August 27, 1958
Flint, Michigan, United States
|Died||November 5, 2012
Tonopah, Nevada, United States
|Known for||Extensive body modifications, to resemble a tiger|
Stalking Cat (August 27, 1958 - November 5, 2012) was a person who was best known for extensive body modifications, which were intended to increase resemblance to a female tiger. Stalking Cat held a world record for "Most permanent transformations to look like an animal" for his 14 surgical procedures towards that goal. The name "Stalking Cat" is a Native American name, given to him in childhood by a medicine man of his tribe.
Stalking Cat was born on August 27, 1958, near Flint, Michigan, and given the name Dennis Avner. His parents were of Huron and Lakota heritage. Stalking Cat had a brother, named Dave. The family lived in a small Michigan town near the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa in Suttons Bay. As an adult, Stalking Cat related, in an interview, that the feelings of being connected to a totem were present in childhood, and how one of his earliest childhood memories was of wondering where his tail was. Around age ten, Stalking Cat was given the name Cat by Grey Cloud, the medicine man of his tribe.
As an adult, Stalking Cat was in the Navy, and worked as a sonar technician. He left his Navy post around 1981 and moved to San Diego, working as a computer programmer and technician. In the early 1980s he took the name Stalking Cat and began the modifications to his face.
In interviews, Stalking Cat stated that he chose to alter his physical appearance in accordance with an ancient Huron tradition, where Huron people alter their bodies to resemble their totems. Stalking Cat told of how he met a Native chief, who encouraged him to follow the ways of his totem, the tiger. Stalking Cat also told of how his totem was actually a female tiger, and how he felt moved to blur the gender boundaries as well.
Move to Washington state
While living in San Diego, Stalking Cat met Tess Calhoun at a furry convention (or "furry con"). Over several years, Stalking Cat formed a close friendship with Tess and her husband Rick Weiss. In 2005, Weiss' job with Boeing required the couple to move to Washington, and they asked Stalking Cat, then age 47, to join them. The trio moved to Whidbey Island in Freeland, Washington, where Stalking Cat helped fix up their house.
Stalking Cat stood out in the small town, and the local newspapers occasionally ran articles on him. One article referred to Stalking Cat as "a cigarette-smoking, out-of-work, registered Republican who owns firearms and left California because he believes it's become a communist state". Tess Calhoun was quoted as saying that Stalking Cat was "living in a family for really the first time", and that "it takes some adjusting".
Stalking Cat, Tess, and Rick were active in the furry community, both online and at furry cons. They held monthly gatherings for members of the furry community at their home. Stalking Cat became well known in the furry community and has a biography on WikiFur.
Stalking Cat had financial troubles, and in August, 2007, he posted publicly on his online journal that he needed a new place to live. Tess Calhoun posted that she and Weiss simply could not afford to support Stalking Cat anymore. Calhoun posted that they would be throwing Stalking Cat a send-off party.
Move to Nevada
In September 2007, when he was age 49, Stalking Cat moved to Tonopah, Nevada. Stalking Cat lived in Tonopah for five years, until the end of his life.
Description of modifications
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (November 2012)|
Many of Stalking Cat's body modifications were performed by Arizona-based artist Steve Haworth. The first artist to begin the extensive tattoo work on Stalking Cat's face was Larry Hanks, of San Diego, who started the work in 1985.
List of modifications
Stalking Cat's modifications included:
- Extensive tattooing, including facial tattooing
- Facial subdermal implants to change the shape of his brow, forehead, and the bridge of his nose
- Flattening his nose, via septum relocation
- Silicone injection in his lips, cheeks, chin, and other parts of his face
- Bifurcating (splitting) his upper lip
- Filing and capping his teeth
- Surgically shaping his ears, making his ears pointed and his earlobes elongated
- Surgical hairline modification
- Piercing his upper lip and transdermal implants on his forehead, to facilitate wearing whiskers
- Wearing green contact lenses with slit irises
- Wearing a robotic tail
Future modification plans included a plan for an implant(s) on top of his head, for mounting tiger-like ears.
Medical ethics concerns
Glenn McGee, director of the Center for Bioethics at Albany Medical College in New York, said of Stalking Cat, "Cosmetic surgery is a practice based on informed consent that needs to balance the risks with the benefits. It is possible to have a coherent view that is nonetheless detrimental to one's well-being. This is a patient who's being harmed by medicine in the interest of his tradition."
As a result of his unusual appearance, Stalking Cat attained local celebrity status, and frequently traveled to attend interviews and photo sessions. Stalking Cat appeared and was interviewed on such television and radio shows as:
- Ripley's Believe It or Not!
- Larry King Live
- VH1's Totally Obsessed
- Kerrang! Radio's The Night Before
- BBC Choice's Anna in Wonderland (Episode 6)
- Animal Planet's Weird, True & Freaky (2008 episode "Humanimals")
- Parry, Laurence "Greenreaper" (2012-11-12). "Stalking Cat confirmed dead at 54". Flayrah. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- Larratt, Shannon (2012-11-12). "RIP Stalking Cat". ModBlog. BMEzine. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- D'Arminio, Aubry (2008-09-30). "Take the 'Guinness World Records 2009' pop-culture quiz!". Popwatch. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- Dolan, Mark. "The World's Strangest Plastic Surgery and Me (episode guide)". The World's... and Me. Channel 4. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- "It's a weird world of world records". The Sunday Mail (Courier Mail). 2008-09-21. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- Shannon Larratt. "BMEzine radio interview with Stalking Cat and Shannon Larratt". BMEzine. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Casavant, Vanessa Renée (2005-08-16). "Catman's transformation raises concerns over extreme surgery". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- Stensland, Jessie (2008-07-02). "Catman pounces on Whidbey". Whidbey News-Times. Sound Publishing, Inc. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- "Stalking Cat". WikiFur. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- Calhoun, Tess (2007-07-22). "Told Stalkingcat he must move". Tess the Red Pony. LiveJournal. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- Calhoun, Tess (2007-08-13). "LiveJournal comment; "If you want the facts..."". Stalking Cat. LiveJournal. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- Calhoun, Tess (2007-09-28). "GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRs". Tess the Red Pony. LiveJournal. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- Hastings, LP (2012-11-12). "Dennis Avner aka "Stalking Cat" Found Dead; On his Time in OC". OC Weekly. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- "Passages: Dennis Avner, Stalking Cat, dead at 54". East County Magazine. 2012-11-14. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- Avner, Dave (November 2012). "Dennis (Stalking Cat) Avner, Memorial Fund". GoFundMe. Retrieved 7 November 2013.