Meet Gary, a 5-year-old rescue kitty that has one of the best instagram accounts out there! He’s not just your average floof posing for photos, this cat is a true adventurer who loves hiking, paddling and meowntaineering.
“Gary really likes our adventures, and I work really hard to make sure he’s always happy and comfortable,” said James, Gary’s owner and social media manager. He revealed that Gary’s introduced to new activities slowly, so the cat has time to adjust to them on his own terms. “I’ve created a bit of a monster though because if I don’t take him out enough, he sits at the door and meows,” James explained.
When asked how Gary joined their family, James revealed that it was actually his partner’s actions that led to them adopting Gary. “The reason she picked him out was because he had suffered the same injury as his dog-brother Duke at the same age and they were a matching pair,” he elaborated. “They both had broken left hips and underwent a femoral head osteoectomy as treatment which meant the head of his femur was removed and his left hip joint is now just tendon and muscle, instead of bone.” For that reason, the kitty can’t jump very high but is otherwise completely normal. Also, Gary’s name while in the shelter was actually named Bruce…after Bruce Wayne!
James is a 29-year-old communications professional. When he and his partner moved to the Canadian Rockies, James was unemployed and decided to start Gary’s account “as a way to maintain a social media presence while he looked for work in my field”. Gary’s popularity and following came as an unexpected, but pleasant surprise.
“We only started adventuring with Gary recently,” James explained. “He showed a keen interest in going outside and even escaped once so we decided to harness train him after we moved,” he added. The choice was obvious, as not only could traffic outside be dangerous, but there are other hazards lurking outside. “There’s a lot of predators like bears, wolves, coyotes and birds of prey in our area and it’s unsafe to have free roaming cats,” the owner elaborated. He also said that getting Gary in a harness also protected small mammals and songbirds from ending up being the cat’s prey.
“As he got more comfortable on a leash, we began to go on bigger adventures,” the owner elaborated on the jumpstart of Gary’s adventures. The family started small, with their yard and local parks, and then moved to bigger ventures, going on full hikes in the mountains. “This summer, we’ve branched out into paddleboarding and kayaking, camping, and even meowtaineering when he walked on the toe of a glacier!” James seemed enthusiastic about his cat’s adventures.
“It’s taken several months but Gary’s finally figured out the point of hiking trails and now whenever he sees one, will follow it,” the owner detailed the hikes with his kitty. Unfortunately, even though it makes walking with Gary easier, it also had an unforeseen downside – it’s now difficult to stop and take photos with the cat. As for what happens when the pet gets tired? James explains that Gary has a way to communicate that as well: “When he gets tired of walking, he’ll stop and meow at my feet so that I’ll pick him up and carry him – he likes to ride on my shoulders but we also have a backpack he will ride in as well”. Turns out, Gary likes to take occasional naps inside the backpack! Now that’s surely a luxurious way to travel.
As Gary has indulged in a variety of activities on his journeys, James says that a favorite is slowly emerging. “His favorite activity seems to be paddling as he is very relaxed when we are out on the water and sometimes ends up falling asleep on the front of the kayak!”
Apparently, taking hikes and going on adventure isn’t only good for one’s health, Gary also seems to have gained a lot of confidence by being outside. “He used to be a very timid cat and would run and hide under a bed or in the closet whenever we had guests over but now, he seems much more confident and he’ll greet new people when they arrive and let them pet him – something that would not have happened before he became ‘adventurecat,’” James said.
“I get lots of messages from people who tell me that Gary’s posts have helped brighten their day, or helped provide a bit of happiness when they’re going through a tough time. There’s lots of people whose offices or families will message Gary’s latest updates to each other. It’s nice to know that he provides a bit of joy on social media! He’s also helped inspire lots of folks to try adventuring with their cats, which is great! I love getting photos of people’s cats they’re training to walk on-leash.”
“Overall, I’d say the community that’s formed among Gary’s following is really heartening to me,” James revealed. He commented that all the positivity around Gary’s account is refreshing when compared to a lot of negativity that exists on social media.
James also uses Gary’s account as a way to spread awareness and educate people when he can, especially “around how to visit parks and natural spaces in a responsible way” to which people have responded positively. “One of the big challenges Parks are facing right now is that people are going into the outdoors to get that banger for the ‘gram, but they’re either getting hurt, or damaging the natural landscape while doing it,” the man explained.
As for what people are the most curious about? Turns out, it’s Gary’s goggles. James revealed that a lot of people ask about them and raise concerns. “Up high in the mountains, the sun reflects off of the rocks and the snow and can become very intense, the goggles provide sun protection for him, and makes it a lot more comfortable to be outside when it’s bright,” James cleared things up by adding that the goggles basically act as sunglasses for humans. “He’s never had an issue with wearing them and will only try and paw at them if they end up askew,” the owner reassured.