Cats & Clothes - Find the Perfect Cat Clothes for Your Furry Friend
Do you think cats look terribly cute in clothes but maybe cats are cats and you feel it's sort of cruel to make them wear clothes? Do you secretly hope your cats would let you put clothes on them so that you can take loads of pictures and show them off to your friends and maybe become an internet sensation? Is it silly, selfish, or inappropriate to put clothes on cats? Read on to get my professional opinion on this topic.
CATS AND CLOTHES
Hi there and welcome to my blog! If you are new here, my name is Paola Zanibelli Davies and I help cat parents raise happy, healthy, and well-behaved cats by using natural remedies and positive training.
Today, I will discuss cats and clothes, and by the end of it, you will have a clear understanding of whether you should use clothes for your cats or when it is appropriate and when it is not. If you are not sure if considering clothes for your cat is the wise thing to do, keep reading.
This topic was inspired by 'Dress Up Your Pet' day, which was on January 14th. I published a reel where my cat Pardino was out in the rain, wearing a cute yellow raincoat and the comments were very diverse. First of all, let me start by saying that there is a big difference between clothes and accessories that serve a purpose - like warm coats, escape-proof harnesses, post-surgical suits, etc., and costumes, which look silly and might upset your cat because they hinder your cat's movements.
In short, I do not recommend using clothes on cats if:
- They express an aversion to clothes
- It's only for your own entertainment
- They are clearly pretty uncomfortable and you make it last for longer than the time it takes to take a cute picture for social media.
I'm a feline health and behaviour specialist and I am not in the business of forcing your cats to be dogs, humans, or unhappy in any way, however, things are not always black or white.
There are nuances of grey in everything in life, so when should you actually use clothes on your cats, and should you ever use clothes on your cat?
You can use clothes for your cats...
1. When they don't mind
If your cats are used to being dressed because maybe they got accustomed to clothes when they were very young then getting them to try something on is not going to be a big problem.
2. When it is for a particular purpose
So for example, you're dealing with a hairless cat and you're living in a very cold climate or another example could be that you're taking your cats outdoors for a little adventure and you need a coat to protect them from the cold weather.
3. When it is not for a long time.
Provided that your cats do not mind wearing clothes, if you are burning with the desire of getting your cat's Xmas outfits out to take an endearing picture of your kitties and the whole experiment takes 5 / 10 minutes... If your cats actually enjoy the extra attention, then go for it. The key here is, again, that they really don't mind.
4. When they are well tolerated and you need a little extra help to keep an eye on your cat during supervised outdoor time
When cats don't have a problem with wearing clothes, and you need a little extra help during your supervised outdoor time, you can use clothes to lower the likelihood of bolting. You should always leash your cats when outside, but if you allow them to roam your garden while supervising, and you want them to feel a little calmer while exploring their surroundings, clothes can be a valid option to enhance your cat's life and environment by allowing for supervised time outdoors that otherwise would be difficult to achieve.
Using clothes in conjunction with supervision will let your cats experience the outdoors and the garden and have enrichment in their life without being unsafe. Leashes are the best option (there is a learning curve involved in getting your cat to wear a harness with ease, but it is well worth it!), but if you want more than one cat to explore the garden under your watchful eye for example, clothes can provide that added element of control (and therefore safety) while creating a positive association between wearing something and having fun outside, making getting used to a harness and leash easier and quicker.
If one of your cats starts to be a bit too adventurous, you will be able to intervene. Additionally, bright coats make it easier to see your cats in your garden while keeping an eye on them in misty conditions.
MORE GOOD REASONS FOR CLOTHES and ACCESSORIES:
LEASH TRAINING - Leash training makes great use of jacket-like escape-proof harnesses. Train your cats to wear the specific type of clothes or harnesses that you need them to wear for safety.
COLD WEATHER PROTECTION - Additionally, certain well-designed coats provide protection from rain, snow, and cold weather. When my cats and I are outside in the rain, it is much simpler to dry them off once we get inside if they are wearing a coat, because their heads, tails, and paws will obviously be the ONLY parts that need towelling, while everything else remains warm and dry.
HOT WEATHER PROTECTION - Additionally, light clothing can be used to keep your cats cool in hot, dry summer conditions because you can wet the fabric before they wear it, and they can remain cooler as their body heat causes evaporation of the water trapped in the fabric when summer temperatures are particularly high. I wouldn't suggest this for really humid conditions as added evaporation can cause discomfort, but for dry climates, it can be a great cooling option.
SENIOR or SPECIAL NEEDS KITTIES - Training our cats to tolerate clothing also gives us additional options for older or disabled animals who may eventually require diapers. It is far simpler to use a nappy on a cat who is accustomed to wearing clothing and doesn't mind them than it is to begin using one on a cat who has never before worn clothing.
POST-SURGERY ARRANGEMENTS - Another advantage to getting your cats used to wear clothes is having more post-surgical options to prevent your cats from licking their healing wounds.
1. Elizabethan Collar
It’s a hard plastic cone that sits around the cat's neck and gets tied around the neck with a clip or with a string. It prevents the cat from reaching areas that are better left alone during healing. The Elizabethan collar is quite uncomfortable - cats tend to bang into doors and other objects, as they don't see very well around them because the cone covers completely their line of sight.
2. Donut Collar
The Elizabethan collar can be pretty uncomfortable but we do have an alternative - the donuts. Donuts are light, round devices with a hole in the middle, filled with soft fabric or air. They sit around the cat's neck and you can clip them at the back of the neck or you can tie them with a little string that they come with. These devices are more comfortable because they don't cover the whole line of vision and they sit closer to the neck. The cats can still move pretty well and they can rest on them pretty comfortably. There's still an element of discomfort though, and cats unfortunately can remove them more easily than Elizabethan collars.
3. Surgical Suit
If some cats still find both the Elizabethan and the Donut Collar uncomfortable, the alternative to that would be to use a Surgical Suit. Surgical Suits are like little pyjamas that cover those areas that have been operated on. Cats won't be able to lick those areas because there is a fabric in between the wound and the cat's mouth. The advantage of Surgical Suits is the complete freedom of movement it offers, being the ideal choice for cats used to clothes.
My personal experience...
So you might be wondering, how do I personally use clothes for my cats?
My kitties are excellent at donning clothing because I trained them with patience and positive reinforcement, and they have quickly grown not to mind wearing their coats at all. I actually have several coats for them... Several!!
I may have gone a little overboard with their wardrobe selection (ahem!), but let me just clarify that I only use coats for 10 minutes a day for each of my cats, and that is during the time that they spend with me in the garden under supervision. They truly don't mind wearing them for a brief period of time because they also associate them with good things.
My cats also have a catio where they may enjoy a safe glimpse into the outdoors if they so choose, where they can go without clothes at any time, as the catio is protected from the rain and connected to the indoors with a cat flap, but I usually give them 10 minutes to do some actual "paws-on-grass exploring" in the garden. I can do this because I trained my cats to dress up! As soon as they are ready to come in, or as soon as I call them back, the jumpers come off immediately and they all get a reward. The jumpers have now become the cue to supervised freedom!
These are the clothes that I use every day when they go into the garden:
Below is the coat that Pardino uses. It is a black coat with light-reflecting stitching, a water-proof outer layer and a warm faux-fur inner layer. Ideal for wintery, wet weather when we take our walks in the neighbourhood.
The grey coat in the picture below is very comfy and warm, it has a fluffy hood and fleece interior. Ideal for wintery dry days.
The infamous yellow raincoat in the picture below is made of very light fabric and is ideal for wet summer days. It includes a little hood and velcro tabs at the bottom that allow it to be fastened beneath the belly.
The colourful jumpers in the picture below are my choice for those supervised adventures I was talking about before: Susanna wears the pink one, Peggy wears the beige and grey one, Milk (Puff Puff) wears the yellow one and Honey wears the grey and blue one.
I then have some more pieces of clothing that you can see below, which I do not use very often because they are a bit fiddly to fit, and more clothing items I randomly received as gifts, which can be used for the occasional picture but do not have a practical function, therefore they usually live in the designated drawer for the majority of the time.
If you want to try clothing for your cat, I suggest you choose items with these features:
- Good quality
- Soft, comfortable fabric
- Easy to put on and take off (no long sleeves or fastenings in the belly area!)
- Appropriate for the weather where they are intended to be used
- The right size: not too tight and not too loose, big enough to go over a jacket-like harness
- With a hole on the back to fit the leash
Choose a coat or jumper whose colour and style fit your cat's personality and embrace training your cat, have fun in the process and enrich your cat's life (and yours) through outdoor adventures. ❤
GET INSTANT ACCESS TO MY FREE GUIDE:
Help Your Cats Live Longer in 5 Simple Steps
We hate SPAM. We will never disclose your information, for any reason.