As a child, Hasara’s family struggled to find a place to put their cat, Tabby, when they went away so they decided to take her with them.
“Catteries and pet hotels weren’t common when I was a child and the ones that existed were quite expensive,” Ms Lay said.
“Our cat lived for 20 years so we had many family holidays with her and saved a fair amount of money on boarding fees.”
When Hasara and her husband Daniel adopted their own pets, rescue cats Lumox and Noxie, they decided to continue taking their cats on holidays.
“It gives us the flexibility to decide on a Wednesday that we’re going to go away for the weekend and not have to find someone to pet-sit or book them into a cattery,” Ms Lay said.
Hasara turned her love of travelling with cats into Catexplorer, an online community of travellers who explore the world with their cats and learn from other’s experiences.
“I found a heap of posts on social media about other people who travelled with their cats but there was no way of keeping track of that information and recommendations when I was searching for cat-friendly accommodation or a new cat backpack,” Ms lay said.
“I created Catexplorer to be a place where we can easily share that information.
“We help you find the best feline-friendly places across the globe from bars and pubs to restaurants and places to shop as well as spots to hike and hotels that welcome your cat.”
The Catexplorer community now has more than 5500 members from across the globe.
“Its place to feel like you belong, where no one would laugh at you for travelling with your cat,” Ms Lay said.
“We learn from each other an have started meet-ups to share experiences as Catexplorers from the equipment we use to places we love to visit.”
Hasara said Queenslanders have embraced exploring with their cats.
“Queensland is a great place to explore with cats compared to other states,” Ms Lay said.
“Laminton and Jamu are Catexplorers that live on the Sunshine Coast and their owners take them to the beach, to work and on bushwalks in cat-friendly areas.”
Hasara’s cats Lumos and Noxie also enjoy their adventurous lifestyle.
“They’re very different cats and love different aspects of exploring,” Ms Lay said.
“Lumos loves going to markets and cafes – anywhere where they’re the centre of attention, while Noxie prefers hiking and being in nature.”
One of Hasara’s favourite holidays was travelling the Great Ocean Road with her cats.
“So much of the Great Ocean Road is National Park where pets are prohibited, so we were concerned that our cats wouldn’t be able to go anywhere with us,” Hasara said.
“We did a lot of research and found a number of cat-friendly cafes, boardwalks and lookouts, beaches, walking trails and even a whisky distillery so our cats were able to join us on all of our activities.”
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