Some people see cat hair as a hindrance, but the fuzzy, natural fiber (which inevitably finds its way into your food) is actually an economical, renewable resource with a variety of off-label uses. Whether it’s used to whip up crafty creations, line bird’s nests, or absorb dangerous oil spills, your kitty’s excess fur can experience a whole new life beyond hairballs, once it’s safely removed from the cat.
1. Felted Crafts
Felted cat-hair crafts surged in popularity last year after the English-language release of Crafting with Cat Hair, the cat crafters’ bible by acclaimed Japanese artist Kaori Tsutaya. The book includes chapters on how to properly collect yout cat’s hair, as well as cat-fur facts and fun projects including finger puppets, portraits, feline-embellished scarves, and coin purses.
If you’ve ever tried to roll up a wad of cat hair, you know that it knits itself up tightly into balls or cigar-shaped sticks purrfect for tossing and kicking. In the video above, Zack Scott demonstrates the hairy method of creating these cheap and creative toys your kitties are sure to love — as long as they don’t try to eat them first!
3. Fancy Jewelry
Jewelry designer Flora Davis works with her beloved flamepoint Ragamuffin cat, Gaia, to turn out innovative, one-of-a-kind cat hair pendants and earrings that are sure to turn heads. Her creations have become so popular that they’ve appeared on the Today show and Anderson Cooper’s Anderson, along with the Animal Planet favorite, Must Love Cats.
4. Yarn and Knit Items
Aside from felting, cat hair can also be spun into skeins of yarn, suitable for sweater or mitten making. If you don’t have the skills or equipment to do it yourself, companies like VIP Fibers will wash, card, and spin the fur you send in, and even knit it into memorable keepsakes to help you remember Fluffy forever.
5. Oil Spill Cleanup
After the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, San Franciso-based nonprofit Matter of Trust began accepting donations of clean hair (cat, dog, and human) to turn into oil-absorbing hairmats and hair-stuffed containment booms made from recycled pantyhose. The initiative was so successful that the organization’s website claims that its warehouses are full, but its staffers are still hard at work on the hair-for-oil-spill program, and hope to continue to collect hair and make booms.
6. For the Birds
Leave out a bowl or a suet cage filled with fluff and watch as the birds flock over to pick up supplies to line their nests. On the Birds & Blooms forum, one member questioned whether the feathery guys would mind sleeping with the enemy (so to speak). One helpful commenter replied: “Most birds have a very poor sense of smell, so I don’t think they realize where it came from. They are just happy to get the soft stuff for the nest.”
Back in December, the staff at Jonesborough Animal Hospital in Tennessee collected hair to sell to a laboratory that purchases bags of healthy fluff from veterinary clinics for use in formulating allergy injections for cats. It took hospital staffers nearly a year to gather 2.5 pounds of fur to donate, which came from grooming and medical procedures. The clinic sent in the hefty fur sack for a $325 payout, which they then put toward helping out needy families during the holidays. Who says cat hair doesn’t pay?