Being a cat lady is about to take on a whole different meaning. A new hair-extension technique aims to be chic and eco-friendly at the same time. By using cat hair instead of human hair in its extensions, San Francisco-based Lechaton Cosmeceuticals promises to create long-lasting extensions with fuller, natural color.

"I was brushing my cat, Princess Boom-Boom, when the idea came to me," said Maneki Neko, the inventor of the extensions. "Instead of throwing her shed fur away, I could turn it into a line of luxurious hairpieces." A few prototypes and Cat Fancy ads later, Purrfect Lengths debuted its collection of hand-woven fur extensions. They're softer than most extensions, can be worn up to nine weeks, and they're specially treated with a dander-neutralizing formula to prevent allergic reactions.

Business is booming, but to find out why some people aren't happy about these extensions,


Each extension requires the fur of 12 cats (or 20 kittens); the cats are fed a high-protein diet to provide optimum shine, then gently shaved under the supervision of a veterinarian. Unsurprisingly, long-haired breeds such as Maine Coons and Persians are better-suited for the program than domestic shorthairs. "My celebrity clients wouldn't even consider going with extensions from a tabby," Neko explained. "The fur has to come from a breed recognized by TICA [The International Cat Association] or it's just not going to happen," she said, adding that a forthcoming lower-priced line of extensions would incorporate the fur of non-pedigreed animals.

Animal-rights advocates argue that Purrfect Lengths takes advantage of unsuspecting cats. "The feline community is being exploited," said an anonymous member of the Siamese Liberation Army, an underground protest group. "Here you have animals who are being paid in Tender Vittles — a clear violation of labor laws in itself — just so short-haired humans can have luxurious locks." But Neko points out that the cats would shed their fur eventually, and that her eco-friendly business creates jobs for previously unemployed cats. If you're interested in having your cat apply for the three-month Purrfect Lengths Lil' Shavers program, be sure to check out the deadlines and guidelines.