Meet the ‘pet cats’ | The Star

Meet the ‘puppy cats’ | The star

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person_outlineThe intrepid tabby Gibson, seen here with his owner Sarah Olewski Klassen, is part of the growth

These Instagram-famous Toronto cats love the outdoors as part of a growing explorer cat community.

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When Vivian Li was growing up, she always wanted a dog she could hike, camp, and other outdoor adventures with. Instead, she adopted a playful, precocious gray-and-white stray kitten about two years ago, whom she named Archer. But Archer is not your regular house cat. He’s been on road trips to Montreal and Niagara Falls, kayaking in Tobermory, and hiking through the GTA. “I didn’t know how much a cat could do until I got Archer,” says Li. “There are so many options.”

Li and her fiancé Tony Yu are part of a growing movement of Toronto cat owners who find happiness by taking their feline friends on outdoor adventures such as trekking snow-covered trails, backcountry camping, and exploring new cities. Many adventure cats have their own popular Instagram accounts where owners share training tips, recommend their favorite fleece sweaters and boots, and connect with others in the Explorer Cat community. (Archer himself already has over 7,000 followers on his @ archer_the_catcher account.)

Gibson is spinning on the subway.  Owner Sarah Olewski Klassen says training - and a leash - is key to helping them

Then there’s Gibson, a spirited and nimble gray tabby with nearly 10,000 Insta fans (@thegibsonchronicles). Owner Sarah Olewski Klassen says when she got Gibson she could tell he had an open-minded “puppy cat” personality and wanted to be her buddy. “I’ve always had a passion for animals and the idea of ​​having my cat with me while hiking or looking after things was the dream,” says Olewski Klassen.

Along with her husband, Pete Klassen, she has taken Gibson on walks along Union Port Waterfront Park in Scarborough and the Toronto Music Garden, to cultural destinations like Kensington Market and Casa Loma, and even to cat-friendly shops that staff enjoy a furry one Have visitors. “In some shops there are employees who have cat treats especially for him,” says Olewski Klassen. “Going to a store is a great adventure for Gibson.”

Gibson has nearly 10,000 Instagram followers who follow his adventures.

Although Gibson was naturally curious about the outside world as a kitten, Olewski Klassen says that all types of domestic cats can potentially enjoy being an adventure cat. It just takes training to get used to a harness and leash – a must for all outdoor outings – and a lot of patience. “I have friends who have adopted adult rescue cats that have been trained to go outside,” says Olewski Klassen. “People are starting to see that taking your cats out is actually beneficial for them. It is really good for your physical and mental health. ”

And it also brings a lot of joy to their human companions. Li says her walks have become more enjoyable with Archer by her side. “When I hike alone, I’m the target focused type, but because cats love to sniff around and take their time, Archer helps me discover new things,” she says. “We’ve been on hikes where he ventures down a side path that leads to a huge pond or some other interesting landscape that I would never have seen if I had been alone.”

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