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Is there nothing more entertaining than doing something completely and utterly useless with your time? I think not. Wholly embracing this sentiment is clearly what brought me to the realization that making pretty, little things out of cat hair really wasn’t as creepy as it sounded. In fact, it was more fun, functional and fashionista-worthy than I could have ever expected.
What the heck am I talking about? Cat crafts, of course!
Did you know that there are a zillion and one ways you can make things with cat hair? Did you really think all that fluff was inevitably destined for the landfill, birds’ nests or the incomprehensibly entropic ether that is our great outdoors? While it may end up in those places eventually, I have a solution to the problem of cat fur on clothes, floors, walls and furniture: FURminate.
I have an extreme affinity for this impressive de-shedding tool. I could write a love sonnet about it. The FURminator is a plastic-handled, metal-bladed, angled brush that selectively plucks the dense but fine-haired, shed-prone undercoat of cats and dogs. The tool brushes out some of the topcoat, too, but primarily concentrates on culling the cottony stuff underneath.
As such, I find that “furmination” is every bit as therapeutic as it is hygienic and cosmetic. Apart from keeping cat hair lustrous, clean and flake-free, it also cuts down on hairball-hurling episodes and minimizes the possibility of serious hairball trouble — like gastric trichobezoars, nonpassing hairballs that stay uncomfortably in the stomach.
Bonus: Most cats adore the pleasurable sensation and human interaction too.
It was the fact of all this cat fur that got me thinking that there really should be something interesting I could do with the fuzz. After all, I’m a lifelong knitter, so sourcing new and exciting fibers is second nature. And cat hair, while in short supply due to its one-brushing-at-a-time accumulation, is a not-insignificant source of legitimately functional fiber.
What’s more, this fiber really means something. So why not use it to memorialize my patients, keep Fluffy close, service my inner crafter and get my green on in the process?
Enter perhaps the cutest crafting book that I’ve ever laid hands on: Crafting With Cat Hair. This book (translated from the Japanese, of course, seeing as only the Japanese could come up with something so utterly cute overkill) describes a super-neat process of cat fur crafting that I’d never considered.
Here are some simple steps for a cat fur puppet, with some of my suggestions thrown in:
Step 1: FURminate your clean kitty — or use a traditional brush — to get lots of fur off. (No fleas or flakes allowed!)
Step 2: With the fur between your thumb and forefingers, massage the fluffy bits together into thin, 1 to 3 mm sheets.
This controlled “matting” technique is the crux of the process. Akin to “felting” — the process by which disulfide bonds are encouraged to form strong connections (as happens readily with natural fibers like wool and mohair) — cat fur matting makes for a flattened, solidified mass of surprisingly soft, feltlike fiber.
Step 3: You’ll now devise a catlike cardboard form. I like to cut out a cat shape and then cover it with plastic wrap and some extra tape for waterproofing.
Step 4: Cover the plastic, tape-wrapped cardboard form with sheets of the matted kitty fur, making sure to get all the corners (especially the ears) completely sealed, so there are no gaps.
Step 5: Now take the process one step further by wetting the whole shebang with a mildly soapy solution and then agitate the fibers some more. I do this by putting the furred form in a sandwich bag, along with some soapy water. Then I gently rub the form with the sides of the bag until the matted fur slowly comes together even further.
Step 6: Take kitty out of the bag and squeeze her dry between two paper towels.
Step 7: Cut a tail-thick strip off the dried kitty’s lower half to remove the plastic-wrapped cardboard form underneath.
Step 8: Add a couple of beady eyes with fabric glue, and find some yarn to make a cute collar. Guess what? You’ve got a silly kitty puppet!
Not into puppets? Simple appliqués made from cat fur can grace sweaters, socks, caps, hats or other knitted items. Reference that kooky Japanese book for more ideas.
Happy cat crafting!
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