A cat owner says his famous feline is on the receiving end of death threats because it participates in an annual local dog swimming race, and the locals aren't amused. Glenn Druery, from Sydney, Australia, says his cat Gus has provoked the ire of dog owners—and there have been serious threats made. "We actually had threats. Gus had threats," Druery says.
"I work in politics and I get that sort of nonsense all the time and I can deal with that, but they threaten(ed) my cat, for God's sake." Here's why Gus is such a surprising swimmer and what some indignant locals have to say about the cat swimming with dogs.
Druery says Gus is a Tonkinese cat who adores the water and is an avid swimmer. "I did a lot of research. I wanted a cat that was dog-like and a cat that liked water," Druery said. "And funny enough, I'm allergic to cats and these Tonkinese cats are quite hypoallergenic and I'm not allergic to this guy. "He's been swimming since he was about 11 weeks old. It's not a problem."
Not only does Gus swim, but he also partakes in other ocean activities. "He swims with me, he kayaks with me – stand up paddleboards," Druery says. "We treat him like he's part of our lifestyle." In 2019, Druery thought it would be fun to enter Gus into the Scotland Island Dog Race, which is a 50-year-old north Sydney Christmas Eve tradition where dogs paddle with their owners across 550 meters of water.
Druery says Gus did really well in the race, even beating some of the dogs. "For a bit of a laugh we entered Gus in the race and low and behold he came first in his category," Druery says. "He swam at his pace – cat pace. He did beat some of the dogs though, but most importantly it was a fun, really nice day."
Threats From Locals
Not everyone was thrilled to see a cat entering the competition. "We actually had threats. Gus had threats," Druery says. "One of these local parochial yobbos said he was going to shoot the cat and beat me up if he ever saw us again. Another woman gestures this (slit throat) and pointed to the cat. I work in politics and I get that sort of nonsense all the time and I can deal with that, but they threaten(ed) my cat, for God's sake."
Cats Not Welcome
Louise and Vinnie are two locals (not the ones making threats) who believe Druery and his cat don't belong in the competition. "He's (Druery) not even a local, the guy who said all that," Louise says. "He doesn't live here, I don't understand it. He obviously just wanted the publicity." Louise is adamant that no one would hurt the cat. "They (locals) love animals. They might have wanted to choke him (Druery), but not the cat."
Vinnie says the race started "as an island thing," but then outsiders had the nerve to join in. "Then you get idiots bringing cats down. It's just like you're taking the piss," Vinnie said. "It's like taking a knife to a gun fight. It's just not gonna work. It's just stupid. It's a dog race. What are you bringing a cat for mate?"
Druery sadly did not enter his cat in the race in 2022. "If it was me, no problem I'd go," Druery says. "But it's not just me and his safety is first. I think one thing Gus would be pushing for, if he could speak, would be changing the name from the Scotland Island Dog Race to the Scotland Island Pet Race."
Can Cats Swim?
While cats are not naturally strong swimmers, they are able to swim if they need to. Most cats will avoid water if they can, but if they find themselves in a pool or other body of water, they will paddle their legs in an attempt to stay afloat. Cats have a natural instinct to keep their heads above water, so they will often try to climb onto objects or land if they find themselves in water.
Some cats are more comfortable in water than others. This can be due to breed, size, and individual personality. Cats who are accustomed to being around water and who have been taught to swim can be pretty good at it.
If you want to teach your cat to swim, it is vital to do so in a controlled environment and to supervise them constantly. Cats should always be wearing a life jacket when swimming. Some cat breeds, such as the Turkish Van and the Maine Coon, are known for their love of water and are more likely to enjoy swimming.