Cat Adopts Round-the-World Cyclist

Adventure Travel
Nala sleeps, Nicholson pedals: typical human-cat relationship. Photo

Warning: cuteness overload

In September 2018, 28-year-old Dean Nicholson set out from his home in Dunbar, Scotland, to ride his pushbike around the world.

“I couldn’t do the 9-to-5 thing,” he said. “I wanted to see the world and see what state it’s in.”

The itinerant welder cycled from Scotland to England, hopped on a ferry to the Netherlands, and then traveled through Belgium, France, Switzerland and down to Italy. From the coast of the Adriatic, he caught a ferry to Croatia and then made his way into Bosnia.

It was there in December, while pedaling up a hill near the border of Montenegro, that he heard a plaintive meow. When he looked over his shoulder, he saw a gray-and-white kitten chasing him up the incline.

“We were 12 miles from the nearest town, and it was soon clear by her friendly nature and desperate hunger that her owner had intentionally dumped her,” he said. At first, Nicholson didn’t know what to do with the kitten, but the animal had no such uncertainty. She wanted to stick to her saviour.

Dean Nicholson and Nala on the trail. Photo:

Initially, he let her ride in his front basket, after clearing out some digital equipment. However, she wasn’t satisfied there. She climbed onto Nicholson’s shoulder, where she kept watch and nuzzled him. The pair have been inseparable ever since. Nicholson named her Nala, after the lioness friend in his favorite film, The Lion King.

Nicholson found a vet in Montenegro, had a chip installed, and made sure Nala got the vaccinations that would let her cross borders. He located a cat compartment with a small window, allowing Nala to peer outside, and purchased a harness to make sure she stayed by his side.

In January, he set up a gofundme page to fund Nala’s travels. It has raised $12,000 in almost three months.

Their journey recently became a sensation on social media, when a video posted by the Dodo, an animal-centric website, went viral on Twitter.

Currently in Greece, the pair are heading for Turkey and Georgia, then will make up the route as they go, eventually reaching Australia. From there, they fly to Argentina, then cycle north to Canada.

You can follow their progress via Instagram.


About the Author

Peter Winsor

Peter is a journalist, travel writer and photographer based on the Gold Coast, Australia.

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Francine Sicard-Sidler
Francine Sicard-Sidler
2 years ago

Being an animal lover, I found this story so moving. Cats are marvellous pets, often misunderstood. My best wishes to Dean and Nala. May the road rise to meet them, May the wind be always at their back. May the sun shine warm upon their face! Safe journey to both.

2 years ago

Wonderful! Good luck to Nala!
Cats are the best! I’m on Everest and missing my XL-Yeti…

Kerry Owen-Holmes
Kerry Owen-Holmes
2 years ago

Dean & Nala’s journey is like a story book fantasy; words can’t replicate my thoughts about their adventures. I think reading this is an escapism from the real world! Keep up the traveling. Nb. Please let Dean know about the 3 month quarantine regulations Australia has for all animals. I’d hate to see them seperated for so long.