Pet Tips 'n' Tales©

15 Pet Bike Riding Rules!

Photo courtesy of Animal Planet's Must Love Cats©
Nymbus, the famous "swimming cat", featured on  Must Love Cats on Animal Planet and on the daytime TV talk show ANDERSON, demonstrates bike basket riding safety. Here he is with "Mom", pet columnist Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe", and host of "Must Love Cats", John Fulton. 

TALES
 
Fifty-five years ago, I took my cat, Gala, bike riding with me by putting her in the bike’s old metal bike basket. She sat in there on a towel, trusting that I would protect her from any worldly dangers we might encounter along the way. Not all cats are this trusting, so it may take a bit of time, effort, and patience to train your cat in the joys of bike-riding.

Nymbus began his bike-riding training as a kitten but all too soon, he outgrew the metal bike basket. His long tail dangled through the basket’s openings, close to the bicycle's spokes, creating a major safety concern. For Nymbus' safety, we discontinued our outings, until one day five years later when I discovered that small pet bike baskets designed with pets' comfort and safety in mind, are available through pet supply companies. The baskets come with clasps to hook onto the pet's harness to prevent them from jumping out. The question was, "After five years would Nymbus remember the joy of feeling wind through his fur?"

The minute the postal worker delivered the bike basket it was unpacked and assembled.

Then, Nymbus jumped up onto the kitchen counter...right into the basket. (We have three other cats; 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 onto the bike, while Nymbus stood at the garage door, meowing loudly and impatiently. So, I picked him up, carried him into the garage, and lowered him into his new soft bike basket.

Nymbus purred as he nestled into the basket. We then secured his harness to the clasp in the basket and went for a brief, unplanned ride.

There I was in my pajamas and bathrobe, in the rain, bicycling down the street because the cat wanted to go for a ride! You've heard the saying, "Dogs have masters, and cats have staff"? Well, obviously true in this case!

The old adage that says one never forgets how to ride a bicycle is also true. 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 missed him riding with me over the past five years.

The only time he squirmed or complained was when I lifted him from his comfortable 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, watching the world go by as the wind tickled his whiskers. He sat proudly and stately, his huge furry white head poking out of the pink basket, like the hood ornament on a pink Cadillac.

We briefly stopped at a park. I put the leash on him and he strolled around as comfortably as if he was in his own backyard. Once he stretched his legs, nibbled on some grass and took a "potty break" we were off to explore more of the world.

His new bike basket includes pockets for a leash, pet-potty-plastic bags, cell phone, a garage door clicker or house keys, and a water bottle. Now all Nymbus needs are goggles and a crash helmet!

Because Nymbus is an indoor cat, bike-riding helps to magnify and expand the usual sights and sounds of his world. He enjoys cruising through town, watching the world go by. When I take one of our other cats for a bike ride, Nymbus jumps up onto the laundry room windowsill and protest-meows until my return. He won't stop until he is once again in the basket, riding off on another adventure!

As we cruise along, people walking by, or children peering out of car windows literally jump with delight at the unusual sight of a cat riding by in a bicycle basket, just like Toto in The Wizard of Oz.

Experiencing the joy of bike-riding with your beloved pet is one of life's simple pleasures, creating wonderful memories for you and those you meet.
Photo by Mr. AngelScribe© 

TIPS

- These 15 Pet Tips apply to small dogs and cats riding in a bicycle basket.

- Always wear a helmet. Currently, there are no cat helmets available, as there is not a large demand for them. If they were available, Nymbus would definitely be wearing one!

- Do not place your pet into a METAL bicycle carrier, as they can easily jump out. Also, the tail may dangle dangerously close to the bike's spokes. I tried placing a cover over the top of a metal basket, but this decreased available space and may result in pet tooth breakage when riding over bumps.

- Acclimate your pet to harness-wearing prior to its first bike ride.

- Keep the bike basket inside the house, and place your pet's favorite towel into it, so they view the basket as a safe and comfortable place to nap/sit.

- Attach the basket securely to the bicycle.

- Gently place the pet into the bike basket and attach the harness to the basket's clip to prevent the pet from jumping out of the basket.. (Someone told me that they "forgot" to clip the harness, their small dog jumped out and it cost them $900 in vet bills.)

- Begin by riding for short distances, while observing your pet's body language. If they appear afraid/apprehensive, remove them from the basket and play a different "game" (fetch a toy, treat, walk.)

- Increase riding distance each day, until pet is totally relaxed and acclimated enough to "go the distance" with you.

- Your pet will signal that they've "had enough of riding for today" and/or need to take a "potty break" by moving around in the basket.

- Attach a leash to the harness, then release the bike clip. NEVER allow a pet to jump out of the basket; rather, lift them out while repeating, "Up!", "Out!", etc., to promote understanding of various routines.

- Respecting your pet's wishes/personality is an important aspect of successful training. Once they feel secure with you, they will relax and enjoy the bike ride.

- Place an ID on the harness which lists your phone number, and always carry your own ID biking.

- Carry a collapsible pet water dish which can be filled using the bike's water bottle.

- Wonderful pet travel products are available at pet and feed stores for the promotion of pet health and safety.

- Nymbus has and enjoys two different Snoozer Pet carriers. When you order one for your small pet (dog/cat) tell them you heard about it from the famous swimming cat, Nymbus!
 
Nymbus, the Silver Persain cat swimming
Nymbus' other sport is swimming! 
Watch him on Animal Planet's Must Love Cats.
 
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