As obsessions go this has to be one of the weirdest known to man – someone who would voluntarily file his teeth, split his lip and undergo extensive facial surgery – to turn himself into a ‘human tiger’.
Dennis Avner, 50, is descended from American Indians, and has spent ‘an uncalculated amount’ of money on making himself look like a big cat, after a discussion with a Native chief who inspired him to ‘follow the ways of the tiger’.
Avner’s body modification operations have included bifurcation (splitting) of his upper lip, surgical pointing of the ears, sillicone cheek and forehead implants, tooth filing, tattoos, and facial piercing – to which whiskers can be attached.
Avner, from Tonopah, Nevada, likes to go by his Indian name ‘Stalking Cat’.
‘I am Huron and following a very old tradition have transformed myself into a tiger,’ he says on his website stalkingcat.com.
The tiger aficionado – naturally – enjoys climbing trees and must eat meat ‘every day, just as a tiger would.’
This should be ‘as close to raw as possible, or at the temperature that an animal would be if it had just been killed,’ he told The Sun.
But Cat can’t live the tiger’s life 24 hours a day – he has human needs too. These he meets by working in an office – ‘the only difference is I look like a cat’ – or by making personal TV appearances, which have included Larry King Live, VH1?s ‘Totally Obsessed’ and Kerrang!
His latest public appearance was at the new Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum, which opened this week in London’s Piccadilly Circus.
The museum features oddities from across the world – including a sixteenth-century iron maiden torture device and three antique shrunken heads made by the Jivaro Indians of Ecuador.
But what of Stalking Cat’s personal life? How do real-life Cat Men find Cat Women?
It’s difficult – but not impossible: ‘I’m seeing a couple of women at the moment,’ says Cat. ‘They understand that being a tiger is more important to me than humanity, which is difficult for many women to cope with.’