This intrepid kitty accompanies his human buddy on all kinds of outdoor adventures.
You’ve heard about adventure dogs, but what about adventure cats? Meet Gary, fellow feline adventurer to James Eastham. Known as Gary the Cat to his thousands of social media fans, this plucky kitty accompanies his human partner into the great outdoors, where they hike, kayak, and ski together through the spectacular Alberta wilderness.
A shared loved of the outdoors
After adopting Gary from the Calgary Humane Society six years ago, James and his partner quickly realized that their new friend wasn’t going to be content as an indoor cat. “He kept trying to escape the house,” says James. “We decided if he wanted to be outside, he would have to be on a leash. We started slowly, just sitting together on our front step as he got used to his harness. Eventually, as he got more comfortable, we started going on longer outings — first to the backyard, then to a local park, and eventually on short hikes.”
Given both Gary’s and James’ love of the outdoors, it wasn’t long before they started going on wilderness adventures. “We hike, paddle, and ski together through the Canadian Rockies,” James says. “Gary spends a lot of time riding on my shoulders when we hike or ski. Usually, I walk to the top of our hikes and he walks downhill.” When out on the water, Gary relaxes on the front of James’ kayak in his kitty lifejacket, and enjoys the sunshine. “One of his favorite things to do when we’re out paddling is to take a nap!”
Trending on social media
Gary’s rise to social media stardom wasn’t planned, says James. “I started posting to his Instagram account because there are only so many cat pictures that it’s socially acceptable to send to your friends,” he laughs. “Gary sort of took off and now he has a moderately large following.” In fact, he has nearly 400,000 followers on Instagram, along with almost 250,000 on TikTok (@greatgramsofgary).
“It’s nice to have a lighthearted way to bring a smile to folks, especially these days when the news is pretty depressing,” says James. And as he and Gary gear up for another summer of hiking and kayaking, there are plenty more photos, videos — and smiles — to come!
Ann Brightman is Managing Editor for Animal Wellness Magazine and Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. A lifelong animal lover, she has also been a writer and editor for over 25 years. Ann is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and is also a Tai Chi instructor.