“Restoring Your Great Aunt’s Taxidermied Cat”

“Restoring Your Great Aunt’s Taxidermied Cat”

I recently came into possession of my late Great Aunt Edna’s taxidermied cat, Mr. Whiskers. He was her beloved pet for over 15 years before he passed away. After his death, she had him professionally taxidermied so she could keep him forever. Mr. Whiskers has been sitting on a shelf in her home for decades, but now that he belongs to me, I want to restore him to his former glory.

Assessing the Current Condition

The first step in restoring a taxidermy is to carefully examine its current condition. I took Mr. Whiskers down from the shelf and looked him over thoroughly. Here are some of my observations:

  • Fur: His fur was extremely matted and dull. There were bald patches on his belly and behind his ears.

  • Eyes: One of his glass eyes was loose and the other was cracked.

  • Nose and mouth: The leather on his nose and lips was dry and stiff. Some of the stitching around his mouth had come undone.

  • Body: His body felt rigid and brittle. The wire frame inside was protruding in some spots.

  • Paws: His paws were dirty and the pads looked unnaturally flat and hard.

Overall, Mr. Whiskers was in rough shape after decades without proper care. But I was hopeful that with some restoration work, he could look presentable again.

Cleaning the Fur

The first restoration task was to clean and revive Mr. Whiskers’ matted fur. I followed these steps:

  • I brushed out loose dirt and debris with a soft brush. This removed a lot of surface grime.

  • I filled my sink with cool water and added a tiny amount of pet shampoo.

  • Very gently, I lowered Mr. Whiskers into the water and let him soak for 15 minutes. This rehydrated his fur.

  • Next, I thoroughly shampooed his entire body, taking care not to tug at his brittle fur. The shampoo helped loosen years of built up dirt and oils.

  • I rinsed him several times until the water ran clear.

  • After patting him dry with a towel, I let him air dry completely before brushing his fur again.

The cleaning process made a dramatic difference in the look and feel of Mr. Whiskers’ fur. The mats were removed, his color was brighter, and his fur was soft and fluffy again.

Replacing the Glass Eyes

The next step was replacing Mr. Whiskers’ damaged glass eyes. I ordered high quality taxidermy glass eyes online that closely matched his original eye size and color.

To swap out the eyes:

  • I used needle nose pliers to gently remove the loose eye from its socket.

  • I cleaned the empty socket with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol.

  • Using taxidermy clay, I built up the inside of the socket to create a snug base for the new eye.

  • Once the clay dried, I test fit the new eye to ensure a tight fit.

  • Finally, I used taxidermy eye putty to securely adhere the new eye in place.

I repeated this process for the cracked eye. Inserting the replacement eyes dramatically improved Mr. Whiskers’ lifelike appearance.

Restoring the Nose and Mouth

The dry, stiff leather on Mr. Whiskers’ nose and lips was in poor condition. To soften and refinish these areas:

  • I gently scrubbed the leather with a toothbrush and mild soap to remove grime.

  • I applied leather conditioner and worked it into the skin. This rehydrated the stiff areas.

  • For the unraveled seam around the mouth, I used a needle and thread to repair the stitching.

  • I finished by rubbing petroleum jelly into the leather surfaces to restore suppleness.

These steps helped the nose, lips, and mouth areas look less deteriorated.

Refurbishing the Body

To refurbish Mr. Whiskers’ rigid, brittle body:

  • I lightly sanded any protruding wire ends sticking out from the frame.

  • For splits or holes in the skin, I used a skin adhesive to reseal the damaged spots.

  • I injected small amounts of expanding foam taxidermy paste under fragile areas to add stability.

  • Lastly, I molded the flatten paw pads back into shape with polymer clay and painted details on the paw pads with acrylic paints.

After this body restoration, Mr. Whiskers was more structurally sound and his paws looked realistic again.

Conclusion

It took time and care, but I was able to restore my Great Aunt Edna’s beloved taxidermy cat Mr. Whiskers to a reasonable facsimile of his former glory. While not perfect, he looks presentable enough to be proudly displayed in my home as a one-of-a-kind family heirloom. My great aunt would be pleased that I gave him some new life after decades of neglect. Mr. Whiskers is ready for many more years as a unique memento of a cherished pet.