Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our January/February 2017 issue. Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
When my girlfriend and I moved in together, I persuaded her to get two things: a cat and a bicycle. Part of my sales pitch involved a whimsical image of her cycling home on a sun-dappled weekend morning with a loaf of freshly baked bread and the cat in her bike’s basket.
This never happened. The Schwinn remains in storage, and the contentedly indoor cat, Mimosa, rarely ventures beyond her perch at the windowsill.
It’s safe to say we’re not an adventuring family — but other cat owners have begun a burgeoning movement that involves hiking, biking, and even sailing through the outdoor wilderness with their felines in tow. They’re called adventure cats.
I came across my first adventure kitty through an Instagram wormhole that brought me to Eevee, a fresh-faced Georgia-based tortoiseshell who was named after a Pokemon character. After rescuing Eevee when she was found in a closet in a mechanic shop, her owner, Emily, let this “confident and eager” kitten explore the backyard. By the time Eevee was 4 months old, she’d grad- uated to hiking. “She was born to be an adventure cat,” Emily decided after noticing how Eevee liked to walk ahead of her as if she already knew the trail to follow.
Eevee’s now been joined by Kasha, who’s officially known as an “adventure kitten in training.” When they’re out exploring the countryside together, Emily always keeps her cats on a leash — although she said that at first it can be tricky teaching a cat to walk where you want them to go rather than wandering off and chasing their own instincts. It helps to follow the same trail when starting out training an adventure cat: “That way, they’ll be more familiar with the environment and better behaved as a result.”
A star of the adventure cat scene, Eevee has added camping and boat rides to her repertoire. The tortoiseshell’s virgin voyage on water began with every sound in the creaky boat setting her off and causing her to want to hide. But after a while, “she got more curious and would stand her front feet up on the sides of the boat and look around,” Emily said.
“I kept encouraging her with treats, and by the end of the experience she seemed much more OK with it.”
Another cat who’s happy to buck the stereotype and embrace the water world is Kate, whose owner, Magdalena, affectionately said she resembles “some extraterrestrial life form.” Kate lives in the city in Poland but spends weekends at a small place in the country next to a national park, where Kate turns the fields and trees into her own magical playground, complete with reveling in a favorite pond. In the winter, you’ll catch Kate serenely skating out onto the ice. In the summer, she searches out “little fishing spots hidden in the reeds” and spends hours “sitting there watching the fish swimming below.”
Exploring the countryside with Kate has inspired Magdalena, who’s a photographer, to change the way she views the natural world around her. “Kate taught me to look at things from a different perspective, in a nonhuman scale,” she said. “Sometimes she makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland, where every blade of grass or tree root seems like a gateway to a brave new world.”
Kate’s realm is a wistful place, but cats such as Nanakuli, Amelia, Thrasher, and Burma are all about upping the thrill-seeking stakes.
Nanakuli is a one-eyed kitty who frolics in Honolulu as a surfing adventure cat. You’ll find this ginger-and-white chap perched on the end of a surfboard and enjoying the waves off the coast of Hawaii. Amelia takes it even further as this self-proclaimed Tropicat is currently on a round-the-world trip with her “she pirate” owner in a boat.
Trading water for land, Thrasher is a daredevil all-white kitty who can be found venturing through the red rock scenery of Arizona while perched in the backpack of his humans, Jordan and Jackie. “Thrasher knows that he can go in the backpack, and he will be safe,” said Jackie, mentioning that he hops in there when confronted with rowdy hikers and off-leash dogs. “He even hangs his arm out because he feels so chill in it!”
Then there’s Burma, whose adventure cat roots hark back to his start as an abandoned kitten discovered in a homeless person’s tent. This black cat with white-tipped paws and a beard has since become a forerunner of the cat-climbing scene. If you’re out and about in North Carolina, don’t be surprised to look up and spot him perched on a high hill or valley edge overlooking a gorge.
Or, if like me, you’re more likely to be lounging at home than braving the wilds, make like a cat happily watching the world through a window, and plug the hashtag AdventureCats into Instagram to enjoy your open-air kicks vicariously.
￼Is your feline an adventure cat in the making or a homebody at heart? Answer these “highly scientific” (translation: not) questions to find out.
Adventurous: If the doorbell rings, does your cat sprint toward the door to check out the new visitor?
Not so much: Or does she slink under the bed and hide?
Adventurous: Has your cat ever climbed up on top of the kitchen cabinets?
Not so much: Or is she content to scale only the back of the couch?
Adventurous: If a fly enters the apartment, will your cat mercilessly hunt it down?
Not so much: Or does she nap through the insect hunt?
Adventurous: Is your cat OK with specks of rain hitting her through the window screen?
Not so much: Or does she freak out at the very thought of suffering out- door weather conditions?