ANN/THE STAR – Four-year-old Macho Kingsley usually accompanies his parents on their cycling trips.
“He’s really well behaved and sits in his basket carrier when we go on our trips,” said his mother, personal assistant Siti Zalifah Abd Aziz, 50, from Johor, Malaysia.
Macho Kingsley, known by his nickname “King Oyen”, is an American Shorthair-cum-Persian cat.
Siti Zalifah – often known by her nickname “Sofea” which was given by her husband Mohd Salleh Zakaria, 51, because “she looks like the actress Sofea Jane” – said that she loves cats and often feeds strays, especially around her office.
“Usually, I would bring some food such as rice and fried fish or chicken to feed about seven to 10 cats around the area,” she said.
“Then in October 2019, my son gave Macho Kingsley to me as a gift when he received his first paycheque because he knew how much I love cats,” she said.
In 2020, COVID-19 happened and the movement control order was implemented.
Siti Zalifah and her family stayed at home and she occupied herself by training King Oyen to wear outfits and model.
She would then upload his photos online.
“In 2021, during the recovery MCO, we started to train King Oyen to sit in the bicycle carrier basket and go along on our cycling trips. We posted about our adventures online and it went viral,” she revealed.
“We didn’t face many challenges training him other than his curiosity and excitability,” said Siti Zalifah.
“Initially, he loved to stand up in the basket to look at everything so it wasn’t easy to cycle. Other than that, he’s very intelligent and also obedient,” she said.
“King Oyen is a very unique cat because he likes to wear clothing. He’s able to wear his spectacles, clothing and helmet for more than four hours while we cycle around Kuala Lumpur city in the morning or at night,” she added.
“He’s able to obey instructions to ‘go to the toilet’ before cycling, and poses for photos with people easily, so he has many fans.”
King Oyen currently has almost 2,000 followers on Instagram.
“He’s also very focussed when cycling, and sits properly in the bicycle carrier basket. He doesn’t get distracted or fazed even when huge vehicles pass by,” said Siti Zalifah.
She added that she and her husband started cycling in 2021 when he developed knee problems and his doctor advised him to take up cycling.
They cycle frequently for exercise and decided to train King Oyen to go on rides with them when they noticed he was very interested in bicycles.
“He is always kepochi (nosy) whenever his Daddy is preparing or repairing the bicycles,” she said.
She added that one day, King Oyen was unhappy and merajuk (sulked) for two to three days and they didn’t know why.
He ignored everyone and sat down under the table facing the wall to show his unhappiness, she revealed.
“Finally, we realised it was because he felt left out when we went on our cycling trips and didn’t bring him along. So, my husband and I decided to bring him along,” said Siti Zalifah.
“My husband bought a bicycle carrier basket for pets and attached it to the bicycle.
“King Oyen was very excited when he realised we were bringing him along, but we had to prepare him thoroughly for it. I would talk to him gently and tell him (repeatedly) what he had to do such as he has to be a good boy and sit down and be calm, and go to the toilet before the trip, so that he would understand,” she added.
His first outing on the bicycle was in March 2021 and he was both excited and nervous, but the journey went smoothly, said Siti Zalifah.
They’ve yet to travel overseas with King Oyen but have brought him to other states in Malaysia, namely Johor, Melaka and Pahang.
He has also had the opportunity to join them for big cycling events such as the Mega Himpunan Basikal Lipat Kebangsaan, Raya Ride with Baju Melayu at Dataran Merdeka and Shah Alam, and Putrajaya Ride.
King Oyen is well known among cyclists, especially the foldies bike clubs, said Siti Zalifah.
“It’s important to treat our pets well because just like humans, animals feel pain, hunger, loneliness, fear and anxiety. They’ve a right to live well without being harmed, abused or exploited,” she said.
“Our pets are selfless and loving companions, a source of camaraderie, and they fill our lives with joy. It’s our duty and privilege to give them the respect, care and kindness they deserve,” she concluded.