Do Cats Like Bike Rides?

cat basket on a bike

Cats can surprise us.

We’ve often said that cats prefer staying close to their own territory, but that’s not always the case.

Some are more cautious than others.  One may prefer a warm fire and a comfortable
lap. Another cat might enjoy exploring and going out into the great outdoors
with their owners.

And as an owner, you might want to share more of your life with your pet. This is easier when you have a dog but why should cats miss out on all the fun?

If you enjoy riding a bike, you may have considered taking your cat with you, but do cats like bike rides? And should we be encouraging them to join us or is it best to keep them at home?

It depends on the cat.

Cats don’t all have the same personality.  Your cat might enjoy riding in cars or sitting in a stroller.  Someone else’s might hate these things. Other cats might like being walked or being carried in a backpack or it might have everything we’ve listed above.

It should be pretty easy to work out whether you have a cat that likes bike rides.  

  • How your cat reacts to things like their cat carrier or sitting in the car should give you some idea as to whether they’ll take to a bike ride. Some cats are just naturally more relaxed and more curious than others.

  • Cats that have been exposed to the bike and basket or carrier from a young age (preferably from kittenhood) will probably adapt quickly. Older cats might need some encouragement or may decide bike rides aren’t for them at all.

  • Before trying a bike ride, we’d advise leash training your cat. This can be a useful skill for the cat to have anyway, but it will also help keep them secure during the ride.  You don’t want an unleashed cat to get spooked by a loud noise and then to run into the road or a dangerous situation.

  • Try leaving your bike somewhere the cat can explore on its own terms. Let it smell the wheels and sniff the pedals and get used to the scent and shape. You could pick the cat up and place it on the seat or in the basket always allowing it to jump out if necessary.  If the cat seems happy enough, then put its leash on and push the bike outside to see how the cat takes it.  We’d advise sticking close to home for this first ride and to build up slowly if your cat seems happy but wary.

  • If you’re happy that they’re happy, then you could start peddling whilst they’re on the bike. 
  • How quickly this happens will depend on how the cat takes it.  You could do all of the above in less than 30 minutes or it could take much longer.
  • Indoor cats might find being outside disorientating so it’s worth spending additional time acclimatizing them to a bike carrier or basket and leash before taking them outside.

  • Some breeds are more suited to the adventure cat lifestyle than others.  Cats that like bike rides tend to be fast learners with inquisitive and curious natures.  For example, Maine Coon, Bengal, Abyssinian cats, and Siamese cats often have the traits that make them more suited to traveling than other breeds.  That’s not to say that a domestic shorthair or a ragdoll won’t find the biking lifestyle enjoyable, but understanding the breed you have (along with the traits of that individual cat) will give you more of an insight into your cat’s personality.

  • You should think about the type of rider you are and what sorts of routes you’ll be doing with your cat. Some cats might enjoy a quick ride around the neighborhood but become restless afterwards.  Others may sit peacefully for hours.  We wouldn’t recommend taking your cat out for a full-days ride the first time you put them on the bike.  You should bear in mind the terrain you’re planning on hitting, too.  Most cats will prefer a smooth ride to one that’s very bumpy.

  • If you think your cat will enjoy a bike ride, then give it a go but start slowly. If at any point the cat isn’t happy, then stop.

  • Never force your cat to do something that makes them feel distressed or frightened.
cats on bikes

How do cats travel on bikes?

  • We’d advise using a leash or harness to secure the cat to the bike so that they can’t just jump out and run away.  Some people ride with their cats on their shoulder but we wouldn’t recommend this for most people as it could be dangerous.  Most people use a basket or an enclosed carrier.  Others use a trailer than they pull along behind the bike.

  • In urban areas (or if you’re traveling far by road), it may be safer to carry them in an enclosed carrier.

  • Some owners document their travels with their cat and bike. Dean and Nala are probably the most popular example of this. They have a close bond and Nala loves traveling with Dean but be careful about seeing things like this on Instagram and seeking to replicate it.

  • Some owners use GPS trackers on the cat’s collar so that in the event the cat goes missing whilst they’re on the road they can be found more easily.  These are not always as accurate as you might imagine but for peace of mind could be something you look into. 

Should you take your cat on a bike ride?

Cats can make great traveling companions.  Whether that’s in an RV or a caravan or on a bike.  The important thing is that your cat is happy to do it and that you’re comfortable taking them.

It’s easy to get caught up with the idea of taking a cat on a bike ride when you see it on Instagram or read about it on travel blogs but the most important thing should always be the health, safety and happiness of your cat.

Don’t underestimate how much additional effort taking a cat on a bike ride could be either.  It’s one thing if you’re just going 10-minutes down the street but what about if you want to go on a full-day trip with your cat, a cycling tour, or travel full time with one?

You have to think about their welfare needs on the road: the food, the water, and the chance to use the bathroom.  You should make sure they’re up-to-date on vaccinations and flea and tick treatments.  If you’re staying in hotels or hostels overnight, then be aware that not everyone allows pets on the premises.

The weight of the cat could make it harder for you to cycle, too.  Some baskets can affect the steering of the handlebars.

You also need to think about whether where you’re riding is dangerous. Urban areas can tricky to ride around and in the event of an accident or collision how safe is it for your cat to be onboard?

Crossing international borders can be more complicated with a cat. 

You may find that taking a cat hinders your overall experience and enjoyment. After all, it’s one extra thing to worry about. 

So do cats like bike rides?

Some cats certainly do like bike rides.

Others will find the experience uncomfortable and distressing. You should look at your cat’s personality: the things they like to do and what it is they dislike doing.  Younger cats may be easier to adapt to traveling on a bike than older ones.

Think about your enjoyment, too, as taking a cat is an extra responsibility that could detract from your own experience.  A cat can affect the steering and manoeuvrability of your bike, too.

Cats can make great cycling companions but make sure you’ve thoroughly assessed yours before putting them into a basket or carrier and setting off.