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Taxidermy cat handbag sells at auction in New Zealand

Tom the taxidermy cat Image copyright TradeMe/ClaireThird
Image caption Tom the taxidermy cat was found dead on the side of the road before it was made into art

Fancy owning a handbag made out of a dead ginger cat?

The "glamour puss" bag was put on New Zealand auction site TradeMe with a starting price of NZ$1 (£0.56) and ended up selling for 500 times that.

Christchurch-based taxidermist Claire Third said she'd picked up the roadkill cat and kept it in her freezer for three months before she decided to turn the stuffed cat into a piece of art.

Reaction to the bag has been mixed, with some calling it "disgusting".

"Not the slightest bit creative or artistic," said one of 200 comments left on the website.

A natural predator

Ms Third, who has been a professional taxidermist for 15 years, has said no animals were killed in the making of the bag, as she found the cat already dead on the side of the road.

She decided to turn it into a bag because "he had a particularly nice face, and the rest of him was squashed".

Image copyright TradeMe/ClaireThird
Image caption Today's food for thought: "Who let the cat out of the bag, or is it inside out?"

The auction description says "Tom" is "a very stylish handbag for the girl that has everything".

"A one off purse that will grab attention wherever you go."

Tom, which took Ms Third approximately 300 hours to complete, sat in her freezer for around seven years before she decided to list it online.

She has taxidermied many other animals - including a "Unicorn" made up of various animals such as llamas and pheasants - but works primarily with cats.

"I get a lot of cats because they kill them because of the bird population," she explained.

Feral cats are a problem in New Zealand, especially because the country takes pride in its rare birds, many of whom are under attack from other species.

The country has adopted the "ambitious goal" of eradicating all of the bird's main predators by 2050, with an environmental activist suggesting in 2013 to kill every feral cat in the country.

Image copyright TradeMe/ClaireThird
Image caption The 'Unicorn' had sat in Ms Third's freezer for some 15 years

The ginger handbag, which was originally listed for NZ$1,400, was later decreased to a minimum bid of NZ$1.

"People said I'm profiting off a cat so I reduced the price to a dollar to tell them to stuff it," said Ms Third.

The auction closed on Wednesday, reaching a bid of NZ$545 (£306).

But her artwork has had a mixed response online.

"How about someone shot you and stuffed you, would you like it? Bet not," said one user.

"Leave the cats alone let them rest in peace!" one user exclaimed.

Others have been more receptive to the idea.

"I'd love it in another colour. Not keen on ginger cats, but grey ones are lovely," a contributor added.

Image copyright TradeMe/ClaireThird
Image caption Some people were left wondering if the bag was 'fur real'

And some were just waiting to make their share of animal puns.

"Ha, you gotta be kitten me," one said.

"Is it a a purrrrse or a handbag?" another asked.

"Who let the cat out the bag, or is it inside out?" was another question.

Ms Third said she was "absolutely not expecting" the backlash.

"I've put things on TradeMe before but things like this have never happened," she told the BBC.

She said she'd been "quite upset" by some of the comments, and had had to take the day off work.

"There are some really weird people out there, and I don't know what leather couches they've been sitting on."

Reporting by Yvette Tan

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