These days you hear about a lot of people quitting their 9 to 5 jobs and selling their worldly possessions to live a more simplistic life filled with travel.
What you don’t always hear about is someone who quits their job to travel the world with their cat. Meet Rich East, the man who decided to do just that with his black cat Willow.
Rich and Willow have been enjoying the good life together, traveling around Australia for the last two and a half years.
One ordinary morning, Rich woke up with an idea in his head that he just couldn’t shake – he wanted to quit his job and sell everything. And so, he did. The one thing he kept? His beloved rescue cat Willow.
While the idea hit him overnight, it wasn’t a hastily made decision. Rich had been unhappy at his corporate job for 10 years when he started designing a campervan that would serve as his new home.
“Slowly I began to sell all my possessions such that what was left would fit in this van,” he explains.
At first, he wasn’t sure he could make it work with a cat but he knew he couldn’t let the cat go – she was a part of him.
“I took Willow away for weekends, then whole weeks, and not only did she cope, she thrived. I soon realised that what I thought was a house cat was in fact a van cat, an adventure cat!”
Originally from Hobart, Tasmania, the pair now reside in a mobile campervan that takes them wherever they please to go.
Together, Rich and Willow have traveled over 31,068 miles (50,000 kilometers). They have made it to South Australia after visiting 6 states and 2 territories of Australia.
They have sailed the Great Barrier Reef, and camped atop mountains in Queensland, Burketown, and the Northern Territory.
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Back when we visited our home state of Tasmania we spent an afternoon at this amazing place. Check out the link in our bio for the full story ? @vancatmeow . . . Willow has signed copies of our new book available on our website. Free shipping worldwide. Link in bio ? @vancatmeow
Willow is clearly enjoying every minute of their great adventure.
She is usually on a collar, but she spends most of her time around camp without a leash and doesn’t run off – she knows she has it good! Plus, she wears a tracker so she never gets lost.
“Willow and I have an unspoken agreement. She will always come back to the van, and I will always wait for her. She rarely wanders more than 100 metres from the van but when she does I can find her with her tracking collar.”
Rich strives to find places to camp that are safe for Willow’s overall health and wellbeing. They do not go into crowded National Parks or Flora/Fauna reserves, but that doesn’t prohibit them from visiting some incredible places.
While Rich believes his bond with Willow is comparable to the bond of any human who is obsessed with their cat, he explains that the pair is reminded of their bond on a daily basis because of their unique lifestyle.
“Spending 24/7 together we have gotten to know each other very well,” he writes.
Willow seems to enjoy camping just as much as Rich.
While it all looks like purrs and games, Rich explained that the decision wasn’t easy and there were a lot of logistics to work out to make the adventure a possibility, especially since he wanted to bring his cat along.
Some people have called Rich’s adventure “peculiar” since it involves a cat. He says that despite the added challenges of bringing a feline everywhere, it’s absolutely worth it.
The cat doesn’t seem to have any complaints and Rich said it wouldn’t feel like home without Willow being there.
“I’m so proud of Willow, she’s the cat that made my van a home and the whole of Australia her backyard. She’s the best travel buddy ever!”
While Rich and Willow have almost made it home, the pair isn’t ready to give up their lifestyle on the road just yet.
They love living on the road and feel a strong sense of happiness and satisfaction despite how abnormal their lifestyle may seem to outsiders looking in.
Long before they started to travel, Rich adopted Willow from a rescue center in Hobart, Tasmania. She was around six years old at the time.
Willow is a curious cat who loves to explore and adapts well to new environments. Although, she remains cautious when she doesn’t know an area, and this helps keep her safe.
“She spends most of her days snoozing on top of the roof rack, under the van, or sleeping in her cat carrier. On cold days you will find her snuggled up in my blankets,” Rich writes on Willow’s official ‘about’ page.
Rich believes traveling with Willow is easier than traveling with any dog.
For one, Willow is independent and doesn’t require too much attention. Secondly, she sleeps a lot during the day, popping out in the afternoon for some grub and cuddles.
Rich started an official website where you can follow along their adventures – appropriately titled vancatmeow.com.
You can also follow Rich on Instagram, where the pair has grown quite popular with over 99,000 followers!