A YouTuber who has travelled the world with his “brave” and “curious” feline to places including Mexico, Arizona, Greece, and the Pyrenees tells owners to “do more with your cat”.
Albert Colominas, 35, who currently lives in New York, US, has taken his two-year-old Bengal cat, Mia, on adventures around the globe – travelling by plane, boat, and car and showcasing the many talents of his “muse” to hundreds of thousands of followers on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.
The senior brand manager from Barcelona has taught Mia several tricks, such as sitting, rolling over, waiting for food, and jumping onto his shoulder or through his arms.
Through his own research, learnings, and experiences with Mia, Albert wants to help people “enrich their cats’ lives” and teach owners how to better communicate with and understand their felines.
“(My mission) is helping cat parents do more and better with their cats,” Albert said.
“This is all about helping people understand the raw nature of their cat and helping people give the freedom that cats appreciate having, without pushing them too much.”
Albert explained that he “always wanted a cat as a kid”, but his parents did not allow him to have one as they did not want any pets.
He is also allergic to cats, which only added to his frustration.
Albert was travelling frequently and playing sports throughout his youth, meaning he had very little free time to look after a furry feline, and this continued into adulthood.
But everything changed when he moved to New York before the coronavirus pandemic started.
“I moved to the US; my life was a big mess. My dad passed, my girlfriend dumped me, there was a lot of work, and then Covid happened. I was all over the place,” Albert said.
“I was living in a tiny apartment near Manhattan, and I thought, I’m heading on a downward spiral and I need to do something about it, so I decided to get a cat.”
Albert visited an allergist and learned that Bengal cat breeds are hypoallergenic.
He contacted a breeder and, after an agonising six-week wait, he picked up his beloved cat, Mia, who he named after ‘Mia Wallace’ – a fictional character played by the actress Uma Thurman in the popular 1994 Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction, which Albert loves.
Albert explained that Mia is “extremely bonded to (him)” and they started venturing outdoors very early on in their relationship once coronavirus restrictions had eased in the summer of 2020.
Albert decided to buy a small harness for Mia, and, with a slow and nurturing approach, he took her for her first walk outside and she “embraced it”. The pair have continued to adventure ever since, sailing on boats, flying in planes, and going on road trips together.
Describing her first walk, Albert said: “I could see her tail was up, (and) she was smelling everything.
“I thought, she’s definitely enjoying this, and little by little I started pushing her boundaries and seeing how far we could go.
“One day I saw myself doing a road trip with her around Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico.
“Then we moved together to the Virgin Islands, and I was walking her there, and that proved that she loved the outdoors, that she could go walking with me on a leash, and that we could go almost anywhere.”
Albert said the first road trip with Mia is an adventure he “(holds) very dearly”.
He became very attuned to Mia’s needs during the trip, doing whatever he could to ensure she was “comfortable”, and he said he noticed “a massive difference” in their bond and communication.
They visited some “magical places” together, and since Albert was not accompanied by anyone else for the latter half of the trip, he started taking pictures of Mia and posting them on social media.
After seeing such a positive response to his content, Albert decided to launch his own YouTube channel, Albert & Mia, the Adventure Bengal Cat, to educate others about what he and Mia achieved during the road trip and how others can “go on adventures” with their cats. He has also since designed his own harness for cat owners.
Albert then started to teach Mia some basic tricks, introducing clicker and button training.
He filmed tutorials for his YouTube channel, but he emphasised that he implemented this training “to improve (their) ability to share space, or to do activities (together)”, rather than for entertainment.
He explained: “It’s not like I’m trying to train a circus cat. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m not just asking her to do all these cute things for the sake of it.
“What I realised is that, when I train her, she learns to pay attention to what I’m saying, and I learn to read her cues… so I think that training goes way beyond the trick that you’re teaching them.
“It’s more about your ability to understand and communicate with them.”
Albert said, if people want to go on adventures with their cats or teach them tricks, a slow and steady approach is vital.
He said introducing cats to new environments or scenarios too quickly, or without the correct training, could “create trauma”.
“When I started taking Mia out, I thought, I’m taking her out on a leash because I want her to enjoy being outside, I want her to be able to embrace being outdoors,” he said.
“So, because it was about her and not about me, I started very slow, and I gave her as much freedom or as many challenges as she was willing to take.
“They need to be very comfortable around people, they need to be comfortable wearing a harness, they need to be comfortable outdoors, near dogs, near kids.
“When all that happens, you can take them to an airport and they’re not going to freak out. They’ve been exposed to all of these separately, and then when you combine it, it’s just a bunch of stimuli that they are already used to.”
Mia is now comfortable going on walks and travelling on many modes of transport, and she has learnt to respond to her name, get off the counter, wait for her food, roll, lie down, jump onto Albert’s shoulder and walk between his legs.
It has been smooth sailing for the dynamic duo, apart from the time where Mia was chased by a dog on a beach in Mexico and she ran up a palm tree.
Fuelled with adrenaline, Albert attempted to climb the tree to save her, but he soon realised that using a step ladder was the more appropriate course of action for his rescue mission.
Albert wants to continue “helping cat parents do more and better with their cats”, but he emphasised: “The ultimate goal, it’s not the trick. It’s more about the time we spend trying to get there.”
To find out more about Albert’s work, visit his website here: www.outdoorbengal.com