Feline adopted from Rifle Animal Shelter enjoys paddle boarding, bike riding and skiing

Adventure cat Liebchen sits pretty for a photo on the Rio Grande Trail south of Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Liebchen is unlike most rescue cats.

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

“He’s truly like a little dog/human/cat hybrid,” Geldermans joked of Liebchen. “He’s kind of our ruler, too. He totally owns us. He totally rescued us.”

Whether it’s paddle boarding, biking or clinging onto his foster parents’ shoulders when they ski Aspen Mountain, Liebchen is turning into Roaring Fork Valley’s unofficial adventure cat.

Geldermans said Four Mountains actually made Liebchen a ski pass for the past two ski seasons.

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

September 2020 was the first time Geldermans and Schreck felt Liebchen’s purrs reverberate in their arms. They had just signed the adoption papers, and the 10-month old kitten’s demeanor was more relaxed than relieved, Geldermans said.

Little did the new Aspen foster parents know the Rifle Animal Shelter averages about 1,400 adoptions per year, and of that bunch, Liebchen would turn out to be a feline anomaly.

Rifle Animal Shelter Executive Director Heather Grant referred to Liebchen as “not your every-day adoption.”

“Every day we find great homes, and our animals get adopted,” she said. “But this is a very special adoption. This cat is doing unusual cat things.”

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

Liebchen is the offspring of a stray cat, Geldermans said. His mother, Wren, was first taken in by another foster mother, and the stray cat eventually ended up birthing a litter of kittens. One of those kittens was Liebchen.

At the time, Geldermans was in the process of finding a cat. She said she had always dreamed of having her own cat since her family growing up was allergic to felines.

Adventure cat Liebchen goes for a quick hike near the Roaring Fork River on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

When Rifle Animal Shelter took in the litter and posted a picture online of Liebchen, it immediately snagged Geldermans’ attention.

“There’s something about him,” she said. “I can just feel it.”

Geldermans also said she wanted to support an adoption agency rather than buy a cat from a private source. One reason being there are at least 2 million pets euthanized each year in the United States because they’re not adopted, she said.

Though the Rifle Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter, Geldermans said it’s better to donate to an adoption agency and get “a really awesome cat.”

“I think they just are chill, they’re resilient, they could have been through a lot,” she said of adopted animals. “That actually can make them really awesome companions.”

Now, Liebchen is an eager, outdoor enthusiast. The cat, named after a German term of endearment, usually stares out the window and meows if he wants to go on another adventure.

Besides Aspen Mountain, Liebchen’s travels include hiking at Maroon Bells, riding up gondolas at Telluride and strolling the Rio Grande Trail.

“Sometimes, he doesn’t want to go out with us,” Geldermans said. “Usually, he’ll run to the door because he wants to go out. But, sometimes, he will just go and turn his back to us and go sit in his bed.”

Liebchen enjoys a gondola ride in Telluride.
Submitted / Erin Geldermans

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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