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Mr. September 2023: Arrow
Travel cat with a leash

orget everything you think you know about cats.

Arrow the bike-riding, coffee-shop-chilling, dog-tolerating, festival-attending, leash-and-clicker-trained, offshore-sailing zen master has changed the cat game in Oriental.

Arrow surveys the village from his perch on the railing at The Bean.

For such an accomplished guy, he’s approachable and friendly. If you see him around town, you can scratch his cheeks and he’ll get his purr on and appreciate you. But you’ll have to understand you are only an acquaintance because Arrow’s focus…his mission…his raison d’etre…is watching over his human, Stu Robinson.

For his accomplishments on land and sea, Arrow is the TownDock Pet of the Month.

Arrow looks out The Bean window, searching for Stu.
Car rides don’t phase the chill cat. He’s comfortable almost anywhere.

Where Stu goes, Arrow follows. The pair are seen daily at The Bean coffee shop and walking the docks at Sailcraft, where their Hood 38 S/V Rendova is tied up for the summer.

Arrow hails from Paducah, Kentucky. Ten years ago, on a cold dark February night, someone packed him and his newborn littermates into a box and left them on the vet’s doorstep. From there, they went to a cat rescue organization. That is where Stu and his mother, Gloria, found him.

Arrow closely checks Stu’s work. It’s a hard life managing a human and their boat projects.

It was Gloria’s suggestion that Arrow would be a good boat cat. Stu and his mom named Arrow together, in honor of the Arrow one-design class sailboat where Stu’s parents had met.

Stu hadn’t had a cat before, but he was all in. “I began clicker-training him immediately. I clicked every time I fed him. He’s not that food-motivated but he associates it with comfort. I clicked every time I fed him for a month.”

Now, a decade later, Arrow still responds to the clicker.

The 1970s song, Me and My Arrow seems to fit Stu and Arrow perfectly:

“I took him everywhere I went,” Stu said. He wanted to make sure Arrow was properly socialized and comfortable in public. “I had a litter box in the car in Kentucky, and he would sleep in the car.”

Stu and Arrow travel together – by boat, car, and bike.
Arrow arrives.

Stu and Arrow (“Starrow” has been a suggested portmanteau) moved from Kentucky to Oriental in 2018. And the litter box trick worked: Arrow is a tranquil traveler. In a car, and in the basket on the front of Stu’s bicycle.

Stu had a novel way of training Arrow to stay away from cars when walking on the streets. “I’d put on his harness and leash, and take him near the road,” he said, “and I’d do air-horn blasts and go ‘CAR! CAR! CAR!’”

To make Rendova safer for Arrow, Stu installed lifeline netting and got a strip of carpet to hang off the side, a common practice for boats with cats. If Arrow goes overboard, he can sink his claws into the carpet and climb back on.

Arrow and Stu below deck on their Hood 38.

The pair overwinter in the Bahamas, where one of Arrow’s activities is “shore leave.” They get in the dinghy and motor to shore, and Arrow jumps off and trots away to have adventures in the sand and Casuarina trees. Stu dinghies back to Rendova and reads for a while.

At dusk, Stu returns to shore, and calls or clicks for Arrow. The cat pops out of the bushes and jumps back onto the dinghy, ready for a catnap back in the cockpit.

Arrow keeps an eye on his surroundings – above and below.

Every now and then Arrow does a bit of hunting. Once when they were tied to the government docks on Cat Island, Arrow brought a very-much-alive mouse onboard and let it go. “That’s not the kind of catch-and-release that I want him to do,” Stu grumbles. It took several days and a glue trap to evict the unwanted guest.

In the summertime, Arrow and Stu enjoy a social life in Oriental. They attend the Oriental Boat Show, the Bond Watermelon Party, the Blessing of the Animals, and various cookouts and dinners together. They go to The Bean every morning, and Arrow is unperturbed by all the action. He’s even friendly with some of the dogs there.

Upon returning from The Bean, Arrow goes off-leash. When his time is his own and he can be his own cat, he has good options to fill his time.

Morning coffee at The Bean.

Though he can browse under a bird feeder, or go look for moles, mice, and lizards in a nearby field, Arrow’s favorite thing to do – paws down – is to follow Stu.

As Stu walks back and forth to Rendova while working on projects, Arrow trots along nearby with his tail held high. If Stu is sanding or varnishing in his carport, Arrow positions himself nearby, keeping an eye on his human.

And if Stu goes off in a car without him, Arrow hides in a bush and watches the road, so he’ll know it the instant Stu returns.

Arrow relaxing on a chair cushion at his Oriental summer home.

The pair are never far from each other, each keeping watch over the other, keeping each other safe. This is why Arrow is Mr. September, the TownDock.net Pet of the Month.

Celebrity Most Resembles: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

E.T. and Arrow

Favorite movie: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Favorite location: Cat Island, The Bahamas
Likes: Traveling, shore leave, riding in a basket
Dislikes: Air horns and cars
Known for: Walking his human with a leash, having his own bicycle chauffeur

Story by Beth Obenshain. Photos by Beth Obenshain, Stu Robinson, and TownDock.net.

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Know a pet that is a standout? Send in some details and a photo to info@towndock.net. Tell why that pet deserves the coveted TownDock.net Pet of the Month Prize Package --- accolades, a pat on the head (snakes excluded) and a box of Milk Bones ( or snack suitable for the species).

We regret that we cannot offer a college scholarship to Pet Of The Month winners.

Animals caught near the HarborCam attempting to suck up to the judges will be disqualified.