Anne here, responding to a question sent to us by Mary F, who wins a book in exchange for her question. Mary asked: "Was a catskin waistcoat really made out of cats' skins?
Yes, Mary they were, gruesome as it seems to us in modern western society. In the poorer and more thrifty societies of the past, they used everything — even those animals we don't consider for meat or fur or leather.
I was unable to find a photo of a historical cat-skin waistcoat, but here, for instance is a photo of cat-skin jackets on sale in a foreign marketplace. Recognizably cat, aren't they? You can even buy them on line from China and other places. You can also buy dog-skin garments on line.
In modern western society, the wearing of fur is very much out of vogue and we are quite limited in the kind of leather we consider "normal" — mostly it's cow-skin, or sheep-skin or perhaps deer-skin — coming from the animals whose meat we most commonly eat.