Norwegian adventure cats get to explore a variety of gorgeous landscapes — forested ones, snowy ones, even aquatic ones — but no kitty looks quite as “meowjestic” in that Scandinavian scenery as Jesper.
Aina Stormo adopted the 2-year-old long-haired cat when he was just a kitten, and the two have been virtually inseparable ever since. Now they venture out to explore the countryside together several times a week.
We recently spoke to Stormo about her courageous kitty — and we made sure to ask how she manages to ski with a cat.
Adventure Cats: How did Jesper start accompanying you on excursions?
Aina Stormo: Because we are traveling a lot to sports competitions in the summer and winter, we decided that we should accustom Jesper to be with us while traveling. We discovered that this was something he thought was fun to experience, so we just continued to give him various challenges — hiking, skiing, tracking, swimming — and he has managed everything.
We started to go for walks with him when he was 3 months old, and we gradually extended our trips. We started early so it was easier to have him with us while traveling. It was very inspiring to see how easily he learned everything and how he solved various challenges in a smart way.
What kind of trips does Jesper enjoy?
He likes hiking in the mountains or in the forest, but the best is fishing trips. That is heaven for him. He really loves fishing. He also often accompanies us when we are training the horses, and he likes to sit in a basket at the wheel of the bicycle when we are cycling.
We created a special Facebook page for him so people can see that a cat can do different things like a dog, and the site is very popular.
What’s it like to walk a cat when you’re on skis?
It is not so easy to go skiing with a cat. You have to be good at stopping fast, and you have to have good balance.
Jesper mostly want to walk in the track. That’s easier for him, but difficult for me. But he is so little so I do what’s the best for him, and I must be careful so I do not run over the cat with my skis. He can’t run so fast downhill, so he sits in the backpack or on my shoulder.
If he is walking too long in snow, his fur will get full of snow, which isn’t good for him. So I always have a backpack with me so he can rest in there.
How does Jesper deal with cold temperatures?
Jesper has plenty of winter fur, but sometimes he can get cold on the feet or ears. I stop often and check his ears and paws. He always stops if something is uncomfortable, and then he will sit in my backpack. In the backpack, he has a wool blanket that he thinks is good and warm to lie on.
Did you do any training with Jesper?
He’s learned many tricks like sit, lie down and give paws, and I also trained him to do tracking.
Does he have any special gear?
We use a Puppia harness, which fits him best, and he also has his own backpack so he can carry his own snacks on hiking trips.
What’s the best part of adventuring with a cat?
The best part is that I’ve become more familiar with my cat, and he learns to trust me. Jesper learns to cope with new and different surroundings, and he gets to experience many things, which is great for his self-confidence.
Are there any disadvantages?
A cat is a cat — not a dog. If Jesper doesn’t want to walk he really doesn’t want to walk. There is no discussion. Then he jumps into the backpack and sits there with a happy smile on his face.
What’s one of your favorite memories with Jesper?
Some of the best memories are when we are on fishing trips in the evening. It’s dark and we make food on the campfire, and he is sitting with us. He’s our best buddy in fur. It’s a special time for us.
What advice do you have on training an adventure cat?
Start at home and train the cat to wear the harness before you go outside. Take small steps when you’re training, and make it easy for the cat to earn snacks and encouragement. The training must be fun for the cat. That is very important.
Scroll through the gallery at the top to see more photos of Jesper, and keep up with his adventures on Instagram.
All photos are courtesy of Aina Stormo.