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National Museums Liverpool's advent calendar has a cat theme for 2016. Cats are popular animals but not all cats enjoy the luxury of a pampered life as a domestic pet.
These specimens are all endangered wildcats or big cats such as lions and leopards. They were seized by the Border Force when illegally imported into the country without valid permits. The Border Force National Museum collection has more than 300 seized specimens of endangered species like these. The crude cat pelt of the bobcat (Lynx rufus) can be seen on display in the Seized! gallery at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Lynx are illegally hunted for their soft fur and some types are critically endangered. The bobcat is protected under Appendix II of CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) and has to be closely monitored.
In the UK, imports and exports of domestic cat and dog fur, and products made from the fur are banned. In some countries, cat and dog skins are seen as a by-product of the meat industry. Unscrupulous manufacturers pass off cat leather as cow, pig or sheep. Online shoppers may unwittingly buy ‘leather’ products that are actually made from the skin of cats.
Animal print fashion items are very popular, driving demand during the busy Christmas shopping period. Gifts can be ethically sourced from reputable companies and there are convincing fake fur alternatives readily available. Of course choosing the alternative means no animal is needlessly killed just for its skin.
Border Force officers and CITES have rescued many wild cats from around the world, like the one pictured above. Serval, Geoffroy’s and Savannah cats are bred with domestic cats in the USA for the domestic cat trade.