Utahn who climbs with feline companion talks ‘catting’ with local college students

Posted at 9:58 PM, May 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-31 23:58:16-04

SALT LAKE CITY – A sociology class at Westminster College focuses on relationships people have with their cats, and, last week, a Park City man who spends a lot of time in the great outdoors climbing with his feline friend was invited to speak to students.

Craig Armstrong is the pioneer behind what he calls “catting”, which means taking a cat along for hikes and climbs.

“I go climbing a lot, I go on a lot of weekend trips,” he said. “I just started taking her with me. It just seemed like a natural thing to do.”

Armstrong started hiking and climbing with his cat, Millie, shortly after he adopted her a couple years ago. Last week, he talked to students at Westminster College about “catting.”

“My buddy Zack and I have done numerous summits with them, a lot of slot canyons with them,” he said.

During weekend adventures with Millie and other catting companions, they typically tackle a more technical climb the first day.

“The second day we make sure, just let them do what they want, follow the cats around the desert, let them relax, de-stress and just enjoy nature,” Armstrong said.

Rachael Metzger, one of the students at Westminster, spoke about Armstrong’s unique activity.

“I like that he kind defied the whole social construction of just having dogs out there,” Metzger said.

She also said she likes seeing people who are passionate about their pets.

“I really enjoyed how much he loves his cat, because a lot of times you see guys not wanting to, like, show their love for their cats because they think it's emasculating, when it really shouldn't feel that way,” she said.

Armstrong had some advice for those who wish to try catting.

“I would suggest have patience, and be prepared to move slowly, and put your own agenda away,” he said. “And just enjoy experiencing nature from their perspective rather than your own, and take them, be with them just to keep them safe.”