Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

New Zealand Man Who Sold Cat Skin Online May Face Charges

The seller's dead birds, inset: Cat pelt

The seller's dead birds, inset: Cat pelt

New Zealand man Gavin Wilkinson may face charges after selling the skin of a purportedly feral cat he shot on his property in an online auction on May 30, 2013, on the website trademe.co.nz. Wilkinson claims to have shot the animal and killed it humanely after it killed his chickens. Though the local SPCA may not be not buying it, other people apparently are.

Wilkinson may face charges if the manner of the animals’ death is determined to have been cruel. According to Wilkinson, who raises birds, the cat was killing about two of his baby chickens per day, 10 total, before he trapped it and shot it in the head. The type of trap used has not been specified. Wilkinson reportedly said, “I’ve put so much time and effort into breeding these birds and keeping them alive, and these cats come in and maul the birds and they die a horrible death.”

Initially his idea was to skin the animal and keep the pelt as some sort of trophy to wave at uncomfortable neighbors and any guests as they edged their way towards the¬†door, as if to say ‘Look see what I caught killing my birds!’ Wilkinson however thought better of it, or perhaps was no longer being invited to parties, and advertised the item for sale on Trademe.co.nz. A screen grab of the actual ad follows.

The ad for Wilkinson's pelt

The ad for Wilkinson's pelt

Needless to say, most animal lovers and cat owners are outraged.

Of the sale, Bob Kerridge of the SPCA said, “I find it quite disgusting and certainly of great concern that animals are treated this way.” He rightly pointed out that the animal could have been someone’s pet at one time, “A stray cat, because it’s frightened, may hiss, it may give the impression of being wild, mainly because it’s frightened in its environment. It probably was a domestic cat one day.”

Kerridge found even more alarming the amount of support that Wilkinson is getting on the site, and fears that this could be the beginning of a trend. A quick search of the site, however, reveals that unfortunately, it may already be a trend.

Wild Cat Skin (Tanned)

Wild Cat Skin (Tanned)

A similar “Wild Cat Skin (Tanned)” was sold on the same site on April 25, 2013. This seller also claims that the animal was put down humanely, adding “[sic] i am trying to get rid of them all, as they are destroying our native bird wildlife in our area, and im sure there are plenty more places in nz that could be getting overrun with wild cats!. Could be just as bad as possums,” and “Looks great as an arm rest! and best of all it doesnt cost anything to feed !!!!.”

Close-up of the road kill taxidermy subject

Close-up of road-kill taxidermy subject

A third “Taxidermy Cat Skin Rug” was sold, again on Trademe.co.nz, on March 19, 2013. The ad read: “For those people who can’t afford a Bear, Lion, Tiger or any other large skin rug, here is the cat skin rug. Mounted with both sides, feet and head. Large male in excellent condition. Beautiful ginger/marmalade colour with striking markings. Great little gift for the mancave!” The seller claims that the cat was road kill and concludes that it was probably feral.

If there is a former owner, one can only hope that person doesn’t see what’s left of Fluffy online, with his weird, dead stare, and recognize it as a beloved lost pet. The original ad follows.

The ad for 'Roadkill.'

The ad for road-kill taxidermy rug.

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