When lawmakers visit the Governor’s Mansion, there’s always one resident who’s ready to pounce. Afton the cat — Minnesota’s First Feline — waits on the stairs, surveying the humans who might support his agenda.
Does he want a new tax bill? Equity and equality for all? New measures to promote the adoption of homeless animals?
While these are all important topics, Afton is all about food and affection. The orange tabby has been known to steal treats meant for guests and loves cupcakes. And if the humans give him a few scratches, that’s even better.
As an important member of Governor Tim Walz’s family, Afton has bipartisan appeal, making him extremely popular with the public. He lovingly pushes the buttons of his political family, Governor Tim Walz, First Lady Gwen Walz, and their children, Hope and Gus. He knows his cuteness helps him get away with anything.
Afton’s antics keep the first family on their toes. He inserts himself into the Governor’s public policy work to demand affection. He sends emails full of random letters from the First Lady to colleagues at the State Capitol. And he has made countless homework assignments disappear from family computers.
At the Governor’s mansion, Afton has the luxury of water bowls on every level of the house. But Minnesota’s first feline is obsessed with water being fresh. It’s not uncommon for him to demand a fresh refill by tipping over every bowl in the house.
Afton is as affectionate as he is mischievous. Gwen Walz says the family fell in love with him as soon as they met him. The three-year-old "cuddle bug," a former stray, was adopted from the Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society in Mankato. Adoption was an easy choice for the Walz family. "We know there’s a lot of animals that need homes."
Gus remembers the day clearly, "Afton reached under the door to hold my hand. I wanted him immediately."
Governor Walz grew up with animals and loves coming home and seeing Afton at the door. "Afton is such a big part of our family. He often meets us at the door and flops on his back and purrs," he says.
The Walz family says Afton is the love of their lives. Daughter Hope says it best: "I didn’t know how much I needed him until we got him. He shows so much love especially when you need it most. The best decision we ever made was getting a rescue kitty who needed love as much as us."