Tom Cox, author of Under the Paw: Confessions of a Cat Man, recently wrote a piece in the Financial Times about walking with cats in Pembrokeshire, Wales. He visited Jackie Morris, a writer and childrens book illustrator, who regularly takes her ginger cats over hill and dale on walks of up to five miles.
Of course, in this wild rural landscape, there is no danger of speeding cars, just hillocks and heather and a path to the sea. Cox and Morris stroll with the orange tabbies Maurice, Kiffer, Martha, Elmo and Pixie following at a cat-like pace. These orange tabbies and the bucolic countryside are frequent subjects for Morris’ children’s book illustrations.
When they head back to Morris’ home, Cox carries Pixie across his shoulders like a scarf for more than a mile. Morris demonstrates how she has more or less trained Pixie and Elmo to jump atop standing stones or footpath signs just by tapping them. Cats run ahead, lag behind, or disappear altogether. That’s just the way cat-walking is.
Tom is no stranger to cat walking:
As surreal as it is to stroll along a coastal path with small felines at my heels, I am not a newcomer to cat-walking. In my teens, I would walk through miles of Forestry Commission land in north Nottinghamshire with my paragon of childhood cats, Monty. Its an activity thats always felt very natural to me, says Morris. The first time was about 20 years ago, with my old cat Comfrey. I just walked up the hill behind my house near Bath one day, and he followed me. He would come to the shops with me.
I’m no stranger to cat-walking, myself. My gregarious tabby, Tripper, follows us like a dog anytime we take Skeezix for a stroll or a walk. Unless we’re staying within the confines of our quiet neighborhood, this usually requires that we return home at some point and lock Tripper in the house. But if I, like Morris, lived in Pembrokeshire, I could see myself walking to the sea each morning with Trip shadowing me… a purrfect way to start a day.
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