Indy is a catexplorer who has made friends with dogs and has stolen his mum and dad's hearts.
We asked his mum, Stefanie to tell us all about them.
Tell us the story about how Indy came into your family.
How Indy came into our family is a little bit of a wonky story.
I had been wanting a cat for quite some time, while Indy's dad was not fully on board.
In my browsing, I came across Indy's brother, Ike, up for adoption at the Humane Society of Southwest Washington. I told Indy's dad we were just going to "look" and that he needed to act like he wanted a cat or else they wouldn't let us hold them.
When we arrived Ike was already adopted, but they plooped little Indy into our arms.
It was love at first sight.
Baby Indy cuddled up into our laps and melted our hearts.
I filled out papers right away and told Indy's dad I just wanted to see if they "would approve it". An hour later, we were walking out with Indy.
I asked Indy's dad why he seemed upset. He told me he didn't expect to walk out with a kitten, to which I replied, "You acted like you wanted to adopt him!"- to which he rightfully replied, "YOU TOLD ME TO".
In the end, Indy stole Dad's heart. He's now his "Big Man", and we couldn't imagine our lives without him.
Indy fit perfectly into our family with his personality. He adjusted right away to us and our lifestyle.
From day one, he has always looked into our eyes with a gaze that tells us it was fate.
Tell us the story behind Indy's name?
Nothin' special- it was the name given to him at the Humane Society.
What is Indy's favourite thing to do?:
Indy loves playing with bobby pins, visiting his best friend Clyde the cat, and attending nightly "puppy parties" (AKA playing with all the dogs as they go out for their bedtime potty) in the apartment lobby.
What kind of adventures does Indy like to go on?
Indy loves trails, especially those with birds and squirrels.
He also enjoys climbing large trees!
We will be moving to the desert soon, and we are excited to see how his adventurous spirit adapts to the new environment.
Why did you decide to train Indy?
I decided to train Indy because we live in a small studio and he clearly had more energy than the space could handle. He showed curiosity in the outdoors as well.
He had also had been fostered with dogs, so we knew he wasn't as reactive to their presence.
His personality screamed Catexplorer as well.
He was climbing anything and everything! He has so much curiosity about the world around him and enough spunk to keep him running for miles.
How did you train Indy?
Slowly, and with lots of patience.
If I were to list the phases, they'd look something like this:
Harness Acclimation: We put the harness on Indy for increasing periods of time and encouraged him to play and nap in it. He took to it really quickly and before we knew it, we were leaving it on him for hours at a time.
Leash Acclimation: Once we added the leash, he became confused. The weight of the leash adds a different feel, as well as the fact that we were following him around. We made sure that any leash time was guided by him, not us (something we still and will always do).
Exploring the Apartment Halls: Next, we took Indy out for his first adventure- the hallways. We let him smell and encouraged him to move around the halls by throwing toys. During this phase we went very slow with how much we pushed him. We let him step into the hall first, rather than placing him out there. If someone came into the hall, we watched his response and put him back in the apartment if someone spooked him.
Exploring the Courtyard: We wanted to have a controlled environment where it was closed in and quieter, and in a city apartment this meant the courtyard. We brought his carrier out (which we importantly established as his safe place), and if he got spooked he could always go back in. These were at first short trips (10-15 mins) but got longer with time. He became more and more accustomed to the sounds, sights, and smells of the outdoors (and city).
Exploring the "Front": I don't have another name for it, but in front of our apartment is a public space where the surrounding office buildings and apartments can hangout. There are trees and places to lounge. We took Indy to quieter sections and brought his carrier. Again, these were short visits that grew to be longer as he acclimated.
Exploring the Park and Beyond: At this point we used his backpack as a safe place and he was comfortable with the outdoors. Car training was a part of this phase- thankfully Indy really enjoyed looking out the window and sticking his head out like a dog (while I held his harness and body). When exploring "the beyond", we always take precaution to bring pet first aid items, a towel, water, and food.
What has been the most rewarding part of having a catexplorer?
In the past year, I've been a graduate student. Indy has brought joy to a very stressful time in my life.
Our adventures allowed me to take time in the outdoors and slow down.
In addition, seeing his joy as he chases birds and squirrels is the most pure thing. I love that we are able to enrich his life and spend time with him in this way.
It's also great to see that his spunky personality indoors carries over to the great outdoors. We love seeing his curiosity transfer into the outdoor setting as there is so much to explore!
What has been the hardest?
Feeling like I "broke" the cat.
While we are always cautious not to put him in overwhelming situations, I feel terribly guilty if something happens (e.g., a big dog barks and startles him, he's not feeling the park we chose, etc). My goal is always to make sure he's happy and comfortable, and I feel awful if I feel like we've left that zone!
There's never been a situation he hasn't bounced back from, but I feel a responsibility as his person to make sure that he can always trust me to keep him safe and his best interests first.
What advice would you give other humans training their catexplorers?
Be patient and prepared. Listen to your cat's body language and never force the cat to do something they don't want to.
Adventuring is about them, not you.
The Instagram shots are great, but if they aren't having a good time then what's the point?
Let them lead the adventure. Don't do it because it's trendy, do it because it's an amazing way to build trust and experience life with your pets.
Remember to be patient when training! Your cat's safety and emotional well being is more important than anything. While your first inclination may be to take them outside immediately, going slow is always a good way to ensure your cat isn't overwhelmed. Every cat is different, but they all have a way of saying, "Too much"!
Is there another Catexplorer that inspires you?
Maple the Mews! @maplethemews
Follow Indy on Instagram (@indy_onthego)