A GLOBETROTTING animal lover has had his cat to thank for helping to foil an attempted theft.

Dean Nicholson, who left his home in Dunbar two years ago in a bid to cycle round the world, posted a message online from Slovakia.

He was woken by his furry companion Nala, who he adopted earlier in his journey.

In a message on social media, Dean said: “I protect her during the day and in return she’s got my back at night.

“I woke up with Nala climbing on top of me as if she was spooked and straight away I heard something rustling outside the tent.

“Usually it’s just the odd stray dog sniffing around but when I heard the zip of my trailer open I knew we had an unwelcome visitor.

“I opened my tent slowly and peeked around the corner to find a man standing by my bike pointing a knife at me.

“I jumped out of the tent and started going towards him. For some reason I didn’t even consider the knife he had but I was in his face wanting to see inside his bag.

“He handed me my tool kit and then showed me his tobacco, implying that’s all he had.

“I punched him, knocking him to the ground, where you could see he got visibly angrier, so I went back to the tent and got my knife.

“He must have been wondering what he disturbed as he started panicking, walking away, but I caught up with him again, knocked him down once more and my GoPro, bike lights and bike pump fell out his bag.

“He then started running and, just to scare him a wee bit more, I ran after him for a few hundred metres shouting at him!”

Former Dunbar Grammar School pupil Dean added he would have preferred to have sat down with the man, saying: “I came away from the whole thing wishing it had gone differently; looking back I think he was homeless given the smell coming from him and he’d seen my bike as an opportunity.

“I’m not saying it’s right what he did but some people fall into a bad way of life and it’s very easy to look down on them. I don’t know his story but it would’ve been nice to sit down and talk to him instead of it all kicking off.”

Dean left Dunbar in September 2018 and has visited 20 countries.

It was just as he was leaving Bosnia for Montenegro that he first came across Nala, who he named after a character in The Lion King.

Previously, Dean told the Courier: “I had my sound system on and, in the break of a song, I heard loud meowing coming from behind me and here was this scruffy-looking kitten chasing me up the hill.

“I sat down with her, gave her some pesto for lunch, and she has not left my side since!

“This all happened about 10 miles from any town, so I felt she had been abandoned. I got her into Montenegro and straight to a vet to see if she was microchipped and she wasn’t, so I decided to keep her and take her with me.

“I’ve become quite attached to Nala – it’s hard not to when you spend 24/7 with each other, and she also has the best personality, so it’s hard not to fall in love with her!”

Since then, the two have become inseparable and gained a dedicated following online.

Dean’s story even caught the eye of publishers and will be transformed into a book later this year.

Nala’s World: One Man, His Rescue Cat and a Bike Ride Around the Globe is to be released later this year and will be co-written by Garry Jenkins, co-author with James Bowen of A Street Cat Named Bob.