In Brief

Environmental Law Fuels Black Market Trade in Cat Skins

A kitten hunting its prey
Cats may be adorable, but environmentalists argue they're also a scourge for wildlife (Image credit: Menna |

Fluffy, hold on to your fur: Some scoundrels may want a piece of you. A lucrative trade in cat fur is booming in Switzerland, and as a result, many domestic cats are disappearing, animal advocates say.

Animal rights activists say a law allowing citizens to shoot housecats that are more than 656 feet (200 meters) from their houses is to blame. The law was designed to protect wildlife from free-roaming cats. Past studies have shown that cats kill billions of birds and other wildlife a year. But activists say the law is being used as a cover to pick off innocent pets and skin them for their fur, The Verge reported. The cat fur trade was outlawed in Switzerland in 2008, but a cat-fur blanket can fetch more than $1,700, according to The Verge article.

An advocacy group called SOS Chats has used hidden cameras to uncover a booming black market trade in cat skins, as well as 21 cat-skin tanneries across the country. Some farmers even admitted to the group that they were raising cats for the explicit purpose of selling them to tanneries.

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Tia Ghose
Managing Editor

Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.