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Minneapolis cat tour started as joke, now draws hundreds of admirers

1 week ago 26

The cat tour started small.

John Edwards thought it would be hilarious — and somewhat ridiculous — to lead a walk through his Minneapolis neighborhood admiring the many felines that live there.

“It’s the kind of densely populated neighborhood where if you’re walking around, you’re going to see a lot of cats,” said Edwards, who lives in Lowry Hill East — often called “the Wedge” because of its wedgelike shape — where there are roughly 9,300 residents.

About a dozen people showed up for the impromptu cat tour, led by Edwards, seven years ago. Over a two-mile walk, the group stopped to see some 20 cats peeking through their windows.

Edwards — who runs a hyperlocal media publication called Wedge Live — never anticipated his cat tour concept would catch on. But people loved it and wanted more, so Edwards began organizing an annual cat tour.

It grew every year.

“It was a joke, and now it’s real,” Edwards said. “I just thought it would be a funny theme for an event, and it turned into a thing hundreds and hundreds of people wanted to come to.”

On the evening of June 26, about 500 people of all ages congregated at a local park, ready to start the seventh annual cat tour. Many held signs saying “show us your cats,” and people also wore official “Cats of the Wedge” T-shirts, tank tops and totes. Local reporters were there to cover the tour.

“It’s incredibly weird,” Edwards said of his yearly event, which is free to attend. “I love to do weird, goofy stuff like this.”

Other people love it, too. While the cat tour is mainly attended by locals, some travel from surrounding suburbs — or farther — to be there.

“Last year, we even had a guy who came specifically for the cat tour from Oklahoma City,” said Edwards. “He said he had it on his bucket list and flew in.”

Now that the event has grown considerably, Edwards requests that residents who want to feature their felines in the tour register in advance. This year, there were about 22 stops along the one-hour tour, though there were several “bonus cats” (as Edwards calls them) whose owners saw the commotion outside and decided to bring out their furry friends to join in the fun. There was also a memorial for a former tour cat named Princess Pickles.

While many cats remain inside their homes, others come out to mingle. The large group blocks traffic, but drivers don’t seem to mind.

“It really is just getting together with your neighbors, going for a walk and looking at cats,” said Taylor Dahlin, who lives in a nearby neighborhood and has attended five cat tours over the years. “I’ve never heard of anything like that. It’s just such a fun way to spend an evening.”

Paula Chesley is also a big fan of the cat tour. For three years, she showed off her cat Billie Jean. She brought her outside in a stroller to socialize with people.

“She loved it,” said Chesley, adding that she has met many friends through tour.

Billie Jean passed away last July, but Chesley was still eager to participate in the event.

“It’s very whimsical,” she said. “I think it just brings out peoples’ sense of silliness.”

Chesley hopes her new rescue cat, Elvis, can be showcased in next year’s cat tour when he is less skittish. In the meantime, she loved meeting the other neighborhood cats.

“It’s a very joyful event,” she said.

David Montgomery’s cats, Coda and Margeaux, posed for people in their window. Montgomery is also taking care of a litter of kittens and placed them in another window for tour attendees to offer their oohs and aahs.

“People loved it,” said Montgomery. “I love showing off our cats and getting to see everyone.”

Montgomery moved to the Wedge last year and said the cat tour is a staple gathering for residents.

“It’s one of the highlights of living in this neighborhood, both the event itself, and the kind of community that being able to host an event like this reflects,” he said.

Community building is Edwards’s main goal for the annual tour.

“I’ve come to really appreciate how much people enjoy it,” he said.

Edwards did, however, want to clarify one thing: He does not have a cat. He described himself as more of a dog person.

“I love all animals, but I kind of prefer dogs, so it is odd that I’m the cat tour guy,” he said, explaining that a cat tour seemed simpler than a dog tour, as dogs tend to be less docile.

“It’s not really about the cats,” he said. “It’s a large number of people getting together and sharing an experience. I think people really just like the camaraderie.”

The 2025 cat tour is already scheduled for June 25. Edwards plans to carry on the cat tour tradition indefinitely.

“Everyone has such a good time,” he said. “Every year, I’m shocked by how happy everyone looks while it’s happening.”

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