Herding cats may not be the impossible task everyone believes, especially if it means taking in some fresh coastal air and a change of scenery.
Cats aren’t known for their spirit of cooperation, but when it comes to enjoying a neighbourhood stroll, all it takes is a “walkies” announcement from GemLife Bribie Island couple Eddie and Jan Edstein to bring their two Russian Blues running for their special cat stroller.
For Bribie residents, Jan and Alf Hietzke, a bit of bribery does the trick, with their two rescue cats leaping into their stroller for a daily constitutional thanks to some tempting cat snacks.
Both couples, and their pram-passenger felines, are a regular sight on the resort’s streets, with the cats just as well-known as they are.
“Everyone knows our cats now and people will come and say hello,” said Eddie. “The cats sit up and look out at what’s going on like they’re on a tour.”
The Edsteins’ cats, Billy and Lenny, were a little timid about their first stroller outing, but once they felt secure, responded enthusiastically to their regular walks.
“One cat is more enthusiastic than the other, but nine times out of ten they’ll both go together,” said Eddie.
“Some of the other residents’ dogs get curious about them, but the cats are used to it and feel safe inside the stroller.”
For the Hietzkes’ two eight-year-old cats, Simba and Frankie, who were accustomed to free-range outdoor living prior to moving to GemLife Bribie Island, the pet stroller was a great way to settle them both into their new home.
“It might seem a bit eccentric at first but it helped them adjust to the move. They’ve settled in really well,” said Jan.
“When I take them for a walk they know they’re safe. Cats naturally like to explore and get into things, so when I started training them to use the stroller, I put dry food in the pram to entice them,” she said.
“I still use a bit of dry food, call out ‘C’mon boys!’, and then I zip them in and head off.”
On occasion, Jan can also be seen taking her cats on a lead to a sunny spot for a roll around in the sun, an activity both cats enjoy.
GemLife’s pet-friendly environment was important to Jan, and she’s grateful for the special cat-net fencing along her back fence to keep her newly acclimated indoor cats from getting out.
“I wouldn’t have moved here if I couldn’t have the cats. Animals become part of your family and lots of people would be heartbroken if they couldn’t bring their pets with them,” she said.
Besides a recreational walk, pet strollers are a good way to get an injured or older cat out and about.
When an animal’s ability to walk is compromised, an outing in a pet stroller can help lift a cat’s mood, provide some fresh air and an opportunity to see the outside world.
Pet strollers are becoming increasingly popular for both dogs and cats, and even Hollywood celebrities like actress Jennifer Garner have been spotted taking cats for walks in a stroller.