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Meet Ham, the Minneapolis-Based Adventure Cat and One of the Stars of ‘Cats and Cocktails’

'Yeah, you can train a cat!' reports Ham's owner.

It’s a phenomenon every cat owner knows all too well: You get a new furry little guy, become obsessed with them, and start taking photos of every single cute and silly thing they do (along with many of the mundane and not terribly interesting things they do). Before long, your camera roll is mostly pet pics, and your friends and family are like, “We love you, but please stop sending us cat photos—we can’t keep up with the pressure of having to LOL or like them all.”

That’s more or less the experience Rachel Gernander had back in 2021, when she got an adorable new cat named Ham. Needing an outlet for the deluge of Ham content, Gernander signed him up for Instagram—@hampurrburgerhelper—where it turned out folks were only too happy to receive daily doses of Ham.

“I made this account, and it just kind of snowballed from there,” Gernander says. Today, more than 12,000 people follow along on Ham’s adventures, whether he’s roaming the woods or modeling iconic outfits. Because Ham isn’t just any cat. He’s an adventure cat, as happy roaming the woods as he is wearing a Hamburglar costume at home.

“My last cat, Onion, toward the end of his life, he really enjoyed walking on a leash,” Gernander explains. “The more time I spent on Instagram, I was discovering that there’s all these people out there who take their cat on adventures, and leash walk them, and take them to unexpected places—not just on trails, but boating, and cross-country, and biking.”

It turns out Ham was an enthusiastic adventure buddy (his willingness to wear Halloween costumes give you a sense of his up-for-anything vibe), and over the last two and a half years his travels have taken him hiking in Denver and riding in a paddleboat, among lots of other outdoor excursions. 

Instagram connected Ham and Gernander with a lot of other cats and humans, which is how he came to be among the stars of Cats & Cocktails, a new mixology book from the Cats & Cocktails Club. The club of cat owners is a global group. Members from countries including The Netherlands, Germany, and New Zealand regularly share photos of their cats posing with cocktails, “with varying results,” Gernander laughs, but that’s part of the fun. 

The book was a volunteer-led effort; different C&CC members pitched the idea, organized the layout, and wrote little introductory sections. The drinks are organized by season, and 100% of the proceeds go to different feline nonprofits (in the U.S., that’s Mission Meow).

Ham’s contribution? The “My Hammy Vice,” a sweet and fruity rum drink with coconut. “I just so happened to have that sweet 1980s windbreaker for him,” Gernander says, and the rest was history. That’s not Ham’s only cocktail suggestion, though—might we recommend a Piña Hamchata, or On Wednesdays We Drink Pink?

If you want to track down a copy of Cats & Cocktails, she’ll selling copies at the POP Cats convention at St. Paul's Union Depot this weekend, or you can order one online. (The first printing in November sold out very quickly; this second run of 700 will probably go almost as fast.)

Ham is reportedly a pretty great mixologist for a cat, but Gernander is as proud of his outdoorsy nature as she is of his work behind the bar. She loves to tell other cat owners that with a little patience—and probably some of those squeeze tube treats—your feline friend might discover they have an adventurous spirit, too.

“I love to smash those misconceptions, like, yeah, you can train a cat!” she says.

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