I’ve included a few photos of notable cat athletes, with a brief sketch on each of them. No, none made their national teams, but we honor their efforts the same way we honor our human athletes who try but do not win the gold.
Photo courtesy of 1room1key - http://flickr.com/photos/1room1key/810130633/
Jared is a long distance runner – his best length being the 50-yard dash. Although that is not considered distance running for humans, Jared considers this to be quite long enough, and feels that marathon runners must have some sort of disease of the brain, as no self-respecting cat would ever purposely get that worn out. Jared’s training routine is comprised of several sessions per day where he runs from his owner’s back door to the end of a nearby field and back. At this point his owner usually catches him and brings him back inside. The owner is under the mistaken impression that Jared is an indoor cat. Jared made it to regional competitions for the 2008 UK team, but was defeated by several local darts players, who had been convinced to try out for a lark.
Photo courtesy of polandeze - http://flickr.com/photos/polandeze/390314091/
Boris, another UK athlete is a vaulter. His practice routine consists of vaults over a stone wall in the garden. He probably would have made the team, except that his technique consists of hitting the wall low and scrambling up to the top to get over. The judges in the regional competition felt that Boris should have vaulted over with only a touch of the front paws on the top of the wall. Better luck next time, Boris.
Photo courtesy of Chris Breeze - http://flickr.com/photos/92833011@N00/2169852879/
Giada’s sport is the long jump. She excels at long fluid jumps, as can be seen in this photo. This Kentucky born cat’s motivation for her sport is her favorite mouse toy, and in training her jumps increased from a mere 4’ 2” to a cat record of 8’ 11”. Her owner vigorously supported her in her quest to be the best long jump cat ever, throwing her mouse toy time after time, even after he would have rather been sleeping or watching the tube. Giada made it to the finals of the Olympic trials for the US team, but was unfortunately disqualified when it was found out that she was indeed, a cat. It turns out that cats are not allowed to compete in the long jump, as they are thought to have an unfair advantage in this sport, due to their four legs and muscle structure. Giada is considering changing over to an equestrian sport. Being from Kentucky, she thinks she could find a horse friend or two who could teach her to ride.
Popa is a Japanese cyclist who is seen here on an unmodified bicycle. She began cycling with her owner at a young age, first riding in a basket, and finally pedaling her own modified cycle which allows her to lie on her tummy and pedal with all four paws. The front paws are also used for steering. Her dreams of Olympic glory were dashed when the international Olympic committee ruled that she had to use a standard bicycle, similar to the one seen in this picture. Here she is sitting on the seat trying to figure out if she can somehow work within the Olympic committee’s restraints. She decided, sadly, that she would not be able to master this monster in time for this summer’s games.
Photo courtesy of Ruben Perez - http://flickr.com/photos/rubenperez/2679104188/
Mino is seen here by his pool. He was approached by a local coach to compete for Venezuela’s swim team as a relay swimmer. It was thought that his small stature and quick reflexes would give the team an edge, although it was probably more the thought that the other teams would be so distracted by a swimming cat that they would watch rather than concentrate on their own swimming. Unfortunately, Mino was not able to bring himself to actually get into the water to swim, so he did not actually make it into even local competition.
Photo courtesy of Rooey - http://flickr.com/photos/rooey/1308344974/
Mitty is seen in her last practice in the sport of weight lifting. She was promising, even as a kitten, and was encouraged by her owners and their friends to pursue her beloved sport. Time after time she beat her own personal best, and the press was calling Mitty a shoe-in for the US Olympic team. Unfortunately she began to believe everything the press was saying about her, and she called a press conference to witness her lift the weights shown in this picture. Needless to say, she was not successful in lifting this immense burden, and but recovered in time to watch the Olympics on television, muttering the whole time, “I could have been a contender.”
Photo courtesy of k a t m - http://flickr.com/photos/invis/2764836575/
Flash is shown here in training for the only event in which cats are not put on rigid sleeping schedules, or if they are, the intent is to sleep longer and harder. Flash has been training for the marathon nap competition for the past four years. She has perfected her technique for falling asleep instantly, and can sleep for up to eight hours at a stretch. Her owners have been fairly supportive of her aspirations, although when the local mouse population got out of hand, they put their feet down and told Flash that she needed to catch those mousies. It had been expected that the marathon nap would be approved for exhibition sport status for this year’s Olympics, but unfortunately it was denied that status. Detractors on the international committee were overheard saying things such as “How hard is it to sleep? Anyone can sleep. We don’t need a competition for couch potatoes!” Flash was deeply hurt by the decision of the committee and has retreated to her bed, and anywhere else that she can sleep undisturbed to dream of Olympic Glory.
So, my kudos to those brave cat athletes that tried and to those who thought about trying, and even to those who decided trying would just be too slavish. Tuna for all!