Due to pandemic-related lockdowns, Canadians have flocked to the outdoors in droves over the last year and a half and their fluffy, tree-climbing, bird-watching feline friends have come along for the ride. These daring animals are dubbed “adventure cats” since they are leashed and accompany their owners on outings such as hiking, kayaking, and even skiing. Many have amassed sizable social media followings as a consequence; searching the hashtag #adventurecats on platforms like Instagram and TikTok yields hundreds of thousands of hits.
While seeing a cat on a leash is still rare, Julie Posluns, who runs an online cat-training school, says demand in her courses has increased since the pandemic began. “I believe the more people realized they were at home, the more they thought, ‘OK, I suppose it’s time to simply pick up some new home hobbies,'” the Toronto resident explained.
Posluns trained her own cat, Jones, to walk on a leash around six years ago and now advises customers on cat backpacks, harnesses, and other “adventure cat” necessities. Chelsea Robinson, a seasoned hiker, adopted a Maine Coon cat last winter. She placed the cat, called Fig, in a leash and went to the beach just a few days after bringing her home.
According to Robinson, Fig enjoys watching the waves smash onto the shore. Every day, Fig and Robinson go on walks, whether it’s a quick trip to pick up Robinson’s children from school or a weekend hike in the forest.
Fig, she adds, has been a “bright light” for Robinson during the epidemic. It’s also something she hears from people who follow Fig’s travels on social media; Robinson posts photographs and videos of their trips on Instagram and TikTok, where Fig has over 150,000 followers.