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LJWorld.com weblogs Rolling along

The truth about cats and bikes

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I've encountered lots of wildlife from atop my bike saddle.From bobcats to wild turkey, if it lives in Kansas, I've probably seen it from my trusty steed.I've bunny-hopped bunnies and bisected snakes, swerved through gobblers and played chicken with, well, chickens.Though most of my rides on the wild side have taken place outside the city limits, inside the town signs I've seen deer, foxes, coyotes, raccoons and opossums.And then there are the dogs.Almost universally, dogs love to chase bikes, and most, I'd guess, really mean no harm. A couple of pooches I encounter on regular rides seem to enjoy our little "races," but I've also run up against a couple of real hellhounds determined to separate me from my bike and my skin from my frame.But they seem to be in the minority.There is, however, what I perceive to be a growing four-legged menace, a greater threat to in-town two-wheeled transport than all the other furred and feathered beasties combined.Cats.Now, a bit of a disclaimer. I'm a dog person. I grew up with dogs. My relatives had dogs. My friends had dogs. I dated (easy, now) girls with dogs. Then I married into a cat.My wife and kids have a cat, so I've softened my stance a bit, but I'm still a dog person at heart.But my fear of near-feral felines has nothing to do with that.It has everything to do with the fact that I've had probably a dozen close on-bike calls with cats over just the past couple of months.Most critters are pretty predictable.Even the dumbest dog turns into a certifiable math genius in pursuit of a bike, instantaneously calculating approach vectors to meet bike and rider at that sweet spot between the back wheel and heel. I think it's so said doggy can keep his options open: Hmm, should I take a bite out of flesh or rubber? Flesh or rubber? Decisions, decisions.Squirrels like to scamper along parallel to cyclists until bolting across the road between the bike's wheels. Most of the time. I've crunched a couple of nut-lovers before. RIP. Most other animals just try to get out of the way.Not cats.Sure, there are exceptions, but lately I've noticed an alarming incidence of kitties bee-lining for me.I've had kitties charge me from under cars, from lawns, from sidewalks.And I don't know why.They don't nip at my heels. They don't meow or purr or beg to be petted. They don't attack.They just run right at me like I'm an open can of tuna until I'm forced to swerve out of the way.Go figure.Now, I'm sure to hear from cat owners on this one, but I don't think kitties belong on our roads.I'm sure they think they have every right and all, but last time I checked, they don't pay taxes for the roads' upkeep, and many aren't licensed.They have absolutely no regard for the law. They jump from sidewalk to yard to road and back again. They don't stop at stop signs. They pull right out in front of you. They impede the flow of traffic.And even if they have the "right" to be there, it doesn't mean they should be there. It's simple physics: A 10-pound tabby doesn't stand a chance against 200 pounds of man and bike, "right" or not.The other night on the way home, I rode by the cathouse, a residence on my regular commute that is home to what must be a dozen felines. As far as I know, there are more in the freezer inside.As I rode past the cathouse, I saw a kitten in the middle of the road, dead. Or at least extremely sleepy.Without getting all CSI, I couldn't tell if Felix met his maker (wild animal? natural causes?) before meeting Michelin, or if in fact road waffling was the cause of his death. I mourned him (and by mourn I mean I gave him a wide berth), but couldn't help but think future accidents could be avoided if we ban cats from our roads.I know I'd feel a lot safer.

Comments

dandelion 6 years, 5 months ago

They just sense that you are a dog person, so they are out to get you. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Baille 6 years, 5 months ago

"Isn't this exactly what motorists say about us bicyclists?"Uh-huh. And I am pretty sure that was intentional, Bob.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satirist

Ken Harris 6 years, 5 months ago

"They have absolutely no regard for the law. They jump from sidewalk to yard to road and back again. They don't stop at stop signs. They pull right out in front of you. They impede the flow of traffic.And even if they have the "right" to be there, it doesn't mean they should be there. It's simple physics: A 10-pound tabby doesn't stand a chance against 200 pounds of man and bike, "right" or not."Isn't this exactly what motorists say about us bicyclists?

workinghard 6 years, 5 months ago

Years ago when we had a indoor- outdoor cat, very street smart. There was a tree in the yard between the sidewalk and the street. His favorite thing was to lay on the lowest branch that extended over the sidewalk and take a swipe at the tops of heads that passed underneath him. Don't worry, he never used his claws and his victims got just as much a kick out of it as he did.

workinghard 6 years, 5 months ago

At this point I would like to enter a plea to anyone that is moving soon and can't take kitty with them. Please, please, pleae do not set them on the doorstep as you get in your vehicle and drive off. We have a lot of apartments around us and like clockwork, at the end of May, June, and July the U-hauls drive off and shortly after overheated, hungry, and thirsty cats venture around the neighborhood looking for food. Most are scared and won't allow you near them, so catching them and taking them to the humane society is out. Some get killed on the busy streets nearby, some get caught in my live trap, and the rest-who knows. Would it kill these people to take a few minutes to take them to the humane society? Last I heard, the local humane society is a no-kill facility. Why do people get pets that they have no intention of keeping once they move? I have three cats, so the ones I catch go to the humane society. It is more humane than letting them meet much worse fates.

lori 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm sure my cat is one who attacks cyclists (and cars, scooters, and anyone just walking by). She really is evil, or at least mentally ill. If one of us accidentally steps on her, her first response isn't to get away, it's to get her claw and/or teeth into us to get revenge. She prefers to bite faces, though. She can be so sweet, and then suddenly she just turns on you. It's craziness.She's a great hunter, and she was such a pathetic little runt when we got her, we keep trying to forgive her trespasses against humans. You do have our permission to do what you have to do in order to survive our corner. She's just protecting her hunting grounds. I think. Maybe she just hates people. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a cat.

Mackadoo 6 years, 5 months ago

Haha, look out kitties! That is so bizarre, I haven't seen any cat on my daily ride that didn't flat out run in the opposite direction once they saw me coming.I actually have a problem with an unfenced/unleashed labrador retriever that occasionally sits alone at the corner of one of the blocks I bike and watches me wistfully as I pass... I imagine he's thinking how much he wishes he hadn't been through obedience school so he could just chase me already. Completely freaks me out.

tvc 6 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the laughs! I have not had a problem with cats, but damn those dogs and snakes!

lori 6 years, 5 months ago

Our old outdoor kitty died at the ripe old age of 17. His brother died at 16. They had access to our unheated basement in the winter, otherwise they were exclusively outdoor. Somehow they survived cars, illness, bad weather, coyotes and foxes. Maybe they were smart or just lucky. I wonder how such vet statistics are gathered? What constitutes outdoor? Are barn cats and unwanted, uncared-for strays included in such statistics? I have a hard time believing that outdoor cats have an average life span of one year. My experience here and growing up on a farm in central Kansas has not been reflective of that number.

costello 6 years, 5 months ago

"at the end of May, June, and July the U-hauls drive off and shortly after overheated, hungry, and thirsty cats venture around the neighborhood looking for food."Dogs too. I have a wonderful dog adopted from the shelter in early July 1997. He was about a year old at the time, and he'd been brought to the shelter in late May by someone who found him on the farmer's turnpike. I've always suspected some KU student got a cute little puppy at the beginning of the school year, then dumped him in the country at the end of the year. A pet is more than a nine month commitment.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 5 months ago

Andrew, I love cats and this blog was just so enjoyable to read - creative and fun. Thanks! ;)

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 5 months ago

"As I rode past the cathouse...."gnome: "oh, thought it was illegal to operate a house of prostitution!" ( You'll be in the doghouse for that one. )

bearded_gnome 6 years, 5 months ago

The other night on the way home, I rode by the cathouse, a residence on my regular commute that is home to what must be a dozen felines. As far as I know,oh, thought it was illegal to operate a house of prostitution!

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