Generally, agility and related sports are viewed as “for the dogs.” Competitions for dog sports like agility, flyball, and dock diving are fun ways for canines to burn energy and exercise their brains along with their bodies. Many cat parents don’t view exercising their cat as highly important, but many felines lack the exercise and stimulation they need. Contrary to popular belief, your cat likely does want to play – they might just not bring a toy with a wagging tail like a dog would! However, when one cat parent went above and beyond to give his racing cat a fun new opportunity to show off his skills, the community reacted — some with kindness, some violently.
Old cat learn new tricks — to the dismay of the public
This event is a tradition on Scotland Island. And Druery was no newcomer – he had participated with his late dog, Bob, who won the race in 2015. Druery didn’t see any reason why Gus, his outgoing cat, couldn’t get in on the fun too. While traditionally meant for dogs, the race was only really prohibited based on most cats’ fear of water and lesser athletic abilities than dogs – or so Druery thought. Initially, reception for Gus’s athletic feat in 2019 was positive.
“We were received with absolute joy. We spent prior to the race and after the race well over an hour with people taking selfies of Gus. It was just a wonderful, beautiful event. Most people in Scotland Island are an absolute joy and one lovely elderly lady came down with a bowl of water and some cat food for Gus,” Druery told Daily Mail Australia. But sadly, not all were keen on a newcomer to a once dog-only race.
Druery reports he received many hateful comments and messages, some even going as far as to shoot Gus. “I work in politics and I am used to crazies. I’m used to taking abusive emails and messages to the police and the police go and deal with these people. I’m not going to risk his safety because of some drunken hero who doesn’t like outsiders.” Druery said. Sadly, due to the negative reactions of others, it looks like Gus’s athletic career has come to an end.
Participating in cat sports (free of harassment)
While Gus’s story may seem alarming, it’s a pretty unique circumstance. If you’re worried about participating in events with your cat, they likely won’t be the target of a hate campaign! Cat agility has risen in popularity. Your best bet in finding local events is reaching out to local cat fancier societies, who often also hold events unrelated to cat showing. But your cat doesn’t need to be an athletic superstar to have fun. It’s perfectly okay to hold indoor exercise events in the privacy of your home, too. Want to push your feline friend’s limits? Try an indoor agility set meant for small breed dogs. You may be surprised at your cat’s willingness to try something new.