Stalking Cat Man Found Dead From Reported Suicide; Dennis Avner Held World-Record For Body Modifications [PHOTO]
The Stalking Cat Man (a.k.a. Dennis Avner) was found dead of an apparent suicide in his Tonopah, Nevada home on Nov. 5. Reports of his death began circulating after a Nov. 13 article on the Huffington Post highlighted his extraordinary life as the world record holder for most body modifications.
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Avner's native American name was Stalking Cat, and he embraced the totem animal of tiger so tightly that he endured dozens of surgical procedures in an attempt to transform his body into the essence of his totem animal, a female tiger.
According to ModBlog editor Shannon Larratt, Avner "transformed himself not just into a tiger, but a female tiger at that, blurring and exploring the gender line as much as the species line." Larratt detailed the procedures Stalking Cat went through in his quest to transform himself including having his ears, lips, nose and face rebuilt to resemble a tiger, as well as transdermal whiskers, head-to-toes tattooing and "extensive" silicone work to resculpt his face and body. Stalking Cat also used custom teeth, contact lenses and an artificial robotic tail to enhance his persona, and was recognized by Guinness World Records as the most modified human on the planet.
Stalking Cat's modifications were performed by Steve Haworth, considered to be one of the world's foremost experts in the field of body modification. According to his website he is listed in the Guinness World Records as "Most Advanced Body Modification Artist", 1999 to present.
Stalking Cat is being mourned by fans online. His memorial site continues to receive messages from friends and fans alike.
"Dennis, you and I never met, but I have followed your story. I just wanted to say that I've always been impressed with your dedication and desire to honor your heritage and walk that path. I hope that you are now spending time as the tiger, laying in dappled shadows, swimming in cool, clear pools, and watching the beauty that is all around you. Rest in eternal peace. xx oo," wrote Jennifer Sams.
"Simply, you were an inspiration to many
Including me. You were an idol to those who wish to transform their selves and it's hard to believe you are gone.
Like many others, I am imagining you now, roaming through the sweet scented forests, splashing in the water, hunting and smelling the air, wild and free. Somewhere in a better world, a tiger stalks again," wrote Tsurara Kinugawa.
Stalking Cat's life was unarguably an interesting one, and he drew criticism by some in the medical community for his body transformation decisions.
In a Seattle Times article on Stalking Cat, Glenn McGee, director of the Center for Bioethics at Albany Medical College in New York, said he thought Stalking Cat's actions went too far.
"Cosmetic surgery is a practice based on informed consent" that needs to balance the risks with the benefits, he said. McGee believes undergoing so many surgeries is dangerous.
"It is possible to have a coherent view that is nonetheless detrimental to one's well-being," McGee said. "This is a patient who's being harmed by medicine in the interest of his tradition."
Regardless of the criticism, Stalking Cat held fast to his belief that he was being true to himself, and to his totem animal.
"This is me," he told the Seattle Times. "This is who I am."
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