Gary the Cat finds endless adventure in the Rockies

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Saying he’s an outdoor cat would probably be an understatement.


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Gary the Cat is a seven-year-old rescue who has been seen in the Rocky Mountains for the past several years skiing, hiking, and paddling with his owner James Eastham.

His love for the outdoors has made him a social media star. You may have seen his many outdoor adventures on Instagram , where Gary has more than 400,000 followers and counting. He even got a mention in Time magazine.

However, Gary doesn’t care about fame, followers or freebies. His intentions are more noble and pure, according to his owner.

Eastham said Gary just really wants to go outside.

“If I don’t take him out enough, he sits at the door and screams at me,” he said.

Gary the Cat with his owner’s skis.
Gary the Cat with his owner’s skis. AL CHAREST / POSTMEDIA

The “meowtain lion” was adopted as a kitten from the Calgary Humane Society.

From early days, he was prone to escape his owner’s apartment, so Eastham decided to start walking him on a leash around their place in Canmore.


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At the time, Eastham had just moved to Canmore with his partner, and he was looking for work.

“I work in communications and (public relations) so I thought, ‘I’ll start posting photos of my cat on the internet. I’m still working in social media. Isn’t that a bit of a laugh?’ ”

The instagram account gained a few followers as Gary graduated to mountain hikes in a backpack, but it was a chance snowstorm in 2019 that really sent Gary down the ski path of social media stardom.

“You couldn’t get anywhere except on skis,” said Eastham. “The mountains looked really pretty and it was a nice temperature. Gary wanted to go out so I just went for a walk, with Gary, on skis.”

When the duo came to a small hill, Eastham did a few runs with Gary on his shoulders, and he took a video of it.


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“I made a joke about cat skiing and figured that would be that. Then someone from KPOW out in Kananaskis asked if we wanted to actually go cat skiing.”

Since then, He’s been spotted in the winter on the slopes of many Rocky Mountain ski resorts, but also in the summer on mountain hiking trails. The longest he’s done is a 37-kilometre trek to the Opabin Plateau near Lake O’Hara, B.C.

Eastham carried Gary most of the way, but he has been known to hike along for anywhere from 500 metres to 4 kilometres.

Given how active Gary is, many people don’t realize he has lived with a hip injury for most of his life.

“When he was found as a kitten, the head of his femur was fractured, so they put him in surgery,” said Eastham. “Basically instead of a ball-and-socket joint, the leg is just attached by tendons and the muscles.”


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Eastham said Gary can’t jump as high as other cats, and wiggles a bit when he walks, but otherwise he gets around just fine.

He said people are often concerned for Gary’s well-being in the cold, but he assures them that he really does like the cold, and water too. Gary has been known to join his owners in the shower, and he doesn’t mind going for a swim.

In the winter, he’s kept warm by his own floof, as well as with jackets designed for small dogs.

“It was a bit of trial and error to find something that fits,” said Eastham. “ They look a bit like crop tops. But we have a few that work pretty well for Gary.”

Gary the adventure cat doing his thing in the Rockies. He’s @greatgramsofgary on Instagram.
Gary the adventure cat doing his thing in the Rockies. He’s @greatgramsofgary on Instagram. Photo by supplied /jpg

It’s the summer heat where Gary’s owners need to be more careful. They don’t like to take him out when it’s much above 18 or 20 C, since he is so fluffy.


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Gary’s temperament is described as “pretty chill,” given that he will happily tag along for a hike or a paddle. At the same time, he’s not the most affectionate cat.

“He’s not super cuddly,” said Eastham. “He spends time around us but it’s pretty much, ‘pet me with your eyes.’ ”

Given his large number of social media followers, Gary has done a few endorsements. Eastham says they’re not ready to promote just anything though.

“The Venn diagram of people that want me to advertise for them and the people I want to advertise for — that middle overlap is not very big,” he said.

Gary has had advertising offers from cat product companies — think kitty litter and cat food — but he mainly works with outdoor brands.

On the weekend before Christmas, Gary and Eastham were invited on a tour of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies’ B.C. ski hills.


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Matt Mosteller, spokesperson for Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, said after nearly two difficult years of the pandemic, they’re trying their best to celebrate all things lighthearted.

“One of the reasons for having Gary go around is that people love Gary,” said Mosteller.

“He makes people of all ages smile. There are those special magic moments. It’s a breath of fresh air when you see a cat on the mountain slopes.”

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Eastham said the cash they make from endorsements is not quit-your-day-job money, although Gary did buy him a new set of skis this Christmas, and he and his partner outfitted a camper van this past summer to help them along on their adventures.

His main driving force is just getting out on the trails, and sharing Gary’s magnificent visage among the many beautiful backdrops in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

“If I can make someone smile instead of be angry on social media, then that’s great,” said Eastham.

With files from Al Charest

Twitter: @brodie_thomas



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