Skip to content

House cat survives almost two months in K-Country wilderness

“He survived out in the wilderness on his own all that time – 54 days. It’s kind of a miracle."

KANANASKIS COUNTRY – An indoor pet cat miraculously survived 54 days in the wilderness in Kananaskis Country, well and truly using up his nine lives.

Gustophe the cat was camping with his owners at the end of August when he went missing overnight from Spray Lakes West Campground, about 16 kilometres south of Canmore on the Smith Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail.

Thanks to the help of Canmore residents who set up trail cameras and secured traps with permission from Alberta Parks, the cat was reunited with his owners late at night on Friday (Oct. 21), having survived almost two months avoiding coyotes, bears, cougars and wolves.

“He survived out in the wilderness on his own all that time – 54 days. It’s kind of a miracle,” said Jody Hudey, the cat’s owner who made the long trek back to Canmore from Winnipeg, Manitoba, last week.

"We were just crying tears of happiness. I had a gut instinct he’d be OK because he was actually a stray cat when we adopted him and he had survival skills,” she added.

“Everyone kept telling us there’s no way he could survive, and I just knew in my heart he was going to be there – and with the help of your amazing community, we got our little boy back.”

Gustophe, a six-year-old feline, disappeared from the tent overnight on Aug. 31, on the fourth day of the family camping trip.

Because it was chilly that night, Hudey said she put the cat in his harness and on a leash inside the tent instead of leaving him in his kennel.

“We brought him into the sleeping bag with us, and in the morning when we woke up, he had gotten out of the harness and gotten out of a tiny hole in the screen that he had made bigger,” she said.

“We think he decided to go on an adventure and just got lost.”

Hudey and her son, Dolphis Seguin, stayed on for four more days frantically searching for the elusive cat.

Their efforts were for naught despite talking to fellow campers, hanging up posters throughout the campground and combing the surrounding forest for any sign of Gustophe.

Gustophe, adopted by Hudey from the Winnipeg Humane Society when he was two-and-a-half years old, had developed good hunting and survival skills as a stray cat living on the streets of Winnipeg.

Hudey said he looked happy and healthy after spending 54 days in the wild, likely eating bugs, birds and rodents and finding shelter in warm, cozy hiding places.

“We were amazed at how fantastic he looked, but he’s definitely a little bit thinner than he was when we first went out there,” she said.

“He survived as a stray for two years before we adopted him so he must have survival skills already.”

Hudey had posted news of her missing cat on various local social media sites, prompting Canmore residents Lisa Young and Diane Borland Venner to reach out to her to see how they could help.

Young thought the chances of finding the cat were pretty remote, but wanting to help, decided to set up trail cameras.

“I wanted to help Gustophe because I love cats and if he was still there I couldn’t imagine not trying to help him and Jody,” she said.

There were no sightings of the cat on the cameras until Oct. 18.

“I am sitting out there on a rock looking at the camera... and I said what is that? Is that a fox? What is that? Then I suddenly went ‘Oh My God, it’s a cat’. I was jumping up and down,” Young said.

“You know how remote a chance it is the cat is still there. But she was desperate and I was happy to try to give her peace of mind. It was a team effort.”

Venner, who had also been in contact with Hudey, got permission from Alberta Parks for her and her husband Gregg Venner to access the area with a vehicle to set up a trap, which was sourced from the Town of Canmore’s bylaw department.

After a couple of nights of no shows, the cat was finally caught late last Friday night.

Hudey, who had arrived in Canmore after a long trip from Winnipeg, had been out all that day desperately searching and calling his name, but went to Spray Lakes West Campground again that night.

“We wrapped ourselves in blankets and hung out until about 11 – we were jumping for joy,” she said, noting they found Gustophe in a trap at the original No. 29 campsite.

“The next morning Diane and Lisa came over to meet him; they invested a lot of time and a lot of energy into this for us and we could never have done this without those two women.”

Hudey's son Dolphis is delighted to have his pet cat back.

“He’s absolutely over the moon excited and they’ve been snuggling ever since,” she said.

“We’ve both been sad and sombre for the last two months. We were absolutely devastated that we had to leave and go home without having found him first.”

Last year, a pet cat named Draco, from Edmonton, went missing in Jasper National Park for 49 days. He was spooked by hikers, slipped out of his harness, while on the Valley of the Five Lakes trail. He was eventually located by a team of volunteers that had been scouring the woods for him.

Meanwhile, Hudey said there are no plans to take Gustophe camping ever again.

“He’s had enough adventure for a whole lifetime,” she said.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks