The Wedge Cat Tour is 1.5 miles long, featuring all types of quirky felines.
Excitedly, a tour member points up to a second-floor window, alerting the rest of the sidewalk parade that furry white Pickles has made an appearance. Later, someone else shouts that Bob the Siamese has emerged from behind the drapes. A few houses down, a friendly cat mom carries out her Maine Coon and the crowd, led by a man whose sign says, “Show Us Your Cat,” goes wild. This strange suburban safari plays out annually in a Minneapolis neighborhood called The Wedge (for its shape), thanks to tour founder and organizer John Edwards.
John moved from South Florida to Minneapolis in part because he wanted to live without a car. While walking and biking around his neighborhood, designated a historic district due to its many 100-year-old homes and apartment buildings, he noticed an extraordinary number of windows featuring cats.
Though John doesn’t have any pets himself, he began posting cat photos on the social media channels of a hyper-local news site he’d created called Wedge LIVE! John’s posts grew in popularity and an idea sprouted.
“Our neighborhood historic home tour is so popular,” he says, “and it made me think, What if we did a cat tour? It’ll be weird, it’ll be funny. Let’s just see what happens.”
The Wedge LIVE Cat Tour had a simple start five years ago. John promoted it on social media and mapped out a 90-minute route that included three dozen or so cats. About 30 people showed up and John was pleased with the turnout. A few years later, though, the event went viral, and a local TV station broadcast a story about the 300-person crowd who met to traipse around The Wedge and encounter cats. To create the most feline-filled route, John made a registration form for cat parents. John likes to keep the tour to 1.5 miles, though, so there are no guarantees that the parade will pass by everyone who registers.
What purring posers can one expect to admire along the way? “There are a lot of unusual cat names,” John says with a laugh. And unusual owners too, like the one who walked outside wearing a giant cat-head mask with markings identical to his cat’s. Some folks proudly carry their cats out to be admired, while others, knowing their cat is crowd-averse, just make sure their pet is window-visible. Though most felines perch on furniture, some lazily greet fans from a little hammock suction-cupped to the window. Others come out in strollers, on leashes or in their parents’ car. Then there’s a regular who holds his cat out for admiration from a balcony, like a scene from The Lion King.
One year the police rolled up, enforcing an ordinance requiring folks to stay on the sidewalk and not block traffic. “It stresses me out,” John admits about wrangling a huge crowd. “I also worry about making sure we have a large number of stops, and that people understand this tour is just about seeing ordinary cats. I don’t want anyone to be disappointed.”
Even in 2020, when the pandemic forced John to livestream the event, it showed him the sense of community that his quirky tour created. “It’s really a festival atmosphere,” says John. “It feels good that we’ve made this thing that brings people together. People thank me at the end of the tour like I did this great service. It’s weird! It’s cats!”