Will Hike for Catnip: Paddington the Hiking Cat
You've heard of hiking with dogs, but how about a cat? Paddy is turning heads on the trail with his feline grace and calm demeanor.
If you've hiked a trail in Washington outside of a national park recently, chances are you've run into a hiker with a dog companion. What you probably haven't seen on trail is a hiking cat (unless you read about Honey Bee last year), but Paddington is trying to change that one trail at a time.
WTA discovered Paddy through his Instagram account and we were intrigued by his adventurous spirit. We talked with Paddington's humans to see what it takes to hike with a cat and what unexpected logistics they have to think about when bringing him along on trail.
How did you first encounter Paddy and what drew you to him?
We adopted Paddy from the Seattle Humane Society as a kitten. Initially we were drawn in by his cuteness, but what really sold us was his personality. We had the opportunity to have one-on-one time with him before deciding on the adoption. Immediately we noticed that this little kitten seemed fearless! His courageousness (and cuteness) are what drew us to him initially.
What was the process like for getting Paddy into hiking?
At first, we were just planning on taking Paddy out to our backyard on a leash. He is an indoor cat and we wanted to give him exposure to the outdoors. Paddy really enjoyed exploring the backyard, so we took him with us to a park one day as an experiment to see how he liked it. As it turned out, he loves exploring new terrain! We took him hiking with us on Cougar Mountain and have been exploring ever since. We were surprised that he took so well to the trail!
What are some things you have to think about when hiking with Paddy that a other hikers might not have to deal with?
Paddy works on his own time schedule—he likes to explore new surroundings leisurely and in his own way. He may get distracted by birds chirping, mice hiding in the forest or a spot of sunshine that looks perfect for an afternoon nap! We sometimes have to carry Paddy or have him ride on a backpack in order to make progress on the trail.
What type of snacks does Paddy eat while hiking?
We usually bring dry cat food for shorter trips and wet cat food for longer trails to give him an energy boost.
How do people react to seeing Paddy on the trail?
People are very curious about Paddy when they see him on the trail. He usually catches others by surprise, since one does not typically expect to see a house cat on their hike. Oftentimes people will stop and ask us questions about him, which we are happy to answer. Here are our top three responses from other hikers:
"Is that a cat?" "Our cat would never do that." "How did you teach him to walk on a leash?"
How do you pick hikes that are suitable for Paddy?
We have found that Paddy prefers hikes that are one to four miles long. He seems to have an easier time following trails with narrow, well-defined dirt paths. We have used WTA's hiking guide to search for trails that allow companion animals and best meet Paddy's preferences.
Does Paddy have a favorite type of hike or a favorite trail?
Paddy loves any hike or destination that is a new experience! He does like being out by the water and we have taken him out on a kayak before as well. One thing he really enjoyed was going to the beach—he loved having so much sand to dig in and seabirds to watch!
Do you have any tips for leash-training a cat?
If you want to hike with your cat, patience is key. Training your cat to feel comfortable on the leash will take time but it is definitely doable! You also need to have patience with your cat while on the trails. We have found that it is much easier to have Paddy take the lead while he explores and enjoys himself. We also suggest being prepared for anything, especially safety situations involving other animals in the wild. It is important for all pet owners to anticipate and prepare for potential safety hazards.
What do you enjoy about hiking with Paddy?
We love that we get to combine two things that we love: cats and the outdoors! Paddy is an adventurous, friendly cat who loves meeting other people and animals on the trail. It is so much fun to explore new trails with Paddy and to share his adventures with others.
Keep up with all of Paddington's hiking adventures by following him on Instagram.