Cat Sanctuary

Revisiting Pen 5

Nevada – one of the Packers cats (CF)

The Sanctuary has been sited here since 1999, and many cats have come under our care in those intervening years. The majority of them have been ferals, and a lot of ferals don’t live long lives – longer with us than if they were truly out in the fields, but an early lack of care can affect them in later life.  We have had two significant generations of cats in Pen 5. The first group came to us as Steveston was being developed in the early years of this century, and we called them the Packers cats. BC Packers was known as one of the largest salmon canning industries, but by the ‘80s, the fishing industry was in decline, and the last processing took place in 1997.  As buildings were demolished and sites prepared for new construction, many cats were trapped by Carol and her Richmond Homeless Cats friends, and they were early tenants of the new Sanctuary.

Salish & Rudolph (MW)

When I first volunteered twelve years ago, the Packers cats were getting very frail, and their numbers were diminishing. But there was no lack of new cats being brought in to the Shelter, and transferred to us when needed, and one such group joined the Packers cats in Pen 5. Initially it was kept as a closed pen, hoping that some of the inhabitants might return to the shelter for adoption – Katie, Moe & Theo all found homes. But when there are kittens, that’s what many people adopt, and the remaining adults stayed on, establishing the now open pen as their home.

For some time it was also the pen of the bonded cats. Adam and May, Rudolph and Salish, Willow and Careen, the menage a trois of Chinook, Capilano and Walker – all devoted to each other, and rarely seen separately. In the last few years we’ve lost Chinook and Capilano, and sadly, Rudolph as well (to dental anaesthetic).

Salish (KN)

That last death was worrying because of Salish, who was devoted to her black buddy, but she seems to have adjusted well – she stays close to Adam and May, and though she’s still skittish about touch, she’s ready to emerge when treats are offered.

Blond Walker lost both his loves: Capilano and Chinook had no great fondness for each other, but both turned to Walker as a calming influence, and he cuddled impartially with either of them.  He continues to sleep in Pen 5, but is to be found anywhere around the back courtyard, often in company with Pumpkin. The two of them are determined chickaholics, with a keen instinct for when tidbits are being handed out!

Walker (MW)

Willow and Careen, who were always found together, appear to have separated. Careen still bases herself in the Pen 5 cabin but will often come out into the courtyard to visit if humans are sitting on the benches.

Careen (MW)

Willow has become much more migratory, no longer confining herself to Pen 5 – in fact, she can most often be found in Waldi’s Hut at the south end of the courtyard, where she can get some space to herself – but she too joined in the courtyard cat-party last weekend!

Kramer joined the colony about four years ago, and remains the odd guy out – he doesn’t interact much with the other cats, but he has clearly made the Pen 5 cabin his home, and rarely ventures further afield. He is very happy to have human attention, but on his terms. Sadly, one of the attentions he doesn’t enjoy is a long-haired cat’s consequence to solitary living – he doesn’t appreciate having to be de-matted (though he’s not yet been in a bad enough state to need a lion-cut!)

Willow (KN)

Many other cats wander in and out of the pen – it’s a favourite bathroom for the DoubleWide cats who prefer not to use a litter-box. And it’s one of many areas that will need a good work-party to make it look clean and inviting before we welcome visitors back to the Sanctuary at the end of the month.

Kramer (MW)

A pleasant afternoon on the Pen 5 porch (MW)

Blog by Brigid Coult
Feature Image: May & Adam, by Karen Nicholson
Photos by Brigid Coult, Claire Fossey, Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright