Are cats the puurrrfect hiking partner? This Canmore woman says hers is
Bodhi the adventure cat joins owner on hikes, biking trips, paddle boarding and skiing
While most would opt for dogs for outdoor pursuits, this Canmore resident says cats are the perfect companion for hiking, camping and other fresh-air adventures.
"You can go out for the day and take them with you on adventures, or if it's something a little more extreme, then they don't mind sleeping all day," Michelle Gagnon told the Calgary Eyeopener.
She says her cat, Bodhi, goes on hikes from anywhere between two to five kilometres all across the Rocky Mountains — including Ha Ling Peak and the East End of Mount Rundle.
Not only that, but her "adventure cat" also joins her on biking trips, paddle boarding and skiing.
Bodhi the adventure cat joins his owner on hikes, bike trips, paddle boarding, and even skiing! <br><br>Credit: Michelle Gagnon <a href="https://t.co/WXnj2YvdQo">pic.twitter.com/WXnj2YvdQo</a>—@NatalieValleau
"He'll walk up behind me in the snow and I say, 'load up.' And he runs up my leg and he sits on my shoulders and that's his safe spot for when we're hiking or skiing," she said.
Although her one-year-old Maine Coon cat does get surprised looks from fellow hikers, she says he isn't the only feline on the trails.
"There are other adventure cats out there now. There's becoming a bit of an adventure cat community," she said.
How to train an 'adventure cat'
Gagnon says you could train any cat to be like Bodhi, and that all it takes is patience and persistence.
"So the big thing with cats is if you ask them to do something, you have to follow through, otherwise you'll never get there," she said.
She has since created a Facebook page filled with tips so that other cat lovers can join in on the adventures.
"A lot of the time, it's just a matter of getting [your cat] out there and and doing it. And you'll find after a bunch of times they get a little more confident, and I mean they can eventually learn to really love it," she said.
She explains she started the training by teaching Bodhi to come indoors when she calls.
"I try not to use food just because then they become reliant on food.… So every time I call him, I try to get him wanting to come for some reason for his own interests," she said.
After that, she would take him for walks on a leash.
"I started him on the sidewalk, which is very challenging for a cat.… But I did start him there and it would take two hours to go around the block, initially," she recalled.
She says the biggest lesson for training an adventure cat is learning to adapt new training methods along the way.
"It's a bit hard to generalize because sometimes I feel like I'm always switching up techniques and trying different things," she said. "But, you know, I just think that with cats it really enriches their lives when they can get outside and do what they're naturally supposed to do."
Gagnon says Bodhi is her second adventure cat she's trained, and that her first lived to almost 18 years.
"He did pretty much the same thing. And 18 years ago, people would see me out with my cat doing all these things, and my first response would always be 'he's my adventure cat,'" she said.
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.