It was only a few days shy of Christmas, and Haley O’Rourke was in her Calgary, Alberta, apartment when she heard a knock and opened the door to find her boyfriend, Massimo, holding a cat carrier. Inside sat a fuzzy black kitten with an adorable white mustache.
The kitten, whom she named Pistachio, had been adopted by a nearby family that wasn’t able to keep him because their child was severely allergic to cats.
O’Rourke describes Pistachio, who’s about 10 months old now, as a very vocal kitten with “a massive personality” who loves to play.
“I call him my little dog-cat because he plays fetch and gets super excited about it just like a dog would,” she said.
And just as many dogs get excited at the sight of their leash, so does Pistachio.
“He’s come to know that when his harness comes out, he gets to go outside.”
Pistachio’s first adventure in the great outdoors took place in May when he was only 5 months old when he accompanied O’Rourke on a camping trip in Alberta, Canada.
“We kind of threw him into it because I was having really bad anxiety about leaving him for a couple of days,” she said. “I don’t know how much he enjoyed that first trip. Since then, we have taken him out with us every weekend to camp and he loves it now.”
Before heading out on a camping trip, O’Rourke packs Pistachio’s camp bag, which includes his very own blanket to settle on by the campfire.
She also outfits her adventure cat with a harness and a 7-foot orange leash with LED lights so he’ll be easy to spot.
“We keep the leash on Pistachio so he can be grabbed quickly if we would ever have to and so that we can see him more clearly as he likes to camouflage himself into the brush and crawl through the river beds, but we never actually hold the leash. If we did, he would be miserable and just lay down and meow. Trust me, I’ve tried.”
Luckily though, Pistachio tends to stick close by. When O’Rourke and her boyfriend hike, Pistachio tends to follow behind, but if he happens to get too far ahead on the trail, all it takes is a snap of the fingers to get him to lie down (almost) instantly.
At camp, Pistachio doesn’t wander far, and O’Rourke sets up her mustached kitty’s food in the truck and leaves the doors open so he’ll have a “safe place.”
“As far as my limited experience is with taking a cat camping, I think having the open tent door or the open truck doors — somewhere familiar with familiar smells and what not — really helps him to relax outside and enjoy camping as much as we do,” she said.
When they’re out exploring nature, O’Rourke says the best part of being with Pistachio is watching him interact with the environment.
“He mostly just tries to pounce on bugs, but he hasn’t quite honed his hunting skills yet. He’s hilariously clumsy.”
However, despite all the joy Pistachio brings to outdoor excursions, she says there are downsides to hiking and camping with a cat.
“I’d say the only disadvantage there is to camping with Stash is that sometimes I can’t fully relax because I’m constantly making sure he hasn’t gotten too comfortable and wandered off into the woods, even though like I said before, he sticks around the truck and never has gone too far. I am slightly obsessed with my cat and, like a lot of pet owners, think of him as my child.”
See more photos of the classy camp cat Pistachio on Instagram.
All photos are courtesy of Haley O’Rourke.