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The truth about cats and bikes
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.