Humans have long had a fascination for cats. The Ancient Egyptians and other ancient pagan cultures worshiped cats. Other cultures feared cats and associated them with the deepest of evils. The way they move, the way they hunt, and their pure beauty are all very captivating.
Most humans satisfy this fascination by adopting a cat into their lives. For others, simply having a cat in their life won’t do; they must become a cat themselves. Let’s start with the one human cat who was known to take this obsession the furthest, Dennis Avner.
Dennis Avner, better known as Cat Man or Stalking Cat, was born in Flint, Michigan August 27, 1958. He started feeling a spiritual connection to cats when he was just a child. After high school he joined the Navy to serve as a sonar technician and left the Midwest as soon as he could.
It was after his discharge from the Navy that Avner decided to take his spiritual connection to cats to a new level. A chief of his Native American tribe (he was of Huron and Lakota descent) gave him the advice to follow his totem creature – the tiger. At 23 years of age Avner got his tiger stripe tattoos; the first modification in the direction of becoming a tiger.
Avner would go on to meet body modification expert Steve Haworth to get his body modification surgeries. Though Haworth did perform the body modification procedures, he is not a surgeon. His background is in the manufacture of medical equipment. In the United States it is considered unethical for a medical professional to modify a person’s body beyond what is deemed normal by society. Therefore, Avner could not go to a plastic surgeon, nor could he use anesthetics for any of the surgeries as anesthesiologists would be needed are they are medical professionals.
The first body modification surgery performed on Avner was to relocate his earlobes to elongate his ears and to make the top of his ears pointed. He would go on to have a total of 14 surgeries. To make his nose more cat-like he had his septum relocated, an implant added into the bridge of his nose, and the end of his nose flattened. His upper lip was clefted to look like a cat’s upper lip. He had implants put in his eyebrows, both sides of his forehead, and above his upper lip. Metal screws were installed in his forehead and upper lip implants that could be used to screw on cat-like whiskers. His teeth were too bad to file like a cat’s so instead he got tiger-tooth dentures.
The Life of a Human Cat
Avner did anything that would make his life even more tiger-like. He had an animatronic tail made for himself, however, this tail was just a strapped on device and not a body modification. His diet consisted mostly of meat – just like a cat’s. He would eat his meat as raw as he could. Of course, he also like to hunt and catch his own food when possible. In the future he wanted to have more surgeries to give him fur and a place to mount cat like ears on top of his head. His efforts won him a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the most modified person towards becoming an animal.
Unfortunely, Avner passed away in November of 2012 at the age of 54. It doesn’t appear that the cause of death was ever made public. Many sources speculated that he had committed suicide, but none mention any possible reasons he would have done so.