A handbag made from a dead, taxidermied cat has caused a stir online, with some saying that the $1,400 bag is offensive and disrespectful.
The bag, which includes the cat's intact head, has gone up for auction online on TradeMe. The bag was made by professional taxidermist Clare Hobbs, who said that the piece was created using a cat that died from being hit by a car on the side of the road -- Hobbs noted that the animal was not killed to make the bag, according to Daily Mail.
The description for the "Glamourpuss" bag, which lists at a starting price of $1,400, says that the piece is Hobbs' attempt to "engineer the surreal" using "feral and domestic felines," and also notes that "no animal is killed" to be used in Hobbs' work.
Logan Mudge, a spokesman for TradeMe, said that the company took Hobbs "at face value" when she said that there was no cruelty involved in the bag's production.
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"It is certainly a statement bag, and while it's not for me, we suspect there will be a buyer out there who is keen," said Mudge. "This is a pretty unusual bag and we suspect the auction will attract a lot of attention over the next few days."
Opponents of the bag have said that it disrespects the animal. Hans Kriek, the director of Save Animals From Exploitation, said the bag was "in poor taste."
"If you were to do these with people it would be absolutely not acceptable," Kriek said. "Is turning a cat into a handbag any worse than turning an elephant's foot into an umbrella stand?"
Hobbs kept the dead cat in her freezer for three months while she checked community notice boards, looking for posts about lost cats, Stuff reports. Responding to criticism, Hobbs said that her taxidermy creations were far from disrespectful.
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"To spend all that time on tanning and sculpture and making it brand new shows the utmost respect," said Hobbs. "I guess because it's a domestic animal people get a bit funny about it. I don't kill animals for my work, it's not as though I go around snuffing out animals thinking this'll make a nice handbag."
Mudge said that the company going to gauge how the community reacts to the bag before deciding whether to remove the auction or not.
"We're not animal skin experts so we've taken a temperature check from our community and there is a wide spectrum of views -- some all for it, some totally against it and a bunch of people who don't care either way," said the spokesman. "Where there's no legal line we often take a 'wait and see' approach, and let the community help navigate whether it's okay or not. We're letting this one run for now."