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Comforting the kitties in Richmond

Cat lovers group coddles broken animals needing special attention for gamut of reasons

As the spring sunshine warmed the senior cats in the makeshift conservatory, Marianne Moore was busy explaining why certain moggies (British term for cat) need more love and attention than others.

Moore had barely got the sentence out when Pauline, a 16-year-old stray, peaked her little black and white head around the corner of Moore’s seat.

“I’ve never seen her do that before in all the time we’ve had her,” said a very surprised Moore, a 13-year volunteer at the Richmond Animal Protection Society’s (RAPS) cat sanctuary.

Pauline was extremely wary of humans and hadn’t been seen outside of her box in almost two years and is now one of Moore’s success stories as part of her Kitty Comforters program.

“A couple of kitty comforters have been trying to coax her out, but she would just hiss at them,” added Moore, who set up the program in 2012 to give extra comfort to sick and problematic cats at the two-acre sanctuary in the east Cambie district. The sanctuary houses more than 500 kitties of all shapes, sizes and colours.

Many of them are, for want of a better term, broken — either physically or mentally — and retired pharmacist Moore and her pool of 15 kitty comforters spend quality time soothing the cats back to a place where they enjoy life and being around people.

“When I was volunteering a few years ago, I realized I didn’t have enough time to actually comfort the cats,” admitted Moore.

“They need special attention when they get stressed, angry and anxious, and I realized there were other shelters in the Lower Mainland doing similar things.

“But there just wasn’t enough staff and volunteers to look after the cats’ physical needs.”

Moore now has a volunteer pool, mostly women, some retired, some still working, with each taking turns to spend a few hours a day to rub the top of the cats’ heads, stroke their faces, let them curl on their laps or climb on their shoulders.

“Most of them are unadoptable, many have bad habits and are former feral cats and most will be here for the rest of their lives. “We get very attached to the cats, and it can be very therapeutic for us also. If you’re having a bad day, we can come here and forget all about it.”

One of the kitty comforters, Moira Langley, came to the sanctuary with a stray cat two years ago and now she can’t stay away.

“My day is Friday, but I came in today and will probably come in Wednesday as well; I just love them,” said Langley, who has two cats of her own at home.

“I swear Pauline would see me coming and say, ‘here she comes again.’

“But the first time she purred, it was an amazing feeling. You do form very strong bonds in here and you can see your work having an affect.”

It’s not random, however, who gets attention, otherwise the “pushy cats,” as Moore calls them, would get all the love.

If you would like to help with the Kitty Comforter program, got to RAPS’ website at rapsociety.com.

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