When it comes to dates like Halloween or Carnival, it’s quite common to see pictures of cats in costumes on social networks and, let’s face it, sometimes they’re super funny and cute, so you might be tempted to get a cat costume, dress up your kitty in it and then have a photo session and post it on your Instagram or Facebook account, so everyone can see how “cute” your cat friend is.
All this may seem like a lot of fun, and it certainly is… but only for one of the participants in the activity: you. If your kitty could talk, she’d probably tell you that the cat costumes aren’t doing her any good, but quite the opposite: they’re causing her a lot of stress and giving her a hard time that she’s looking forward to getting out of.
Sometimes we forget that cats, in spite of their sweet and “cuddly” appearance, are not cuddly toys: cats are predators and, in spite of the fact that they live with us and enjoy our company and affection, they are far from being domesticated.
As the cat therapist Laura Trillo says, the cat “is not an animal prepared to please humans, nor is its function to serve them”, so if the idea of disguising yours has crossed your mind, try for a moment to put yourself in their place, and think about whether it’s worth giving them a hard time so that you can have a few laughs. If you still have doubts, I’m going to give you a series of reasons why, in my opinion, cats shouldn’t dress up.
As I said before, cats are predators, but we must take into account that, due to their small size, they are also prey, and that is why they are “designed” to be constantly on alert, and controlling their environment, to ensure their safety and survival.
Okay, it’s true that your cat lives in your house and therefore its environment is perfectly safe, and no predators will come to hunt it. The problem is that cats, although they live with us without any problem, are not exactly pets, and they still keep their natural instincts intact, so for them to feel safe in their environment, it is essential that nothing interferes with their vision, their sense of touch, their smell or their hearing.
When you put a disguise on your cat, to begin with, you will be covering his body with something that, although you do not perceive it, smells totally strange to him, and that smell will impregnate his coat, which will cause him, once he is free of the disguise, to spend hours licking and grooming himself, until he is free of that smell that is so unpleasant for him.
But many cat costumes also come with accessories such as hoods or hats, which in many cases cover their ears, making the sound reach them muffled, or interfere with their whiskers (or vibrissae), a tremendously important sensory tool for them, which not only grow on their muzzle, but also in other areas such as above their eyes or ears, and which are extremely sensitive and necessary to allow them to move in the dark, and detect possible threats.
A cat disguised as a lion or a superhero is very cute… but he won’t be at all comfortable
Of course, when you put a costume on your cat, you know perfectly well that he is safe, and that nothing is going to happen to him. The problem is that your cat doesn’t know this, she just knows that the senses she depends on to perceive her environment have been compromised, and this makes her feel anxious and stressed.
Many cat costumes come with parts like pompoms, buttons, etc., which can be dangerous, since your cat could bite them, especially if he insists on taking off the costume. This carries the risk that youmay swallow them, causing you to choke, or that they may cause a blockage in your bowels.
On the other hand, when you put the costume on, your cat may react by running away at full speed, and if it’s a costume with accessories such as wings, ruffles, etc. it risks getting caught somewhere, or getting tangled up in her clothes and hurting herself.
You may not find this point bad, and there may even be cats who enjoy the attention, but, in most cases, cats are rather reserved animals and the last thing they want is for everyone to look at them directly and want to interact with them, invading their space.
Remember that, after all, in the world of cats, a direct look is considered a challenge, and something that makes them very uncomfortable.
Even if the costume you choose doesn’t seem to stop your cat from moving around freely, there’s a good chance she’ll be uncomfortable with just some foreign material on her coat. Think that sometimes it is even difficult to get our kittens used to wearing a collar or a harness, so imagine putting them in a costume, which in most cases is made of synthetic fabrics that have a feel and smell that is strange to them.
Some cats are extremely sensitive to anything that touches their fur, so a suit that presses on certain areas of the body can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant.
Your cat may find it hard to accept that you’re putting her in a costume, especially if she’s used to you putting her clothes on frequently, but that doesn’t mean they like it. It’s true that some cats allow us to put clothes on them without any apparent problem. In some cases they have learned to associate clothes with something positive, if when you do it you usually give them some treats, or play with them. He still doesn’t like wearing the costume, but he puts up with it because he has a reward.
Having said that, you should bear in mind that cats are very different from humans and therefore what we might perceive as a calm and collected cat, enjoying that moment of attention, might actually be a cat that is paralysed by stress, which has been overcome by the situation and simply frozen, waiting for it all to be over.
No, this is not respecting your cat…
As I said at the beginning of this article, a cat costume may look like a lot of fun, but it is only fun for us humans. Before you put a costume on your little cat friend, think: is it worth giving him a hard time, and causing him unnecessary stress, just to have a few laughs at his expense and get a few “likes” on your social networks?
Of course, it’s possible to positively condition your cat to wear clothes, which can be useful in some cases, such as if we’re talking about a Sphynx or some other hairless breed, who may need to wear clothes to regulate their body temperature. Similarly, there are certain recovery clothes that are used when a cat has had surgery, for example, and it is necessary to prevent it from licking certain parts of its body.
Of course, in these cases we are talking about clothes used for the benefit of the kitty, which is not the case with cat costumes, which are not really of any use to him. Just use your common sense and respect your cat’s nature. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.
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I love animals, especially those that live with me: my dog Rufus and my cat Ronno. I like to give them the best, and I want to help you choose the right accessories for your pets.
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