When Ocean County, N.J., fitness trainer Michael Greenblatt went for his morning run one day in November 2008, he didn’t expect a new best friend and running partner to show up in his life.
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When he stepped out of his home that day he noticed a kitten across the street staring at him. “She was beautiful,” he says of the black kitten who stole his heart. “She just kept staring at me.”He found out from the woman who owned the house and had been feeding her, that the kitten had been abandoned there in a shoebox.
The next morning when Greenblatt went for his run, the kitten was on his doorstep and began to run with him. She began meeting him every morning at his usual 5:30 running time to join him on his runs over street, sidewalk, beach, jetty and boardwalk. Thinking this was highly unusual, he asked veterinarians and local SPCA staff if they had ever heard of cats who do distance running with humans. They never had.
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A lifelong cat lover, Greenblatt fell in love with the kitten. “I love black cats,” he says. “All I knew growing up was black cats.”This little black kitten reminded Greenblatt of two he had when he was a boy and made him think of his mother, who also loved black cats.
He convinced his neighbor that he was going to keep the kitten and brought her to the SPCA to get spayed. The staff there estimated that she was born on Apr. 30, 2008, a significant date on Greenblatt’s calendar. “I got chills going through me,” he says. “Apr. 30, 1999, is when my mom passed. My sister said, ‘See, Mom sent you the best present.’ It cheers me up on the saddest day of the year for me.” Greenblatt began calling her Roadrunner.
Together Greenblatt and Roadrunner have run more than 20 different courses over the past five years. “We do all different types of workouts,” he says. “We have easy and long runs; some days we run in the sand. She runs on the boardwalk and the beach. She leads the way.”Roadrunner also gets days off. “Being a fitness trainer, you have to monitor your athletes. You can just tell when she’s tired.”
Greenblatt’s top priority is safety. “My eyes are always open,” he says. “From Day One Roadrunner’s safety and health come first. We go very early in the morning. On the rare occasion, the second I see anything – a car, a bike – I scoop her up in my arms. I’m always aware.”
Greenblatt created a website and YouTube channel to share Roadrunner’s incredible passion for running. Soon, media outlets across the world picked up Roadrunner’s story and eventually the attention led to a spot on Animal Planet, an advertising gig and now, even a children’s book is in the works, bringing positive attention to rescue cats.
“This is all very flattering,” Greenblatt says. “Even though she’s become an international star, more importantly, Roadrunner is my best friend and she’s my companion whom I love with all my heart. Roadrunner’s safety and health come first. I love her like family. I’d protect her with my life.”