As obsessions go, this one has to be one of the most spine chilling known to man – someone who would voluntarily file their teeth, split their lip and undergo extensive facial surgery – to turn himself into a ‘human tiger’.

And so goes the story of Native American, Dennis Avner, age 50, whose totem was a tiger and went by the name, “Stalking Cat“. His face, altered to such an extreme that it no longer bore much resemblance to a human being, was as startling to the eyes as the most grotesque Halloween mask. With slanted cat eyes, bulging cheeks, teeth sawed and carved to feline perfection, he even had piercings inserted around his mouth to anchor his whisker in place. But he didn’t stop there. He had his body heavily tattooed with tiger stripes.

After a discussion with a Native chief who inspired him to ‘follow the ways of the tiger’, Avner began his face modifications in an effort to do just as his chief suggested.  And apparently in Native American tradition, it’s not that unusual to try to look like your spiritual inspiration. But I would guess that even Native Americans would say that Avner carried his spiritual quest too far, undergoing modification operations to include bifurcation (splitting) of his upper lip, surgical pointing of the ears, silicone cheek and forehead implants, tooth filing, body tattoos, and facial piercings.

There has been much speculation about the amount of money Dennis must have spent to transform his appearance to that of a wild feline. But here is one thing I haven’t read a word about: Who performed these various procedures – professionals, pseudo professionals or quacks? If the former, here is the question I pose to you: Should a surgeon use his skills to meet his patient’s desires, no matter how bizarre? Or do medical ethics call for this same surgeon to deny his patient access to his surgical skills for the very procedures this patient is requesting?

My Facebook PAGE is dedicated to beauty of the body, mind and spirit.

I welcome your LIKES. 

Lois W. Stern


    • Hi Barbara,
      I guess there is a fine line between fulfilling the customer’s wants/needs and the moral code of the doctor, who is sworn to “do no harm”. I will be interested to see how other readers respond, especially other surgeons.
      Thanks for taking the time to express your opinion.
      Lois W. Stern
      More postings on topics of aesthetics (Outer Beauty) and inspiring stories (Inner Beauty) on my Facebook PAGE

  1. I think that the surgeon should do as the patient requests-although I think that there would be some legal issues that would need to be covered for the sake of the surgeon-to me think it’s on the same level as plastic surgery, just more individualized-and I don’t believe it’s anyone’s right to tell someone what they can and can’t do to their bodies-as we are each on our own individual paths, and to restrict an individual’s desire to express themselves in whatever manner they chose-particularly in regard to their own bodies-in my opinion, should be considered a crime against humanity.

    • Hi Jan,

      I am always interested to hear how others think and respond to these type questions, so thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts. There are some issues, I believe, where there simply are no hard and fast right and wrong answers. In this case, eventually tiger man committed suicide, so apparently all his strivings for physical change didn’t satisfy his inner needs. I suspect there are cases, like this one, where the surgeon might have done his patient a better service by referring him for some psychological counseling. Again, my opinion, not a hard and fast rule.

      • I definitely agree with you, there are some things where there just aren’t any hard or fast rules. I did also hear about his recent suicide, which is actually why I clicked on this article. I think that some deeper introspection on his side may have been beneficial before plunging himself into the endless depths of body transformation he put himself through, but of course, that is not the case for all others who chose to modify their bodies in such a way.

      • Yes, I’m all for cosmetic surgery, if done for the right reasons with a sensible approach. I know it did wonders for my moral! But of course I didn’t go in for teeth filing and split lips!

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