Did you know?

All you cats out there — 'Take a hike!'

By Paul Viau | Jul 10, 2013
Photo by: Carol Viau TUXEDO ESCORT — Sophie, the official house cat of Christopher Place in Tennessee, makes a wonderful hiking companion.

I have a confession to make — I’m a cat lover.

Most of you are well aware of this fact, because I’m always sticking up for cats. But sometimes I wonder why.

I have to remind myself every morning at 4 a.m. when our two cats repeatedly stage fake altercations under the bed — until someone (guess who?) rises to the occasion to let them out onto the screened-in lower porch.

I have to remind myself again, daily, when these same cats use my stomach as a treadmill a couple hours later. After they have walked approximately 1.5 miles over my not-so-six-pack abs, I have to rise again and serve them breakfast.

Other tests of my love for cats come throughout the rest of the day — when I’m making a batch of their favorite scrambled ham and egg snack mixture; opening a can of albacore tuna that I wish I could eat myself, just to embellish their nightly dinner; or patching the screen (again!) because Marissa has decided to “take a hike.”

Our cats are “innies,” and we want to keep them that way — less they become a yummy snack for a raccoon, bear or bobcat.

So when one of our cats “makes a run for it,” both Carol and I mobilize with cans of albacore tuna in hand to lure them back to the safety of home.

We have friends who take their dog for walks — even hikes — but I can’t imagine “herding cats” through the wilderness.

Last weekend we were surprised — even dumfounded — when we escaped to a nearby “intimate resort” called Christopher Place, located between Newport and Cosby, Tennessee. At check-in we were introduced to Sophie, a black and white “tuxedo” cat, who politely greets all guests.

The following day, when we asked the innkeepers to direct us to a near-by hiking trail, they invited us to, “Ask Sophie if she wants to go along.”

Carol called, “Sophie, want to take a hike with us?” We were dumfounded when, right on cue, Sophie followed us.

A short way into the hike, we momentarily lost sight of the trail. Sophie came to the rescue, popping out from the brush, leading the way.

Sophie was a delightful hiking companion — amusing us with her ability to dart through the forest, walking an occasional plank and even fording a stream. Once when we stopped to catch our breath, Sophie bounded out from behind a tree and attacked my shoe. She was also quite fond of chewing my makeshift hiking stick.

To make my usual long story short, Sophie hung out with us for the whole hour-long hike, and it was a treat sharing nature with a friendly feline. We survived; she survived; in fact, we made a good friend.

The following day, when I pulled the car around to pick up our luggage, I popped the hatch, and upon return found Sophie exploring the trunk area.

For just a second, I thought about taking Sophie back to Waynesville with us.

But when it comes to cats, “Two’s company and three’s a crowd.” And I have enough trouble surviving the early morning as it is.

So all you dog lovers out there, watch out — you might find yourself sharing the trail with a cat. Which reminds me, whenever you’re out in the wilderness, please don’t litter.