It is estimated more than 50 million fur-bearing animals, including cats and dogs, are killed each year for their skins, most grown on fur farms around the world. Southern Oregon historian Ben Truwe has resurrected a 1911 Medford newspaper story about a purported attempt to establish a cat fur farm in Southern Oregon.

The promoters, Col. Frank Ray and Frank Frazier laid out the following scheme:

Their farm at Tolo, south of Sam’s Valley, would start with 100,000 cats, which would produce 12 kittens each, resulting in 12 million skins a year. The skins would average 30 cents each, resulting in revenue of nearly $10,000 a day, after paying 100 men $2 a day to skin 50 cats each. “The cats will eat the rats and the rats will eat the (carcasses of the skinned) cats, and we will get the skins … a self-acting and automatic business.”

Ray and Frazier sold stock for their project for a few days before leaving for San Francisco, maybe in a hurry, when investors realized the promoters’ revenue figures were based on sloppy math.

The newspaper didn’t say how much money they raised and whether they ever returned.

Sources: Rose, Marla. “Fur Is Dead!...Or Is It?” 22 March, 2010.; Truwe, Ben. “Ray and Frazier to Start Cat Farm” Southern Oregon History, Revised at

— As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at