Okay, how did this happen? A German paper is reporting that hats made with feline fur are being sold at two different popular German retail chains. The hats were discovered at both Tom Tailor, a clothing store, and Müller, a popular pharmacy. Both stores sold similar hats—knit hats with cat fur pom poms on them.
After experts confirmed that the fur was in fact from cats, Müller removed the hats from its shelves. According to PETA, it’s not uncommon for domestic animal fur to get purposely mislabeled as another animal. “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,” Harald Ullmann, Vice President of PETA German, told Yahoo Shine.
The fur most likely originated from China, where much of the foreign fur that’s imported into Europe comes from. And Ullmann says that because of the murky supply chain and lack of accountability between China and the countries it supplies to, there’s no telling how widespread the problem is.
And designers may have no idea that what they’re getting isn’t what they think it is. “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,” says Ullmann. “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.”
In the U.S., the sale of dog and cat fur is banned, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t occasionally make its way onto the market. In 2013, a Humane Society investigation revealed that Marc by Marc Jacobs coats that were supposedly made from fake fur were actually made with fur from Chinese raccoon dogs. It’s a breed that’s often skinned alive for its fur.
So the best way to ensure that you’re not wearing cat or dog fur? Check the origins of everything you’re wearing, and be careful to buy from reputable sources. Of course, if you’re truly concerned, abstaining from fur altogether is probably your best bet.