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Salty Sea Cat shows us the ropes

Salty Sea Cat is a 4-year-old, 20-pound Turkish Van who hails from the United Kingdom. He lives with his owners Berni and Andy Lockwood on Camargue, a 45-foot Bruce Roberts yacht.

Sailing the high seas alongside Salty and his humans are Pippa the Springer Spaniel and Jib the goldfish. Pippa, or “Pip,” as she is often referred, to is Salty’s best friend, and Jib is a relatively new addition to the crew, a lucky soul who was rescued from a fair last summer.

Salty, whose full pedigree show name is Premier Yenicizgi Tam Kizil, is more than just a clawed captain — he’s also daring darling on social media who’s amassed more than 21,000 Instagram followers. It’s no surprise, though; Salty is one photogenic and purrolific adventurer. He’s been known to canoe, hike and backpack.

We had a chance to ask Salty’s owners some questions about life on a boat, how this meowing mariner joined their crew, and how he became such an accomplished adventure cat.

Berni and Andy enjoyed leisure sailing for 15 years before making the move to give up life as landlubbers.

MORE: Main Coon acts as deaf sailor’s ears at sea

“In 2010 we decided to sell our home and most of our belongings to buy a bigger boat to live on,” Berni said. “This took us about a year to organize, and we have been living aboard since then.”

As for making a living while on the high seas, Andy and Berni work remotely in healthcare management.

Berni and Andy adopted the 13-week-old Salty in December 2013.

“Salty has always liked to be on deck watching everything that goes on, and he wanted to follow Pip on her walks off the boat,” Berni said. “He was already harness trained when he was a kitten, [and] we found he really enjoys going for walks and just doing everything with us. He especially wants to go where Pip (pictured below) goes.”

As far as sporting accoutrements, Salty has quite a variety of accessories.

“He has a good harness for canoeing and for longer hikes,” Berni said. He travels in a backpack pod and gets out for a wander every 20 minutes and a snack or play, and then jumps back in so we can carry on. If we are going on longer journeys exploring in the car he has a travel carrier.”

As for dressing for his adventures,” Salty doesn’t like wearing clothes at all but will tolerate having pet sunscreen put on his ears and nose on hikes,” she said. “I usually wear a scarf that I can wrap him in or he snuggles into.”

Aboard Camargue, Salty is quite the cozy skipper. His favorite spots include his very own cabin, which has a mezzanine shelf and day bed with a view out a porthole. He also enjoys spending time in the captain’s chair. Above deck, Salty likes to perch on the hatch roof.

As for hitting the head while at sea, Salty uses a Litter Robot. When off boat, he has a variety of options.

“On adventures, we use three different types depending on the type of travel. On walking hikes, we take a foldable cardboard bag with litter in it, and for journeys in the car he has a ferret corner box.” Berni explained that the corner box goes inside his large travel box which is designed for dogs. “He is really adaptable and smart, so any container or box we put litter in, he uses,” she said.

For meals, Salty prefers kibble, but he occasionally enjoys tuna in spring water as well as the catch of the day. “He really enjoys fresh fish when we catch it, and sometimes fishermen give us tasty treats for him like langoustine,” Berni said.
In addition to hanging out with his humans and his pal Pippa, Salty finds entertainment in watching the variety of wildlife he encounters at sea. He’s been known to watch cormorants, dolphins and seals.

On land, he and Pippa like to watch rabbits though Berni noted, much to the appreciation of bunnies everywhere, “They aren’t allowed to chase them.”

Since Salty is so well traveled, inquiring feline minds wanted to know if he had any recommended travel destinations for other courageous cats.

Berni told us, “Recently we spent a week exploring the Isle of Skye that has a lot of waterfalls and mountain streams that he really enjoyed.” Berni noted that the Turkish Van breed likes water, “So he really enjoyed walking along the streams and jumping about on the rocks.”

What advice does Salty have for other potential seafurrers?

“Cats can live just as well in sailing vessels as static houses or apartments,’ Berni said. “Two things we would recommend are to make sure you have a good ‘cat overboard’ routine figured out and practice on a regular basis. On really stormy nights, pack a small essentials grab bag in case you have to get off your vessel in a hurry. Ours is for both pets and includes leads, harnesses, a tin of food, a plastic bowl and a small pouch of litter.”

While Berni and his crew have never had to use their emergency bag, he says it’s important to always put safety “furrst.”

Follow Salty Sea Cat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and be sure to check out his blog!

All photos and videos courtesy of Bernadette and Andy Lockwood.

Captain Ahab sails the seas with his travel-blogging parents

Captain Ahab was just a kitten when Hurricane Irma struck the Sunshine State. The SPCA in Marathon, Florida took in the ginger tabby and sheltered him for a few months until the winds changed, and Captain Ahab went from storm survivor to adventure cat.

On December 26, 2017, travel bloggers Kach and Jonathan Howe adopted Captain Ahab from the SPCA and took him to his new home: a 37-foot 1971 Finnrose sailboat named Empress. The furry sailor is now truly living nine lives to the fullest by enjoying beautiful ocean vistas, napping in cat hammocks and exploring seven seas full of delicious fishes.

Kach and Jonathan Howe are intrepid globetrotters and “digital nomads” who have traveled to more than 100 countries and visited all seven continents. They run Two Monkeys Travel Group, and Kach recently launched MrandMrsHowe.com, a lifestyle blog that  documents her adventures in married life. Kach and Jonathan’s love story and shared adventures have been featured in Forbes, Yahoo, PopSugar and more.

And now these globetrotters are taking to the seas.

Before adopting Captain Ahab, Kach and Jonathan spent seven months restoring their sailboat, and they’re now sailing in the Bahamas. Adventure Cats got in touch with Captain Ahab and the Howes to learn about the nautical family’s plans in the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean and beyond.

Adventure Cats: How long have you been sailing?

Kach Howe: Neither of us have had a great deal of sailing experience before buying Empress, so the 29-hour journey from Marathon to Bimini across the Gulf Stream was our first real sail together! Almost two weeks later we are now tied up at New Providence Island near Nassau and waiting for the weather to improve so we can make the day trip across to the Exumas.

What influenced you to include Captain Ahab on your travels?

We talked about having a pet on board for quite a while, but Jonathan wasn’t convinced at first. He grew up with cats and dogs who had all the freedom they wanted to explore outside, so the idea of such a small territory for a cat didn’t seem right.

Then, over the course of a few months, we kept meeting more and more sailors who had cats on board; some from kittens and some that moved aboard as adults. It was really clear that they all loved the boat life and had adapted to it perfectly!

How did you come up with the name Captain Ahab? Are you big Melville fans?

Since we knew he was going to become a boat cat, Jonathan was trying to think of names with a nautical theme. He remembers liking the book, film and cartoon adaptations of ‘Moby Dick’ when he was younger so he came up with Captain Ahab.

As it turns Captain Ahab is starting to live up to his name. When he decides he wants something or to get somewhere, it’s next to impossible to stop him or distract him from his mission. He’ll spend hours coming up with all manner of devious trickery in order to get around you to whatever his ‘Moby Dick of the day’ happens to be!

What kinds of steps did you take to prepare Captain Ahab for your journey?

First of all, we just let him get used to the boat without actually sailing anywhere. After about a week, Jonathan wrapped a large boat fender in thick rope and tied it to the side of the boat in the water, for Captain Ahab to climb back onto the boat in case he fell overboard.

Of course, we had to teach him how to use it, which involved lowering him into the water from the dinghy to swim back to the boat and climb up the fender. It’s not something we enjoyed doing, but he actually swims really well and wasn’t even slightly phased by his ‘swimming lesson.’

Does Captain Ahab have a favorite spot on your boat?

He has several favorite spots depending on what we are doing. While we’re underway he wears his harness and is tethered safely inside the cockpit with us, so he usually curls up at Jonathan’s feet while he’s at the helm. He occasionally stands up on his hind legs to look outside and check where we are.

If he gets cold, he goes inside his Blue Whale Cat Ball with his blanket and some treats. When we’re at anchor or in a marina he likes to run around the deck, climbing the boom and mast or just sitting behind the sailbags to shelter from the wind.

What gear does Captain Ahab use?

Captain Ahab has his own life jacket for use in emergencies and two types of harness that we use to tether him in the boat for sailing, or to take him on land to stretch his legs and explore a bit. Aside from those few bits of sailing gear, he has more toys than we can carry and two cat hammocks for chillaxing in.

What kind of litter box does Captain Ahab use on the boat?

We have a large enclosed litter box that helps with the smells he makes in there, as well as with the movement of the boat as it can be secured in place more easily. The only issue we have found is that he hates the noise from our diesel engine, so if we are motoring anywhere we have to shut it down for a while so he can go do his thing.

What kind of food does Captain Ahab enjoy?

He loves eating, but he is becoming a bit fussy! We feed him a mix of wet and dry food to make sure he gets enough hydration and, luckily, he drinks plenty of water without any extra encouragement. So far, we know that he prefers chicken over fish and that he will choose to go hungry for up to a day if we try to use up a tin of the food he decides he doesn’t want that day. He’s a stubborn little guy!

What are your upcoming sailing destinations?

At the moment we’re looking at the Bahamas, Cuba, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, the Grenadine and eventually across to Cartagena, Panama and Guatemala — in whatever order the winds and currents will allow us!

What inspired you to go on this adventure?

Jonathan fell in love with the sailing life when we sailed from Panama to Cartagena via the San Blas Islands on a friend’s boat several years ago. We were still budget backpackers without much money back then, but he said, ‘I’m going to buy a sailboat and we’re going to travel around the world,’ without a hint of doubt in his voice. Almost exactly two years later we bought Empress.

What advice would you give cat owners who are considering bringing their feline friend on sailing adventures?

After our first big journey we decided that Captain Ahab shouldn’t be down inside the boat because in big waves there are things that can and will fall over, despite being well tied down. He’s much happier in the cockpit with us, and the movement of the boat is far less exaggerated at the stern.

Another tip we’ve learned from experience is catnip and plenty of treats! The drier biscuit type treats also prompt him to keep drinking water regularly, but we pay attention to him and if he doesn’t drink for a while, we’ll wet the fur around his mouth wso that he licks it off.

Mostly though we consider Captain Ahab in our route planning and have found that when we plan a route around his comfort, we actually create a much more pleasant journey for ourselves in the process.

What are you most looking forward to about having Captain Ahab with you on your voyage?

He just makes us laugh every day with all his crazy behavior and quirky personality! We also love seeing the look on his face when we arrive at a new destination, reaching up to look over the side of the cockpit taking in everything around him!

Find out more about Captain Ahab, Kach and Jonathan on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and at Two Monkeys Travel Group and MrandMrsHowe.com

All photos courtesy of Jonathan and Kach Howe.

Bengal’s breathtaking photos will fill you with travel envy

There are Instagram cats, and then there’s Suki.

This wide-eyed Bengal is a bona fide celebrity, and with almost 800,000 Instagram followers, she boasts more social media fans than many human celebrities. Suki’s account, run by owner Marti Gutfreund, documents her adventures through Western Canada and beyond.

But when you’re that famous online, you’re bound to find fans in the offline world too.

“We get stopped by, I would say, at least 50 percent of people” when out hiking, Gutfreund says. Everyone is curious about the photogenic feline strutting through the woods.

Though Suki usually appears without a leash on Instagram, she’s always wearing one when outdoors — Gutfreund simply removes it in Photoshop to achieve a cleaner image.

“It’s absolutely bizarre,” Gutfreund says, adding that her home province, Alberta, has plenty of other adventure cats around. But few pets can match Suki’s panache. With striking dark marks that evoke her wild ancestors — Bengal cats are descended from both Asian leopard cats and domestic cats — Suki was born to be a star.

Gutfreund welcomed Suki into her life after a beloved cat from her childhood passed away. When she felt ready for a new pet, Gutfreund wanted a companion she could take along on outdoor photography trips. So she brushed up on how to raise an adventure cat, adopted Suki and began leash-training her.

At first, she took baby steps. Gutfreund didn’t bring Suki outside until she was 3 months old, and had received all her shots. Instead, she worked indoors with Suki for 10 minutes at a time, using treats to reward her for good behavior.

MORE: How to clicker train a cat

“I think the treats were the best motivation for her,” says Gutfreund. Before long, Suki was venturing outdoors, and while the natural world overwhelmed her at first — so many new sounds and scents! — she adapted quickly and loves being outside now.

The photos on Suki’s Instagram account depict her confidence. Whether she’s perched on a canoe or overlooking a valley, Suki can strike a model-like pose almost anywhere. Gutfreund loves photographing her feline friend at the ethereal Lake Louise and Emerald Lake, both nestled in Canadian parks, but Suki herself has other preferences: desert settings.

For example, she enjoys touring Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta’s badlands, a dry terrain that allows Suki to blend in among the burnt-orange rock formations.

“She absolutely loves it there,” Gutfreund says. Suki has also traveled to the more glamorous desert city of Palm Springs, California, where Gutfreund captured a picture of her sitting atop a cherry-red convertible.

An experienced photographer, Gutfreund originally posted Suki’s pictures to her own Instagram account, but she created an account exclusively for Suki after noticing how popular her feline’s photos were.

“When I posted pictures of her, they would get twice the likes of my photos,” she laughs. So Suki was offloaded to a new account, and her fans followed. Gutfreund meticulously crafts each image she publishes: Once she’s selected a photo, she amplifies its beauty through editing tools like Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom, giving it a mystical quality.

MORE: 11 tips for photographing your feline friend

Though Suki usually appears without a leash on Instagram, she’s always wearing one when outdoors — Gutfreund simply removes it in Photoshop to achieve a cleaner image.

Canada’s provincial and national parks require animals to be leashed, and Gutfreund is committed to Suki’s safety. She encourages other owners of aspiring adventure cats to properly leash-train their pets before taking them outdoors. Once a cat is comfortable outside, owners should ensure their pets stay hydrated even on shorter adventures, Gutfreund advises.

Suki herself is gearing up for the adventure of her lifetime: In August, Gutfreund is whisking her to Europe for six months. They’ll visit Gutfreund’s family in Germany and tour the rest of the continent too, snapping as many pictures as possible along the way.

Suki has traveled on planes before, and Gutfreund is confident she’ll handle Europe with ease. But while Suki is ready for Europe, there’s no way of telling whether Europe is ready for her. As Gutfreund points out, “People seem to still get pretty crazy about a cat on a leash.”

Scroll through the gallery at the top to see more “ameowzing” photos of Suki, and keep up with all her adventures on Instagram.

Bone deformity doesn’t stop this adventure cat

Adventure cats come in all shapes and sizes.

Veterinary student Summer Ott learned just how different some adventure cats can be when she adopted Parsley, a previously shy barn kitten with a knack for tree climbing, kayaking and even swimming. Parsley also happens to have a congenital bone deformity that prevents his legs from growing properly.

Parsley began life as a small, shy barn kitten who hid from people. But because of coyotes and feral cats in the area, Ott was worried Parsley might not survive on his own. She remembers taking a friend to pick out a kitten from the litter — her friend chose a social and outgoing kitten — but it was timid little Parsley who stayed on her mind.

“I had a lingering ache for that one shy kitty that no one else was going to adopt,” Ott said. “He had a gentleness about him, but was very sweet around people he trusted.”

Ott’s instincts were right. Parsley turned out to be a great companion.

“[Adopting him] is truly was the best decision I’ve ever made, even if it was semi-impulsive,” she said.

When it came time to name her new friend, though, the decision was practically made for her. A friend had a cat named Chowder, and Parsley’s litter mate had been dubbed Pickles. So Ott knew her cat needed a food-related name as well.

“He also has brilliant green eyes, so we narrowed down the choice to a green food, which happened to be the bright green herb, parsley.”

But soon it was apparent that Parsley wasn’t growing like other kittens. Ott says he’d always been a bit clumsy, but she also noticed he was walking differently than his litter mates. So she took him to the veterinary teaching hospital at Washington State University to get a specialized orthopedic consultation.

After a thorough evaluation, the veterinary students determined Parsley has metaphyseal chondrodystrophy, an extremely rare condition that gives him very short and stubby legs. In fact, this condition is so rare that there is only one case study identical to Parsley’s in the feline archives.

While the condition can be painful or even prevent a cat from being able to use his legs, Ott says Parsley isn’t showing any of these symptoms. In fact, at just 5 months old, he’s already been on quite a few adventures as a leash-trained kitty, a notion he took to almost instantly.

“I feel like the luckiest cat owner in the world, because we had virtually no trouble with leash-training,” Ott said. “I think that can be attributed to the fact that he came from a long line of barn cats, so maybe he had that outdoorsy, adventurous spirit inside him from the start. Parsley is also very good at reading subtle cues from me, so I think he quickly learned how to walk with the leash and harness, and made the correlation between the leash coming out and fun times outside.”

Right now he most enjoys going to Boyer Park in eastern Washington. Ott says it’s a quaint little place on the Snake River for swimming and tree climbing. Parsley also loves camping.

“Parsley is always open for new adventures,” Ott said. “We’ve taken him to a few awesome spots in Idaho and Washington, and our personal favorite, Lake Wallowa in Oregon, where he went kayaking.”

When Ott starts veterinary school this upcoming fall, they’ll have to keep the adventures local, but for now she’s been trying to expose Parsley to as many adventures as possible.

“Right now we’re planning a trip to Banff and Jasper National Parks, so we’re very excited for that.”

But she doesn’t want to stop there.

“There are so many adventures on our bucket list. Visiting all of the national parks in the United States is our more lofty goal for the future,” Ott said. “But truly, at the heart of the bucket list, we want Parsley to safely enjoy every adventurous activity that he can possibly do. Stand up paddle-boarding? Yep. Going on a helicopter ride? You got it. Spelunking or surfing? Definitely. Heck, if there’s a way he can safely and enjoyably go rock climbing, we want to try it. I think there’s a beauty to a well-rounded individual that can adapt to new situations, whether it’s a cat or a human.”

Ott says the joy in taking Parsley on adventures is that it improves his happiness and well-being as well as her own. But she also hopes to inspire and help enact change for the greater adventure cat community.

“It’s a bit frustrating that so many outdoor outfitters have outdoor dog equipment, but don’t have any for cats,” Ott said. “We hope that by sharing our love of adventures and by joining this wonderful small community of adventure cats in existence, that we can inspire a growth of resources for adventure cats in the world, and help challenge the norm of a cat always being a sedentary indoor house pet.”

Scroll through the gallery at the top to see more photos of Parsley, and keep up with all his adventures on Instagram.

Walter and Kunu explore the desert

Watch out, mountain lions. There’s a new feline ruling New Mexico.

This not-so-ferocious beast, a gray house cat named Walter, enjoys hiking through the desert with his owners, Madison Larkin and Elliott Andelman. But Walter’s natural habitat is his porch in Albuquerque, where he enjoys sunbathing with his new cat brother, Kunu.

“They’re amazing creatures and have such big personalities,” says Larkin.

Both Walter and Kunu are desert explorers and trailblazers of the feline world. While other adventure cats trek through lush forests or sail pristine lakes, Walter and Kunu traverse the arid Southwest.

Larkin and Andelman, are geologists who moved to New Mexico for work. In late 2017, they adopted Walter from an Albuquerque animal shelter when he was still a kitten.

“He did a little meow at us, as if to say hello, and came over and hopped up in our laps,” Larkin says. “We were like, ‘Well, we can’t not bring him home now!’ We fell in love with him instantly.”

As geologists, Larkin and Andelman spend plenty of time outside, and they both love hiking and camping. After following the travels of other cats online and seeing them as courageous companions, they decided to train Walter for adventures of his own.

MORE: Bengal’s breathtaking photos will fill you with travel envy

“Our main reason was really because we wanted to spend every free moment of our time with Walt,” Larkin says, “and since we spend most of our free time outside, Walter had to come along.”

Walter showed an early affinity for the outdoors. His favorite thing to do is lounge on Larkin and Andelman’s porch. The couple slowly introduced him to new settings beyond the porch though, taking him on smaller trips around their apartment complex or to the grocery store.

One of Walter’s first real hikes was in the foothills of Albuquerque, and he eventually accompanied his humans on longer journeys to the Santa Fe National Forest and the Sandia Mountains. Though Walter is now a veteran of adventures all over New Mexico and surrounding Southwest states, “he started by getting used to being in the car and getting out and hiking around for a short while,” Larkin says.

Kunu, whom Larkin and Andelman adopted from another animal shelter in August, is still learning the ropes of an adventuring lifestyle. Though they aren’t actually related, Walter and Kunu look stunningly alike, making them perfect costars for their @meowalt Instagram account.

New Mexico is rife with photo opportunities among rocks and cacti, but it can present special challenges for cats. Pet owners must vigilantly guard against dehydration when their animals face hot weather and dry terrain.

Larkin and Andelman always prioritize Walter and Kunu’s safety. The cats always have an extra water bottle and pop-up cups on trips, and Larkin and Andelman keep them leashed to protect them from harmful plants and animals. They also seek shade and water wherever they can, plan hikes for the early morning or sunset, and take fewer trips during blistering summer months. The upside to New Mexico’s climate though? Warmer winters mean more time outside!

Walter’s first camping trip was at White Sands National Monument, a gigantic dune field in southern New Mexico. The park issues just 10 camping permits at a time, allowing Walter and his owners to explore the dunes in relative isolation. Free to run and play across an endless kingdom of sand, Walter “was loving it,” Larkin says. “I think it’s one of my favorite memories and places that we’ve been.”

Walter is a confident, easygoing cat who likes meeting new people and creatures. He is, however, skittish around cyclists, so Larkin and Andelman will pick him up when bikes whiz past. Kunu, for his part, is learning to ride atop people’s shoulders.

MORE: What kind of harness does your cat need?

Larkin recommends that cat owners hoping to leash train their feline friends start small and pay attention to how the animals respond. Taking a cat outside “develops this kind of trust between you and the animal,” she says, and she recommends the adventuring life for cats who are up to it.

Adventure cats are rare in New Mexico, so Walter and Kunu attract quite a bit of attention. Gawkers and fans can slow the group’s hiking pace, but Larkin doesn’t mind answering questions about her cats.

“It’s fun to see people’s reactions and give them the idea that this is something they could do too,” she says.

Scroll through the gallery at the top to see more pawsome photos, and follow all of Walter’s and Kunu’s adventures on Instagram.

All-terrain tabby is at home on sand, soil, snow

We all know the feeling of adding a new furry member to the family — the initial thought that happens when you decide that it’s time, the warm fuzzy feeling you have as you scour the internet for the purrfect match and the excitement you feel when you’re on the way to pick him or her up.

Sometimes, though, it seems as if your new kitty has found you. This was the case with Spokane, Washington, resident Megan Ferney and her adventure cat, Leon.

“I hadn’t had a single thought about getting a cat until I saw Leon’s photo on the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service page as I was scrolling through Facebook,” Ferney told Adventure Cats.

But when she glimpsed his photo in November 2017, Ferney knew that Leon was hers.

“I think animals pick us rather than the other way around. There was something very special and unusual about his photo that’s hard to explain. I [took a] screenshot [of] it and was showing it to people all day. I realized at some point that to everyone else he just looked like a cute orange kitten. Because it was such an unusual reaction for me, I decided that maybe there was something more to it, maybe something unexplained that needed to be explored. I decided to go see him at Petco. Of course, we all know where that story ends.”

Even then, Ferney was still a little uncertain about what life would be like with Leon. Believing that cats ground themselves by having their “paws in the dirt,” she did a little bit of research on cats with harnesses. “I went back to Petco the next day for supplies and Leon’s first harness, which I put on him that day and every day after that for quite a while,” she says.

MORE: Meet the Norwegian cat that loves to ski

Ferney started Leon off easy with a simple outing in her backyard, but Leon soon became braver and braver, so she decided to take him on his first hike at a closed-down golf course with quiet trails and no traffic.

“We went about a mile and a half and he walked maybe a quarter of it. The rest of the time I stuck him inside my jacket. I was completely blown away by the whole experience as I had never seen anyone walking their cat on a leash and couldn’t believe it had just happened,” she says.

After that successful first hiking experience, Ferney began taking Leon everywhere she could.

“The best part of adventuring with Leon is that I hike a lot more in nature than I used to,” she says. “I’m always looking for good trails to take him on, and have discovered areas in Spokane that I didn’t know existed.”

Recently, Ferney took Leon to the beach, and even though he wasn’t too sure about the feeling of sand beneath his paws at first, by the last day Leon was striking poses.

Since then, he’s also gone on a road trip to Portland and the Oregon coast, as well as hiked Spokane’s Iller Creek trail to the Rocks of Sharon, a 6-mile hike with 1,250 feet of elevation gain.

Leon has even taken to the water with Ferney on a paddle board!

And when he’s not exploring the trails of the Pacific Northwest, Leon still gets to enjoy the sights, scents and sounds of nature in his catio.

Looking to train your own adventure cat? Ferney suggests starting as soon as you adopt your new feline friend.

MORE: Become an ‘expurrt’ on feline body language

“Begin as early as possible, and expose them to everything. Start hiking on a well-defined trail in the quietest, least trafficked area you can find. Be ready to carry your cat when they don’t want to walk or get scared. Let them explore and figure things out. Know that each time you go somewhere, it will be better the next time. Know that each time you go out, [your cat is] bonding with you and learning to trust you.”

Leon relaxes at an overlook with pawsome pal, @indy_onthego.

Scroll through the gallery at the top to see more photos of Leon, and keep up with all his pawsome adventures on Instagram.

Pigeon the cat lived short but full life, raises awareness about FIP

Losing a pet is never easy, but it can be especially devastating when we don’t know what caused our cat to become ill in the first place. When Catherine Frock lost her beloved adventure cat, Pigeon, to an unknown illness, she knew she needed to do more to spread awareness about the uncommon but especially devastating disease known as FIP.

Pigeon suffered from what was most likely Feline Infectious Peritonitis, or FIP — a rare mutation of a very common feline virus that is almost always fatal. While most cats are carriers of the non-mutated coronavirus, FIP only affects about one in 5,000 cats and it’s particularly difficult to diagnose. Because of that, Frock will never know what killed Pigeon, but what she learned about FIP made her a staunch advocate for learning more about the disease.

“As any cat owner knows, cats can have a tremendous positive impact on your life, even if they’re only a part of it for a short time,” Frock said. “Pigeon instantly made me a happier person, made my life so much fuller, and he continued to do so every day since I met him — to a degree I didn’t know was possible.”

MORE: Man with 22 cats is determined to cure FIP

Pigeon’s story started out like many adventure cat tales. Frock met the tiny kitten when her family found him on a friend’s farm in North Carolina. He was small for his age, having subsisted on mostly straw for his first four or five months, and he was a bit skittish at first as well. Because her parents had found him while on a skeet-shooting trip, they originally named the kitten Skeeter. But Frock says she changed it to Pigeon after the clay disks used in skeet shooting and because it fit the kitten’s flighty nature.

“I later thought it was a bit funny that I’m a human who goes by Cat, and he was a cat named Pigeon,” Frock said.

The cat named Pigeon made himself right at home the first night, curling up on Frock’s pillow and sleeping between her neck and shoulder. And he later took to leash training like a pro as well. In less than a week, he was comfortable enough wearing the harness inside that Frock was able to let him lead her into the great outdoors.

“I just let Pigeon wander around where he wanted to go, as cats do,” she said.

Frock says she was inspired to leash train Pigeon after a friend told her an impressive tale about camping with her cat.

“This was my first cat of my own,” Frock said, “and I immediately wanted to give him a better life by letting him explore the outdoors — which always makes me a happier person, so I figured it may also make a happier cat — by basically trying to do anything with him that a person might think to do with a dog.”

Frock also taught Pigeon a bunch of tricks that people normally associate with dogs: come here, sit, stand, shake, high five, hit the target, spin.

“People have told me that he was such an awesome cat because he had a good trainer,” Frock said. “But I’m not sure that’s completely true. I think Pigeon was just a naturally smart and adaptable cat.”

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After a few backyard and neighborhood adventures, Pigeon enjoyed trail hiking with his human, where he loved exploring the Florida wildlife. Frock is a biologist and says Pigeon was just as keen on nature’s wonders as she is.

“He rarely meowed for food, but was always pretty talkative when he wanted his outside time,” Frock said. “I think exploring the outdoors was the activity he loved the most aside from cuddle time.”

Pigeon also enjoyed indoor adventures, making friends with a dog named Harley and a community cat named Bulleit, whom he had playdates with.

By all accounts he was a happy and healthy adventure cat.

Then, at about 2 years old, Pigeon started exhibiting some unusual symptoms. He began running a fever. His eyes appeared cloudy too. The veterinarian gave him some medication, which relieved his symptoms, but then Pigeon began to eat less.

The fever recurred off and on, leading the vet to offer a potential diagnosis of toxoplasmosis, but Frock wasn’t satisfied. She took Pigeon to a university veterinary hospital. They suspected FIP, but without a highly invasive biopsy they could only use the process of elimination to give her a tentative diagnosis.

Unfortunately, Pigeon continued to deteriorate. His recurrent fever turned into hypothermia, his vision got worse, and vets worried he might have inflammation in the brain which caused him to stumble when he walked. There were moments of hope, but with each test that came back negative it became more likely that Pigeon had FIP and not something that was treatable.

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When Frock made the impossible decision to euthanize Pigeon less than a month after his symptoms began, she asked the veterinarians to do a necropsy so Pigeon could contribute knowledge to FIP research.

“But I didn’t want to be informed of the results,” Frock said. “If there was any evidence from the necropsy that he had some treatable disease and not FIP, I didn’t know how I would be able to deal with the guilt of that.”

Losing any pet is devastating, but Frock hopes that Pigeon’s tale will help others learn more about FIP.

“In his death, I hope that other people in my life and whoever reads this article will learn something about FIP that they didn’t know before,” she said.

For Frock, learning more about FIP became a passion.

“There’s a lot of information about FIP out there, and some of it gives conflicting/outdated messages,” she said. “I’m a PhD candidate in biology who reads scientific papers for a living, so I basically put the rest of my life on hold for weeks to read any scientific paper I could find about what might be wrong with Pigeon and what to do about it.”

She says the best information she found, while still not 100 percent accurate, came from Cornell University. According to the university, “Any cat that carries any coronavirus is potentially at risk for developing FIP. However, cats with weak immune systems are most likely to develop the disease, including kittens, cats already infected with feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and geriatric cats.” It’s also more common in cats under the age of 2, but can develop at any age.

Even with all her research, Frock says she’ll never know how Pigeon developed what was probably FIP.

“It’s likely he was infected with the deadly coronavirus before we even met and there’s nothing in the world that could have been done to predict it or prevent it from mutating into FIP,” she said. “But the guilt is still there in me, that maybe there were things I could have done better.”

But even for the most diligent cat owner, FIP isn’t predictable. And few cat-owners know about it or its devastating effects.

Frock noted that even the list of ways to reduce the chances of FIP — such as never getting a rescue cat, never allowing your cat to go outside or interact with other animals — are counterintuitive to what cat owners and veterinarians have been encouraging as ways to improve a cat’s quality of life.

As it stands, there is no preventive vaccine for FIP, and treatments are scarce. In fact, even an extensive drug trial conducted at University of California-Davis researched two drugs that show “great promise” hit a roadblock in late 2017 when researchers were still looking for a company that would be willing to undertake FDA approval and licensing. According to UC-Davis, “This is not a simple task and could take one to two years before one or more drug is approved and made available for use by licensed veterinarians.”

And still, that would only offer treatment, and not a cure.

“It’s not something you want to think about when you have a perfectly healthy cat — all the things that could go wrong,” she said. “But that’s what happened to me and Pigeon, and it’s something that I won’t be able to help thinking about in the future. I wish Pigeon was still alive, but I also recognize that going through this experience will probably make me an even better cat owner.”

Frock says she definitely wants another adventure cat, who will probably be a rescue, but she’ll also read even more about a cat’s health and behavior before bringing it into her life. She also says she’ll pay extra attention to her cat’s eating habits and routines, and she’ll definitely get pet insurance for her cat.

“And if he gets sick with something and the vets don’t know what it is, I’ll know to immediately ask for all the tests they can think of because time is critical, tests to rule out other possibilities can take a long time, and FIP waits for no one — but hopefully one day soon, there will be a cure or at least a good treatment option,” Frock said. “And I’ll remember Pigeon as I, once again, enjoy and cherish every day with my cat, because life is fragile and beautiful and full of love when you have an irreplaceable relationship with a cat.”

All photos courtesy of Catherine Frock.

Give to FIP research.

This cat will ‘cash’ you in the wilds of Arizona

He loves playing fetch. He enjoys walks outside. He’s quick to befriend both humans and dogs.

Sounds like a cute pup you might know, right? But this is no canine — this is Cash.

A 1-year-old black cat with a serious flair for fashion, Cash loves hiking with his human, Danielle Lauber, through Arizona and nearby states. Though Cash’s interests may seem unusual for a cat, Lauber embraces his personality and highlights it on his Instagram account, where he’s won thousands of followers.

“He greets you at the door; he wants to be loved by you the second you get home,” Lauber says. “I didn’t intend to make him a dog, but he’s very dog-like.”

What’s more, he may just have the best handle on Instagram: @cashmeowtside. No other pet on the platform (actual dogs included) has ever packed so many irresistible puns into a name.

For the record, one of Lauber’s law school friends came up with the name @cashmeowtside. But Lauber named Cash himself after Johnny Cash, and she once dressed him in a cowboy hat to honor his namesake.

“He’s my little man in black,” Lauber says.

Lauber adopted Cash when she was living in California. She knew she wanted a black cat, and after spying a cute one online, she went to the Yolo County Animal Services shelter to meet the kitty.

That cat was already gone by the time she arrived. But Cash wasn’t — in fact, he was the last of his litter to be adopted. Lauber took him home.

“I did want a black cat specifically,” she says. “I just feel like they are always under loved due to negative superstitions.”

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After seeing other cats go outside on leashes, Lauber wondered if she could do the same with Cash. She researched training techniques online, but when she strapped Cash into a harness, he protested.

He didn’t want to move, and if he could be coerced into doing anything at all, he’d walk only backwards. Lauber was about to give up, but she decided to try one more time by taking Cash outside in his harness.

That was the magic Cash needed. Once he realized that a harness allowed him to venture outdoors, he loved wearing it, and now he meows in excitement when he sees his harness come out.

Since those early days, Cash has accompanied Lauber and her boyfriend to places like Horseshoe Bend and Zion National Park. He also camps with his humans in the back of their car, an activity he’s grown to love.

While they’re adventuring with Cash, Lauber and her boyfriend are frequently stopped by fellow hikers who are curious about the cat. He also draws the attention of dogs, who don’t always take kindly to felines on the trail.

Though Cash is happy to meet dogs, Lauber always brings a cat backpack on trips so she can scoop up Cash when dogs are near. That way, the dogs don’t get upset and Cash always stays safe.

Lauber prioritizes Cash’s safety and happiness. She encourages other cat owners considering leash-training to first ensure their pets are up for it.

“It just matters about the individual cat,” Lauber says. “You have to know what your cat wants and if it’s going to be a good fit for them.”

MORE: Could your cat be an adventure cat?

Now that Cash is an adventuring pro, he’s finding fans everywhere he goes. After boarding Cash at a PetSmart over the holidays, Lauber went to pick him up. The employee handing Cash back to her looked at him, and her eyes widened.

“Are you the @cashmeowtside?” she asked.

With such a fervent fan base, Lauber also receives plenty of messages on Instagram asking how she grew Cash’s account and keeps followers engaged.

“I don’t know!” she laughs. “This is just kind of a fun thing for us, and Cash is such a good little buddy.”

Scroll through the gallery at the top to see more photos of Cash, and keep up with all his ameowzing adventures on Instagram.

Cezar conquers the world in quest for adventure

A bike tour across Europe. Volunteering in the Mediterranean. Vacationing in Cuba. This sounds like quite the travel resume — and, believe it or not, it belongs to a cat.

The fluffy Maine Coon and his owner, Carla Hagberg, have seen more than two dozen countries across the world, from their hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, all the way to Greece, France, Spain, Colombia, El Salvador and back. And that’s just the tip of the adventure iceberg.

“I would with confidence say that Cezar is the most well-traveled cat in the world,” Hagberg tells Adventure Cats.

It all started when Hagberg decided to quit her career, ditch her belongings, and pack up life on the road with Cezar.

“Off we went on an epic bike-tour across Europe from Sweden to [the] south of Spain,” Hagberg says. “A few years later we are still on the ‘road’ — not on the bike, though.”

It was Hagberg’s knack for spontaneity that sparked her urge to pick up and leave. But, while she’d traveled extensively before, hitting the road with a cat required a bit more planning.

(Photo: Instagram/@cezars.crew)

Tips for International Cat Travel

Country hopping with a kitty in tow comes with big requirements and bigger rewards. Hagberg shared her personal checklist with us:

  • Pick a place/country
  • Research the requirements needed to “import” a cat into that specific country
  • Find cheap tickets, and narrow it down to those airlines who accept pets in the cabin
  • Prep for additional vaccinations or re-vaccinations if needed
  • Sometimes it’s required to have a health certificate not older than (usually) 10 days prior to arrival in the new country
  • Most importantly of all, be willing to adjust

“The latest adventure, the plan was to bike-pack around Sweden, Norway and Finland, and we were planning to be away for at least two to three months,” Hagberg says. “However, Cezar didn’t like our new bike-backing setup, so I had to cancel the adventure after 10 days. We did manage to get to Norway and he loved the hiking and wild camping part. I find this to be a perfect example of how you have to be willing to adjust an adventure after your cat’s well-being, which always should be your first priority.”

Cezar may be a pro at globetrotting, but just like outdoor adventuring, international travel is not for every cat.

“With a little bit of training and a lot of patience, anything is possible,” Hagberg says. “Just make sure that your cat’s well-being is a priority and learn how to read and understand your cat.”

(Photo: Instagram/@cezars.crew)

So, having been to more than 25 countries, which was Cezar’s favorite?

“Probably the countryside of France,” Hagberg says. “Since he is a Maine Coon, he prefers places where it isn’t too hot for him.”

Cezar isn’t slowing down any time soon. With his 26th country and fourth continent now officially under his collar, this worldly kitty has big plans — and one happy owner to share them with.

“The best part of traveling with a cat is the company and the endless love and cuddles it comes with,” Hagberg says. “He is a curious cat, and I just love to look at him while he goes out and explores new places.”

You can keep up with Cezar’s adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and his website.

Figaro’s close-to-home adventures keep him healthy, happy

While plenty of cats traverse the globe by bike, sailboat and RV, for many felines, a trip around the neighborhood or even just a stroll through the backyard is all that’s necessary to quench their thirst for adventure. And while they may not be traveling the world, these close-to-home adventures still open up a whole new world for cats like Figaro.

Austin resident Ann Marie Klacko adopted 4-year-old Figaro and his sister, Olive, when they were tiny foster kittens. While Klacko already had three adult cats, she couldn’t resist taking in Figaro and Olive after meeting them and hearing about their struggle to find a forever home.

Figaro and his sister settled into their multi-cat home, but it soon became clear to Klacko that her new black cat required a little more stimulation than he was getting indoors.

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“Figaro can definitely be described as a bold cat,” she says. “Some have even said he’s intense. He’s incredibly smart, interactive and overall a sweet guy, but he stresses incredibly easily and has anxiety. He also suffers from feline lower urinary tract disorder as well as bladder disease.”

Despite his specialized wet food diet, Figaro experienced severe urinary blockages in August and had to undergo perineal urethrostomy surgery.

“We knew his long term care would be even more important than his short-term surgery recovery but no one ever really gives you ideas for long-term maintenance besides a prescription diet,” Klacko says. “We started taking Figaro for regular leashed walks after his surgery when I read that walks outside can be a good experience for cats with stress. [It gives] them the exercise all cats need, [it gives] him one-on-one time with us in a multi-cat environment, and all that stimulation that comes with being outdoors [is] a satisfying experience for Figaro.”

Klacko mentioned Figaro’s walks to veterinarian Dr. Katrina Breitreiter of South Austin Cat Hospital who fully supported the idea, and soon leashed walks became part of Figaro’s daily routine.

“Typically we just walk around the perimeter of our house,” Klacko says. “Figaro’s leash and harness hang by our back door and he waits by it every morning. He likes to sit on the picnic table with me and sniff grass and trees. If he’s feeling particularly energetic, we’ll jog around the house. His walks and leisure time outside are anywhere between 5 minutes and 45 minutes.”

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Soon though, Figaro will be leaving his Austin home behind and relocating to an apartment in the Windy City, and while he won’t have access to his very own backyard anymore, Klacko says they’re moving to a pet-friendly building where Figaro will still have access to the great outdoors.

“My plan is to talk to my future neighbors about Figaro potentially going outside around the building,” she says. “I’ll have to make sure there isn’t anything toxic in the yard, as well. Ultimately, it will be up to him, as always, if he wants to go outside. With a whole new set of smells and stimulators his behavior toward walks could change, but we’re hoping he’ll still enjoy them — Chicago weather permitting, of course!”