Bike-themed videos on YouTube can often get views running into seven figures, as can those featuring a cat doing something quirky. So when Philadelphia bike courier Rudi Saldia posted a video featuring him riding through the city with his cat Mary Jane perched parrot fashion on his shoulder, the views quickly starting racking up.
Saldia’s first video featuring his feline co-rider, My Cat Can Ride A Bike Better Than You, has so far garnered more than 1.3 million views on the video-sharing website.
The video was filmed on a GoPro HD Hero camera – the company liked it so much that it has featured Saldia and Mary Jane, also known as MJ, in its own promo film, snappily named Cat Bike Guy.
Company spokeswoman AnneMarie Hennes, quoted by AP, said of that first film: “It's just unique and he did a really good job shooting it. We hooked him up with some cameras so he can make more cool MJ content."
Saldia, aged 26, says that he didn’t start filming his rides with MJ to become an internet sensation – instead, it was to prove to his incredulous mother that he was taking the cat out for a quick jaunt around town.
"She said, 'No way! You're not taking your cat out for the ride,'” he explained, “which is the reaction I still get even after people see this video."
MJ herself seems unfazed by the experience – Saldia has taken her out on his bike since she was two months old – the cat alternating between nuzzling up to her owner and looking around at the sights of Philadelphia as they whizz by.
"She enjoys seeing everything and having the wind blow in her ears, especially being an indoors cat,” said Saldia. “This is really her only time outside.
"On the shoulder, she loves it. She's in total zen mode."
He added, "People are thrilled to see the guy with the cat ride his bike down the street," although some people making comments on the YouTube videos do wonder how safe MJ is, given she isn’t wearing a harness.
"I'm very confident that the cat would be better off in an accident than I would be, so I'm not worried about taking her out," insists Saldia.
His mother, whose initial scepticism led to Saldia filming his rides with his cat in the first place says she thinks the idea of the two of them out on the bike together is “kind of cool.”
She added: "He enjoys it, the cat loves to be with him [and] it's better than being home alone.
"I don't think they're hurting anybody."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.