The Amazing Story Behind ‘Nala’s World'

This feel-good book details the adventures of a traveling cat and her owner.

Nov 17, 2020
The Amazing Story Behind ‘Nala’s World' This feel-good book details the adventures of a traveling cat and her owner.

Who can resist a tale of a man, a cat and a cycling trip that changed his life forever? When Dean Nicholson caught the traveling bug two years ago in 2018 and decided to cycle the globe, he thought he would have some stories to tell when he returned to Dunbar, Scotland, according to the New York Post, but he came away with so much more.

While cycling through Bosnia, he came across a stray striped kitten that he couldn’t resist so he rescued her from a windy mountain road and his life was never the same. “She was just a wee, scrubby thing,” Nicholson told the Post “But she was beautiful.”

So, he smuggled her into Montenegro and took her to a vet to get her shots and paperwork including a pet passport. That’s when he decided to name her Nala after the lioness in The Lion King. “She changed my life,” Nicholson said

And he began a new chapter in his life that cycled through 10 European countries before the coronavirus pandemic halted the journey in Hungary for three months.  Nicholson’s book Nala's World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride Around the Globe chronicles this journey and was published by Grand Central Publishing released on September 20, 2020. 

 
 
 
 
 
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But you don’t have to be a bicycle enthusiast to enjoy the book, according to Bicycling. After all, who doesn’t love a cuddly animal tale especially one about a cat that travels the world.

While documenting the journey, Nicholson and Nala became internet stars through their Instagram account @1bike1world which has 800,000 followers and their YouTube channel with over 150,000 subscribers. This introduced them to the world.

Before his cycling journey and finding Nala, Nicholson described himself to the Post as:  “just your typical 28-year-oldwho worked as a welder and partied during the weekends. When a friend asked him if he wanted to do some traveling, he jumped at it. They rode together for a while and then Nicholson continued solo until he found Nala, and she changed his life.

“I’m a big guy and I’ve got tattoos, so not many people will stop and talk to me [by myself],” he said. “But all of a sudden, when you’ve got a wee kitten on your shoulder, everybody wants to talk with you.”

 
 
 
 
 
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People bought him pints of beer and offered them shelter as they traveled until they had to stop in Hungary due to border crossing restrictions. “We basically went from being on the road all the time to coming to a standstill,” Nicholson told Bicycling. He described his three-month lockdown in Hungary as “a very quiet, boring time.”

He returned home to Scotland for a while. “I went home for a wee bit to let my Gran meet Nala,” Nicholson said. “Her eyesight and her hearing isn’t that good, and she kept asking to Facetime Nala.” But he is planning future travels to Greece where he says stray animals abound and beyond.

Nala wasn’t the only animal he rescued on the road according to Bicycling but she is the only one he kept. Now he is raising money for a number of animal welfare and environmental charities and has already raised $130,000. He wants to be a voice for voiceless animals and that’s no animal tale.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.