Cat Sanctuary

Winterizing the Cats

At least in winter Ninja can see where he’s climbing! – MW

Looking at the blog I wrote this time last year, I am reminded that we had been hit by the first of a series of snowfalls – rare for the Lower Mainland. Currently the forecast holds clear, but with so many Sanctuary cats out and about, we have to be thinking, “What if…”.  And we’d rather not discover the answer the hard way!

OJ snuggles behind his Oilers blanket – BC

The simplest things come first – the shelves in each cabin are often draped with a sheet; now we change to something warmer, like a blanket, hoping to give cosy corners in which to hide. Fleecy material is favoured and thinner fabrics are retired to a storage cupboard, to be brought out again in the spring.

Jinx feels the cold – she insists on having
her bed by her own heater – BC

Handyman Doug has been assessing the complex and trying to prioritize the things that need attention. Recent heavy rain has disclosed a few places where roof repair is needed, and where skylights need to be sealed; the forecast of clear weather means that they can be dealt with before more rain can do damage.  Doug took time in the summer to resurface many roof areas round the main courtyard and has put up lighting in the back area that make evening shifts much safer to navigate. There is now a RAPS Cat Sanctuary Winter Defence Fund – donations made directly to RAPS or through CanadaHelps can be designated specifically to it.

Hudson’s Pen 5 needs a major clean-up – you
do NOT want to walk on that grass!  – BC

All the cabins have ceramic heaters, controlled by thermostats; safest for the cats, they can put out an amazing amount of heat when needed. The concern has to be for the wiring – few of the cabins are new, and wet West Coast weather doesn’t really help. A recent electrical outage has us without power for the best part of a day; the break was not actually on our property, but it reminded us how dependent we are on power to give us heat and to run the never-ending laundry, and all the wiring should probably be thoroughly checked.

Manager Janet has to take laundry home when it piles up!- JR

There is some serious work to be done in the back – some that can be tackled with volunteer help, and some that has to wait for financial assistance.  Tree roots have been buckling up some of the pavers, and in fact one tree fell last winter, taking a part of a pen wall with it.

Pavers buckled and seating damaged by fallen tree – DW

Pen 3 – the home of our handsome Dell – was put on limited access for two months, because the frame around the gate was damaged, and only staff could go in. It was repaired and cat-proofed to welcome another group of ferals, but we need to do some work on all the back pens to make sure the fencing is in good shape, and that netting covering the feral pens can handle a snowfall without collapsing under the weight.

Pen 5 is open, but the mesh still needs to be repaired – DW
Pen 4 is a feral pen and needs to be meshed over – if we
get a snowfall, this roofing can break – BC

The coming clear weather also means that we can tackle a much-needed clear-up of the grassed areas, which by now are pretty poopy. A few cold mornings give us a chance to rake the surface and dispose of the debris; leaves and dead grass can be removed, and the gardens, which have been cut back, can be  tidied for spring preparation. Many of the feral cats prefer not to stay in the cabins even in the worst weather, and the outdoor kennels and beds need to be cleaned out and well supplied with straw to give some protection from the cold.

Stella investigating an outside kennel – BC

A RAPS Cat Sanctuary Winter Defence Fund has been set up to help with some of the financials involved. But most of all, it needs willing hands coming together to make our cats as warm and comfortable and safe as they can be.

We are especially grateful to supporters like these folks from River Rock Casino, who came by for a Day of Giving, taking on some special projects. If you have a team like this that can give us a day, please contact the Shelter Manager – – it can make all the difference to us and to the cats!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Janet Reid , Debbie Wolanski & Michele Wright