Do Some Cats Need To Wear Clothes?

By Elisa Black-Taylor

Do some cats need to wear clothes? I’ve done a little research on this subject since I wrote my last article about cats wearing clothes. I used to be mistaken in thinking a cat only wore clothes because of the vanity of the owner to treat the cat as a dressed up possession. For instance, the photos of movie stars holding their dressed up pampered pooches.

It turns out I was wrong. Partially wrong, anyway. There are three reasons a cat lover will dress up their cat.

Some Cats Need To Wear Clothes

Some Cats Need To Wear Clothes. Collage by Elisa Black-Taylor


This is what I mistakenly believed all cat lovers who decided to dress up their cat were doing. They’d buy high priced or cute little outfits and dress up their cat as a status symbol. A lot of this behavior may also originate from the time we crazy cat ladies (and I use that term with the utmost affection) were little girls and dressed up the family cat in doll clothes. No wonder our cats ran and hid sometimes!


This means the breed of cat is more likely than others to get cold. The Sphynx cat comes to mind. The lack of fur with the Sphynx means no protection against the elements or the temperature. Especially if the cat is taken outside on walks. Not only would it be cruel to allow a naked cat to face the cold climates most of us have during winter, imagine how our cold hands would feel after we’d been outside then came in and petted a cat with little or no fur. I used to raise hairless rats, and during the winter a heating pad was placed under one side of their cage for warmth. I imagine a hairless cat would be hard to keep warm in winter unless you had a good heating system in your home.

In the case of dogs, small dogs have a harder time keeping warm than larger breeds. Our Cujo wears clothes night and day now that the weather here has grown colder.


Many cats lose their ability to regulate their body temperature as they age. This makes it harder for the cat to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Some signs of old age in cats include gray hairs scattered throughout their coat. The coat may also become thinner and brittle. Cats may lose muscle tone and develop a stooped posture as they advance toward old age . A lot of these symptoms may be nutritional deficits, however many are a sign of simply growing old.


Sealy has taught me a lot about how to dress a cat. We never planned to turn him into a cat wearing clothes. I bought him a few outfits back when he had the severe head injury. It failed to keep his paws away from his head, so we eventually put the clothes away.

Then the weather turned much colder. We have good heat in our house. The cats enjoy laying in front of the heater to keep warm. We have one heater that allows one cat to lay on top of it, as the heat is distributed from the base of the heater. Sealy always tried to get that prized spot laying on top of that heater.

One day I asked Laura whether she thought Sealy might be cold. We weren’t cold, and all of the other cats were fine. Sealy’s a special case. He has the gray hairs scattered throughout his black coat, as well as a stooped appearance. Sometimes he reminds me of a little old man. Sealy also had very little muscle tone when he came to us. At five pounds, he desperately needed to put on some fat and muscle. Sealy was a bit over 8 pounds the last time I weighed him.

One night we decided to dress Sealy up in one of the flannel outfits I’d purchased several months back. He didn’t seem to mind us putting it on him. He went to sleep on the couch right afterward. What was amazing was how deeply and how long he slept after we started dressing him in the flannel “jammies.” We even had to wake him up on a couple of occasions for him to eat his evening meal. For those of you who don’t remember, Sealy hardly ever slept when he first came here. Now he spends a good portion of the day in his choice sleeping spots. He gets around fine in his new wardrobe. We do remove it during the warmer part of the day so Sealy can groom himself. He’s always been good with his grooming and his eating.

The cats received a bit of money to buy them some Christmas. I got them lots of treats, and also purchased two padded “cubes” for them to sleep in. One is in Laura’s bedroom and the other in the living room. Sealy has now claimed the one in Laura’s room. Keep in mind Laura’s room is colder than the living room. Still, Sealy prefers his afternoon naps in the cube in her room. He’s warm and happy in his clothes when it’s a cold day or he sleeps in just his own fur when it’s warmer.


I love dressing Sealy in his outfits. I got him a few new ones just this week when Petsmart had them on sale for 40% off. What began as an attempt to keep Sealy warm and cozy has reverted me to my childhood playing dress-up with my cat. Sealy doesn’t mind. The only thing he DOES hate is when we have to put drops in his ears. He’s had enough of everyone messing with his head injury and is totally healed.


I’ve got a bit of advice for those of you who want to dress up your cat.

First of all, I suggest flannel as the material of choice. It’s soft and doesn’t chafe. Unless you plan to take your cat for outdoor walks in freezing weather, flannel should be warm enough to keep your cat comfortable in the house. Keep in mind it wouldn’t repel water so it’s not the material of choice for outside walks on damp days.

The manner in which the outfit fastens is also important. Sealy and I prefer those that have two velcro fasteners. One around the neck and one under the belly. These are adjustable and independent of each other.

Be prepared to do alterations. It only takes a bit of sewing to make an outfit fit better. Sealy had a few outfits that had a hood and then fit down under the belly much like a sweatshirt. He was good at wiggling out of the neck and would come running for us to untangle the mess he’d get himself into. I made a tuck in the neck and sewed it into place so the head opening was smaller. Another place to alter is if the clothing impairs walking by hanging too far down in front of the front paws. I cut a slit up the middle from about an inch of where the neck was sewed together, all the way down. Then I folded and tacked that in place. It took me less than ten minutes.

Also be careful with whether the cat may pee on himself in the litter box. I’ve had to alter the tail end of a few outfits to eliminate that problem. More on Cujo’s clothes than on Sealys. Sealy is in a size small dog clothes, in case any of you wonder what size a smaller cat would wear.

Please take note of the photo of Sealy dressed in the Santa suit. I bought that for Cujo and only allowed Sealy to wear it long enough for a photograph. This is NOT the type of outfit to get for a cat. When taking into account a cats daily activities such as jumping and climbing, the individual legs are more of a hazard to a cat and could throw the cat off balance. Only purchase cat clothes that allow free motion in all four legs. Sealy runs and plays fine with the other outfits pictured in the collage. He also sleeps like a baby.

Cujo, being part dog, doesn’t mind having two or four paws surrounded by flannel. His legs don’t have to carry him on four foot jumps like Sealy has to make to get to his favorite sleeping spots.


There are countless online sites that sell pet clothes. I catch sales on as well as on eBay. Wal-Mart also has a good selection. While Petco and Petsmart have a beautiful selection of pet clothes, their prices are outrageous unless you can catch them either on sale or reduced for clearance. The good thing about these two stores is you can take your cat with you when you shop and try on an outfit in the store. IF your cat will allow you to dress it up. I’d suggest asking an employee if a small room is available just in case your cat tries to escape.


I love showing Sealy off in his new outfits. There are more than 1000 people who follow his page on Facebook under Prayers For Sealy. I’m posting as many new pictures as I can on there because I want people to be very aware of the dangers of car fan blades. I feel people will show their friends his page and explain he’s a car fan blade survivor who now engages in dressing up for his followers.

There is one thing Sealy doesn’t like about wearing clothes. He hates for me to wake him up to make his picture in a new outfit. I try not to make him work too hard.

Do any of you dress your cats during the winter? Do you also do this in the summer? Sealy will return to being a “naked” cat come warm weather. I may have to invest in a few more decorative collars to keep interest up for his webpages. Sealy doesn’t mind, as long as I pay him in his favorite food. He really is the sweetest cat ever.

I hope none of the readers here find fault with me for putting my Sealy in clothes. As you can see, he eats, plays and sleeps with no problem. He is a bit spoiled…


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Do Some Cats Need To Wear Clothes? — 26 Comments

  1. I know Hairless Cat is going to comment on this. She has Sphynx cat companions. I think it is fair to say that on occasion it is fine to put clothes on a cat. The reason would have to be related to the cat’s health.

    That said, Elisa loves to dress Sealy. Do some women to dress up their cats because they are a baby substitute? I am not saying that is the case with Elisa but it is the case sometimes, I am sure.

    Dressing up cats for fun is as result of anthropomorphizing the cat.

    • I can’t wait to hear from Hairless Cat. The Sphynx is Lauras favorite breed, but I told her her they are very special as to the physical needs.

      This story reminded me a lot of the ones I did called Do You Have Cat Grandkids? When shopping for Sealy it reminded me of when Laura was a baby and I’d go dress shopping for her.

      I’m just glad I have a physical excuse with Sealy to do this or it would feel really weird. I don’t have any desire to dress any of the other cats.

  2. Hi Elisa,

    Michael – you called it right. You aren’t surprised that I do have some comments about the topic. You also got it right when you said that it’s okay as long as it serves a needed function i.e. the cat needs the clothing to stay warm enough.

    Hairless Cats are a prime example of a cat that needs clothes. Without clothing, they would be cold and uncomfortable. It would be the equivalent of us walking around naked all the time. We all know how chilly we can get at times if we don’t have adequate clothing – even indoors.

    Elisa – I am really happy for Sealy that you figured out that he would be more comfortable in clothes. You’ve made his daily life much more enjoyable. I can almost hear his sigh of relief from here. Glad that you cared enough and were tuned in enough to figure that out. Very nice.

    Some people dress up their pets for reasons of vanity, because they grew up dressing their dolls, because they like to style it up, or for similar reasons.

    But as you say, some cats such as hairless cats or geriatric cats require clothing.

    When is serves a needed function, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a growing cat wardrobe and having a little fun with it as long as there is enough respect involved.

    You mentioned that you try not to go overboard on taking too many pictures since it might annoy your cat. You also mentioned that you’re very careful about making sure the clothing fits for comfort and safety. I would say that you are a concerned cat parent who is taking the proper precautions.

    I would say that you go about it in the right way. Since it helps Sealy and Cujo, it’s more than just okay, it’s necessary and very considerate of you. You’re an excellent caretaker.

    Alterations are a good idea and I like your “Where to buy” section. It will help those looking to purchase some cat clothes.

    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

    • Hi Liz, you make a very sensible and practical comment on this slightly difficult subject. It a tricky subject but there is no doubt that the only reason to put clothes on a cat or do anything else to change a cats appearance is if it is for reasons of the cat’s health and well being.

  3. I think it’s OK to dress a cat if he needs to be kept warm by clothing but not otherwise. Cats are not babies or dolls to be played dressing up with.
    I hate seeing the endless photos of cats in hats and bows etc and at Christmas time in Santa suits, with people commenting ‘Oh how sweet’
    Cats are dignified creatures and we shouldn’t demean them this way.
    I don’t even like seeing collars on cats, especially indoor cats, the person saying ‘I bought Fluffy a new collar for Christmas and she loves it’ I’m sure the poor cat sitting there in an irritating jewel encrusted collar doesn’t love it, it’s only for the person’s benefit. To me cats are feee spirits and their lives deserve to be kept as natural as we possibly can keep them.

    • Totally agree with what you say. Collars are an interesting product because some people will say they are for the cat’s safety etc. But a lot of people buy collars for appearance reasons.

      • Microchips are far better than collars for outdoor cats, I’ve seen any number of cats injured through supposedly safe collars. One neighbour’s cat was lying hobbled and vulnerable under the trees here when her ‘safe’ collar was pinning her front legs together, thankfully she was found before she came to any harm.
        A collar can be removed too by an unscrupulous person, a microchip is permanent proof of the cat’s caretaker.
        Flea collars are particularly cruel, pretty on the outside and poison on the inside where it goes right next to the cat’s skin, yet we see them on sale in the shops and people choosing the prettiest colour to buy.

  4. I don’t find fault Elisa. I know some cats really enjoy the attention and love they get with their caretaker when involved in such activities as trying on clothes. Dan might agree since he has mentioned her before – that Daisy the Curly Cat is one who regularly likes to wear clothes and be hand fed treats. I have no doubt if with her or Sealy that if you were to suddenly stop the activity that the cats would miss it and wonder whats going on and perhaps be a little sad about it. Relationships are many and varied and each is totally unique so it’s often impossible to make judgements when it comes to unfamiliar territory. I am sure there are cases of dressing up cats where the cat is very unhappy but this is far away from it. Plus I believe some cats get a sense of security from having something wrapped around them. If you have ever heard of Thunder Shirts you will now what I mean. They actually wrap tight around your animal making them feel more secure and relaxed when on a vet visit or in a new and different situation. And of course hairless cats probably like the feeling of a warm tube top just in the same way as do humans for the cozy warm feeling. I do believe cats brains and general selves have similarities with humans so I honestly believe cats feel the same kind of snug we humans do in some cases. Each situation is unique and can also have good and practical reasons as well as fun and loving reasons so as much as I know my cats would not stand for it and I have never met a cat who would, over the years I have come to understand and believe that there are many cats who enjoy dress up time and my inexperience with it dissallows me to make any judgements about it beyond what I can clearly see – which is happy cats for the most part. I used to be against it because I did not know aboiut hairless cats and I had not seen cats who enjoy it on a regular basis.

    • Don’t tell me you have a tiny wardrobe full of miniature tank tops, jumpers and bobble hats for cats… 😉 – You know I am just having fun. We know you are a superb cat caretaker.

  5. I am the queen of electric heating pads for cats. Right now I count four cats, curled up on their heated beds surrounded by fleece blankets. Okay, I admit, the fleece are baby blankets with cute little print on them, but only because I buy them at a discount store for three bucks and don’t mind discarding them if they get too soiled. The back yard cats have a little dog house they use. I had a hole drilled in the floor to pull the coiled outdoor cord through and I had an outlet installed that is weather protected.

    Marvin is cozy on the front porch in a cushy bed with tall sides. Also an outdoor corded plug set up, though he is on a covered porch. He spends more and more time indoors now, but insists on being out of doors like he has his whole life. But at least now he is warm.

    Then there is skinny little Bigfoot, who has slept on a heated bed his whole time living with me. He loves it, even indoors where it is relatively warm.

    Cats like to be warm. In the winter I watch Yellowcat’s winter coat come in. She makes her own pjs. Marvin and Shadow’s coats don’t seem to change much except for some downy fur under their coat. Yellow turns into a a cat and a half.

    • I agree with Michael – I would love to be one of your cats. It sounds perfect. They have indoors and outdoors and everything in between and each other too. Sounds like a real paradise. I think Marvin is beginning to realise how lucky he is but I bet you he won’t ever be comfortable if there isn’t a way for him to go outside, even if he doesn’t hardly use it. My cat in Canada was like Marvin a bit. I made her a special tunnel to get in and out so the raccoons couldn’t get in through it. It was lit inside and it helped keep the cold air out so I didn’t freeze inside. She would spend hours asleep on the radiator and occasionally go out for a pee. But if I ever blocked her tunnel she was not a happy bunny 🙂

      • Sometimes, more these days, I think I would have been happier as a cat in a home like Dorothy’s. Short, sweet life. And a nice electric blanket to curl up on… 🙂

        • The tunnel started high and went low – was about 4 meters long and ended in a little cove so the wind could not blow directly up it. The end being outside in the cold and low meant also the cold air was not in any way drawn up it and the warm stayed at the top end of the tunnel. I actually used 2 long carpet rolls made of cardboard – widest I could find, one fit just inside the other so it was sort of a telescopic tunnel. It worked perfectly for 7 years. I even insulated it and waterproofed it by wrapping the whole thing in tarp and covered it in plants and tree branches by letting everything around it grow in the summer without any trimming. It was very well disguised and effective. I was always able to close the top end from inside if need be. I also had a string of xmas lights going down it on the inside so she would not be scared of the darkness in this long tunnel. I could also see down it like that and I noticed she would anyway run up it with her eyes closed. It wasn’t large enough for her to turn around in I dont think. She loved her tunnel and was very unhappy if it was ever blocked for some special reason.

          • You are a remarkable cat carer Mr. Marc. I have designed so many things in my head for the cats, but I don’t have the skill to pull off most of them. Handyman types think I’m bats of course. This sounds doable.

        • I am going to come back as a cat with a passport alternating between Switzerland and California. I want to try that tunnel. I remember seeing a cat toy in America that is a tunnel. Savannah cats loved it.

  6. I don’t believe in dressing cats up for vanity’s sake,it’s the vanity of the owner not the cat,cats like to be as the good Lord made them,not swathed in clothes.
    I accept some breeds maybe need to have some extra warmth to keep them comfy, but surely something plain suffices,it seems wrong to spend money on fancy outfits when homeless cats are starving for lack of food.
    Cats love warm beds to nestle in and they can jump out and cool off when they need to,I think it’s sad some people fetter their cats with unnecessary unnatural clothing.

  7. You wouldn’t believe all the outfits out there with either lace or sequins. That would be very uncomfortable for a cat. I’m fortunate in that the cute outfits I found are a comfortable material. I believe thats why Sealy is so accepting of being dressed in them.

    Sealy had Christmas money that stipulated some of the money to go for a few outfits.

    We rescued 50+ cats in a little over a year and a half. He’s the only one to ever need clothes.

  8. Found this while searching for how to dress cats. My cat was recently sick and had to be completely shaved. She loves to lay in the window to sleep, so she’s going to need a t-shirt or something to prevent a sunburn until her fur grows back. I enjoyed reading about Sealy, thank you for writing!

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