Checking in with Aina Stormo, the owner of Jesperpus, the cat that likes skiing more than you.

Tell me a little about yourself, Aina. Where did you grow up? What is your background in skiing? Have you been around animals all your life?

I grew up in the northern part of Norway, in a small city called Harstad, and now live in Hamar in southern Norway. Have skied all my life, I always enjoy trips in nature and to mountains. I also have a son at senior level in cross country skiing who participates in a lot of races in Norway and some abroad. So, I spend a lot of time in the winter skiing and traveling to ski races with my son. We have always had animals, mostly animals that are common to have in Norway. In recent years here we had leap horse, dog, and now it's just a horse and Jesperpus. And in addition, I work with animals in my job.

Give some info on Jesper. How long have you had him? What kind of cat is he?

Jesper came to us when he was 3 months old, in November 2013, and he charmed our entire family as we got to know him. A small fur charmer. So he has been with us for a bit more than 2 years. Since we do a lot of traveling, he has always been with us on tours around Norway, either skiing, competitions, or just on holiday/weekend trips around Norway. Also in the mountains. He is a quiet cat that does normal cat things, like catching mice and other small animals, which he proudly likes to bring home to show us. At home he goes in and out as he wants, and he has a huge forest close to our home where he spends a lot of time. So he is a free cat, doing what he wants in the daily life. But he appreciates being with us very much, and is always home waiting for us when arriving from work. He also likes when we join him in "his" forest. If there are no trips for a day or two, he starts nagging and meowing, getting uneasy. So he is a very active cat.

Out for a rip.

Many skiers are aware of dogs involved in skiing, especially with ski patrol utilizing dogs for avalanche rescue programs. But I am definitely not alone when I say that this is the first cat I have ever seen out skiing with their owner. Where did you get the idea of taking Jesper skiing with you?

As a family, we spend a lot of time in nature, summer and winter. When we got Jesper in November 2013, we were already starting to get snow. So it was then that he started to join us on trips. Since he was born in the fall and came to us in November, he experienced the snow for about a half a year before he even experienced summer.

People seem to have this notion that we can communicate and interact with dogs better than cats, do you agree? How much training went into all of this?

You can communicate as much with cats, but they are not that willing to work like dogs are. They send out many signals with body and sound, in the same way as other animals, but unfortunately many people are not as good at understanding this. There is much more work with a cat than a dog, a cat never bothered to exercise/work as much as a dog. A cat just exercises when it wants, then he stops, no matter how much alluring.

Night session!

Do you ever take him up the mountain, or do you stick to cross country skiing?

We have trips the whole year, several times in the week. And some mountain trips during the year too.

What kind of gear does he use for trips?

We always have the backpack, where he relaxes or sits when he is tired, or just feels like it. And we always have food and something to drink with us. In wintertime there is always a bottle of warm water and a wool blanket in the backpack, so he can have it nice and warm. It so happens he can have a good sleep there, even purring in the backpack. It’s important that he feels safe and comfortable there.

When watching your videos, it slightly resembles mushing in a sense. Do you ever see it possible with the right training, for cats to assist humans in any way in the outdoors? Or is this more so just for the fun of it?

Cats don't have the strength to be able to track people on tour and their mentality is not bred to work like dogs, which dogs have done for generations. We've done it to give him activities and challenges, since he likes to use his body and mind. And not to forget, he is a real nice buddy on trips.

Copper Mountain's newly implemented Avy Cat program. Mind you this was posted on April 1st.

Do you wish to see more people bringing their cats on outdoor adventures? If so, what kinds of advice would you give them?

People don't really have to take the cats with them for skiing or mountain tops, but I want people to take better care of their cats. Castration and chip marking; these are what I think are very important that cat owners do for their cats. Many organizations for animal’s welfare use a lot of resources every year to take care of homeless and injured cats. Many cats live a hard life out there, without owners. And millions of cats have to be euthanized or die each year because their owners don't take care or give them a real home.

How has life been different ever since you gained a large following?

It has been a busy time and one with a lot of attention from around the world last month, but it has been only pleasant and with many nice people. Hopefully it maybe can give us a better opportunity to work for cats’ welfare, also putting more focus on cats as pets in the family. I hope there are some who take better care of their cat and look at it with slightly different eyes. Something they deserve, they are beautiful animals.

What does the future look like for Jesper and yourself? Any trips/endeavors already planned?

Yes, there are many new exciting plans ahead, but we have to do it in the tempo of a cat, taking care of Jesper, making sure he doesn’t feel weary or tired. Some trips are planned and a book is planned as well.

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions Aina! Any last words you’d like to leave off with?

Adopt a cat from an animal shelter and love your cat with all of your heart.

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