|Pistachio (now adopted) – MW|
Just over ten years ago, I discovered the Cat Sanctuary. There was no signage; it was known in the early days as Richmond’s best-kept secret – mainly because they didn’t want people just dumping off unwanted cats, but instead needed them to do surrenders at the City Shelter. Like many newcomers to the Sanctuary, I must have driven past it many times, not knowing of its existence – and experiencing it for the first time touched my heart deeply. Sanctuary was the perfect word – this was a place of safety for cats and humans alike. Juggling several part-time jobs, I was concerned that my commitments would conflict with giving time here, but I signed up for a regular shift.
|Hot summer evenings – CF|
At that time we must have had nearly eight hundred cats in residence. The legacy of a feral cat problem in Richmond, tackled head-on by Carol Reichert and her team, meant many cats who were unadoptable for one reason or another. Wherever I went, I met new cats – how would I ever learn who they all were?
|Mario and Shrek – CF|
I was introduced to Claire Fossey’s Neko Blog. Claire had begun volunteering at the Sanctuary a year before, and in August 2009 she began a pattern of feeding the Double-Wide cats on a Monday evening, and then wandering the Sanctuary with her big camera. Initially her subjects were the cats she adopted from the Sanctuary, but she quickly branched out, introducing readers to cats all around the Sanctuary. Sometimes one of the med staff would suggest a subject, but more likely, a cat would take her fancy, photos would get taken, a little research done with one of the staff, and a blog entry would appear. A Monday night’s work would produce material for several blogs. In the first four months, Claire wrote more than 70 feline profiles, posting three times a week.
|Hannah – CF|
For new volunteers, this was golden! You got introduced to a new cat, and quickly hunted up their bio in Claire’s blog – with background details to round out the picture, you were much more likely to remember the cat when you encountered it again! Claire’s beautiful pictures were also a great memory aid when it came to identifying a new friend.
|The always unpredictable Baby – CF|
Life got busier for Claire. And while she still kept up her weekly volunteer shift, by 2014 the blog was getting fewer entries as her available time was reduced. In the fall of 2012 I had headed up the first Sanctuary Calendar (2013) in which Claire was one of the contributing photographers. In 2014 I suggested that I might take on coordinating the blog, with entries from other volunteers. I moved it to a weekly release, but looked to have entries in a bit more depth and detail than the earlier vignettes. My most consistent contributor was our beloved Marianne Moore, who wrote lovely profiles of some of our senior cats, as well as sharing with us the trials of taming scared or semi-feral cats like Chimo. Marianne’s last entry was her portrait of sweet Nova, in the Single-Wide.
|Selena Marchetti’s portrait of Marianne Moore
with all her favourites
Since Marianne’s passing, a number of blogs have been offered by volunteer Pauline Chin, and we’ve had entries from Moira Langley, Lisa Parker, and from several volunteers who have blogged for us about cats they’ve adopted from the Sanctuary. But most of the blogs in the last six years have been mine, and it’s been a pleasurable challenge to plan ahead for each entry. Sometimes the words flow easily; sometimes I need to rework in detail; I usually need to check back-stories with one of the med staff before each one goes to Manager Lisa Parker for approval.
|Tinker – MW|
Recently I added an upcoming blog to the draft list on the website, and realized that the blog count stood at 999! So this thousandth blog is a tribute to all the writers, co-writers, and subjects both human and feline that have made it possible – about two-thirds of the actual count is Claire’s, but it’s been a labour of love for us all.
|Darius – KN|
The blog would not be what it is without the contributions of many photographers, and I need to extend particular thanks to Michele Wright and to Karen Nicholson, whose beautiful work occurs again and again. Thanks also to Lisa Brill-Friesen, Joanne Nicholson, Debbie Wolanski and all the staff and volunteers whose photos have appeared on Facebook, only to be appropriated for a blog entry.
|The ferals are coming: Steele, Smithy & Quinn! – KN|
A thousand blogs…. and that will be many more than a thousand cats, since sometimes a blog is a single profile, but sometimes it’s about a group of cats, or a common feature. Somehow, I don’t think there are going to be any lack of future subjects to blog about.
Drawing of Marianne Moore by Selena Marchetti