Traveling with a cat is a dream for many kitty owners, but what are the practicalities of cycling with cats?
In this eco-conscious age many people are ditching the car for greener travel options like cycling, but can your cat ride shotgun safely, and how do you train them to be a confident bicycle passenger?
We share our top training tips along with some insight from Dutch, bike adventure pro – Joyce, from @olivercatventures - to help give you the best start at cycling with your cat!
Can you ride a bike with a cat?
Yes, you can! If a bike is your preferred mode of transport, you can ride a bike with a cat. Cats are capable of being trained to enjoy a whole host of unique experiences.
Why would you take your cat on a bicycle?
Your main mode of transport may be a bicycle, in fact, in countries such as the Netherlands it is commonplace for people to cycle over almost every other mode of transportation.
For confident cyclists and lovers of the outdoors, cycling is a green way to take in nature and get some exercise.
Do cats like being on a bike?
It’s not a natural experience for a cat however, they can be trained to enjoy travelling around on a bike, much like they can learn to love being in the car.
Related: Travelling with a Cat in a Van
How to start biking with your cat
Before you introduce your cat to bike rides, consider your cat’s current training skills and how they will help you and your cat navigate this new experience.
As you are going to be outdoors, potentially around traffic and noisy vehicles, you may want to slowly introduce your cat to these sounds before heading out (you can play videos/sounds to your cat if you don’t have a safe outdoor space to train in).
You can desensitise your cat to the sound of an engine revving by playing it at a low level and gauging your cat’s reaction. If they appear unphased and relaxed, reward them. Increase the volume of this sound gradually and continue to reward your cat for happy and relaxed responses in the presence of these engine revving sounds. Remember to always work below your cat’s threshold of fear.
It is also important to consider your cat’s personality and temperament. If they are not completely comfortable with being outdoors and experiencing new things, you may want to build their confidence and work on their training before introducing a bike. You may also want to consult your vet.
What kind of cat carrier will I need?
It is important that your kitty is kept safe whilst you are cycling.
There are different kinds of carriers and baskets you can use on your bike. You may want to consider how this carrier attaches to the bike and navigates corners and turns.
Also, what is your own biking style? This may also affect your carrier choice. Any bike basket should be completely secure, breathable, and stable.
Some carriers attach to the front of the bike, there are options like trailers that attach to the back and you can also use your cat backpack, if it is suitable and safe for use on bicycles.
Introducing your cat to the carrier
Once you have found a carrier that is going to best suit your bike and your cat, you should slowly introduce this to your cat.
Holding the carrier, let your cat approach it and smell it. If your cat is showing positive, relaxed body language towards the carrier, you can reward them and help them to build a positive association with the carrier.
“Our number one tip would be to make sure the bike basket becomes a ‘safe spot’ by letting the cat get used to it inside the house.” - Joyce from @Olivercatventures
Consider how your cat will get into the pet carrier – if you are picking your cat up to place them into a carrier, practice this motion with them in small steps, beginning with how you’ll need to hold them and place them in.
Gradually exposing them to this process, with positive reinforcement and treats will help them adapt more easily.
If at any point of this training process your cat is showing resistance, you may want to slow down a little and help them work through the previous step so they are super confident before moving onto the next step.
Once your cat is comfortable getting into the carrier, you want to focus on training them to be enclosed and staying inside – much like backpack training.
Close the carrier a little and reward your cat, repeat this process until you get the carrier completely closed. Then you can gradually build up the amount of time that they stay inside the carrier.
Introducing the bike to your cat
At this stage, the bike and the carrier are two completely separate entities.
The sight, smell and sound of a bicycle may be a little daunting for your cat. It can be helpful to bring the bike into your home or your garden, where your cat can explore it safely.
Consider all of those new sensory elements for your cat and introduce them gradually – does the chain make a sound, or will you need to use the bell? Break down each of these components and introduce them to your cat, allowing them to become fully desensitised before you head out on your first cycle!
Attaching the cat carrier to the bike
Once your cat is super comfortable in the carrier and happy to be around the bike, you can attach the carrier to the bike and begin this part of training with your cat.
First, securely attach the carrier and very slowly, walk your bike a few metres. If you cat is happy and relaxed, you can reward them.
When your cat is happy with the moving sensation of the bike, you can start to introduce cycling. It can be helpful to do a short journey, close to home. The more confident and relaxed your cat becomes in their bike carrier, you can extend your journeys.
We asked Joyce from @Olivercatventures how she introduced bike rides to her cat, Oliver:
“Oliver’s first bike ride was in his backpack. He loved it, but we noticed that he wanted to look to the front because he kept trying to climb out so we bought small dog bike basket.
We started by putting the bike basket in the living room, so Oliver would get used to it. After that, we put the basket on the bike and went for a small [cycle] around the block. And from there we widened our biking tours. We made a lot of short bike rides, mostly picking up the kids from school.”
Safety When Biking
To ensure that your cat is safe at all times whilst cycling, they should be completely secure within their carrier.
“Oliver is always strapped in. The basket has a small strap that we can secure to his harness.” – Joyce, @Olivercatventures
Consider where you are going to be cycling. If you are headed somewhere new, it may be helpful to do a reconnaissance prior to traveling with your cat to identify any potential dangers or obstacles.
If you are planning on taking your cat on the road, it is important to consider a crash-safe carrier for your cat.
What happens if I fall off my bike?
Accidents happen – so make sure you consider what would happen to your cat in the event of a crash or fall, and how to keep them safe, just so you are prepared.
Important things to think about are; will your cat remain inside the basket or carrier if the bike falls over? Will the carrier or basket provide cushioning/ shock absorbance if it hits the ground?
Consider these elements prior to your purchase of a carrier, basket or trailer as it may affect your decision.
“I wanted a small and sturdy one and this one is for small dogs so it would be perfect. And black is always a good colour!” – Joyce @Olivercatventures
How often you should go biking with your cat?
How often you go biking with your cat is up to you, and your cat of course! If your cat is new to biking, regular bike trips can help your cat get used to biking and feel more comfortable. Remember these initial trips should be close to home and short, ensuring your cat is happy and relaxed. If your cat is enjoying the bike ride, you can increase your frequency and distance over time.
Can You Bike with a Kitten?
Yes, you can bike with a kitten. Kittens are typically quick learners. Exposing your kitten to bike training and bike rides at an early age will help them adjust more quickly.
What’s The Best Place to Go Biking with Your Cat?
The best place to go biking with your cat is somewhere familiar to you and your cat. If you plan on venturing somewhere new, it may be helpful to do a reconnaissance trip prior to taking your cat so you can check the route and earmark any potential dangers or hazards.
Need inspiration? You can also check the Supakit Cat Map for cat-friendly places near you.
Can I take my cat on a motorcycle?
Yes, you can take your cat on a motorcycle, but remember that it will require training and that just like humans cats have different personalities – some will love the wind in their whiskers and the open road, while others will prefer not to adventure by motorcycle. Much like training them to enjoy a bicycle or car, motorcycle training should be broken down into stages and your cat should be happy and relaxed at each stage before you progress. You should also consider a pet-safe carrier that is suitable for your motorcycle.
Related: Cat Exploring for Beginners
Can you walk a cat on a bike?
It is not advised that you allow your cat to walk alongside you as you bike. In the interest of safety, it is best to have your cat ride on the bike with you, in a carrier. A cat leash can get tangled in the bike causing potential injury to you and your cat.
If you are thinking about hitting the road with your feline friend, we hope this article has helped guide you towards a safe and fun adventure on two wheels!
Related: Best Escape-Proof Cat Harnesses