Meet Marilyn, blogger Tawna's newest cat. She wants you to vacation in Bend, too.
Meet Marilyn, blogger Tawna’s newest cat. She wants you to vacation in Bend, too.

I got a new cat last weekend. This might not be noteworthy if I didn’t already have five cats, so I’m pretty sure six earns me official status as a crazy cat lady.

I’ve talked endlessly on this blog about how Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city, and spending time with your pup in Bend is a fabulous way to enjoy a Bend vacation. Heck, I even let my dog blog about it once.

But there are also many ways your Bend vacation is great for your cat, too. Here are eight reasons your feline pal wants you to vacation in Bend.

 

When the humans are away…

Generally speaking, cats are more solitary than dogs.

You can leave us home alone. We're totally trustworthy, honest.
You can leave us home alone. We’re totally trustworthy, honest.

While the dining needs of my household cat population requires an in-home pet sitter for overnight trips, a lot of cats are just fine with a few bowls of food and water and a weekend of solitude. In fact, some of them prefer it.

Another upside, as far as your cats are concerned, pertains to those mice you’re always scaring away with your noisy footsteps and blaring TV. Those rodent jerks come out to play when you’re gone, and FiFi was this close to catching one the last time you left.

Besides, isn’t it kinda nice to see how much love your cat heaps upon you if you’ve been gone for a night? After he’s done shunning you, that is.

 

On the other hand, there are road trippin’ cats

Matt the Cat, Tawna's road trippin' cat.
Matt the Cat, Tawna’s road trippin’ cat.

Maybe you’re not comfortable leaving Tiger alone for the weekend. In fact, maybe Tiger actually likes to travel. Hey, I’ve got one of those in my brood of six. Load Matt the Cat into the car and he’s immediately like, “Dude, yes! It’s about time we went somewhere!” Give him a portable litter box and a seat on the driver’s lap and he’ll purr the entire duration of a six-hour road trip.

Most pet-friendly Bend hotels and vacation rentals don’t actually specify the type of pet (though presumably your camel would not be welcomed with open arms in one of the newly-refurbished suites at The Riverhouse). Check in advance with your lodging property to make sure your kitty friend is permitted to join you. If you get the green light, Fuzzy’s goin’ on a road trip!

 

Howza ‘bout a little prezzie?

Assuming your cat doesn’t join you on your Bend vacation, the least you can do is score him a souvenir.

Tawna's cats loooove these knitted cat toys stuffed with catnip. You can find 'em at Bend Pet Express.
Tawna’s cats loooove these knitted cat toys stuffed with catnip. You can find ’em at Bend Pet Express.

You already know he loves presents, since he gives them to you regularly in the form of a dead lizard left on your pillow or that thoughtful nugget of Kitty Roca left on the floor by the litterbox.

Why not use your Bend vacation as a chance to bring Fluffy a special gift? You’ll find oodles of local retailers devoted to pet products. I’m a big fan of locally-owned Bend Pet Express, which has both Eastside and Westside locations. My cats go crazy-nuts for the little hand-knitted catnip critters they sell for $3. Something about the combo of catnip and the claw-friendly texture of the yarn turns even the most curmudgeonly kitty into a fluffy ball of drool-purring. You should also nab a container of their popular catnip, Kitty Hooch. Just make sure you don’t mix up the package with anything you’ve purchased at Oregrown, K?

Downtown Bend merchants like Clementine Urban Mercantile have oodles of kitty-themed merchandise waiting for you.
Downtown Bend merchants like Clementine Urban Mercantile have oodles of kitty-themed merchandise waiting for you.

If you’re browsing in Downtown Bend, you’ll find oodles of unique boutiques offering cat-themed décor and gifts. Clementine Urban Mercantile has an entire section devoted to kitty items, ranging from tumbler glasses to coin purses to novelty books to the most adorable paper kitty kit you’ve ever seen.

 

Does Mittens need a playmate?

Cats can be solitary animals, and with six of them in my household, I can tell you all about the challenges of adding a new kitty to a home with a feline or two already in residence.

What's one or two more cats, right?
What’s one or two more cats, right?

But if you’ve been planning ahead, you’re already on the lookout for a fuzzy new addition, and you don’t have an animal shelter to support in your own town, the Humane Society of Central Oregon always has special kitties in need of forever homes.

While you never want to adopt a cat on a whim, sometimes you spot a pair of heart-melting kitty eyes in a photo on an animal rescue website and you just know the two of you were meant to be part of each other’s lives. That’s how I once ended up driving almost six hours round trip to adopt an orange polydactyl cat in Klamath Falls (something I still regard as one of the best decisions I ever made, right up there between marrying my husband and accepting a job at Visit Bend).

 

You like the smell of cat pee, right?

When a business colleague stepped off the airplane on her first visit to Central Oregon, she noticed a peculiar smell. “It’s a little like cat pee,” she told me. “Only nicer.”

Whether you love the smell or hate it, you've gotta admit the juniper is a darn pretty tree.
Whether you love the smell or hate it, you’ve gotta admit the juniper is a darn pretty tree.

Ahh, the scent of juniper. It’s one of my favorite smells on earth, especially after a desert rainstorm. Admittedly there’s something about it that’s a little like cat pee, but in a pleasant way. No really. If nothing else, it’s one of those scents that will stick in your brain and forever remind you of your Bend vacation. (Go here for an entire blog post devoted to Things you’ve gotta smell in Bend).

If you want to go all out on your juniper experience, plan a hike in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness and cuddle up to one of the gorgeous, gnarly ancient junipers out there. Then bring those clothes home for Mr. Whiskers to roll around on to celebrate your return.

 

Seafood? Did someone say seafood?

Considering Bend is landlocked in the center of the state with more than three hours separating us from the nearest coastal town, you wouldn’t think of Bend as being a seafood mecca.

But there are actually quite a few terrific seafood restaurants in Bend. If you’re in the Old Mill District, check out Anthony’s for killer river views and spectacular seafood. If you show up for happy hour, make sure you try the Ahi Nachos and one of their to-die-for specialty cocktails. Then stick around for dinner, which offers a huge array of options ranging from lobster to scallops to lingcod to the fresh catch of the day. They’re even open for daily lunch and for breakfast on Sundays, so you can get your seafood fix any time of the day.

Mmmm....Kitty wants some salmon! This dish comes from Jackalope, but you'll find plenty of other seafood options in Bend.
Mmmm….Kitty wants some salmon! This dish comes from Jackalope, but you’ll find plenty of other seafood options in Bend.

If you’re in Downtown Bend, don’t miss High Tides Seafood Grill. They don’t have a website, and they’re easy to miss on a tucked-away little spot at 1045 NW Wall St. But they’re a hidden gem if you’re looking for fresh seafood options that run the gamut from fish and chips to oysters to prawn curry. My personal fave here is the razor clams, and don’t miss the bacon wrapped scallops for your appetizer.

Go here for more ideas on seafood restaurants in Bend. And if there’s a little bit left over after your meal, don’t forget to ask for the kitty bag.

 

He’ll know what you did here

Cats just seem to know what you’ve been up to, don’t they? Like if you eat salmon for dinner and don’t share, he’ll be all up in your face trying to lick the corners of your mouth (or is that just my rude cats?)

So how about eating some spaghetti for Tiger? Since February is National Spay & Neuter Month, Brightside Animal Center is holding their annual Spay-Ghetti Benefit Dinner on Feb. 28. Your $20 entry gets you a complete spaghetti dinner (with vegetarian options if you need ‘em), plus dessert and the satisfaction of supporting shelter animals and their low-cost spay/neuter program.

Won’t your kitty be proud?

 

Pleeeeeeese show me your vacation photos?

It’s annoying to look at other people’s vacation photos and videos, right?

It’s not if you’re a cat and if the videos were taken while your human was birdwatching in Bend. Central Oregon’s high desert is home to dozens of amazing species of birds, including red-winged blackbirds, the belted kingfisher, cedar waxwings, and even bald eagles.

The area along the Bend River Trail near the Old Mill District is an ideal spot for birdwatching. Make sure you stop by the Ticket Mill to grab a birding guide and check out a set of binoculars for FREE.

If birds of prey are more your thing, visit the High Desert Museum and check out one of their raptor shows. You’ll see owls, hawks, eagles, and more, and you can record video of all of them.

Then bring it home and show it to your cat on a continuous video loop. That’s hours of kitty entertainment right there. Don’t believe me? Check out this video of my cat, Luna, watching bird videos on our iPad.

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