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Fallbrook's surfing cat featured in Netflix documentary

 

Last updated 7/23/2021 at 4pm

Maverick the surfing cat has lived in Fallbrook for over a year, and living in this area allows him to make many trips to the beach to surf with his owner, Nick Liam Heaney. Village News/Courtesy photo

Christal Gaines-Emory

Writer

On July 7, a Netflix documentary called "Cat People" featured one of Fallbrook's very own felines, Maverick, a surfing cat.

Nick Liam Heaney, Kayla Tabish and their Bengal cat Maverick moved to Fallbrook in March 2020. They had been living in Los Angeles but, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they feared for their safety and decided to move to a less populated area.

When they moved to Fallbrook, Heaney said that they immediately fell in love with the country vibes and the community.

"We love it here, and so does Maverick," said Heaney. "Fallbrook is a special gem; it's close to the beach; it's a close-knit community, and it's a real breath of fresh air."

Three years ago, when they were living in LA, Heaney and Tabish adopted a kitten named Maverick, and they noticed that Maverick had some unique habits.

First, they noticed that he enjoyed being walked on a leash. However, one day while they were walking Maverick, he maneuvered out of his harness and ran into the street. This inspired Heaney and Tabish to start their own business making cat harnesses, called SurferCat Luxury. The harness allows cats to be able to go on walks comfortably, without maneuvering out of their harness and putting themselves in danger. These harnesses can be purchased on https://www.surfercat.com/.

After noticing Maverick's love for going on walks, former pro wakeboarder Heaney wondered if Maverick would enjoy water too.

"We started out by just feeding him on a surfboard so he would get comfortable on the board," said Heaney. "Then, we put the board in the pool with food on it, and Maverick felt comfortable eating his food on the surfboard in the pool. We kept at it for months until we thought he was ready for the water."

Maverick began surfing at the beach, and his love for the ocean helped him to gain a following on social media. Later, he was able to audition for "Cat People," and he was chosen to be featured in episode six of the show.

"Maverick has started a huge movement," said Heaney. "He's smashing the perception that all cats need to stay home."

Maverick kayaks with owner Kayla Tabish. Maverick is able to surf, paddleboard, kayak, and swim. Village News/Courtesy photo

Maverick's love for being walked on a leash and surfing has inspired other cat owners all over the U.S. to start taking their cats outside more. Over 3,000 cats now have harnesses and are able to go on daily walks, and Heaney and Tabish receive thank you letters from cat owners who have been inspired to take their cats on trips, surfing, or just taking them on walks out of the house.

Heaney said that he has enjoyed seeing how people react to Maverick, and he's also loved being able to help others through SurferCat Luxury and informing people about how adventures such as surfing and going on walks can benefit cats.

"Pets do so much for us," said Heaney. "We're advocates for mental health awareness, and pets are a huge part of mental health. They're important in our lives and they make such a large difference in our lives, we have to return the favor."

Heaney hopes that Maverick's story will continue to inspire cat owners to take their cats on adventures.

 

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