Domestic Cat

House Cat (Felis catus)

Domestic Pet Cat taxidermy  “Mittens”

Taxidermy of any deceased pet is testing for even the most experienced taxidermist, as expectations from clients are  understandably high and deeply influenced by emotion. Cats, in particular, are a very challenging subject to do well because their facial anatomy is not forgiving of even the slightest error on the part of the taxidermist.

Few clients, for a piece of commissioned taxidermy work, will scrutinise a completed mount more closely than someone who has just had a much loved pet modelled.  This judgement is further complicated by the emotional attachment to the pet.  The subtle expressions of recognition or emotion in the eyes of a pet cat or dog are very challenging to reproduce because one is trying to capture the very essence of the relationship between pet and owner, built over many years together.  It is this essence, and the difficulty in recreating it, that can lead some clients to feel that there is something lacking in the finished work, even if the standard and quality of the taxidermy is exemplary.It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul and glass eyes (no matter how well made and positioned) can never recreate this living essence.

When working on a pet, our aim is to produce the most realistic and accurate portrayal of the particular animal. Our intention is to try to capture, not just an accurate representation of the anatomy, but also to imbue something of the character and demeanour of the animal as it was to the owner.

In order to be able to do this we need to spend time in consultation with the client, to ensure that we understand something of the pet,  and also building a good rapport with the client. We also have to be realistic about what can be achieved and manage expectations by explaining what is and is not possible.

The techniques we use to do our pet work are different to those which we use to do the majority of our other mammal work. This is because the level of anatomical accuracy required with pets is so precise. There can be no compromise on methodology, materials or exacting standards in every aspect and component of the work done on the mount. The work is completely bespoke throughout and nothing is generic or commercially made, other than perhaps the glass eyes, but even these we will often have specially created to order, to match more exactly the colouration required. The number of studio hours we spend doing a pet can be easily four times that spent on a commissioned wild mammal mount of a similar size. This is the main reason why the costs are so much higher for pets.

  • The images shown are of a domestic pet cat, mounted for a client in our studio.
  • They are high resolution and close up to demonstrate the very high level of detail we go to when working on pets.
  • Unusually we have included here some images of the manikin, upon which we mount the skin. This is to help explain something of the process, as we feel it important that clients understand at least something of how it is done.  The manikin is also known as a model, or form. The manikin, and the various processes and methods used to produce it, are critical to the look of the finished mount. Easily 60 % of the work is in the production of this bespoke manikin. It is made using our own unique method, to achieve a very high degree of anatomical accuracy, precise and specific to the particular animal being mounted. It is essentially then an exacting model of the underlying anatomy of the cat in the position required by the client.
  • The skin of the pet must be treated with great care and taken through the whole tanning process correctly, stage by stage, to achieve a thin, very clean, fully degreased soft and very supple skin. This is as important as the manikin because one of the main causes of poor quality taxidermy on pets is lack of diligence in tanning skins to a high standard.
  • The cat pictured here is posed according to the requirements of the client after consultation and discussion about the various options.
  • Any pose is theoretically possible, and can be accommodated, if that is what the client is absolutely set on. However, for pets I would strongly advise against any animated positions or exaggerated expressions. The reason for this is not because the “sleeping cat” or dog is necessarily easier, because technically it is not, though it can take longer to do, and therefore cost more. Rather it is because with pets the pose or attitude most owners recognise as representing their pet as contented or restful is usually the pet comfortably lying down or at least reclined. Animated poses capture a fraction of a moment of energetic activity, rather than a sense of contentment. Once a mount is done the pose is set for ever and cannot be altered, even minutely, so the pose must be considered with great care.