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'Never know what you'll see': Portland hiker takes cat companions on trails

Cats on the trail is a delightfully Portland quirk. Katie Werback enjoys taking her two cats on trails around the area.

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. — In this week's Let's Get Out There, we head to the Wahclella Falls Trail. If you've ever hiked, you've surely seen dogs on the trail. Well, how about cats? Enjoy this fun story with Katie Werback and her cats, Rosie and Kittleson.

For Katie Werback, any day is a purr-fect day to hit the trail. It’s not the activity that’s a surprise, it’s who she does it with.

“You never know what you’ll see on the trail,” said Werback at the Wahclella Falls Trailhead. 

Katie is actually Lt. Col. Werback, the deputy commander of the Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She made time on her day off to share what makes her hiking buddies so different. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the cat’s out of the bag.

“Two of them. One shy, one not,” said Werback. “This one is Rosie. She's a four-and-a-half-year-old Siberian forest cat. And this one is Kittleson. He's a two-year-old rescue.” 

Each are named after World War II figures.

Werback’s cats have been to four national parks and have gone paddleboarding. Rosie and Kittleson are always a hit when people notice them on the trail.

“I think the funniest ones are the people that don't notice and they just walk right on by, and the ones that do notice you can tell because the pitch goes up. ‘Whee! Kitties!’ Werback said.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

So cats on a trail, what’s the big deal? There are the crowds, the noise of waterfalls and especially the dogs. Rosie in particular is training to become a registered therapy cat. 

“Which is not an emotional support or anything else. It's liability insurance, really, so that we can visit hospitals or assisted living, or even workplaces, for one to two hours and just have her as a visitor where people can pet her, and she'll sit on their lap and just be really comfortable,” she said.

Kittleson is much more introverted and is happy to stay in the safe space of Werback cat-carrying backpack.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

“She (Rosie) loves it. He's (Kittleson) a little more stressed out today. But that's okay,” Werback said.

The two are indoor cats and they did pretty well in a loud environment. Why does Werback even bring them along in the first place? 

“So they get to experience the joy of life. The house isn't that big. They like to ‘ack’ at the birds. And so this gets them out to experience something more than those four walls,” Werback said. 


Let's Get Out there airs once a week on KGW's 4 p.m. newscast and The Good Stuff, which airs Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. We're including viewer photos for this series. You can text your photos to 503-226-5088 or post them on the KGW Facebook page.

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