A man who made himself notorious by trying to transform himself into a cat has died, an apparent suicide. Dennis Avner, better known as the “Stalking Cat Man,” was found in his Nevada home on Nov. 5. He was 54.
The Stalking Cat Man held the title for “most permanent transformations to look like an animal” in the Guinness Book of World Records. He was also featured on “Ripleys! Believe It or Not,” as well as Animal Planet and VH1 shows. The Nye County Sherriff’s Office confirmed the death to the Huffington Post on Tuesday.
The New York Daily News reported Avner served in the U.S. Navy as a sonar technician before he began his quest to make his own likeness as close as possible to that of a female tiger.
Speaking with the Seattle Times in 2005, Avner said his motive for such a radical change stemmed from his Native American heritage.
“I’m Huron and Lakota,” he said. “I’m just taking a very old tradition, that to my knowledge is not practiced anymore.
“This is me. This is who I am.”
Stalking Cat had all of his teeth replaced with dentures that resembled tiger fangs, attached whiskers to the 18 piercings above his lip, had the tips of his ears pointed, had nose and forehead implants, got injections throughout his face and received tattoos that ended up covering his body almost entirely.
Avner worked as a computer programmer and said he eventually lost count of how much money he spent on body modifications. He was also known to wear a robotic tail.
On her blog following Stalking Cat’s death, friend Shannon Laratt wrote a tribute to the man.
“Dennis’s boundary-breaking life was never an easy one, and as he was fond of saying, he ‘found fame, but never fortune.’ A wonderful and complex person, he was at times as troubled as he was remarkable.”