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  1. #1
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    Help with last barrier to car free life

    For the last two years I have been gradually increasing my biking and bikepacking mileage and commuting everyday, even in our crap winters in North Dakota, and I finally have reached the point where I am mentally completely on board with my bike. For awhile I just hated everything from wind to rain to ice and though I would bike, I didn't like it. Now I can't imagine NOT biking. So, I feel like the time has come to get rid of the pickup sitting in my driveway. I have one little obstacle I would like feedback on from anyone with experience. I like the leave the state for the summer (I am a teacher) and can imagine doing that via bicycle, but here is the challenge : I have a cat that I would like to bring along and make as comfortable as possible. Has anyone here tried various methods of transporting a cat for long distances and found something that works? For example, if I strap a carrier to a rack on the back, any suggestions for materials that would dampen the bumps? (I have a hardtail Surly ECR). Would a trailer with a shock work better? Better to put the carrier on the front end?

    This might be the stupidest thing ever, so there's that I don't see any reason to leave him at home if I can make things work for a summer long bikepacking tour sans vehicle. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

  2. #2
    Senior Member timmythology's Avatar
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    Hello

    I would start with the basics first.
    How does your cat travel in the truck, and do you usually take it with you on vacation.
    Next would be if the cat is leashed trained, and or has a recall?

    My wife always speaks of a story when her cat got out of its cage on the side of the road on her cross country trip to Oregon, sounds stressful.

    I also exercise my dogs via my bike, and of my two dogs I have a short milage puller that would never be able to go on a long distance trip. While my little puppy boy Wally is in training for that day, and has done up to thirty miles in one jaunt in his trailer. So I think it would be largely up to the cat, and its ability to live comfortably on the road, and you are the only one to make that decision.

    If I had to take a cat (again up to the cat) I would figure out which would be better for it, and the view it wants. It would go on the front rack if the sight of me was calming, and would be on top on the panniers if a verbal pain. You could also make a special pannier for it out of a kitty litter pail, and give it a room of its own: )

  3. #3
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I'd use a trailer for the cat-carrier. I don't know how you're going to work this though. In my experience, 4 or 5 hours in a carrier driving is hard on a cat. Cage him up for three or four days, he's going to bolt. Or be miserable if he's caged up all of the time.

  4. #4
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trekker111 View Post
    I don't see any reason to leave him at home if I can make things work for a summer long bikepacking tour sans vehicle. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
    Do you actually think that your Kitty-Cat would be other than Totally Freaked Out with attempting a "summer long bikepacking tour "?
    Other than having it stuffed and mounted felines will not be placid, complacent or dig the experience in any way.
    Cats are not wired that way At All.
    Ask the local crazy-cat lady to mind Kitty instead for a few bucks, or consult a Taxidermy service.



    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 06-10-14 at 07:29 PM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  5. #5
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Who's looking after your house while you are away? Could they be persuaded to take your cat? Could you find some soul to house-sit? I'm thinking your cat would be much happier staying at home.

  6. #6
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Some cats could do it but not most. Same with the human accompanying the cat.

    At least try a couple weekend trips before you both commit to a whole summer of travel.

    Also you might want to post this on the touring subforum for a wider audience.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  7. #7
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    Don't do that to your cat. The cat is not there for your pleasure. Get a sitter/service to take care of your cat. Or don't go. Or get rid of the cat. You have options.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Cyclosaurus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
    Do you actually think that your Kitty-Cat would be other than Totally Freaked Out with attempting a "summer long bikepacking tour "?
    Other than having it stuffed and mounted felines will not be placid, complacent or dig the experience in any way.
    Cats are not wired that way At All.
    Ask the local crazy-cat lady to mind Kitty instead for a few bucks, or consult a Taxidermy service.



    -Bandera
    That's generally true for 90-95% of cats. Cats usually do not like their environment suddenly changing, and it makes them very insecure. Putting them in a bike trailer would be like someone grabbing you and putting you in a cattle car on a train. However there are exceptions.

    We've had a couple of dozen cats over the past 10 years, with as many as 16 living in the house at a time (plus some short-term fosters put us at 20 for a short while). Every one of them has a different personality. In that time we've had a couple of cats that we've taken out and about. Some cats are truly unflappable. We currently have one that loves going places, and is completely happy regardless of where she is.

    The only humane way to do this is to determine whether your cat has the temperament to handle this. If you put him in the bike trailer, what does he do? Does he hunker down, flatten his ears, and curl up? Or does he act playful and happy? If happy, then close it up and walk the trailer around for a minute. Now observe him? Still happy? Gradually work your way up to see if at any point he acts stressed out. If he does, abort the mission and accept that he's not a bike kitty.
    Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve. -Popper

  9. #9
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclosaurus View Post
    That's generally true for 90-95% of cats. Cats usually do not like their environment suddenly changing, and it makes them very insecure. Putting them in a bike trailer would be like someone grabbing you and putting you in a cattle car on a train. However there are exceptions.

    We've had a couple of dozen cats over the past 10 years, with as many as 16 living in the house at a time (plus some short-term fosters put us at 20 for a short while). Every one of them has a different personality. In that time we've had a couple of cats that we've taken out and about. Some cats are truly unflappable. We currently have one that loves going places, and is completely happy regardless of where she is.

    The only humane way to do this is to determine whether your cat has the temperament to handle this. If you put him in the bike trailer, what does he do? Does he hunker down, flatten his ears, and curl up? Or does he act playful and happy? If happy, then close it up and walk the trailer around for a minute. Now observe him? Still happy? Gradually work your way up to see if at any point he acts stressed out. If he does, abort the mission and accept that he's not a bike kitty.
    I think you're right. Like I said before, there are some cats who like to travel. I'm assuming the OP's cat is one of these good travelers or he wouldn't even be considering this. Personally, I wouldn't do it...but maybe it can work.

    Does anybody remember a movie called Harry & Tonto?


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  10. #10
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Does anybody remember a movie called Harry & Tonto?
    Yes.

  11. #11
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    Yeah, I worried this was the direction of the comments my post might solicit. I was actually looking for people that actually may have done this with a cat and had some ideas, not whether it is a good idea in itself. Indeed, all cats are different. My cat and I have traveled a lot by bike (short overnights) and car (cross-country); he hangs out on a leash at campgrounds and walks on a leash to go exploring. He loves down sleeping bags and tents. He does well enough in the carrier on the bike, but I was looking for ways to make him more comfortable with the inevitable bumps and such and whether anyone may have traveled like this with a cat. If no one has, maybe that's my answer. I may check the touring sub forum as suggested.

  12. #12
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    Thanks, though, for some of the good suggestions along the way, so please don't think I don't appreciate the time you all took to reply.

  13. #13
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trekker111 View Post
    Yeah, I worried this was the direction of the comments my post might solicit. I was actually looking for people that actually may have done this with a cat and had some ideas, not whether it is a good idea in itself. Indeed, all cats are different. My cat and I have traveled a lot by bike (short overnights) and car (cross-country); he hangs out on a leash at campgrounds and walks on a leash to go exploring. He loves down sleeping bags and tents. He does well enough in the carrier on the bike, but I was looking for ways to make him more comfortable with the inevitable bumps and such and whether anyone may have traveled like this with a cat. If no one has, maybe that's my answer. I may check the touring sub forum as suggested.
    It seems like a good trailer might be smoother than the bike itself, but I don't really know. You could probably suspend the carrier from the trailer frame with springs, but you would have to deal with the swaying.

    Did you say something about backpacking? I can't imagine how you'll manage that....


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    It seems like a good trailer might be smoother than the bike itself, but I don't really know. You could probably suspend the carrier from the trailer frame with springs, but you would have to deal with the swaying.

    Did you say something about backpacking? I can't imagine how you'll manage that....
    no, not backpacking, just bikepacking
    Interesting--there's a trailer on the market that has a rear shock. I wondered if that actually works to achieve the spring effect but with more stability. I don't have a store around here that sells them so I could actually see it before laying out the money. Anyone here own one?

  15. #15
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trekker111 View Post
    no, not backpacking, just bikepacking
    Interesting--there's a trailer on the market that has a rear shock. I wondered if that actually works to achieve the spring effect but with more stability. I don't have a store around here that sells them so I could actually see it before laying out the money. Anyone here own one?
    How smooth does a cat need to be? I have no idea.

    And how rough is a bike compared to a car? Everybody assumes that cars are smoother, but I have never seen an engineering analysis that actually compares the two.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    How smooth does a cat need to be? I have no idea.

    And how rough is a bike compared to a car? Everybody assumes that cars are smoother, but I have never seen an engineering analysis that actually compares the two.
    I've never seen a cat ride calmly in a car. If they eventually stay still, it is with their tongues hanging out panting like anxiety-attack survivors. Then, of course, there are these videos online of cats riding on the front of motorcycles with goggles on as if it was second nature to them. Cats are diverse, I guess. Generally, my impression is that they like territorial stability. They roam but preferably by foot. Traveling long distance car-free with a cat would probably be easier by hiking than by cycling.

  17. #17
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    You can find some info with google. But be careful... I read one blog about a 500 mile trip with a dog and a cat. By the time I finished reading it, I finally realized that the dog was a real animal, but the cat was a brand of recumbent trike!

    Here's a post by a lady who schleps her cat in a basket. The comments might be useful also.

    Lovely Bicycle!: Cycling with Cat: from Absurdity to Reality

    BTW, Lovely Bicycle looks like a very well done blog about transportation cycling, including product reviews.

    http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/p/abo...y-bicycle.html
    Last edited by Roody; 06-14-14 at 04:21 PM.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  18. #18
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Here's a post by a lady who schleps her cat in a basket. The comments might be useful also.

    Lovely Bicycle!: Cycling with Cat: from Absurdity to Reality
    Great article. That the cat is territorial would seem to be the biggest problem. Here's a good BBC video on cat territory. though none are moving by bicycle.



    I wonder what the OP's cat's opinion of being outdoors and traveling are?
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  19. #19
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    Great article. That the cat is territorial would seem to be the biggest problem. Here's a good BBC video on cat territory. though none are moving by bicycle.

    I wonder what the OP's cat's opinion of being outdoors and traveling are?
    I wonder if the OP could use feline territorial instincts to his advantage. I mean, if the cat grew accustomed to the bike/trailer, he might come to think that the trailer is his territory, the place where he feels most comfortable. Then he will feel more secure while on the trek, and perhaps less inclined to run off.

    (I'm really starting to think that a trailer is essential to this endeavor.)


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  20. #20
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    I knew a woman about twenty years ago who took her cat everywhere she went in the front basket of her bike. The cat was quite happy there. Locally, there was a fellow I used to see along the bike path who carried his cat on his shoulders while riding along. I haven't seen him this year, so maybe the cat died or he moved somewhere else. Apparently some felines can be trained to enjoy travelling by bike. I don't know what it entails or whether it's only a small minority of them, but it might be worth a try.

  21. #21
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    I knew a woman about twenty years ago who took her cat everywhere she went in the front basket of her bike. The cat was quite happy there. Locally, there was a fellow I used to see along the bike path who carried his cat on his shoulders while riding along. I haven't seen him this year, so maybe the cat died or he moved somewhere else. Apparently some felines can be trained to enjoy travelling by bike. I don't know what it entails or whether it's only a small minority of them, but it might be worth a try.
    that's very interesting. My (now deceased) cat did not take well to traveling in a kiddie trailer, but I guess they could get used to anything...

  22. #22
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Assuming the cat is perfect, i would rig a basket up front. I have travelled with dogs this way. I can keep an eye on them, pet them, and actually be WITH them while riding. My best dog was about cat sized (8 lbs) and loved my big handlebar bag rigged with a nice cushion. Dont forget food and water. Remember that leash laws apply to all livestock.

    dog_in_bag.jpg

    ^^The only photo I have of the dog in the handlebar bag. Canadian Rockies circa. 1980. I am wearing white shorts and the dog's head and front leg is out of the bag. The dog is black. You can barely make it out. I was 22 years young. I have some great stories thanks to that mutt.
    Last edited by JoeyBike; 06-17-14 at 09:05 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Citizen lyeinyoureye's Avatar
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    Cats are Crepuscular, so having an enclosed trailer for your cat to get comfortable and sleep would I think be a requirement. To minimize bumps, assuming your cat would be ok on the road, I think a set of struts off of a mountain bike/motorcycle and some big tires would help.

  24. #24
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    If you do this then accept that you've brought the cat for your pleasure. The cat would probably be much happier left behind.

  25. #25
    Junior Member Caribou's Avatar
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    This cat seems to enjoy bike rides: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8F8WR2rzPA

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