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."
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.