The cruelty of the fur trade has been well documented, and due to this there is now reduced demand for real fur, but there is still a market for fur products, and animals continue to suffer on fur farms and in traps because of it.

Mink in cage on fur farm.

Most furs traded worldwide originate from fur farms, mainly in China and Europe where mink, racoon dogs, foxes and other animals are kept in tiny wire cages, unable to act out natural behaviour. Their monotonous life leads to permanent stress, severe behavioural disorders, self-mutilation, and cannibalism. After only a few months, the young animals are killed, suffering an agonising death by gassing or electrocution.

In the EU there are no directives or detailed regulations on keeping fur-bearing animals, and China, by far the world’s principal producer of fur, has no enforceable law that would protect animals on fur farms.

A wild coyote.

Trapping, too, is extremely brutal. In North America especially, coyotes, foxes and red lynx are caught using spring traps, snares, and body-gripping traps. Trapped animals are often not killed immediately and may be left in agony for days. And like all traps, the ones set for fur-bearing animals are totally indiscriminate, killing and injuring countless dogs, cats, deer, and other animals who happen to wander into them.

Fur farming is banned in the UK, so is the import of cat, dog, and seal fur, but fur and fur products from other animals continue to be imported into the country. This ongoing trade helps maintain a global industry that causes immense suffering to both farmed and wild trapped animals.

Rabbit fur

Rabbit on fur farm.

Retailers will often use the excuse that rabbits are farmed for food and therefore their fur is more ethical, but this isn’t the case. China produces more than half of the world’s rabbit fur, and because it is low quality and cheap, it dominates the market. The animals are farmed in conditions with low animal welfare, as is the case across Europe. (Viva!)

The majority of rabbits farmed for their meat and skins exist in intensive systems – housed together in tiny wire cages which are incredibly uncomfortable for the rabbits to stand in. Sores commonly develop on their feet and legs, and they often suffer from chronic pain. The cages are stacked in tiers in large sheds containing thousands of animals.

As with other animals farmed for fur, rabbits suffer from open wounds which are often left without any treatment. Stress and cannibalism are often seen amongst these herbivores.

Vintage fur

Woman wearing vintage clothing including fur stole.

The buying and wearing of vintage fur creates a market for real fur. It normalises the wearing of fur and gives the impression that it is acceptable, and fashionable. But vintage fur is no more cruelty-free than the fur garments that are manufactured today. The skin of animals that are suffering on fur farms and in traps today, will be made into garments that could be hanging in ‘vintage’ stores in 15-20 years’ time.


Be aware that real fur is also still used to decorate accessories and pet toys. This is a needless use of a completely cruel product when there are so many alternative materials can be used.


Nowadays there are many cruelty-free, and warmer, alternatives to fur jackets and coats. There is a massive variety of synthetically insulated clothing, all designed differently to handle every type of use and environment. From small budget options, all the way up to high-quality, technical garments that can be worn in sub-zero conditions. As with down, synthetic alternatives are comparable in warmth to fur, are more resistant to wet weather, and many companies are now using synthetic filling with at least a proportion of it from recycled sources.

What can you do?

There are companies who still use real fur trim on their garments and accessories, check before you buy! Some faux fur is so like the real thing nowadays, it can be difficult to tell if it is fake or not. You can do one, or all, of the following to establish whether the fur is fake or real:

  • Check the company website – do they have a no-fur policy? Or are they known for including real fur in their garments?
  • Check the label.
  • Separate the fur strands and look at the base. Faux fur generally has a mesh or threaded fabric backing. Real fur, on the other hand, will be attached to skin, which will be smoother (like felt) and will not resemble any fabric.
  • Smell it! Seriously, if the suspect fur smells similar to the fur on your pet cat or rabbit, it most likely will have come from an animal.
  • If you are still in doubt, don’t buy it!

Did you know?

Hats can be made from fur felt. The ‘downy’ fur, or felt, of rabbits, hare, and beavers are all used in the making of fedoras, top hats, trilbies, bowlers, and pork pie hats.