Is It Ok To Put Clothes or Costumes on Your Cat?

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With Halloween just around the corner, there are cute cat outfits hitting the shelves at most pet shops but should your cat wear clothing? Social media is full of cats wearing clothes but while some cats enjoy and are comfortable wearing clothes, others do not. Other cats may need to wear clothes at the advice of a veterinarian. For cats who don't need clothes for medical reasons, the decision to get your cat dressed in a costume or outfit should be determined by your individual cat's personality.

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Is it OK for your cat to wear clothes?

Outfits and Halloween costumes aren't necessary for most cats. But is it ok to put them on your cat? The answer is going to depend a lot on your individual cat's temperament and behavior when being handled and touched. Cats that have a calm, but confident temperament tend to do best with wearing different outfits and accessories.

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If your cat is going to be wearing clothes, make sure to always supervise them while they have the clothes on. This will help prevent your cat from accidentally getting stuck in their clothes — which could frighten them or lead to injuries. If your cat isn't stressed, anxious, or irritated about wearing clothes, it's perfectly ok to put outfits on them.

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Signs your cat doesn’t like wearing clothes

If you are putting clothing on your cats, be sure to pay attention to their behavior, mannerisms, and body language to help you determine if they are uncomfortable. If you're going to be dressing up your cat it should be something your cat is enthusiastically participating in.

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Signs of stress to watch out for include:

  • Your cat tries to get away when you bring the outfits out, or when you try to put the costume on them
  • Your cat begins meowing when you are dressing them, or while they are dressed in the costume
  • Your cat is pawing at their costume and trying to get it off of themself

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These are all indications that your cat isn't comfortable wearing the outfit. If your cat shows any signs of stress about having clothes on, remove the outfit immediately.

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Clothes that are necessary for cats

Although for most cats' clothes are an unnecessary accessory, there are situations where for a cat's health clothes may be recommended. Recovery suits are soft but securely and closely fitted full-body clothes that your veterinarian may recommend your cat wear following major surgery (such as spaying), or as part of a treatment plan for a skin condition. These onesie outfits can help prevent cats from scratching or licking wounds or itchy areas. This type of cat outfit can help promote healing and prevent reinfection.

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For hairless breeds of cats like a Sphynx, clothing isn't just an accessory. It's an important way to keep this breed of cat warm and comfortable. For hairless cats, clothes like t-shirts, sweaters, and hoodies are a must during the cold weather — especially if your home is drafty.

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If you are purchasing clothes for your cat, make sure to pay special attention to how they fit on your cat. Avoid any clothes that restrict normal movement and are too tight. Also, avoid clothes that are very loose — a cat can become tangled in them.

Finding Halloween costumes for cats

One of the primary reasons that people purchase clothes for cats is to incorporate their cats into their Halloween festivities. There are a variety of cat costumes for owners to choose from. Accessories like bandanas and bowties can be worn around the neck. They can even be attached to a cat's regular collar. Bowties and bandanas are often the easiest Halloween costumes for cats to comfortably and wear without being bothered by them. Other costumes like tutus and t-shirt outfits will require more socialization for most cats to feel comfortable wearing them.

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Avoid costumes that restrict your cat's movement. Most cats also find hats and costume pieces on their heads to be unpleasant. Unless you have a cat whose very enthusiastic about clothes or you have a lot of time to socialize them with that particular accessory — avoid them.

What should I do if my cat needs clothes?

If your veterinarian recommends that your cat wear clothing as part of their recovery, or if you have a cat who gets cold easily, be intentional with introducing your cat to clothes. The goal should be to help your cat make positive associations with wearing clothes. That way, they will be more comfortable with the clothes on. Even if your cat is comfortable wearing clothes, always supervise them when they are dressed. If your cat seems uncomfortable, stressed, or their movement is being restricted by the clothes — remove them immediately.

Introducing clothes to your cat

To start introducing your cat to clothes let your cat first explore the clothes while they are just on the floor. Praise and reward your cat with treats or toys for showing any interest in the clothes.

Then, gently put the clothes on your cat. Praise and treat them, and then immediately remove the clothes. We want our cats just to get positive reinforcement just for having the clothing on for starters. It's not about seeing how long your cat can be comfortable keeping the clothing on.

In future training sessions, you can start to slowly increase the amount of time that your cat has the costume or clothing on. Continue to pair wearing of the clothes with praise and treats. When your cat is wearing their outfit, you can also try to engage your cat in play with their favorite toys.

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In summary

Clothing and costumes for cats are something that should be approached cautiously. If you purchase outfits for your cat, make sure that they are properly fitted for your cat's comfort and safety. Always supervise your cat if they are wearing clothes. Make sure they are comfortable and don't get tangled in the outfits. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend a special outfit for medical reasons. This can include post-major surgery or as part of skin treatment. Hairless cat breeds can also benefit from wearing clothes to help them regulate their body temperature and stay warm during cold weather. If you're looking to get your cat a new festive outfit or Halloween costume be sure to introduce the outfit slowly to your cat.

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