We are happy to have Kristin Hulzinga, cat mom to Zeddie, appear on the blog as our very first guest writer. They can be found on Instagram as @zeddiecat. Kristin describes what cat exploring was like for them in 2012. While you'd think lots has changed in 8 years for long time cat explorers like Zeddie, it sadly seems like not much has. Read on to hear about their experiences and what it was like then and now.
Photo of Zeddie by Sandusk Studios
Cat Exploring: Then & Now
by Kristin Hulzinga
Cat Exploring is gaining popularity and recognition, enabling more people to get outside
with their cats and offer enrichment. More people are having a deeper connection with their cats and are joining together to create communities of like-minded people. As a long time cat explorer, I am thrilled to see these changes.
I began cat exploring nearly 8 years ago when I brought my kitten, Zeddie, home. I loved
the idea of bringing her places so I harness trained her when she was around 16 weeks and began exposing her to safe outdoor environments. We quickly realized how much fun we could have and our adventures widened to include domestic travelling, cottaging, hiking, and she would come with me to every pet friendly establishment.
"When we began, I knew very few people that were actively exploring with their cats. When we met people on the streets, on hikes, or in stores, I was always met with incredulous looks and questions".
Most people had never heard of taking your cat out and we actually ran into a lot of hostile people. They were uncomfortable with the idea that a cat could be occupying the same space as their dog and the implications that may have on their dog. I made a lot of mistakes in the early years and quickly learned the importance of a backpack and/or a stroller to keep Zeddie safe.
As the years went on, Zeddie and I continued our adventures we began to try to turn the
interactions into learning experiences. Although Zeddie has never gotten along with dogs, she happily introduces herself to strangers and opens up conversations on the benefits of cat exploring. She has gained notoriety where we live and all pet store staff recognize her by name (and me as “Zeddie’s mom”). I also learned when to get out of a situation to keep her safe and keep adventuring a positive experience for her.
Cat exploring turned Zeddie into a confident cat who can handle all kinds of unique
situations. As a result, she began a career as a film cat and has been in several television shows and commercials. We began trick trick training and combine training with cat exploring. In recent years, I have been absolutely thrilled that when we come across people who see us doing tricks or just cat exploring, more people have been starting conversations with me about other cat explorers and Cat School. More people are asking me about harnesses to buy and ways to teach your cat to accept the harness. More people are going home to try cat exploring for their cat as well. Each time someone names a cat exploring Instagram account or trick training account, my excitement grows. The “Crazy Cat Lady” stigma is slowly being dismantled by people offering their cats more and providing them with the same kind of enrichment dogs are provided with.
"Slowly but surely the mindset on cat exploring is changing from “crazy” to “cool”. Although we still get more than our fair share of people with dogs approaching to “see how their dog will like a cat”, the prevalence of other cat explorers and it’s growing popularity on social media has done an excellent job at discouraging these kinds of behaviours".
I am very excited to see how the future of cat exploring will progress as it becomes even
more main stream.
I would love to hear your "then and now" story!
Please share your experiences by messaging me on Instagram, emailing me, or dropping your comments below (just note that I cannot comment back but always read what you write).
xx Sarah & Gibson