Canny kitten that hitched a lift to stardom!

Canny kitten that hitched a lift to stardom! Author reveals his Instagram following multiplied 50 TIMES overnight after sharing snaps with a cat he found in the mountains

  • Dean Nicholson shares travels with a kitten he found in the region of Bosnia
  • He took to Instagram to document their journey from Montenegro to Albania
  • Their plans to cycle through Russia into China were postponed due to pandemic



by Dean Nicholson, with Garry Jenkins (Hodder £18.99, 272 pp)

One day in December 2018, Dean Nicholson was riding his bike through a mountainous region of Bosnia. Not long turned 30, the Scotsman didn’t know it but his life was about to change.

He heard a faint, high-pitched noise behind him. Maybe it was coming from his rear wheel and he’d have to stop to apply some oil. Then he listened again and realised what the sound was.

It was meowing. ‘A scrawny, grey-and-white kitten was scampering along the road, desperately trying to keep up with me.’

Dean Nicholson has penned a book about the adventures he’s had with his kitten Nala (pictured), who he found while cycling through a mountainous region of Bosnia

The kitten had clearly been abandoned. Dean couldn’t leave it to die. He placed it in the front pannier of his bike and rode on.

After a few hundred yards, the kitten crawled out, up Dean’s arm and wrapped itself around the back of his neck.

A bond had been created. As Dean writes in this charming account of the pair’s later travels, ‘It was fate’.

His first task was to smuggle the kitten into Montenegro. His second was to give his new companion a name. He chose Nala from a character in The Lion King, one of his favourite childhood films.

As the pair rode on through Montenegro and into Albania, he began to realise that Nala was a ‘people magnet’.

They were an unusual sight. It wasn’t every day that you saw ‘a big, bearded, tattooed bloke on a bike, with a kitten sitting on his shoulder like Long John Silver’s parrot’. Travelling on into Greece, Nala’s pet passport now sorted, they continued to attract attention. Dean was recording their travels on Instagram.

Dean said his Instagram followers went from 3,000 to 300,000 after a video of him and Nala  (pictured) was posted on a popular website 

When a popular website posted a video of him and Nala, something astonishing happened. He awoke one morning to find that they were famous.

Overnight his Instagram followers had multiplied fiftyfold, from 3,000 to 150,000. A few days later, the number was 300,000. The original video had been watched five million times.

Emails and private messages flooded in. Journalists contacted Dean. Nala began to receive presents from her worldwide fans. (Unfortunately, many arrived with tax still to pay. On one occasion, Dean forked out €50 for a parcel that contained a stick with a feather on the end.)

NALA’S WORLD by Dean Nicholson, with Garry Jenkins (Hodder £18.99, 272 pp)

Dean also realised the power of their growing social media fame. Journeying on through Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan before returning to Europe, he raised thousands of pounds for a variety of good causes.

No doubt, he and his cat would be travelling still (he had plans to cycle through Russia and into China) if it had not been for Covid-19. We can only hope they will both be back on the bike before too long.

As travel writing, Nala’s World is unexceptional. Whether kayaking in Santorini, chancing upon a refugee camp in Greece, or even fleeing his tent stark naked to escape a prowling bear in Turkey, Dean’s experiences are not so remarkable they justify a full-length book.

However, as a chronicle of an extraordinary friendship between man and animal, and its unexpected consequences, it’s entirely delightful.

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