Dennis Avner, the world record holder for the largest number of body modifications undertaken, was found dead in Nevada on Nov. 5. Rumors have spread that the man, who had spent his life attempting to look like a female cat, may have committed suicide.
Born with the Native American name Stalking Cat, Avner underwent over 10 drastic surgical procedures in order to make his face appear more like a cat. The surgeries included altercations to his forehead, nose, cheeks, and the splitting of his lips. Avner also covered his face in tattoos and acquired piercings around his lips and eyebrows to imitate the look of whiskers.
The 54-year-old former U.S. Navy sonar technician was found dead in his Nevada home on Nov. 5. The cause of death has not been revealed but it is believed that he took his own life.
Avner was at current working as a programmer and technician, friend Shannon Larratt wrote on his site, Mod Blog. Larratt, a former editor and publisher of BME, stated that was both "wonderful and complex person" though "he was at times as troubled as he was remarkable."
Avner was allegedly inspired to transform himself into a cat following a discussion with a Native chief who inspired him to "follow the ways of the tiger" according to Mail Online. Avner was a descendent of Huron, an indigenous native tribe whose traditional belief is to adopt the physical form of one's totem.
Avner had a feline totem and chose to alter his body to that of a female cat, "blurring and exploring the gender line as much as the species line," according to Larratt.
Larratt also suggested that Avner had faced money troubles and was fond of stating that he "found fame, but never fortune." A number of Avner's fans shared their blessings and prayers, stating that he was an inspiration to many.