Meet Nymbus, the bicycle-riding cat. Learn how I trained him to safely enjoy bike rides, and how you can do the same with your own kitty.
When I was a child, I took my cat, Gala, bike riding by putting her in an old metal basket. She sat in there on a towel, trusting that I would protect her from any worldly dangers we might encounter along the way.
Today, 55 years later, I still enjoy cycling with my cats. My Persian, Nymbus, began his bike-riding training as a kitten. But he soon outgrew the bike’s metal basket. His long tail dangled through the basket’s openings, too close to the bicycle’s spokes, so we discontinued our outings for the sake of his safety.
Then one day, five years later, I discovered you could buy bike baskets designed specifically for small animals. These baskets are made with the animal’s safety and comfort in mind, and come with clasps that hook onto his harness to prevent him from jumping out. They also include pockets to store a leash, potty bags, cell phones, keys and a water bottle. I was delighted – but after all this time, would Nymbus still remember the joys of feeling the wind through his fur?
As soon as the postal worker delivered the bike basket, it was unpacked and assembled. To my amazement, Nymbus jumped up onto the kitchen counter and right into the basket. We have three other cats, but Nymbus was the only one to claim the basket. He was obviously ready to ride!
My husband carried the basket out to the garage to install it on my bike, while Nymbus stood at the garage door, meowing loudly and impatiently. When we were ready, I picked him up, carried him into the garage, and lowered him into his soft new bike basket.
Nymbus purred as he nestled into the basket. We then secured his harness to the clasp and went for a brief ride. There I was in my pajamas, in the rain, bicycling down the street because the cat wanted to go for a ride! You’ve heard the saying that dogs have masters, and cats have staff. It was obviously true in this case!
What’s also true is the old adage that you never forget how to ride a bicycle. Apparently, it applies to cats too. Nymbus’s huge green eyes were lit up with excitement. He loved the experience so much that he was still purring after we arrived back home. He obviously missed bike riding as much as I’d missed having him ride with me.
The only time Nymbus squirmed or complained was when I lifted him from the basket. He voiced great disappointment over the shortness of the ride and loudly meowed his disapproval all the way into the house.
The second time out, Nymbus happily rode for two miles through town. His body language and facial expression exuded relaxation and joy, and he watched the world go by as the wind tickled his whiskers. He sat there proudly, his huge furry white head poking out of the basket like the hood ornament on a pink Cadillac.
Because Nymbus is an indoor cat, bike riding helps magnify and expand the usual sights and sounds of his world. He enjoys cruising through town, watching the world go by. As we sail along, people walking by or children peering out car windows jump with delight at the unusual sight of a cat riding by in a bicycle basket, just like Toto in The Wizard of Oz.
When I take one of our other cats for a ride, Nymbus jumps up on the laundry room windowsill and protests until my return. He won’t stop until he is once again in the basket, riding off on another adventure.