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.
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 UP!
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.
ADVICE FOR DRESSING UP A CAT
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.
WHERE TO BUY
There are countless online sites that sell pet clothes. I catch sales on Amazon.com 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…