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An In-Depth Interview with the Honorable Gimli van Håpercatz

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Hi Gimli, where do you live and who are your cat parents? Did they always want a Norwegian Forest Cat? How did you end up with them? Were you their first Norwegian Forest Cat?

I come from the beautiful 2e Exloërmond in Drenthe, The Netherlands, but since June 26, 2022, I've been living in the lovely city of Haarlem in the province of North Holland with my cat pawrents. Our family consists of Cat dad Sander, Meowmy Patricia, and Mini Human Noa (who is now 11 years old).

My cat pawrents have always had kitties, and they've always adopted them from shelters. First, there were Dobey and Gaia (brother and sister Ragdoll/European Shorthair), then Tommie (a tabby cat) who unfortunately passed away suddenly in 2021.

After some time, my cat pawrents visited the shelter's website and fell in love with a Norwegian Forest Cat named Boef. Sadly, he was sick and could only spend a month with them. However, they had secretly fallen in love with the breed.

At first, they were too heartbroken, but then I suddenly came into their lives. My Meowmy immediately fell in love with me, but I was already reserved for other pawrents.

However, when they were supposed to come and see another kitten, I became available unexpectedly. It was meant to be because it was "love at first sight." After patiently exchanging many photos and videos, I was allowed to move to my forever home, where I've been living for a year now.

How did you get that beautiful name, Gimli? Do you have any siblings that you know of?

The unique name comes from a beautiful film, The Lord of the Rings. This name was given to me by my breeder. My dad's name is Doede, and my mom's name is Nana, both of them are true Norwegian Forest Cats.

Me Back in the Days as Norwegian Forest Cat Cutie

I came from a litter with two male kittens and three female kittens. I sometimes have contact with my brother, and I see beautiful photos of my sisters via the breeder.

How would you describe your cat character? What makes you the happiest as a cat? And what are some characteristics that your parents adore? Do you have any less pleasant traits or quirks that your parents think, well, ummh?

My character is a mix of various traits. I'm incredibly curious and always want to be involved in everything, following my Meowmy everywhere, from the living room to the bathroom and from the kitchen to the bedroom. When she's cooking, I like to observe her, so I perch on top of the kitchen cabinets to get a nice view up high.

I'm also very sociable because I love cuddling, getting pets, and giving headbutts. I even wake up my cat parents to receive affection. Well, yes, I also want attention and love in the middle of the night. After all, you want to make sure they're still alive 😉

I'm also very playful and enjoy playing together. I adore feathers, flying objects, and "boinks" (tubes that can "jump"). Additionally, I'm a true adventurer and enjoy exploring both the outdoors and indoors.

I love being with my humans, whether inside or outside. Inside, playing and a good cuddle/scratch session makes me happy. Outside, I love hopping in the backpack for bike rides, perching on the shoulder, and watching where we're headed.

Oh, and let's not forget a delicious snack. My favorite is Churu from Inaba Benelux. Yummmm, you can even wake me up in the middle of the night

How did you learn to walk on a leash?

After landing at my cozy spot in Haarlem, my cat pawrents purchased a harness to let me safely play and explore on the balcony. From the very beginning, I had no issues with it at all. I continued playing and even slept with the harness on.

Playing Around in My Harness as Kitten

Before that, I used to watch my human play outside the door. I followed every movement, so we first practiced indoors with the leash. Meowmy searched for other adventure cats on social media, and that's how we gradually started going outside.

We started with short and small distances, but I always wanted to go further. That's when they bought a nice backpack for me, and our other adventures began.

Do you prefer walking or cycling, or both? Do you do it only in nature or also in urban areas?

Actually, I enjoy both a lot. It depends on my mood, hahaha. Sometimes I want to go outside but don't feel like walking too much. Instead, I prefer sitting on top of or hanging out of the backpack, observing everything.

And it feels amazing when the wind blows through my long fur, and I can sniff everything around me. I also love sniffing during walks. Where we live, we can quickly reach more natural areas.

Sometimes it's a combination of urban and natural environments. We might walk through a built-up area, take a ferry, and then head to the forest or a lovely park for a leisurely walk. We often take breaks for a cup of coffee and a tasty reward for me, to recharge.

What are your parents' handy tips and tricks when they go cat walking with you? Do they have any special tricks or tips they can share with other cat lovers who want to try walking with their cats?

One highly recommended tip is always to walk with a backpack. It's truly my safe place. When I'm tired, when it's too crowded, or just for a quick nap, the backpack is always there.

Also, invest in a comfortable and well-fitting harness. Cats are good escape artists, and no harness is 100% escape-proof. That's why it's crucial to ensure a proper fit.

My Super Cool Cat Dad Sander

We started with a soft harness because I was small, and the long fur made it easier. Now I have a nice H-harness that is also used for small dogs. It gives me good freedom of movement, which is better for my shoulders.

Another reassuring aspect is a GPS tracker. We have a mini Tractive device so my parents always know where I am, just in case.

And always bring some treats and water. This allows for proper breaks and time to rest together.

As for the leash, we use a flexi leash, preferably a rope-like variant that is less likely to get tangled in bushes. But we also have a long regular leash, which works very well and is easy to handle.

When starting out, it's important to let your cat get used to the harness calmly at home. On average, it takes cats about ten days to adjust. Some take to it right away, while others may need more time. Spending a few minutes each day gradually building up is already helpful. Reward them with a gentle voice and kind words.

Start indoors with the leash, preferably in a quiet spot. And as mentioned before, starting with a backpack is good for cats, placing it at home to get accustomed to the scent and presence.

Do you have special places where you enjoy walking and/or cycling?

We enjoy walking in the Veluwe, a forest-rich ridge of hills in the Dutch province of Gelderland. It's so beautiful and magical.

But there are also gems to be found near our area, like Beeckestijn estate, Spaarnwoude forest area, Haarlemmermeerse Bos, and De Hout in Haarlem.

Visiting the Veluwe, a Beautiful Forest-Rich Ridge of Hills in Gelderland

But this summer, we are going to Austria for the first time. Exploring the mountains. I think this will be our number one favorite spot 😉

Do your parents have to be careful about anything because you are a Norwegian Forest Cat?

Not specifically related to the breed, but they always have to be mindful of extreme cold or heat. Like dogs, we have sensitive paw pads that can be affected by the weather, so they need to pay attention to that.

They also always observe my body language and breathing. If they notice any signs of restlessness, they investigate the cause and make adjustments accordingly.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite is Churu from Inaba Benelux as a snack or fresh roast beef. Yummy! But I also love my tasty salmon kibbles from OptiLife by Versela Laga Petfood, and I also get day-old chicks. That might sound a bit strange to some, but I love them.

My Essentials for Cat Walking: Churu, Harness, Backpack, Mini Tractive GPS Tracker

How did you like cat walking with Floortje and co?

Unfortunately, I couldn't be there at the time, but we do have contact with a large adventures group. It's super fun to see and hear all their stories, and it's great to be able to help and inspire each other.

Some have even travelled abroad, for example, and it's so nice to get tips from them. This is also the beauty of the entire cat community on Instagram, of which I'm grateful to be a part.

We have a lovely time with cat parents from Germany, Spain, America, Canada, and Australia. Such amazing people, and they're also happy to share tips. We hope to meet some of them this summer when they come to the Netherlands.

A couple of weeks ago, we did have a small unexpected meet up with three different cats. We went for a very nice walk in the Amsterdam Forest with the cat pawrents of Munro, Bodi, and Little Miss Disney. And we also met the pawrents of Bao Zi all the way from the USA. This experience was so purrfectly fabulous, and the cats were all so kind towards each other. Even some little kissing was involved…

Cat Meetup Kiss with Munro... (click on the photo for Munro's Insta)

Can you tell us something about your encounter with the donkey, llama, and horse (right?)? How do you interact with other animals?

There's a donkey named Burro and a llama named Sukke who live near our area. When we walk or cycle nearby, we often stop by to say hello. I find it so intriguing to observe other animals. I have also seen a fallow deer, a roe deer, piglets, hares, and rabbits in the wild. I stare at them in awe.

I also love birds, and when we were in the Veluwe, I found the squirrel and the woodpecker fascinating. In De Hout in Haarlem, there are also deer, and I always find them super cute.

Dogs are sometimes fun and sometimes not. I'm sensitive to their energy. So, I can be fine nose to nose with them, but sometimes I simply don't feel like it and I start hissing. When dogs find me intimidating (yes, they really do, hahaha), I enjoy following them around.

I also like other cats. Meowmy often takes me to one of her best friends. They have two cats, and I find them adorable. They just need some time to get used to me. I'm almost twice their size, hahaha, but I'm very friendly and sweet. I've actually never hissed at another cat.

I saw you looking at the mouse on the screen of a ThinkPad, and you were also looking at the tablet. Do you often do that as a cat? What are you allowed to watch by your cat parents?

Oh yes, a tablet or phone, but I'm also interested in laptops and televisions. I particularly enjoy watching moving images, like a ball or animals. I follow everything and I want to look behind the screen to see where they've gone.

My Dear Sweet Meowmy Patricia

When meowmy asks if I want to watch cat TV, I respond with a meow. I'm allowed to do it sometimes, and when I do, it's a party. I especially enjoy watching rabbits and birds. But I also always pay attention to animal documentaries on TV, especially ones featuring giraffes, elephants, and lions. They are such magical creatures!

I was also curious, have you ever gone cat walking abroad? Would you like to? If yes/no, why?

We have already been on many adventures in the Netherlands. I found the Veluwe to be the most beautiful. I loved enjoying all the bird sounds and watching the squirrels. They came to visit my house every day, which was truly a delight.

This year, we're going abroad for the first time. We're all going to beautiful Austria. We'll explore the mountains and breathe in the fresh air. What adventurous cat wouldn't want that? We also want to visit waterfalls, take a cable car ride up the mountains, and who knows, maybe I'll even take my first swim in a lovely lake.

I actually love water, so if it gets really hot, who knows? I'm looking forward to it. I'm always very relaxed in the car in the Netherlands. I have a special seatbelt and my favorite bed, so it will be a slumber party on the way there.

Hopefully, we can go abroad more often. My meowmy would also like to fly or take a train trip someday. Who knows what the future holds?

What would be your wish as a cat?

I think my wish as a cat would be that I hope more people are inspired by my adventurous story and also get to go on adventures in their own country or abroad. But at least have the courage to explore the world together.

There is so much beauty to see, and as long as you stay relaxed and well-prepared, you can conquer the world too. If you can dream it, you can do it. 😊

Follow my Gimli van Håpercatz Insta account here

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