Adopted kittens from Rifle Animal Shelter enjoy paddle boarding, biking and skating

Adventurous cat Liebchen poses beautifully for a photo on the Rio Grande Road south of Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self / Independent After

Liebchen unlike most foster cats.

When this young orange tabby adopted from the Rifle Animal Shelter isn’t a cat in his favorite bed, he’s enjoying outdoor adventures with his adoptive parents, Aspen residents Erin Geldermans and Dan Schreck.

“It really is like a small dog/human/cat hybrid,” Geldermans joked from Liebchen. “He is kind of our ruler too. He completely owns us. He completely saved us.”

Whether it’s skateboarding, biking or clinging to the shoulders of his adoptive parents when they ski down Aspen Mountain, Liebchen turns into the casual adventure cat of Roaring Fork Valley.

Geldermans said Four Mountains has already made Liebchen a ski pass in the past two ski seasons.

“It’s like a normal ski pass,” she said. “It’s just his little face on her.”

September 2020 was the first time Geldermans and partner felt Liebchen’s sigh reverberating in their arms. Geldermans said they had just signed the adoption papers, and the 10-month-old cat’s demeanor was more relaxed than satisfied.

Little did Aspen parents know that the Rifle Animal Shelter averages about 1,400 adoptions a year, and from this group, Liebchen would turn out to be a feline anomaly.

The executive director of the Rifle Animal Shelter, Heather Grant, referred to Liebchen as “not your daily adoption.”

“Every day we find wonderful homes, and our animals are adopted,” she said. “But this is a very special adoption. This cat does unusual things for cats.”

“It’s exciting to see that a homeless animal can have a wonderful home and life.”

Geldermans said the Liebchen is the offspring of a feral cat. His mother, Wren, was first taken in by another foster mother, and the stray cat eventually ended up giving birth to a group of kittens. One of those cats was Liebchen.

At the time, Gelderman was finding a cat. She said she had always dreamed of owning her cat since growing up and her family was allergic to felines.

Adventurous cats Liebchen go for a brisk walk near the Roaring Fork on a Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Independent After

When the Rifle Animal Shelter picked up the litter and posted a photo online of Liebchen, it caught the Geldermans’ attention instantly.

“There is something about him,” she said. “I can only feel it.”

Gelderman also said she wanted to support an adoption agency rather than buying a cat from a private source. One reason, she said, is that at least two million pets are euthanized each year in the United States because they are not adopted.

Although the Rifle Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter, Geldermans said it’s best to donate to an adoption agency and have a “really adorable cat.”

“I think they’re just goosebumps, floppy, and they could have gone through a lot,” she said of the adopted animals. “This actually can make them really great companions.”

Now, Liebchen is a passionate outdoorsy enthusiast. The cat, named after a German term for darling, usually stares out the window and nods if it wants to go on another adventure.

Besides Mount Aspen, Liebchen trips include hiking the Maroon Bells, riding a gondola at Telluride, and hiking the Rio Grande Trail.

“Sometimes he just doesn’t want to go out with us,” Geldermans said. “Normally, he runs to the door because he wants to get out. But, sometimes, he goes and turns his back on us and sits in his bed.”

Liebchen enjoys riding the gondola at Telluride.
Presented by: Erin Geldermans

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be contacted at 612-423-5273 or [email protected]

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