this new group, and their mobility issues meant that floor covering was an issue, so we also needed to know that the others were not consistent pee-ers. Because the new pen was just off the main courtyard, we wanted the population to be made up of friendly cats, and there was a little mix-and-match-ing until we got a combination of cats who were confident without being too assertive. Arnie, orange Magnus, Jerry and Tia were considered the best options and the group was joined by Zeus (now adopted) and Pax, two of the adults from last year’s bounty of trapping. Shortly after, newcomers Jim and Frank arrived on the scene, and the population has stabilized there.

Jim on the prowl – MW

The newcomers were very shy when they first arrived from a shelter in Alberta, where their FIV status and wariness with humans made them unlikely candidates for adoption.  Initially they were also very wary with us – Jim had the big bug-eyed “don’t touch me” look – but by the time they’d been in the Val Jones for a little while, they were comfortable with people and confident with other cats. We already had a Jimmy, and we had cranky Frankie (and had loved and lost sweet Franko), so I wanted to change their names – perhaps Hendrix and Zappa? – but they have just remained Jim and Frank (or, as Karen calls them, FrankenJim).  Jim is a big chunk of grey fluff who loves cuddles – he’s quick to leap up on a lap, put paws up on your chest and give head-rubs. His one fault as a cuddle-bug is that he’s constantly on the move; he loves to be held, but he doesn’t relax for long.

Frank – MW

His buddy Frank is a smaller tuxie, with smoke pale fur under a black exterior – also very friendly, though less demanding of attention. A little time with Jim and Frank is usually spent with Jim bunting my face and Frank offering ankle-rubs.

Jim’s look of love – KN

In these days of pandemic, with no visitors and fewer volunteers, it’s sad that more people don’t get to meet these two buddies. FIV cats are as adoptable as any – they just need to be in a situation where they don’t fight with other cats, and be monitored for health issues. Many of our FIV cats live long healthy lives, in spite of their condition, and these two would make wonderful companions.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Karen Nicholson, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright