Cat Sanctuary

Pen 7 Shy Ones

For as long as I’ve volunteered at the Sanctuary, Pen 7 has been the home for a bunch of very shy cats, known as the Barn Cats.  Initially they were a colony who had been doing pest control at a farm south of Steveston Highway; like a lot of colonies without supervision, their numbers got out of control and Richmond Homeless Cats (as RAPS was at that time) stepped in. Not only were there too many of them, but there was also inbreeding going on, and it was time to end the cycle.  In the end, there were about a dozen of them brought to the Sanctuary in 2008, and Pen 7 became a closed one.

Barncats enjoying treats

They were definitely a feral bunch, but because their pen was so much smaller than the other feral pens, they had to get used to humans popping in and out on them. Most of them never really tamed up, though a few of them became friendly with select visitors. The genetic quirks caused by inbreeding produced a number of curly tails, and, more seriously, some vision problems, so the med staff kept a careful eye on them.

Rodan loved and was loved… (KN)

I realised recently that they’d never been blogged either by Claire, who set up the Neko Blog, or by me; for most of us, I think they were just an anonymous collection of little cats who didn’t want much in the way of attention. There were exceptions; I don’t think there was anyone who didn’t love one-eyed Rodan, whose cage-stays had acclimated him to human contact.

Clementine (MW)

Most of them have passed now – the only “originals” left are Jethro and Clementine. Orange Jethro is still very shy, and he has vision problems. He’s ready to emerge when food is on offer, but not to be touched. Clementine can often be found at the gate when treats are being handed out in the courtyard; she allows touch, but doesn’t really enjoy it.  She is very vocal about not being left out when it comes to food, but when the gate is opened, she doesn’t venture past the threshold. “Escape” is not an issue with the Pen 7 cats; they have their safe territory and don’t want to move beyond it.

Jethro & SweetTart (LBF)

These two were joined by SweetTart, one of the Candy Cats who was originally in Pen 6, but showed a fascination with the neighbouring barn cats and was glad to move in with them. On the other side, Pen 8 had also had a largely feral component, and when we opened it to the courtyard, and brought the Kootenay cats into pen 8, we also moved Hailey in with the barn cats. Hailey and her family had come from a colony Carol Reichert trapped at a cement plant;  Hailey’s best buddy Johnny had passed not long before, and Hailey was glad to be back in a restricted area.  Neither Hailey nor SweetTart are as keen on chicken tidbits as Clementine is, but they frequently hang around when goodies are on offer.

Hailey is still very cautious (KN)

The other current residents of Pen 7 belong to the don’t-see-me variety of ferals. Anya and Buttons keep themselves in the warmth and comfort of the cabin, and don’t venture out at all. In the summer, Anya lived under the drapes covering a cat-tree on the porch, and she wouldn’t even come down to use the litter box at the bottom – the cat-tree finally had to be thrown out because it was impossible to clean it properly. Now she’s safely in the dark of the cabin, she’s using the litterbox there, which is much more pleasant for all concerned! Anya and Buttons get checked each day by the med staff; mostly we don’t disturb them in their preferred hiding places, and all their movement is under cover of the dark.

Anya is not keen on human company (KN)

As with Pen 4, weekend visitors have no access to these cats – though some of the KittyComforters visit them regularly, just sitting quietly with them, and reminding them that they’re safe here, and humans really aren’t as scary as they think.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Featured image: Clementine by Karen Nicholson
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright