Meet Quita, an adventurous kitty and your news source of travel inspiration.
The Abyssian mix cat has spent the last year travelling around Europe with her two best friends – her owner, Robert Stephenson-Padron, and a parrot called Coco Lee.
So far she’s visited almost 30 locations, including Vatican City, Champeaux, and Florence, posing for photos in front of sights including the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Her adventures began the moment she was adopted by Robert back in March 2019, when she was originally brought in to bring cheer to staff at Robert’s healthcare business.
Originally trained as a therapy cat, Quita – short for Chiquita Banana – has learned to bond with human companions and stick nearby, making her the perfect travelling companion.
Travel junkie cat has spent all of her life on a tour around Europe
Robert , managing director of Penrose Care from London, said: ‘I am someone who has always loved adventure – seeing unusual sights and most importantly, trying new foods.
‘I’m originally from California but have been an expat living in Europe since 2006 so you can say that my life since then is one big adventure abroad.
‘Having a lifelong love of animals, since I started travelling with my animals, my travels have been 10 times more fun and adventurous.
‘Quita was acquired by my company, Penrose Care, on March 15, 2019.
‘Penrose Care is the recognised pioneer of the ethical provision of home care services in the UK.
‘We acquired Quita originally to lift the spirits of the staff but my aunt Carlotta Lincoln, a registered nurse in the Monterey Bay, California, suggested we train Quita to be a therapy animal by teaching her to wear clothes and wear a harness and lead.’
Preparing to travel with the kitty took some time.
Robert had to train Quita to get used to the lead, and started out by taking her around Hampstead Heath with her harness.
‘Quita’s first major outdoor goal was to visit all of London’s Royal Parks which she completed by the end of Spring 2019,’ said Robert. ‘She also became the first cat to ride one of the Thames Clippers.’
Once she was ready, the pals ventured abroad for the first time in July, taking a ferry to Provence, driving up to Champeaux for a wedding, then popping into Paris.
The second trip was a voyage to Vatican City, followed by stops in Troyes, Mont Blanc, Pisa, Milan, Rome, Florence, Bologna, Innsbruck, Munich, Nuremberg and Saarbrücken.
It turns out Quita is made for an adventurous life.
Robert explains: ‘People ask us how we trained her but aside from adding Coco Lee the parrot into the mix to help Quita when she is scared, the inclination to go outside to far-off places and meet people was in Quita’s original nature.
‘She has always enjoyed riding in a car or on the London Underground so no surprise she also enjoys riding on trains and boats. We haven’t flown yet.’
‘Seeing the joy she has on her adventures and the happiness she brings others is reason enough to bring her out.’
Parrot Coco Lee is always there to provide companionship and comfort for the cat, having travelled with Robert since 2011.
The trio provoke strong reactions from other tourists. Fair enough, really – it’s not often you see a parrot and a cat posing for travel snaps.
‘Most people of course find traveling with Quita very unusual,’ says Robert. ‘That is because it is unusual.
‘But having travelled around with my pet parrot Coco Lee since 2011, I don’t really take much notice.
‘I would say 99% of people are visibly joyful when they see Quita traveling.
‘You have about maybe 1% of animal haters – we have no time for them.”
‘Quita can be unpredictable at times. When she is in these moods we just stay inside. Indeed, we mainly only travel outside if she asks to travel. We also need to be careful in our routes.
‘There are certain areas she just doesn’t like and if we take those routes, she can get highly agitated. She also doesn’t like the sound of the conveyor platform on delivery trucks so we need to avoid those.
‘If Quita is stressed while we’re out, the best solution is to go for a car ride as these almost instantly, but not always, calm her down.’
Quita now has her own TikTok and Instagram to share her adventures with her adoring fans.
Robert adds: ‘I have been living around animals my entire life. There is one thing I am certain of: animals are highly intelligent in their own right and have powerful emotions.
”I would not want to project our human concept of love onto Quita and Coco Lee but there is one thing I am certain of: they do not like being alone or being apart from me. So there is an attachment.
‘Do they love me? Possibly. Do I love them? Certainly.
‘As animals in your care generally will not betray you, I would say that the animal bond to a human is potentially more powerful than typical human love. Being able to take Quita and Coco Lee with me so they are not alone is a great privilege.
‘Keeping watch over the animals to ensure their safety and welfare is good for the senses and keeps the pointless worries of modern life away from your mind.
”Travelling with animals thus teaches you responsibility, that life is the present time, and that worrying and anxiety are folly.
‘Seeing the deep joy the animals bring to strangers and the strong bonds they have with me also present to me great beauty.’