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Cats' Adventures & Travels 21
When animal advocate Ted Brady first embarked on a cross-country cycling tour of the USA in 2010, his journey was cut short when he was struck by lightning. He needed time to recover but then, discouraged, he aborted the trip. However, after a relentless job search turned up few leads and nothing suitable, Brady decided it was time to get back on the road with the difference that this time he decided to take his best friend with him: a striking young lynx point Siamese named Pikachu, or 'Pika' for short, who was a rescue cat.
The new trip began in October 2011 in Brady's home town of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, with the object of raising money for, and awareness of, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and local animal shelters. Travelling through all manner of terrains and weather conditions, the pair stayed with families or in camps along the way, with Pika riding in a secure covered buggy behind Ted's bike; he said Pika 'rode like royalty in his chariot'.
Along the way, Brady recorded their adventures, posting them online to share with the world and to help further his aims. Their path was not a set one, and Ted and Pika rolled with whatever they encountered, making friends wherever they went. But a couple of months later, in December 2011, Pika went missing during a stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico; a search was instigated with the help of local residents, and an appeal made on TV. Naturally Ted was devastated: he told a TV reporter: 'He's my best buddy and we go everywhere together. The bond that you share with your pet it's more than just a pet: it's your best friend.' Commenting on the search for Pikachu, he said, 'I'm out here every single day since then, from 8 in the morning till sunset.' See Life with Cats, which includes a clip of Pika in his travel buggy, looking very relaxed.
Fortunately he was found after two weeks, not far from the spot where he was thought to have disappeared. A lady phoned to say she thought she'd found him; the description fitted and a trip to a vet confirmed by microchip that it was indeed Pikachu. He'd lost his lead and harness, and was dirty and thin, having lost about a third of his body weight. The cat was given a full medical examination and a grooming and was expected to make a good recovery. In the meantime he was 'grounded', under doctor's orders to stay put and give up the travelling life while he received rest, quiet, nourishment and a stable environment as he recovered from his ordeal. He lived with a foster family in Albuquerque for 30 days and was then re-evaluated.
Details after that seemed a bit sketchy, but it appears the journey was eventually resumed and the pair returned to Oklahoma after about 10 months, in August 2012.
In April 2013 Brady was in Puerto Rico, without Pika, doing some filming. By June he and his girlfriend were planning a road trip with Pikachu and Ted posted a route which would take them through several states, camping along the way New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, then Arizona, Nevada, and finally through Oregon to Portland and he invited followers to post names of animal shelters they could call at. Once they were travelling the route appears to have changed somewhat.
The journey began well, and through the first two or three weeks of July Ted shared wonderful photos of Pika as they travelled and explored and of other cats they met en route. Then, after a short lull, the following post on 4 August 2013:
It was an immensely sad ending to the story of this beautiful and extraordinary cat, not yet two years old, who had seen more in his short span than most humans do in a lifetime. But there it was, and Pika's many followers mourned his loss, sharing their thoughts and tributes on social media. Some were angered that Pika, having been lost once during a previous trip, had again been in a situation where he could escape.
However . . .
About six months later, in early February 2014, there was suddenly a very unexpected post: Pikachu had been found alive!
Reactions ranged from joy on the part of most at one end of the spectrum that Pika was alive and well, through bewilderment, to harsh words from some quarters that the account of events the previous year had not been truthful. A little later the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported on their reunion, and the following is an extract (full article in the links below):
No one knows where Pika had been or how he'd survived, but in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the start of February Casey Stout had spotted a cat outside her home, and as it was cold she called to it to see if it would come inside. It did so and was very hungry. The following day she took the cat to the Teton County Animal Shelter where he was checked over and found to be healthy, if a little thin. He was also scanned for a microchip, there was one, and this led to Ted receiving a call that Pika had been found. A few days later he flew to Jackson for the reunion.
In the 6-month period after being persuaded that continuing the search for Pika was futile, Ted had moved to Austin, Texas (accompanied by a new feline friend, a bobtailed all-black named Boba Fett; we haven't seen any further references to Boba since). While in Jackson Hole he told the News & Guide he would return to Austin to introduce Pika to his roommates and would continue to walk him with a harness, but said he would 'keep him close' and wasn't sure if he could allow him to resume the freedom he'd enjoyed previously.
In May/June of 2014 a few more images of Pika and a short video clip were posted, and it seemed he and Ted were still in Austin.
Ted posted online a large number of video clips and superb images of Pika and himself during the trips, a selection of which have been reproduced here at a reduced size. The following are the main places to find these and many others, including links to a few selected clips.
Traveling Kitty at Tumblr
Flickr photo collection
Jackson Hole News & Guide, Feb 2014: The cat came back.
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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.
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Page created April 2013, with later revisions and additions