Many cats hate the cold and wet and stay inside when the snow starts to fall, but not this Canadian cat whose skiing exploits have made him a hit on social media!
Although some cat breeds are well-equipped to deal with the snow due to their supposedly thick, waterproof coats — such as Norwegian Forest Cats — the average domestic longhair doesn’t have this luxury and will avoid snow at all costs. So, when Gary the rescue cat, who lives with his owner James Eastham in Alberta, Canada, started dropping hints that he wanted to go out exploring, his adventurous owners were happy to oblige him.
Step by step
Gary had made an immediate impression on James when he first came into his life, as he was adopted at four months old by his partner from Calgary Humane Society and the two became firm friends. “I didn’t have pets before, but Gary has turned me into a crazy cat man!” James laughed.
Gary first started showing signs that he wanted to explore the great outdoors when he was three years old. James said he would stand by the door of their apartment and when it would blow open, would try to escape. Then Gary’s persistence became more vocal as he would sit by the back door and meow as loudly as he could to get his point across!
When the couple moved to the mountains, James would spend many hours hiking around their new environment and decided that if Gary was going to join him, he should do it properly.
James bought Gary a harness to keep him safe and spent time getting him used to it, which he did quite quickly, and they began with short walks around the area. Then they went out to explore the area near to where they lived with some short hikes, taking a backpack along in case Gary became tired.
“He did really well and enjoyed himself,” James said. “He enjoyed being in his backpack as well.”
Their first proper hike was around nearby Grotto Canyon and Gary enjoyed sitting in the backpack and watching the world go by as he got used to the new experience.
They even found a beautiful frozen waterfall on one of their hikes.
Keeping warm at Banff National Park.
Over time, Gary became more and more fond of the great outdoors and will make his feelings very clear if he wants to go outside, by continuing his loud meowing until James gives in and takes him out!
His first try at skiing came almost by accident when a bad snowstorm meant that walking anywhere was almost impossible so when Gary began his demands to go out, James took him for a walk on skis and they came to a short hill.
“I thought I’d try going down it with him on my shoulders and he seemed to enjoy it,” James remembered. “All I kept thinking was ‘Wow, I’m skiing with my cat!’”
Since then, Gary’s love of winter sports has gone from strength to strength and he regularly can be spotted whooshing down the slopes on James’s shoulders, and videos he took of Gary on his shoulders have gone viral.
James has found employment in local ski resorts and Gary has become famous with many of the other staff and guests.
“When we’re walking around the resorts, people will stop and stroke him and he gets lots of attention — it’s quite strange!” James said.
People will often ask James if the temperatures are too cold for Gary, but James is always quick to reassure people that his thick fluffy coat keeps him nice and warm, and he also has his own ski jackets and goggles to keep him toasty.
On top of their skiing exploits, Gary also likes to head out on the lakes with James in a pack raft and has even been known to have a bit of a swim in the lake on his terms!
Social media stars
James said he was taken by surprise when Gary’s videos and photos on Instagram made him so famous and popular.
“I really wasn’t expecting his account to do so well,” he said. “But people love Gary and it’s nice to see some fun and nice news these days as there’s so much depressing news at the moment.”
The fluffy feline has amassed more than 445,000 followers on Instagram and has become quite popular on Tiktok as well. In fact, Gary has become so popular that TikTok have featured Gary in their new advertising campaign. You can also see Gary’s canine siblings in his Instagram posts, Douglas, Duke and Marge, along with his feline brother Carl.
Keeping warm at Banff National Park.