A photo posted by Nerdy Nicole (@emmadeans57) on

When we saw this photo on Instagram, we knew we had to ask photographer Nicole Gaunt how she convinced her cat to go canoeing given the standard feline aversion to forced baths, swimming and all possible submersion. We should have known that that it would have been easier to just ask the cat — Emma Deans — herself. After all, the photo appeared on Emma Deans’ Instagram (@emmadeans57), not Gaunt’s. Here’s what we heard back from Emma Deans, who apparently bicycles as well, and has some quality advice for helping adventurous kittens become canoeing cats.

From: Emma Deans
Subject: My first canoe ride

Greetings,

My name is Emma Deans. When Nicole and Brian picked me up from an animal shelter in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the first time, they took me home on a bicycle. That’s when I knew that I was in for a wild life. Growing up in West Michigan was wonderful, but my dad, being from Alaska, was eager to get back home and introduce me to the wonders of the Great North.

My mom took this picture during our first canoe ride in Talkeetna, Alaska. I’d been out on a pontoon boat before — but this was a little different. The canoe was pretty wobbly and I was nervously pacing up and down the length of the boat at first. Eventually, I found my sea legs, though, and had courage enough to peek over the sides of the canoe. I loved seeing the water bugs dance on the surface of the pond, but I wanted a better view. I hopped up on dad’s shoulders (like I’ve done a million times before for walks, bike rides, etc.). That’s when I could really see it all, from the loons across the pond to the skillful way my dad paddles a canoe. It was pretty exciting to say the least.

Since then, I’ve canoed often. Sometimes when my parents paddle too slowly, though, so I jump ship, swim through the shallows, and walk myself back up to shore. We have a good time with it and I’m a really good sport too, which helps.

If other people want to get their cats out for paddles, I think they should start to expose them to adventures when they’re young. Practice those shoulder rides by walking around the house and the yard. Do some wild dance moves to test your cat’s balance. Eventually, you can start taking them for bike rides. To train for the water, you can practice walking through big puddles to get them used to being around water (the Grand Rapids floods of 2013 were perfect practice for this). Finally, take them out on boats – you’ll be amazed by what your pets can do when you start getting them used to fun stuff from a young age.

See you out on the water,
Emma Deans

A photo posted by Nerdy Nicole (@emmadeans57) on