Cat Sanctuary


A common view of Minuet (KN)

RAPS got its beginnings through the devoted volunteers who established Richmond’s Homeless Cats back in the late ‘80s in response to the increasing number of feral cats in the municipality. Through years of TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) and of establishing the Sanctuary where urban development made releasing colonies an impossibility, numbers have gradually come under control. But it only takes a little carelessness, and we can see how easily the population surges.

Before the pandemic, a well-meaning Richmond resident fed stray cats without realizing the implications. Suddenly, there were cats everywhere, and the family called on RAPS for help. The staff took on a major trapping operation and brought them into the Sanctuary – adults, teens and kittens. The latter were all adopted – cuteness has its uses! Two adult males, Pax and Zeus, tested positive for FIV and were moved into the Val Jones area, while most of the youngsters were put in Pen 6. Only Aphrodite eventually tamed enough to be adopted; the others are still living a semi-feral life around Pen One. Minuet was not one of the initial colony trapped and brought in; she arrived a couple of weeks later, but it was obvious that she and Aphrodite were related, and initially she remained with her family.

Minuet’s sister Aphrodite in her new home (MD)

Given the FIV diagnosis, a careful eye was kept on the group and sadly, we discovered that Athena carried the FeLV virus, and Minuet the FIV virus, and both were transferred before the rest of the colony was released to the back courtyar – Athena into OldAids with the other leukemia cats, and Minuet into Val Jones. Unfortunately by then both Pax and Zeus had both been adopted, and poor Minuet found herself in a new area with a whole bunch of unfamiliar cats.  Like the rest of her family, she was very shy, and she took herself out of everyone’s view and found a hiding place.

Hunched on her shelf : “don’t bug me!” (KN)

Kitty Comforter Mel was not having any of this!  Mel had adopted Minuet’s sister Aphrodite, and was determined to have Minuet feeling more comfortable. She would sit beside the draped shelf where Minuet hid and offer toys and tidbits, or brush the shy girl without attempting to make eye contact. Minuet accepted this, but was not ready for more.

A floofy pile of Minuet and Jim (MD)

And then Jim got in on the action…

Jim had come to us from Alberta with his buddy Frank, and was almost immediately comfortable with us all. He is a cuddler, a little pushy and a lot loving. He loved Frank most of all, but he had lots of love to go around, and he decided that Minuet needed it, so he moved in on her. Increasingly, we checked Minuet’s shelf to find her and Jim cuddled there. And since Jim loved being petted, Minuet learned to enjoy it as well. When Frank passed, the two became more and more an item, and Minuet began appearing in the courtyard more openly, accepting attention more from Mel and other volunteers.

Magnus and Minuet (MS)

Now she is more relaxed and comfortable with regular visitors, joining the crowd looking for treats, pushing her way into the favoured spot under the heat lamp, and even sharing space with Magnus, who is not usually a fan of other cats. The Val Jones cats are the FIV+ cats who are most comfortable with humans, and the more likely to be adopted; Minuet would probably not handle that sort of change well unless it was to go with someone she trusted, but it is good to see her more relaxed and at home in her surroundings.

Catnip makes everything better (KN)

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Melanie Draper, Karen Nicholson, Molly Sjerdal
Featured image: Lisa Brill Friesen