Would you stuff your deceased cat and put her on the mantelpiece?

When your cat dies would you ask a taxidermist to recreate your cat so that you could be with her after her death? Animal taxidermy appears to be catching on again. It also appears to have been at its most popular during the era of Queen Victoria in Britain. In Victorian Britain every town had a taxidermist and Queen Victoria had a collection of stuffed birds.

Dinho. Photo: Luca Rotondo. I hope he’ll let me publish his photograph on this page. I know that he has copyright. My justification is educational. To discuss the merits or otherwise of the taxidermy of companion aimals. I therefore plead fair use.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

It became unfashionable in the 20th century. This may have been because of its links to hunting and the illegal trade in animals. The problem of hunting and illegal trade persists by the way. The latter is worse than it was many years ago whereas there is a strong movement against sport hunting as a pastime. Despite this background there are people who want to use “ethical taxidermist” to stuff their deceased pets.

In fact, the word “stuffing” appears to be wrong. Taxidermist remove the skins and preserve them at freezing temperatures. They then arrange the skins around models of the original bodies. They are said to create lifelike results with painstaking work which can cost thousands of pounds and take several months. Some people are prepared to pay top dollar to allow them to keep seeing their cat or other companion animal after death.

The photograph on this page by Luca Rotondo, and published in The Sunday Times Magazine is of a cat who used to live with Alberto. The cat’s name is Dinho. Alberto lived with Dinho for five years. He said:

“I’ve embalmed his head to keep his memory alive as a form of respect and tribute, like a bust of an ancient Emperor.”

What you think about that? I may have slightly non-mainstream views about this but I will express them nonetheless. I don’t like it. I don’t think it respects the animal. Alberto says that he does it out of respect and tribute. I see the tribute bit but I don’t see the respect bit.

I can’t see how it can respect at cat or other animal to display them like this, deceased and artificial. The likeness can never be accurate because the object is dead. It lacks life and to see your cat entirely inanimate and without life every day cannot, in my view, be a pleasant experience. If you truly love your cat I don’t think you would love to see her like this. Far better to see her in your mind as a memory.

To think of her on those glorious, sunlit days when you saw her running through a field of flowers or on your lap looking up at you purring. The image that you hold in your head as a clear, brilliant memory is far better than a dead, static, inanimate reproduction of your beloved companion animal.

It’s like turning your cat into a lump of bronze sculptured to look like your cat. Actually that would be a lot better because it wouldn’t pretend to be your cat. I find it painful to look at this picture of Dinho. It’s so sad and I would say that it is disrespectful. Disrespectful of the act of death which is natural.

Perhaps, people who do this to their companion animal simply cannot accept the passing of their companion. If that is the case then it is a human failing. Taxidermy of a companion animal is done for the benefit of the person because of a failing that they have in their emotional reaction to the passing of their pet. Far better to deal with that failure than to support it with taxidermy. What do you think?

P.S. Humans don’t do it to their deceased spouses so why do it to a cat or dog?

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