4 People Who Don't Consider Themselves Human

February 2nd 2016

It's clear that Americans are animal lovers. According to one survey, nearly 80 million households own pets and some sociologists think that people care more about pets than other humans (sorry, mom!).

Then there are people who identify so strongly with animals, they don't even consider themselves human. They fall into two main groups: there are otherkin, people who identify with mythical creatures such as unicorns or dragons and therians, individuals who identify with earthly animals likes wolves, foxes, cats, dogs, etc. Both these classifications have strong online followings and communities. For years, otherkin and therians have used social media platforms like Tumblr and Instagram to discuss their experiences of identifying with other species. Many also make YouTube videos describing their experiences.

People can quickly assume that otherkin and therians are mentally unstable but clinical psychology professor Dr. Marc D. Feldman explained to The Daily Dot that this isn't necessarily true.

“People in advantaged countries like to think of themselves as especially complex, colorful, and special. The otherkin phenomenon certainly reflects this first-world preoccupation. But it isn’t illegal, doesn’t victimize other people, and isn’t a form of mental illness (unless people become delusional about it), so I don’t see a particular need for ‘treatment.’”

Dr. Jan Dirk Blom, an expert in clinical lycanthropy (a condition in which a person thinks they can transform into an animal), made a similar comment to The Daily Dot, adding that "we cannot have enough" online communities and resources for otherkin and therians to engage with each other.

“Human experience and behavior is so diverse, and only so little of it tends to be presented as ‘normal’ in the media, that communities such as these should be embraced and encouraged by us all," Dr. Blom said.

Here are a few examples of people who have identified as non-humans.

1. Dennis Avner (Stalking Cat)

Dennis Avner Stalking CatSutherland559 YouTube -

The late Dennis Avner, also known as Stalking Cat, was a Native American man who gained worldwide fame several years ago for the landing in the Guinness Book of World Records for "most permanent transformations to look like an animal." A Navy veteran, Stalking Cat lived in the back of a hardware store in 2011 and said in a video for actor Fred Willard that he spent thousands of dollars to alter his appearance to look like a cat. The hardware store owner, Dave Dailey, said that he allowed Stalking Cat to reside in the back of the store to prevent break-ins and intruders.

In addition to getting tattoos of tiger stripes all over his face, Stalking Cat also got whiskers, ear reshaping, eyebrow implants, an eye bridge implant, septum relocation, silicon lip and upper cheek injections, and a cleft lip, among other things.

"Everything I see and do, I relate to as a cat," he said. "I'm told I purr in my sleep."

Stalking Cat died of an apparent suicide in 2012, much to the sadness of those familiar with him.

"Dennis’s boundary-breaking life was never an easy one, and as he was fond of saying, he 'found fame, but never fortune,'" Shannon Larratt, founder of the Body Modification e-Zine (BME), wrote at the time. "A wonderful and complex person, he was at times as troubled as he was remarkable."

2. Adrian D.E. AshPaw

Teenager Adrian D.E. AshPaw identifies primarily as a wolf therian with six theriotypes (other animals) and has a strong following on Instagram and YouTube. In one Instagram video, she can be seen running around the forest with a tail. AshPaw noted in a YouTube video last year that she is the "alpha female" of a pack called Deviant Hierarchy and that she feels most at home in the woods by her house.

In another recent Instagram photo, one of her hands is covered in mud, a particularly gratifying experience.

"I love feeling the cool earth under my hands and feet, the energy that radiates is something truly extraordinary," she wrote. "Not to mention the feeling you get when you have worked hard for something you really want. My parents see me come home almost everyday with mud on my hands and jeans."

3. @that.hippie.therian

Instagram user @that.hippie.therian considers herself a polytherian (someone who believes they identify with more than one animal) and frequently posts photos of foxes and wolves alongside captions about her mood and feelings.

Though she is popular on Instagram, she has faced some immense challenges on the platform. In a January post, she confessed that she has received a lot of nasty messages from people who think therians and otherkin are psychologically disturbed:

"There's hate in comments of post saying to kill ourselves or [we're] mentally ill," she wrote. "I really do hope this all gets cleared up and our community can be at peace once again like it was."

4. Nano the cat

Nano the catNRK P3 Verdens Rikeste Land YouTube -

Nano, a 20-year-old Norwegian female, said in a recent video for YouTube channel NRK P3 Verdens Rikeste Land that she has been a cat all of her life and came to this realization when she was 16.

In the video, she described her ability to see and hear certain things humans cannot pick up, as well as her cat-like tendencies: hissing whenever she sees dogs, crawling on all fours and sleeping on the windowsill. She said it's obvious that she's a cat because she purrs, meows, can see in the dark and detests water. Though she has attempted to catch mice before, she has never successfully achieved this.

"It is exhausting, but you get used to living with cat acts and cat instincts," she said in the video. "My psychologist told me I can grow out of it, but I doubt it. I think I will be a cat all my life."

Watch the full video here:

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