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Cyclist Finds Stray Cat At Side Of Road And Takes Her On Trip Around The World

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 25 Jun 2020 16:16
Cyclist Finds Stray Cat At Side Of The Road And Takes Her On Trip Around The WorldCyclist Finds Stray Cat At Side Of The Road And Takes Her On Trip Around The World1bike1world/Instagram

Keen cyclist Dean found Nala in Bosnia as a stray kitten, and now the pair are inseparable.

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Initially making his journey across the globe by himself, Dean Nicholson, from Dunbar, Scotland, was cycling along a road when he heard Nala’s meows.

Nala now goes everywhere with Dean while sitting in a basket on the front of his bike, and is truly living her best life. The pair have accumulated quite a following too, with Dean boasting 766,000 followers on his Instagram page and a book coming out in September all about his journey with Nala so far.

Check out some of their adventures here:

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Speaking about the time he found Nala in Decemeber 2018, Dean told UNILAD:

I heard her before I saw her! I was cycling up the hill and she was meowing her little heart out chasing me, but I pulled the bike over, jumped off and went over to the rocks and was like, ‘Oh there’s a scruffy wee kitten all alone’. I sat with her for about half an hour, feeding her pesto before deciding to put her on the bike with me. She kept following me and it was unfair to leave her.

Dean said their bond was ‘instant’ and very tiny Nala refused to leave his side. While not many cat’s first choice of food would be pesto, it was the only food Dean had on him at the time – beggars can’t be choosers, right?

He continued:

I mean, I would say it [the bond] was instant because she just didn’t leave my side as soon as I pulled over. When I gave her the pesto and she wouldn’t stop following me, so I thought ‘I’d better take you with me’. Then when I put her on the bike and started cycling she jumped out the pouch on the front of my bike and up onto my shoulder. She then nuzzled into my neck and then I thought it was meant to be.

Since finding Nala 18 months ago, the pair have visited several countries including Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey and Georgia – all places where Nala has received a great reception.

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As a kitten, Dean’s four-legged friend would often sit on his shoulder while he cycled, but as she’s gotten bigger you’ll mainly find her peeping out of the basket on the front of his bike.

Dean said:

People absolutely love her and she loves the attention. Everyone stops to come over to get photos and meet her. It’s great when I visit a new place as people instantly have a friendly, warm reaction. Sometimes we get given the odd tin of tuna and a pint from strangers. Most hotels we have been to are really accommodating with Nala, although once she had to pay her own surcharge.

He’s joking, of course.

Nala’s had quite the impact on Dean and completely changed his travel goals. Initially cycling the world for the hell of it and trying to get to Asia as fast as he could, having Nala taught him stop and smell the roses.

He said:

Before I found Nala, I was just darting from city to city getting through Europe as quick as possible so I could get to east Asia. When I found Nala she had a little cough – this probably wasn’t helped by cycling through harsh wind and rain. She taught me to take things slower, enjoy the experience and what was around me. I have always helped strays but she has taught me to be even more giving and compassionate.

Upon taking Nala under his wing, Dean took to social media to ask people for donations to help pay for the stray kitten’s vet bills. However, donations kept rolling in for Nala and hit a figure much higher than Dean needed to care for her, so decided to use his new found-following as a way of raising money for charities.

The pair have now raised thousands of pounds for several charities across the globe; from Street Cats of Oman and the Bumble Bee Conservation trust, to the Marmaris Cat Shelter and Free The Bears. In 2019 alone they raised over £100,000.

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But what’s next for the dynamic duo, I hear you ask?

Dean told UNILAD:

Now that the borders are starting to open up after COVID we will explore more of Europe. After that I am undecided whether to travel to the US or stick to the original plan of getting to Asia. But every decision about where we travel always centres around ensuring there is no impact on Nala’s health or happiness.

Safe travels, Dean and Nala!

Dean’s book Nala’s World comes out September and can be pre-ordered here.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Animals, book, cat, cyclist, Dean Nicholson, Dunbar, Features, Nala, Now, Scotland