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Rastus: The Motorcycling Cat
December 16, 2008 7:58 PM   Subscribe

Max Corkill and his cat Rastus were a site to behold as they motorcycled through New Zealand with Rastus perched on the fuel tank, sporting his custom helmet. They were tragically killed in a collision nearly 11 years ago. A series of books about, and inspired by, Rastus can still be purchased (worth the click for the cute photo) although it isn't clear if the proceeds go to the charities for which Max & Rastus raised funds. More photos on their memorial MySpace. Another motorcycling kittah and further details.
posted by NailsTheCat (27 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
VISIBLE BIKE
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:59 PM on December 16, 2008 [7 favorites]


My dad runs a campground in Pennsylvania and has been hosting a growing bike rally there every summer for a few years. I went this past June and there was a guy there who had a parrot that perched on his shoulder as he rode. Crazy.
posted by starvingartist at 8:06 PM on December 16, 2008


This actually made me cry. Thanks a lot. Jerk.
posted by flipyourwig at 8:22 PM on December 16, 2008


I used to see Motorcat around a lot when I lived in Takoma Park, MD. It was cool.

One tiny, nitpicky thing: Rastus was fed a strict vegetarian diet and even conformed when Max told him to stop stalking birds. Good Christ, I hope not. Cats are obligate carnivores.
posted by rtha at 8:23 PM on December 16, 2008


Riding motorcycle = hideously dangerous for cat. Vegetarian diet = stupid and wrong for cat. If you want to go zooming around in the wind, fine. Leave your cats home with a bowl of animal protein and a sunny window.
posted by longsleeves at 8:40 PM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


While Max was from Taranaki, Rastus was born in Canada.

Canada, folks. You think cats eat meat north of the 49th parallel?
posted by grounded at 9:00 PM on December 16, 2008


Canada, folks. You think cats eat meat north of the 49th parallel?

There's nothing edible, plant-wise, that will mature in a fortnight-long growing season, is there? Meat is all there is. Albertians have even eaten all of their rats.
posted by maxwelton at 9:12 PM on December 16, 2008


sight to behold
posted by tumult at 9:13 PM on December 16, 2008


Riding motorcycle = hideously dangerous for cat. Vegetarian diet = stupid and wrong for cat.

Agree with the latter, but the former...meh. I bet Rastus loved his rides. We have a pampered housecat that has asthma now, not uncommon among indoor only cats. I suspect she might have preferred a life on the petrol tank instead of steroids and hacking up a lung once in awhile.
posted by maxwelton at 9:15 PM on December 16, 2008


either the coolest, or outright stupidest thing you could ever do with your cat.

once i saw the tiny helmet, i decided it was both.
posted by lapolla at 9:20 PM on December 16, 2008


Albertians have even eaten all of their rats.

Which leaves Canadian cats no choice but to gnaw on stunted, frozen tufts of Arctic moss. Yet they thrive. Or, in Rastus's case, emigrate to NZ.
posted by grounded at 9:27 PM on December 16, 2008


sight to behold
Yes Tumult. Naturally I spotted the typo the second after I posted... but not on preview...
posted by NailsTheCat at 9:29 PM on December 16, 2008


I Am Not Rastus' Vet: although cats are obligate carnivores (my cat is on an all meat diet, no grain FWIW), could cats eat Quorn or other non-meat proteins instead of meat without ill effect?
Also, as maxwelton wrote, Rastus did seem to love his rides. I feel guilty about leaving my cat cooped up indoors rather than letting her outside for an all night hunting frenzy. I know she'd prefer the latter but I selfishly prefer her to have a long, boring life with her toys rather than the short life of a happy predator.
posted by NailsTheCat at 9:39 PM on December 16, 2008


If you want to go zooming around in the wind, fine. Leave your cats home with a bowl of animal protein and a sunny window.

For my cat an afternoon spent alone in an empty apartment is hell on earth. Seriously, it stresses her out to a degree that years of developing a routine and earning trust have only taken an edge off of. But she loves motion and isn't fazed by new places, danger, speed, or travel in fast vehicles. I wouldn't put it past her to enjoy being on top of a motorcycle.

I on the other hand prefer the quiet afternoon, so you won't find us on a motorbike together.

could cats eat Quorn or other non-meat proteins instead of meat without ill effect?

Absolutely not.
posted by Tehanu at 9:59 PM on December 16, 2008


Calling a black cat "Rastus" is really offensive. I'm reminded of the British WWII movie "The Dam Busters" where the hero's black dog is called "Nigger", which makes me cringe every time.
posted by w0mbat at 11:25 PM on December 16, 2008


In Canada, cat claws often get overly brittle due to the cold and may snap off. Given this, it's perfectly natural to declaw your cat to protect your expensive furniture and flooring.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:16 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Christ. Now we've got motorcycle safety and helmets, pet safety, vegetarianism, racism, and declawing. Oh, and Canada. Good job. Now let's douse ourselves in gasoline and flick matches at one another.

The cat was vegetarian? He looked healthy. I'd say either he was eating meat on the side (successful mouser? keen ornithologist? got supplements from his owner?) or the vegetarian diet somehow didn't do him much harm.

And motorcycles are hideously dangerous for cats? Sure. Also for people. But I bet that cat was safer heading out on the highway than crossing it. He had a lot of fun, and when he went, he went with his buddy, he wasn't left behind to fend for himself. They did everything together:
“He was one of a kind,” says friend Pastor Wally Aish, who presided over the funeral service for Corkill and Rastus in New Plymouth on Jan 23. As more than 1,000 bikers paid their respects, the pair’s matching helmets sat side-by-side on the coffin they shared. Eerily, a month earlier, Aish says, Corkill had changed his will to make provisions for Rastus when he died. The pair were cremated together.
Look at the little helmet on the coffin.
posted by pracowity at 3:03 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've seen lots of young women riding around Salzburg with dogs on their motor scooters. What surprises me is how well-behaved the dogs are.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:34 AM on December 17, 2008


What is the velocity of an east bound feline on a motorcycle?

Oh, right. Splat.

Certainly hope nobody was *surprised* by the end of this story.
posted by TomMelee at 4:56 AM on December 17, 2008


When I first saw this post, I only saw "Rastus can still be purchased on their memorial MySpace," and immediately thought of taxidermy before a competing thought reminded me that MySpace is not an ecommerce-oriented site. I mean, I noticed that MySpace isn't that kind of site before realizing that a stuffed, or perhaps plastic-encased, Rastus is not for sale. Why is it that MetaFilter brings out this sort of alarming strangeness in me?
posted by Michael Roberts at 5:26 AM on December 17, 2008


Hasn't anybody else also noticed what seems a nasty, festering family feud between the lines?

The third link is dedicated to "Max, Gaynor and Rastus", and the first link mentions Gaynor as "[Max´s] new love", but the second, more commercial link rather tersely notes "A passenger on the bike, Gaynor Martin, was also killed."

Ugh. I wonder if the police checked the bike's brakes...
posted by Skeptic at 6:07 AM on December 17, 2008


I know a handful of people who ride motorcycles with their dogs, but I can't speak firsthand about cats on bikes. About the dogs, though, without exception, there is no place those dogs would rather be than on the bike. One of them, a Jack Russell Terrierist named Didi, will not let her human get on his bike without her.

Even the most pampered indoor pets lead lives of risk; ask owners of white cats in the Southwest if their vet has warned them about the risk of skin cancer from sitting in the window. If an animal clearly derives joy from riding on a motorcycle and the owner is happy to do it, I think it's morally A-OK.

Also, because they claim that they are 'the closest thing to Chick Magnets you are going to find', an obligatory link to doggles from Aerostich.

In the interest of complete disclosure, I have ridden with my cat on a motorcycle. Once. She had to go to the vet, I didn't own a car at the time and couldn't arrange an lift from someone with a car. So I strapped the cat carrier to the luggage rack on my CBR929 and off we went. I can't say she was thrilled with the arrangement, but she made it there and home in one piece.
posted by workerant at 8:52 AM on December 17, 2008


Christ. Now we've got motorcycle safety and helmets, pet safety, vegetarianism, racism, and declawing. Oh, and Canada. Good job.

I can go one better than that.

And motorcycles are hideously dangerous for cats? Sure. Also for people. But I bet that cat was safer heading out on the highway than crossing it. He had a lot of fun, and when he went, he went with his buddy, he wasn't left behind to fend for himself. They did everything together:

This is exactly how zoophiles rationalize their animal humping. "But I treated her so well, and she had such a wonderful time. She lived like a queen, eating best of everything, and we were utterly inseperable. Until I split her in two when I tried to fist her, wasn't she so much better off than other cats who never received so much human love and attention?"

Now, personally, I don't much care if you hump your cat, open a cat circus or skin it and turn it into a Davy Crockett hat. But this kind of anthropomorphic rationalization seems like utter nonsense to me, and just provides an excuse for doing what you were gonna do anyway, whether that be depriving your pet of meat and mice, or letting it ride on your motorcycle.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:59 AM on December 17, 2008


In Canada, cat claws often get overly brittle due to the cold and may snap off. Given this, it's perfectly natural to declaw your cat to protect your expensive furniture and flooring.

No.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:04 PM on December 17, 2008


I'm reminded of the British WWII movie "The Dam Busters" where the hero's black dog is called "Nigger", which makes me cringe every time.

Um, there's a slight historical difficulty there because the events depicted in the movie actually happened and Sir Douglas Bader's dog was, in fact, called "Nigger". There's even a statue of said canine at the Lincolnshire airbase which was the squadron's base.
posted by NeonSurge at 2:01 PM on December 17, 2008


It wasn't Douglas Bader it was Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC who led the dambuster raids. Or was he a Group Captain? I don't remember now. (Bader was a fighter pilot, not a bomber pilot.)

Anyway, I'm still aghast at how my cutsey kittah post went through various shades of racism, xenophobia, bestiality, cat declawing and suggestions that Rastus' death wasn't an accident but MOIDAH!

Can't we just look at his little helmet, vicar, and feel warm and fuzzy inside?
posted by NailsTheCat at 3:17 PM on December 17, 2008


You've been here long enough to know the answer to that question. Sad, isn't it?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:40 PM on December 17, 2008


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