Categories: celebrity cats

Rich (human) and Willow (cat) live an alternative lifestyle

Many think about an alternative lifestyle, away from the corporate grind; they get up, go to work, come home, go to bed; the dull, soul-sapping routine that most suffer. Yes, many are content with it (usually the guys at the top) but a lot are not. Rich is one of those people. He decided to make the break. A big decision and a brave one. He was living in Hobart, Tasmania,

Willow. Photo: Rich.

He spent ten years in the conventional work world and was unhappy with it. He planned an escape in early 2014. He dreamt of wandering around mainland Australia, at least initially. I suppose he may go outside Australia.

He gradually sold all his possessions which he was unable to bring with him. That’s brave because a lot of people would struggle to divest themselves of their possessions.

The day came to resign his job and take the plunge into the unknown and he was filled with adrenaline he says on his website.

He said goodbye to his work colleagues who had supported him in his desire to break free of a conventional life.

Willow the traveller. Photo: Rich.

He designed and built a camper van. It looks compact. He had a complication: his black, female cat, Willow. He probably struggled with this ‘complication’ to his grand plan. Should he, could he leave her behind? He made the right decision, the only decision he realised, to take her with him.

It is interesting in that in his preparation for travelling with his cat he took her away for weekends and then weeks and found that she thrived. He discovered that he lived with an adventure cat which was great because he is an adventure human.

At the end of 2014 they were living in his handmade, mobile home ready to go. In May 2015 they left Hobart and took the ferry to mainland Australia.

In May 2019 they are still travelling. They don’t move fast as that’s not the purpose. The purpose is an alternative lifestyle and it appears to me that they are both thriving, to use Rich’s words again.

Clearly the adventures of Rich and Willow caught the imagination of many people because many people hanker after a different lifestyle. We do tend to create slightly unsatisfactory lives for ourselves but find it impossible to get out.

Willow with radio tracking collar. Photo: Rich

I suppose there are two lessons (a) take courage and follow your dream and (b) domestic cats adapt and they really can be adventure travellers. The key is to be emotionally close to your cat.

How did Rich prepare Willow for the permanent road trip?

He trained Willow to like being in her carrier which is a safe place in the camper van for her to snuggle up. And he trained her to accept a harness so he can take her safely outside when he stops for the day. He also got her used to being inside the mobile home by taking short trips initially. Rich did everything gently and slowly for Willow giving her plenty of time to adapt and get used to her changed lifestyle.

He also has a tracker collar for her. You can see it in the photo above on her collar. It is a radio frequency tracker (tabcat). I have one of these for my cat Gabs. This allows him to monitor her location when she off the lead. He describes the whole acclimatisation process on his website.

The tabcat emits a beep when in use. He has trained Willow to associate the beep with a reward. This encourages her to come to him when he is searching for her with the tracker.

If you hanker are a lifestyle like this, prepare well and thoughtfully but do it.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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