Wednesday, July 1, 2015


My husband's cat Church died last Fall/Winter, we found her under his moms house after she hadn't been seen in a few days. I've wanted to get her and articulate her skeleton since we found her, and I thought waiting a few months would be best so that nature could help me out. Well that was NOT a good idea, because like most dead bodies in cool, dry environments, she mummified. My husband bravely crawled under the house and fought off a vicious black widow attack to get Church's body for me, and I brought her home and put her in a Rubbermaid tub with some fill dirt. 
I thought maybe having her in soil and out in the open would attract some insects to clean the bones, but after a few days in tub, nothing had happened. I could have macerated the whole body right then, but I didn't want cat soup cooking in my backyard for a week in the heat, and there are just too many tiny bones I couldn't risk losing since I plan to articulate. The body was so badly mummified that I couldn't remove any bones, so I had choice but to macerate (which is currently happening), but I thought I could do the skull by hand. I pulled off what I could by hand, and then used a pai of sewing scissors to get most of the rest. 
Soft tissue like eyes and brain are always the first to go. 
Removed what I could by hand! Bad photo quality because it was getting dark. 
Removed the rest with sharp scissors, but it wasn't all coming off. 

I quickly realized that this incredibly mummified tissue wasn't going to come off while it was dry. I put the skull in a small, tightly closed container full of water and left it on my front porch for a little over 24 hours. The direct sunlight and 95 degree temperature helped speed up the process a lot. By the time I removed the skull from the water, all the rehydrated tissue had fallen off and I had a clean skull! 
When bones come out of water, they smell. Bad. I soaked the skull in a container of about 50/50 water and laundry soap, which did the job of getting the smell out completely. Normally, this is where I would degrease the bones, but since this mummified, there was no moisture at all in it and therefore no grease. I had to be very careful with the incisors, cats have VERY tiny front teeth in their top and bottom jaws, and the fall out very easily. I removed them all before soaking and when it was dry I used tweezers to put them back in, with superglue of course. 
Those tiny teeth!

This skull went right from the laundry soap bath to the sink for a rinse, and then into a water and peroxide bath to whiten. Normally I'd leave bones in peroxide for two days to completely whiten, but I left this skull in for about 12 hours. It's not as white as it could be, but I like it. After it dried, I glued the bottom jaws and put everything together! 
This skull turned out beautifully, and I love it even more because it belonged to a cat that I knew when she was alive! I have the rest of the body macerating now, and I will pour the water through a strainer to be sure I get all those tiny bones. I plan to articulate the skeleton, so stay tuned for that adventure! 

Dog and cat

No comments:

Post a Comment