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How to Recycle Dog and Cat Fur (DIY Ideas and Crafts)

As the owner of three Alaskan Malamutes (one of them a so-called wooly Malamute), I'm no stranger to hefty piles of post-grooming fur.

Our pets generate a lot of fur, but it doesn't necessarily have to go in the garbage! Here are a few ways to recycle your pet's fur.

Our pets generate a lot of fur, but it doesn't necessarily have to go in the garbage! Here are a few ways to recycle your pet's fur.

What Can You Do With Pet Fur?

If you have pets, you most likely have pet fur. That is, unless you shave your pets bald. This author has three Alaskan Malamutes, one of them a so-called wooly Malamute, which means he's a long hair.

The picture below is just from one afternoon's brushing. You can imagine how much hair and fur we come up with each month, though usually it's only this bad twice per year. Grooming an Alaskan Malamute can definitely yield you an overabundance of fur!

In an effort to come up with strategies for putting all this beautifully clean, soft fur to use, I decided to do some research on the subject of what you can do with dog and cat fur.

Quite to my amazement, there are quite a few things that we can do with all that hair.

Fur from just one afternoon of brushing my Malamutes!

Fur from just one afternoon of brushing my Malamutes!

Spin Fur Into Yarn

Yarn made from animal fur is called chiengora. That is usually referring to dog fur. but it can apply to any animal's fur spun into yarn. I heard the term "chatangora" once meaning cat fur spun into yarn but I haven't ever been able to document if that is truly the term or not. (Fun fact: In French, "chien" translates to "dog" and "chat" translates to "cat"!)

In Central Oregon, I found a yarn shop that wanted my malamute dog fur. A lady who works in the store has a spinning wheel and spins dog hair into yarn. Fur to yarn is most often seen with double-coated breeds such as my malamutes.

Here are a few others that can produce wonderful yarns:

  • Mastiffs
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Terriers
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Samoyeds
  • Chows
  • Sheepdogs
  • Briards
  • Collies

This list is not all inclusive. The important thing to remember is that the soft undercoat is used, not the top guard hairs. The hair also needs to be at least 2 inches long to work when spinning by hand or by wheel.

How to Make Yarn Out of Pet Fur

The yarn is made by working the fur into strings, either by hand or on a spinning wheel. It is usually washed and air-dried first though in my dogs' case, if the fur is stored in paper bags or open bins, it's squeaky clean and odorless.

The pet fur can also be pulled through two slicker brushes to get it to bind together, then easily rolled into cylinders for spinning.

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Dependent upon the quality of the fur, sometimes the fur will be spliced with wool to make a sturdier yarn but most often, it's just plain fur.

Some people use long cat hair much the same way. Again, the fur will need to be at least 2 inches long.

There are many places online where you can send your pet's fur and have it spun for use just like any other knitting or crocheting yarn. Or you can also contract with people in knitting shops or online to knit you something from scarves to hats to mittens using your pet's fur.

The idea that you will have something of your pet forever (or "fur-ever," as one ad reads) is of great appeal to pet lovers everywhere. This idea is tops when it comes to recycling pet fur!

More Ways to Recycle Pet Fur

You don't have to stop at turning your pet's hair into yarn though. There are some other simpler ways to recycle or reuse your dog hair or cat hair.

Turn It Into Cute Crafts

There are many places online (and probably in the brick-and-mortar setting as well) that use cat hair or dog hair to make things like decorative purses.

Flies for fishing are made by some crafters out of dog hair or cat hair.

One has only to go to YouTube to find clever craft ideas on how to recycle pet fur. Watch the video below on how cat hair handbags are made.

Soak Up Oil With It (Seriously)

Incredibly, when there is an oil spill, dog and cat fur can quickly soak up the greasy substance. Shipments of pet fur are oftentimes sent as a first line of treatment to the site of an oil spill.

This is a great thing to keep in mind on the home front as well should oil or something greasy be spilled. Reach for that bag of dog fur and soak it up. It works much like giant cotton balls.

Add It to Your Compost Pile

All things that can compost can be used for gardening. Mix pet hair and fur (and even human hair) into the compost bin and use it on flower gardens and vegetable gardens.

It's said that human hair especially (and some pet furs) will deter certain animals from coming into the garden and chomping up plants and flowers. The hair or fur gives off a scent that the animals interpret as threatening.

Make a Bird Nesting Station

There is a very simple video on YouTube which shows a quick way to make a bird nesting station with your dog or cat fur.

The man who made it used a flat small cardboard box with 2 holes punched in the ends, a bungee cord handle (one end stuck in each hole) and a huge mound of husky/shepherd hair placed inside the box.

He hung the box from a birdfeeder pole and watched the birds come and grab tufts of the dog fur to line their nests.

The YouTube video below shows another great way to hang the dog or cat hair out so it's readily accessible for nesting birds.

We have birds coming to our yard routinely all summer long. They swoop down and grab tufts of my long hair malamute's fur and happily fly away with it so I know this works. It's a great way to recycle my dog's fur. Alaskan malamutes require extensive grooming and this is yet another way to recycle and reuse their hair.

What Do You Think?

Those are just a few of the most popular ways that people recycle their pet fur. If you have some more great ideas, please add to the quality of the article by sharing them with us below.

In a day and age where everything seems to be disposable, it's comforting to know that there are some ways that we can recycle our pets' fur. Many people in Alaska have been doing this for centuries and these days, it's turning into a lucrative business for some.

If you knit or do fiber work, try some of the beautifully soft pet fur and see what you think. Or if you happen to have a lot of dog or cat hair that you routinely throw away, think about recycling it to a yarn store or shop.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Audrey Kirchner


Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 02, 2012:

Indeed Scribenet - sounds like a lot of cat fur to go to good use~

Maggie Griess from Ontario, Canada on August 01, 2012:

Jeez...I never thought to use the tons of cat fur I have tossed My cat has the soft downy type that would make really soft sweaters! Maybe I will start collecting it...but I swear a few of my friends will think I have gone over the deep end.

It would be worth seeing the look on their faces if I created something "cat fur" though. What would my cat think? Cool Hub!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 01, 2012:

Ha ha BJ - or you could just go about randomly combing dogs and collecting the hair~

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 01, 2012:

I had to read the title of your hub twice, Audrey, what a unique idea! I'm going to collect dog hair to be made into a garment of some kind. Oh, wait, that may take some time - first, I have to get a dog.

But I will save your fascinating hub just in case.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on July 31, 2012:

Well, since the dog fur is perfectly clean (the undercoat and not the top layer of fur) - and odorless...the answer would be no. Malamutes for example have the cleanest fur of any dog you'll ever find and it is completely odorless...even when wet. I do think any yarn will have a smell if it is soaking wet to be honest though - but you won't smell "dog" any more than you would smell "wool" from a sheep? People have a misconception I think because it is dog fur or cat fur but it really is all the same kind of concept.

A lot of knitters also wash and air dry the fur just to be extra cautious about the smell factor but I can tell you the buckets and bags I get off my guys after sitting and sitting, or getting wet - doesn't smell~ That's probably another reason I like malamutes so much - we had labs for years and they always smelled like "dogs" and were very oily but mals are one of the cleanest dogs for fur you'll ever find.

writinginalaska from southeast Alaska on July 31, 2012:

ok, great Hub, but it begs the question.... we all know what "wet dog" smells like. So if someone is knitting with dog hair and you wash the knitted item is it going to smell like "wet dog"?

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on July 31, 2012:

Ann - yes - quite a few folks make coats and sweaters...thanks so much for stopping by.

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on July 31, 2012:

Very cool - I've heard of the hair being spun into yarn. The first lady that came up with it I think made coats and everything else out of it.

Great hub -I enjoyed it very much. Voted up.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on July 31, 2012:

Thanks Stephanie - I actually know about this first hand or should I say first hair....I thought for years that Griffin especially had the most beautiful angora type fur and it should not be being thrown away so I started asking around and indeed, knitters wanted it LIKE CRAZY. So I just donate it...though I'm thinking now because I love my guys so much, I kind of want to have something permanent of "them" so I may try to get some of it back and try and knit something simple myself - or have a good friend do it for me!! Even better...then I could get more than 1 mitten done~~

Stephanie Henkel from USA on July 31, 2012:

This is so amazing! Although I know some spinners will work dog hair into their yarn, I never imagined that there would be a market for dog fur! When I saw the title of your article, I really didn't think it would be serious, but I'm so glad I happened on it - it's so interesting! Voted up and shared!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on July 31, 2012:

Hey Maddie - let me know if it works~ We don't get a lot of critters IN our yard probably because mine look like a pack of wolves~ but there is enough hair out there everywhere to do the job probably! We have high winds and Griff's hair just seems to swirl and twirl everywhere~

Maddie Ruud from Oakland, CA on July 31, 2012:

I am definitely going to try mixing Vivi's hair with the compost. Maybe it'll help keep the pesky gophers away from our vegetables!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on July 30, 2012:

Choxy - oh my - DO~ Their fur is some of the best and would be so pretty.

Moonlake - ha - isn't that the truth...I just keep combing and brushing and picking the hair off my poor Griffin looks like he shed 25 pounds...oh - I think he did!

Helena - it just might work~~~ They might pick up the scent and think uh oh....he's or she's around here somewhere - gotta go!

Om - isn't that the funniest thing about the solar panel -I imagine it could's pretty crazy since I got my long hair cut off - at least I now know WHOSE hair it is everywhere - my boy Griffin! Denaya and Gabby just blow their coat in puffs and tufts but yikes, Griffin is definitely my Fabio~

Om Paramapoonya on July 30, 2012:

Wow, these are some incredible and surprising ways to recycle animal fur! I had heard about turning it into yarn or some types of crafts, but never thought it could be used in gardening or a solar panel. Fascinating!

Helena Ricketts from Indiana on July 30, 2012:

I didn't know that so many things could be done with pet fur! I had heard about spinning it into yarn but the other ideas are really interesting too. The composting idea is intriguing and I'll have to try that to see if Sophie's hair will be a deterrent for the squirrels that are tearing up some of my plants.

moonlake from America on July 30, 2012:

I was combing my cat yesterday thinking how pretty his fur is and wondering if it has any use. I guess it does from what you have on your hub. Very interesting. Voted Up and more.

Choxy on July 30, 2012:

Very interesting article. I have a golden retriever/husky mix and I have an overabundance of fur! I may have to try some of your ideas!

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