Feline thrill-seekers: We chat to the Adventure Cats founder
Is your cat something of an adventurer? Does he have a love for climbing great heights, exploring new lands and adventuring at every opportunity? Then you might want to check out AdventureCats.org - we chat to the founder, Laura Moss, about these feline thrill-seekers…
First of all, what is Adventure Cats all about?
AdventureCats.org is the first and only online resource for information on safely exploring the great outdoors with your feline friend. We have stories that cover the basics of clicker training and fitting a harness, as well as content that focuses on specific aspects of being an adventure cat, such as cat first aid, wildlife safety, kitty sunscreen and even if you should bring a litter box along on you camping trip. The site also profiles cats and their owners who engage in all kinds of adventurous activities - everything from hiking and camping to canoeing and climbing.
Where did the inspiration to set up Adventure Cats come from?
The idea for the site came about because I was inspired by some of the most incredible adventure cats out there like Stephen Simmons' cat, Burma, and Craig Armstrong's Millie. I was interested in leash training my cats and introducing them to the outdoors; however, there wasn't a resource where I could find the information I wanted in one place. The more I looked into different aspects of adventuring with a cat, the more I discovered that a lot of that information didn't even exist.
The informational aspect is a big part of the website we've put together, but a huge part of it is also the opportunity it provides to break stereotypes about cats and their owners. Currently, more cats are euthanized in U.S. shelters (1.4 million annually) than dogs, and I think cats could really benefit from a PR makeover - just as their owners can. Earlier this year, a PetSmart Charities survey found that 49 per cent of people bought into negative stereotypes about cat owners, equating them with loneliness, hoarding and depression, but I think AdventureCats.org is proof that this couldn't be further from the truth. While cats have a reputation as being lazy and aloof, there are actually plenty of amazing cats out there that will hike alongside you or even go for a paddle. These are the awesome kitties that AdventureCats.org wants to share with the world.
What is the most adventurous cat you've come across so far?
I might have to give that one to Kuli, a one-eyed surfing cat in Hawaii. His owners attribute his past medical problems and frequent baths to his affinity for water, and he really is an amazing cat. I never in my life thought I'd see a cat that can hang ten! I'm also very impressed by a kitten named Quandary Q Lotus Lady in Colorado who hikes and camps with her parents. She's been an adventure kitten since day one, and it's so inspiring to see photos of her with the gorgeous backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.
Do you have any cats, and if so, are they adventurers too?
I have two rescue cats named Fiver and Sirius. They're both clicker trained and leash trained; however, they only started training and wearing harnesses about a year ago so for now our walks are confined to the neighborhood. Once they grow more comfortable with leash walking, I'll introduce them to a trail one at a time. Of course, they may never reach a point where they'll be comfortable with that kind of thing, and that's OK - I'm used to them calling the shots anyway.
Did you expect Adventure Cats to become as popular as it has?
It's definitely exceeded my expectations, and I'm so thrilled. There's always a feeling of accomplishment when something you've worked so hard on gets recognition, but even better than that is knowing that we're changing people's minds about what it means to be a cat owner. I really hope that seeing cats in a different light will lead to more shelter cats finding their forever homes.
What do you think appeals to people about Adventure Cats?
I think for a lot of people it's the pleasant surprise of seeing a cat outside on a leash, which is something they previously thought was only for dogs. Most cat owners are aware that it's best to keep cats indoors because they'll live longer when not exposed to disease, wildlife and busy streets, but they may not realize that there are safe, responsible ways to take your cat outside and engage with your pet in nature. I also think part of the appeal is that people are seeing these cats doing amazing things and it's inspiring. Then they visit AdventureCats.org and they learn that their cat can do these amazing things as well - as long as they're willing to train their kitties and take the proper precautions.
What is your plan for the future of Adventure Cats?
We plan to keep writing informative and engaging content for the website, as well as sharing great photos of adventurous kitties on our Instagram and other social media accounts. We've also created some merchandise (shirts, hats and stickers), and a portion of all store proceeds goes to a no-kill animal charity. Currently, those proceeds are going to Best Friends Animal Society, an incredible nonprofit that even has its own cat-hiking program!
Follow some of the featured Adventure Cats' Instagram accounts (photos featured top to bottom):