Cats have long been associated with being fiercely independent creatures; they don’t need to be walked like their canine counterparts and prefer to spend most of the time lazing in the sun. It’s not every day you see two regal-looking felines exploring Jersey by leash. I had the privilege of talking to these two, Sir Clive of St Aubin and Sir Colin of Belcroute, who love nothing more than going on a catventure with their owner Cara.
How did they end up walking on leashes you might ask? Well, although they have a 24/7 access private catio(!), Cara felt it was unfair keeping them inside. Living in St. Aubin, she worried the cats would be out on busy roads with traffic. She wanted them to be in a safe environment but not miss out on being able to enjoy the outdoors and the beach, so she thought a bit outside of the box:
“I had seen some ‘adventure cats’ on Instagram and thought to give it a try. I picked up a kitten harness from a pet shop (they only had one style all dusty, hidden at the back) and started the journey with Clive.”
Clive, was the first of the two to come into Cara’s life. After trying to adopt a rescue cat (to no avail, as outdoor homes were preferred to indoor ones), the research began for the best ‘indoor’ breed. Cara came across a Ragdoll breeder just before lockdown and this is where it began. Clive came to Jersey and at 12 weeks old, beginning his journey into becoming a very much outdoor-loving, leash cat.
When lockdown restrictions eased and work-from-home reduced, Clive wasn’t enjoying being alone so much, so Sir Colin of Belcroute joined the family! Colin is a rare ‘Flame bi-colour’ Ragdoll.
“The breeder wanted to keep him for breeding, but she loved their adventures so much that she wanted him to have the adventure cat lifestyle too!”
Obviously, Clive and Colin can’t just adventure down any beach at any time. They have to think about avoiding their pesky canine counterparts; As much for their own safety and enjoyment on their walk as for Cara’s stress levels! They tend to head to beaches less popular with dogs, like Plemont, Beauport, Archirondel or Portlet. These cats don’t shy away from stairs, and they definitely get their daily step count in!
Cara tells me that the beach can actually be quite a scary place for a cat. It’s a vast space without many places to hide. With a lot of patience, trust and experience, Cara has been able to take them all over the island, exploring sandy beaches and rocky outcrops.
If they do come across a dog, (especially a big one) Cara will swiftly pick them up until the dog is a safe distance away. They have had some aggressive dog experiences a few times before, where the dog has no recall, so Clive and Colin have a backpack to climb into for extra safety. Though sometimes it’s the dogs that should be worried- Sir Clive and Colin tower over some of the smaller breeds!
As the owner of two leash-loving kitties, Cara has become quite used to looks and double-takes of people seeing a cat on a leash. She has been escorting them on their royal adventures for years now and posts regular updates to the boys’ instagram @sirclivethecat.
If you’re looking to start training your cat to go out on walks, check out Cara’s guides on instagram about how the Sirs became adventure cats!
What does a day look like in the life of Clive and Colin?
They sleep all day, watch birds in their catio, sunbathe in the catio and then at about 7pm they stand by the backdoor and look at me asking to go out, every night they get to go out, even when raining! In the winter we go around the pavements in the evening or on the beach in my lunch-time when I’m working from home and weekends.
Have they ever escaped off the leash?
When Colin was young, he once got a fright and slipped the harness when I had a cheap one from the pet shop, since then I found non-escape harnesses on Etsy and they have been amazing – would recommend!
Tell me about their names:
We found it slightly amusing that the breed is floofy and a little ridiculous that we picked the names to match the vibe!
What’s the naughtiest thing they’ve done?
They’re so cheeky, Clive is known as a ‘grumpy cat’ more cause of his facial expressions than his temperament, Clive always steals hairbands and tries to jump on kitchen worktops.
Favourite place to walk?
My favourite is Beauport, I do think it’s a favourite of theirs too as they have rocks to climb and it’s normally just us on the beach, otherwise, Noirmont and Winston Churchill Park is another fav.
Favourite food/ treat?
Lick-e-Lix – Webbox (they will do anything for it!)
Any tips for others trying to get their cat to be leash-friendly?
The biggest thing you can do is only do what your cat is comfortable with. My boys were 12 weeks old when they started their training and it took patience and time, I didn’t just plonk them in a harness and then on the beach!