Hats With Real Cat Fur Being Sold in Germany. Not Cool.

Cute hat? Think again. This pom pom is made of cat fur. Photo courtesy of Animals Liberty Mere weeks after several major retailers and pulled angora items for their shelves and banned future sale of the items due to the mistreatment of rabbits, there's another disturbing fur scandal making headlines, this one surrounding  the fur of felines. German news outlet The Local reports that animal advocacy group Animals' Liberty discovered items made of cat fur at two different popular German retail chains. Experts confirmed to the group that Tom Tailor, a Hamburg-based clothing retailer, was selling cat fur hats while Müller, a pharmacy giant, had cat-fur pompoms on hats the store was selling for a mere $11.50. According to reports, the fur may have been imported from China. The Local printed an excerpt from the Facebook page of Animals' Liberty, which stated: "The fur industry knows no limits." The European Union banned the importation of domestic animal fur in 2009, so the group took immediate action and relayed its discovery to the consumer protection board and veterinary locations.

"Most of these products are being mislabeled. In this case they said it was fake fur," Harald Ullmann, Vice President of PETA Germany tells Yahoo Shine exclusively. "Sometimes they label it as Chinese foxes or other fake names, and it's being colored, so unless you do DNA testing on the product you don't know if it might actually be dog or cat fur. That's a big problem, and it shows how cheap cat fur is in China that it's easily being mislabeled and sold as fake."

According to The Local, Müller claims the items were "promptly taken off the shelves" while Tom Tailor told Bild newspaper that "we deeply regret what has happened." But this is not the first time cat fur has been spotted on garments in Germany. "We used to have a lot of cat and dog fur coming in from China," says Ullmann. "About 10 years ago, when it was still legal, we discovered fur labeled as fox in big retail stores and they were really cat and dog fur, and they stopped selling fur as a result." Even after the ban in 2011 reports emerged of cat fur coats and vests for sale at an autumn harvest market in Leipzig. One vendor apparently admitted his items were made of cat fur and that he sewed a coat himself out of 18 cats. Police were notified, and the seller was banned from all city-run markets while he was investigated.

Here in the United States, the sale of dog and cat fur is banned, but that doesn't mean it's not on the market. Investigations by groups like the Humane Society have found that dog fur is still being used for things like fur trim in unlabeled or mislabeled coats. Just last year, Marc by Marc Jacobs designer jackets being sold by Century 21 department stores were marked "faux fur," but were actually made from the fur of Chinese raccoon dogs. Just over the border in Canada, however, the importation of cat and dog fur – clearly marked or not – remains legal.

So who is to blame when fur that's clearly banned makes it way to store shelves? Ullmann says it's hard to place the blame on designers and retailers. "Usually this happens in China and the designers may not be made aware of it. They have to rely on their buyers, but China is a big country producing a lot of fur, and there are several degrees between the buyer and the factory to trace the origin." Sometimes the reason cat fur is substituted in the factory is as simple as a supply issue. "If there's a big demand for fur trim and they run out of it, I wouldn't put it past them to use real fur like cat fur to substitute and sell it as a synthetic," adds Ullman.

As a result, consumers are often duped into buying improperly marked or illegal animal products, which could be derived from a process involving inhumane treatment. While the discovery of cat fur in Germany could be an isolated incident, you can never be too sure about the fur you're purchasing. Up until recently angora had always been viewed as humane, collected when plush rabbits were gently shaved. The recent PETA video showcasing abuse has animal lovers feeling otherwise. "We always tell people the best way to make sure you're not wearing [cat or dog for] is to shun any real fur," says Ullmann. "You may even want to skip faux fur when the garment says it's made in China or Asia"

Hopefully these kinds of findings will spawn more investigations and eventually help ban the sale of domestic pet fur everywhere. Until then, be sure to make informed purchases and give your kitties a hug. For more information on figuring out the difference between real and faux fur, check out this guide from The Humane Society.

Related links:
Your faux fur may actually be real dog
Why PETA (Yes, PETA) Donated 100 Furs to Detroit's Homeless

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