A fearless tabby cat has become a regular at her local pub and takes trains and buses to explore new towns – all while happily perched on her owner’s shoulder.
One-year-old MewPaul has become something of a celebrity in his home town of Hull, East Yorkshire, while his owner, Mike Ransom, 35, is now known as the ‘cat man’.
Carer Mike jokes that his Bengal-tabby cross companion is “more dog than a dog” and fittingly some of her favorite bars, where she enjoys people watching, snacking and napping, belong to the BrewDog chain.
The music-obsessed cat – whose name is inspired by the popular TV series Ru Paul’s Drag Race – surprised Mike just weeks after he adopted her as an eight week old kitten in May 2021, when she leapt onto his shoulder at the front door to their house and “demanded” to go out.
“I was heading out to the shops and she jumped up and meowed in my ear, like she was saying, ‘I have an idea’,” Mike said.
“I had no idea if she would like it, but I bought a lead for her and it was like she just knew what to do.”
He added: “She sits on my shoulder and just watches the world around her or wanders around, meeting people and exploring.
“She is unlike any cat I have ever met.
“She’s known in most of the pubs and bars near us now and is treated like a celebrity.”
Despite always claiming to be a “dog-person” and never owning a cat before, in 2020 Mike decided to begin his search for a friendly feline to join him and his girlfriend – who he is no longer with – in their one-bed flat inHull.
But competing with a flurry of would-be pet owners during the lockdown months, he had no luck finding the right cat.
“I was furloughed from work in 2020 because I was a carer and the person I looked after was shielding, so we were just stuck inside watching Netflix,” he said.
“I’d never wanted a cat before but one of our friends had got one during lockdown and out of the blue, I decided I wanted one.
“We tried Gumtree and all the shelters, but had no luck and I kind of gave up on the idea.”
After resigning himself to never finding the perfect feline, in April 2021, Mike’s manager at work sent him the details for a kitten she had heard needed a home.
“I knew I wanted her straight away,” Mike said.
“We had to wait a few weeks before she was old enough to leave her mum and then one day, I got the text to come and collect her from the pub around the corner from work.”
Meeting at The Grandale pub in Hull – which would soon become one of MewPaul’s regular haunts – Mike arrived carrying a cage and ready to take her home.
And he quickly realized this was no shy little puss.
“She was just sat there watching me and everything going on,” he said.
“I got home and thought she might be quiet or nervous, but she was up and moving straight away.
“She ran up to my now ex’s two year old niece and immediately wanted to say hello and play.”
While ordinary cat toys were never MewPaul’s thing – always acting uninterested and confused when presented with various games and gadgets – she was obsessed with watching the TV and being around Mike.
“On the second night, she curled up on my knee and from that point, I was the person she wanted to be with,” he said.
“We decided her name before we even got her. We were watching RuPaul’s Drag Race one evening and I thought, ‘That’s it, I’ve got the pun, and whatever cat we get, that will be the name.’
He added: “We didn’t know if it would fit, but as it turned out, she was such a diva, it was perfect.”
Before taking MewPaul on her first trip in the great outdoors, in June 2021, Mike bought a cat lead, moggie backpack and harness so she was fully-equipped to leave the comfort of the flat.
“We wanted her to have a lead in case she became startled by anything,” he said.
“Nine out of 10 times she doesn’t leave my shoulder, but if she is on the lead then it means we’re there if she ever was startled – not that she ever is!”
After an initial five-minute trot around the flat with MewPaul on his shoulder, Mike prepared her for her first trip to some nearby playing fields in the backpack – without success.
“She was meowing and squealing in the backpack, so I thought, ‘This isn’t working, she obviously hates it,’” he said.
“But it turned out it wasn’t the outside she disliked, she just didn’t like not being able to see everything.
“I then tried to take her out on my shoulder with the lead to the park near my home and she loved it.
“As soon as she was out of the backpack and on my shoulder, she was so curious and you could see she was taking in all the sights and smells and sounds.”
He added: “She was watching the world or jumping down to sniff and wander.”
Since then, MewPaul has chosen when to relax in her backpack and when to escape it and has been keen on her walkies three days a week.
Mike said: “She has this meow when she wants to let me know she goes out.”
He added: “It is really loud and it is really demanding – like she is saying, ‘Come on, lets get moving!’
“It is easier taking her out than some of the dogs I have had.”
And Mike doesn’t need to worry about MewPaul getting into any fisticuffs with other animals in the park.
“She will sit on my shoulder and just watch the pigeons fly over – she never runs off or chases them,” he said.”She’s only scared of the street sweeping machine – but she doesn’t mind people coming up and will tap them with her paws.”She quite likes dogs, too – they don’t know what to make of her, but she doesn’t mind them. She is more dog than a dog.”
After exploring local green spaces in Hull, Mike decided to head further afield – taking MewPaul on an 80 minute train ride into York in January 2022.
“I was so surprised she wasn’t scared of the train because of all the noise, but she had a little nosy around when it set off and then settled for a sleep,” he added.
Once they arrived in York, MewPaul was in her element.
“When we were walking through town, she was instantly drawn to every shop with loud music,” Mike said.
“She would hear the music and think, ‘I want to be in there’.
“We were then walking past a pub and I thought, ‘We can try the outdoor area and see how she gets on’ but she was desperate to go inside and say hello to everyone.”
Mike added: “She wandered around, jumping on people’s laps and rubbing around their legs.”She gave my pint a sniff, but she preferred her cat treats.”
After such success with the first pub in York, the duo began to tick off their local pubs in Hull together on his days off and evenings.
Mike admitted MewPaul draws most of the attention in the bars – but then he is often tired after working 10-hour shifts as a carer, while she has enjoyed a restful day of napping.
MewPaul’s second trip out of Hull in July 2021 to Leeds also brought her to her favorite bar, BrewDog.
“The staff did have a little chuckle that she was a cat in a BrewDog,” he said.
“It’s her favorite bar now – she is known as the ‘BrewCat’ in the Hull BrewDog.”
And MewPaul has also earned her owner a nickname.
“I’m totally known as the ‘cat guy’ now,” Mike said.
“MewPaul has her routine when she goes in the pub. She has to go round and greet everyone, then she’ll find where she wants to sit and curl up for a nap.”
He added: “I have met so many people and made friends because of her.
“She is a total diva and a proper social butterfly because she wants to say hello to everyone.
“But she is like Marmite – you love her or you don’t. Some people are so confused they just stare at me like I’m mad. I used to think, ‘Am I doing this for me?’ But this really is what she wants to do.”
After being constantly asked by strangers if MewPaul had an Instagram presence, Mike set up an account for her in June 2021, which now has nearly 2,000 followers.
“She is like a local celebrity,” he said.
“I never thought it would take off so much in such a relatively short space of time – it’s unreal.”
Mike added: “She gets recognized in the street.
“I went to collect a coffee table I’d bought on Gumtree the other day and the person selling it said, ‘You’re the man that walks the cat’.”
MewPaul is also a seasoned traveler by bus and train now, traveling light with just a portable water bowl and some handy Dreamies cat treats.
“She loves the train,” Mike said.
“She sits next to me and watches outside as we start moving and then she just settles down to sleep.
“She wears her little t-shirt and harness and her Instagram account is written on the backpack, too.”
Mike is keen to take MewPaul for an overnight stay in an animal-friendly hotel as their next adventure.
And he would also like to trial a trip to the beach, as well as going to cities further afield like London and Manchester.
“I never imagined I would become the man who walks his cat,” he said.
“I used to see people do this and think it was funny – I never thought I’d be one of them.
“I always get a smile from people when they spot her and that’s nice to see.”
To see more of MewPaul’s adventures, go to: https://www.instagram.com/mewpaul_cat/