Many cat lovers enjoy showing off pictures of their kitties in costumes, especially around Halloween. If you're thinking of dressing up Kitty, here are a few pointers to keep everything pleasant and safe for all involved.
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Should You Dress Up Your Cat?
Some people claim that dressing up cats is "undignified". That's a legitimate opinion. If you are one of those people, this article, as well as threads dealing with dressed-up cats, are probably not for you.
Yes, anthropomorphizing cats, i.e. treating them as if they were human beings, can be unhealthy for the cat in some situations. Attributing human-like motivations to a cat's behavior, such as vindictiveness or jealousy, is always a bad idea.
In that sense, we'd like to discourage cat owners from treating cats as if they were humans. On the other hand, jovially talking to your cat (and listening to their replies!), or calling them your "furkids" can be a legitimate choice that should not affect the other aspects of your relationship and your responsibility as the cat's owner. The same goes for making your cat part of your holiday celebrations and enjoying a photoshoot with an interesting costume.
To sum this up, we believe it is possible to enjoy dressing up your cat and taking pictures. It can be something that enhances the human-feline bond and as long as it's not stressful for the cat, it can be a great way to get some funny pictures to share with friends, family, and of course, members of TheCatSite!
With that out of the way, we now ask again -
Should You Dress Up Your Cat?
Cats have distinct personalities. Some cats will not only tolerate the extra handling needed to put the costume on but even enjoy it. Others may not appreciate the procedure, or the feeling of the costume on their body once it's been put on.
You know your cat best, so use your judgment and remember, it's not worth it if it stresses out the cat. Stress is a serious issue in cats and you do not want to cause discomfort for your cat (or deal with stress-related problems down the road). Your cat's personal boundaries should always be respected.
Even if your cat plays along and doesn't mind the costume, stick to these rules to keep the experience enjoyable and safe -
1. Keep it short.
You won't be taking your cat out on the streets as some dog owners do. Dressing up a cat should be limited to a short photo session and no more. Get everything you need, including props and camera, ahead of time.
The last thing that happens just before snapping some pics is dressing up the cat. The first thing to happen once you're no longer taking photographs (or earlier, if your cat shows any signs of discomfort) is taking the costume off.
2. Use a safe costume.
Whether you buy a costume or make one yourself, make sure it's safe for pets. Avoid bells, bows, strings and other choking hazards. Avoid incorporating any form of wet paint or makeup.
Also, make sure you can take the costume off very quickly if you have to. If Kitty freaks out in the middle of the photoshoot, for whatever reason, you should be able to get her out of the costume right away without harming her or yourself in the process.
3. Make sure the costume is loose.
Avoid a costume that is tight on the cat's body. Cats don't like the feeling of being physically restrained and the sensation can be too stressful. Don't forget to allow room for the cat's tail to move around.
4. Keep the cat's face uncovered.
The feeling of having their sensory input limited can be frightening to cats. Keep eyes, nose, mouth and ears uncovered (it's ok if the ears are loosely covered, as long as the cat can hear sounds through the costume).
5. Always monitor the cat while he or she is wearing a costume.
Don't let Kitty out of your sight for a moment. Costumes can be considered safe only when under strict supervision. Again, keep the session short and sweet, and be there in case your cat decides she wants out of the costume.
6. Never ever force a cat into a costume
If your cat does not want to play along, let her be. Find something else to do for Halloween and stick to enjoying photographs by other members.
Have a happy and safe Halloween and don't forget to keep your cat safe on Halloween.