Biking With Your Cat - Cat Info Detective

Biking With Your Cat

Skye Blake looking left through magnifying glass

Hey travelin’ feline friends! Skye Blake here, biker cat, ready to ride with you!

Ok, so you love a good bicycle ride on a warm, sunny day… or rumblin’ down the road on your motorcycle, wind in your hair, the motor revving beneath you.

You also love doing things with your feline friend. But can you bring your cat with you on a bike?

paw prints coming in from a distance

Getting Your Cat Ready to Bike

Is Your Cat the Adventurous Type?

cat carrying luggage on back

Start by determining if your cat is an adventure loving purrsonality. Find out how at “You & Your Traveling Cat“.

Keep in mind that many cats are homebodies… happy in their safe world watching the birds.

Most cats don’t like change in their territory, so this is an important step.

Check the Laws

law books in library

Check the laws in your local and destination areas about cats on bicycles.

Some areas are very strict and don’t allow them at all, while others have no restrictions. You don’t want a surprise fine!

Safety is Key!

motorcycle red, black - mode of transportation

Obviously, when you assume the risks of riding for yourself, you’re also assuming them for your cat.

Even a small accident on a motorcycle can be devastating, so it’s wise to keep your cat as safe as you can, while allowing him to enjoy the wind in his fur.

cat lounging on pier by water

Yes, it’s fun to have a cat draped around your neck while cruising down the road, but if your cat starts to lose his balance or is suddenly startled or frightened, those claws will instinctively grab onto your skin, causing you to lose control of your bike.

Not a good scene!

Be Comfortable Riding a Bike

graphic of bicycle, basket, balloons - mode of transportation

Be sure you’re very comfortable riding a bike or motorcycle.

If you’re nervous, wobbly, or have a hard time balancing, you’re not ready to bring your cat.

Cats can easily feel your unsteadiness, so you may need to complete your own training before attempting to take your kitty.

motorcycle parked in road

If you’re just not good at balancing on a bike, you’ll both be better off finding another mode of transportation.

Once you’re able to balance and ride well with confidence, your cat will feel secure and comfortable riding with you.

Training My Cat – Seriously?

Tabby cat in road interested in treat offered by man

If you’ve determined your cat to be a biker-in-training, take the next step and train her to come to her name, be comfortable in a carrier and walk with a harness and leash.

Start right away because it can take some time but is well worth it as it’ll come in handy the rest of her life. You might even save her life!

Tonkinese cat sniffing treat held by woman

It doesn’t take more than commitment, patience, and a bit of time each day for great return on investment. Go at her own pace…

motorcycle helmet

Make sure she’s familiar with how you look in a helmet so it doesn’t startle her.

If your cat doesn’t recognize you, she can get scared, which can ruin the experience for you both.

Get her used to the helmet the same way you trained her for the carrier (Cat Carrier Wars – How to Get Yours to Love It!).

Each step of the way, it’s important to watch your kitty’s reactions and adjust your training accordingly.

Carry Cat Supplies

cat eating from food bowl

Be sure you can carry all the necessary supplies for your cat as well as yourself. Limited space on a bike requires efficient packing.

Some carriers have attachable water and food bowls and extra pouches for food, treats, etc.

Bicycle & Motorcycle Cat Carriers

Part of preparing to go biking with your cat is investing in the highest quality carrier you can afford.

Whether you’re on a bicycle or motorcycle, the carrier has to be comfortable and supportive for your cat, while being structurally able to protect him.

It should enclose your cat, have good air circulation, be easy to clean, and attach firmly to the bike.

persian cat walking wearing vest

If it needs extra support, consider getting a separate bike rack to put on the front or back.

No cat will be happy in a carrier that slides around, tips, or is otherwise insecure. Not only will his footing be unsure, but he might also get motion sickness.

Bicycle Carriers

cat lying in bike basket

There are a few different types of cat carriers for bikes. The most common are either open baskets or enclosed hard or soft-sided carriers.

Any carrier you use should be made for cats, not just dogs.

Anything that says, “pet carrier” usually means “dog”, so be sure it will work for your cat as well.

bicycle with basket, carriers

An open basket lets your cat feel the wind in his fur but has its risks.

Your cat could fall or jump out of the basket so it’s best to have him in a harness that can clip to rings in the basket.

An enclosed carrier is safer in some ways, but it’s very important that there’s good air circulation for breathing and cooling your cat in warm weather.

backpack cat carrier open, cat peeking out

There are harnesses that strap the cat to your front or back, but this can cause problems when he moves around, and the harness can loosen while you’re riding.

Cat backpacks are becoming popular and have mesh or a large plastic bubble that allows your buddy to see outside, have good air circulation, and stay protected.

Occasionally, some people use dog trailers attached to the back of a bike, especially for more than one animal, but experts don’t recommend them for cats, since you can’t monitor how they’re doing.

Motorcycle Carriers

motorcyclist in desert at sunset wearing helmet - mode of transportation

Cat carriers for motorcycles often are adaptations of dog carriers simply because there aren’t many hog lovers in the feline world (yet)!

These carriers have to be even tougher and sturdier than bicycle carriers, so open baskets aren’t recommended!

cat sitting on a motorcycle seat

Cat backpacks are a good possibility but can be hot and uncomfortable in the summer.

They also require you, instead of the bike, to bear the weight, which can be difficult on a long trip.

See more about carriers at “What Are the Best Cat Carriers?

Qualities of a Good Carrier

Durability & Safety

bicycle with basket, carriers

Durability contributes a lot to safety. Fabric must be tough, ideally non-fading, and able to handle claws, teeth, and the weather.

Seams, zippers, clips, etc., must be strong and claw resistant. The sturdier the carrier, the more protective if it hits the ground hard.

Metal reinforcing bars give extra strength for better safety. Zippers, latches, etc., must be lockable or otherwise able to prevent loosening.

zipper

We felines can be quite sneaky and get things open that we shouldn’t!

Some carriers have a sliding internal leash mount and short leash to attach your cat’s harness so she can move around but not escape or fall out.

If you’re interested in learning about carriers that have been crash tested, check out the “2015 Carrier Study Results” from the Center for Pet Safety®.

Weather Resistant vs. Weatherproof

raindrops on a purple leaf

When choosing a bike carrier, it’s important to know the difference between weather resistant and weatherproof material.

“Weather resistant” means water is repelled but will eventually get into the material and cause damage.

“Weatherproof” means that it’s able to withstand water punishment without being damaged or allowing it to get through.

Cool Extras

newspaper - extra

Some carriers have extra features that come in handy when traveling, especially hiking or biking…

  • Removable leakproof absorbing bottom pad – Leakproof to keep accidents off your bike… absorbs to keep your cat dry
  • Travel bowls for food and water in an attached pouch
  • Attachable handles for carrying as a backpack

Get the Right Size Carrier

3 kittens in a basket

Let me state an obvious point that may not be so obvious… be sure the carrier fits the size of your cat.

The rule of thumb for sizing a carrier is that it should be 1-1/2 times the size of the cat (not including the tail).

She should have enough room to stand up and turn around while still being able to touch the sides for security.

cat in carrier with door closed

Check the inside of the carrier before buying it. Often there are rough edges, staples or other sharp, uncomfortable things that a cat won’t like.

If you still want to buy it, be sure you can remove these problems.

No matter what carrier you use, be sure to introduce it slowly and train her to get in on command. It’s worth the investment to have a happy biking cat.

Properly Fitting a Bicycle Carrier

row of bicycles

Choosing a cat carrier for your bike is more than just picking a cute basket to stick on your handlebars.

It must fit the style and model of your bicycle. Some bicycles can’t fit a carrier unless you attach a special rack.

For example, racing bikes are not made to have pet carriers attached.

oriental cat in carrier

A good carrier has a sturdy bottom that won’t sag, strong construction, fits well on the handlebars, and is securely set on the front wheel cover.

Check with the bike or carrier manufacturer if you have questions.

Properly Fitting a Motorcycle Carrier

cat sitting on a motorcycle seat

Fitting a carrier to a motorcycle is basically the same as a bicycle.

While people sometimes come up with strange things in which to carry their cat on a motorcycle (like a very large hamster ball!), the safest carrier is made specifically for attaching to a motorcycle, not a bicycle or car.

Dark tabby kitten with black cat in background by motorcycle

The carrier is the most important piece of safety equipment for your buddy.

Backpack carriers are a good option but require the load be carried by you instead of the bike and can be uncomfortable in hot weather.

Hard plastic will keep him safest in case it hits the ground hard.

drawing of motorcycle

Soft carriers offer no protection but should have firm structure such as a metal frame to keep it secure while you’re riding.

Test any carrier with your cat on a short trip before using it for a long one.

Start with walking the bike a short way and work up to getting him comfortable with you riding it.

The Balance Factor

man balancing on stern of boat

Balance is a major factor for both bicycles and motorcycles.

Using a carrier or backpack will add weight to your bike, depending on where it’s attached, and affect your balance, so be sure you can adjust and steer without a problem.

Dark tabby cat balanced on top of post

Your cat will not take kindly to wobbling and tipping over because you didn’t prepare for the change in balance!

Put some rocks in the pack to approximate the weight of your cat and go for a test drive.

The rocks should be able to shift around the way your cat will as you take corners, etc.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Examples of Bicycle Carriers

man biking with cat on shoulders

Examples of Motorcycle Carriers

motorcycle

You & Your Traveling CatPreparing For a Trip
What Is Your Travel Destination?What Mode of Transportation Are You Using?
Air Travel With a CatTeach a Cat to Come When Called
Leash & Harness Training Your CatWhat’s the Best Cat Harness and Leash?
Cat Carrier Wars – How to Get Yours to Love It!What Are the Best Cat Carriers?
Cat Carriers… Take Your Cat in Style!Moving With a Cat…An Adventure!
Camping With a CatFirst Aid for Cats
How to Train a Cat

Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own.

However, sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

How to Take Your Cat on A Bike Ride“, by Cat Explorer

How to Take Your Cat on A Bike Ride“, by Vivien Bullen, How Stuff Works

Pet Carrier For Motorcycle- 5 Best Dog And Cat Carrier For Motorcycle“, PetLevin.com

Motorcycle Pet Traveling Guide“, by Vivien Bullen, How Stuff Works

“Top 5 Motorcycle Pet Carrier for The Budget”, by Editor Team, Caring Cat Guide, January 23, 2021 

Updated July 10, 2022

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