Other than candy, one of Halloween’s exciting attributes is dressing up. It’s also a time when pet parents want their sweet little furball to look good in their Halloween costume. But it may also be that time of year where you battle it out: you want Mr. Fuzzy to dress like Frodo, and Mr. Fuzzy decides it’s the perfect time to hide when they see the costume.
The following seven tips can make things much easier for both you and your cat when getting dressed for Halloween:
- Less costume equals less stress
- Choose the correct size
- Check the material
- Don’t use headpieces
- Add Hi-Viz material
- Start dressing your cat up when they’re young
- Respect your cat’s space
As with all things in life, you’ve most likely heard of those who enjoy dressing up cats and people who are against it. Can there be benefits to dressing up, or is it actually cruel? Not only does this article give tips for dressing cats, but it also gives you points to consider before dressing up your cat and tells why cats freeze in clothes.
How Should I Dress My Cat for Halloween?
If your cat isn’t used to dressing up throughout the year, Halloween can be incredibly stressful. Imagine this: you clean and dress yourself all year when suddenly someone tries to put a restricting outfit on you that messes with your sense of sight, touch, and sound. Tensions can skyrocket fast.
So, what’s the verdict? How should you prepare your cat for costumed fun? The following do’s and don’ts will help turn Halloween dress-up time into a more relaxing event and prevent a holiday fiasco.
Here is what you should do when dressing up your cat:
- Be sure to choose an outfit that fits their body type. Your feline friend is not as concerned with wearing a size small as they are with being able to move and breathe comfortably. Most costumes and stores have a size chart to help with the guess and check.
- Keep away from small and loose objects. Cats love tiny objects. So, costumes with googly eyes, buttons, or bells could be a potential choking hazard and trip to the emergency room. Pet MD shares what to look for and the steps to take if you find your cat choking. Remember always to get a vet’s assistance if you’re unsure what to do.
- Give your cat time to adjust to the idea of wearing a costume. By introducing the outfit over a week, you can reduce the shock of trying it on all at once. Try smaller items like bowties before putting on capes and larger pieces.
Here is what you should not do when dressing up your cat:
- Pay attention to your cat’s stress levels. If you notice any distress while your cat is wearing the costume, it’s best to take it off. Some causes of stress include allergic reactions, heat rash, dehydration, or claustrophobia.
- Be mindful of your cat’s eyes and ears. While many costumes include hats, masks, or some type of headpiece, your cat heavily relies on their sense of hearing and sight. Blocking these senses may cause them to act out in fear.
- Supervise your cat while they’re in their costume. Cats are known to be mischievous. The little bit of time out of sight can lead to a severe injury when they try to take the outfit off or get snagged on a piece of furniture.
7 Tips on Dressing Your Cat for Halloween
Before you put your cat into their Halloween costume, check out the below tips for a smooth transition and a stress-free experience.
Less is More
While costumes with all the hanging balls or bells are adorable, it can be dangerous for your furry friend. Cats love bells, buttons, and all other small objects that can fit in their mouth. If you find a costume with buttons, be sure that they are secure and will not fall off from any potential tugging, pulling, or chewing.
Excellent ideas that don’t include many pieces include bowties, capes, or one-piece outfits (i.e., shirts or onesies).
Pick a Costume That Gives Your Cat Full Range of Motion
Have you ever tried to squeeze into a pair of pants that were just too small? Imagine being stuffed into an outfit that was too small, and it is the first time you’ve ever worn clothes — just a bit traumatizing.
To avoid this catastrophe, make sure to find the correct size for your cat’s body type. They don’t care if it’s a small size. All your fuzzy friend wants is to be able to move around.
You’ll also want to be sure that it’s not too big. If an outfit has too much space, your cat could slip out of it or get caught on furniture.
Check the Costume Material
While it’s essential to make sure that your cat doesn’t want to eat the costume (remember the edible bacon costumes?), it’s just as important to make sure the outfit is flame-resistant.
If you’re unsure about the material, the Halloween & Costume Association includes a nifty sheet about which materials to look for while shopping for costumes. While flame-resistant outfits are best, it’s still important to keep your pet away from open flames.
Keep the Head and Ears Free
Cats heavily rely on their hearing and vision. By putting hats or glasses on them, they may become fearful because of the dramatic change in what they see and hear. This threatened state can cause a shift in their behavior, and they may feel like they’ve lost the ability to defend themselves.
Add High Visibility Material to the Costume
While not all cats will be outside trick or treating, it’s still a good idea to dress your four-legged family member in high-viz material during the holidays to be safe. By doing so, you can reduce the risk of losing sight of them if they run out the door, and you also allow for others, both driving and walking, to see your cat. Thus, avoiding any unwanted accidents.
High visibility material includes anything reflective or fluorescent. If the chosen costume doesn’t already have reflective material, you could always make an extra accessory.
Start Dress Up Time Early
No, not early as in the morning of Halloween. When you first get your cat, you should start with collars and other cat accessories that you can find online or in your local pet store. By getting your cat adjusted to wearing accessories regularly, putting them in their Halloween costume won’t cause much stress.
Respect Your Cat’s Interests
While you may not know your cat’s favorite color, they do have preferences. Your cat will show whether they enjoy dressing up by being visibility irritated after (and most likely during) the dress-up session.
Some cues they may show include purring, snuggles, licks, and a straight tail. But you know your cat best, so if it seems that your cat is unhappy dressing up, try a different outfit with fewer pieces. If your cat is still feeling blue, maybe add some positive reinforcement with treats and catnip (what cat doesn’t love some extra treats, right?).
Just remember, never make your cat wear an outfit. By forcing your cat into clothes, the final result won’t end well for you or your cat.
Is it Cruel to Dress Up Cats?
Before you dress your cat up, consider these questions:
- Is the outfit causing any discomfort to my cat?
- Does my cat seem to be stressed out or behaving differently with clothes on?
- Is there a chance for this costume to cause injury to my cat?
If you answered any of the above questions with ‘yes,’ it would be best to find a different outfit. While dressing up cats is typically not a cruel act in itself, forcing your cat into clothes for any purpose not related to health benefits can be cruel if it causes distress or discomfort.
On the other hand, if your fuzzy (or hairless) friend seems to enjoy the costume, then some signs that they’re happy can include:
- A well-groomed coat
- A relaxing body posture – If their paws are tucked under their body, and they don’t look like they will pounce at any moment, then that’s a good sign.
- Depending on the cat, their eyes and ears will show if they’re in a happy mood or not.
- A healthy appetite
Why Do Cats Freeze When You Put Clothes on Them?
While there’s no conclusive evidence as to why your cat seems to be paralyzed with certain clothes on, there are several theories that can explain the sudden freeze.
- It could be a stress reaction: better known as the fight or flight response. Though it may seem natural as a human to wear clothes, your cat would beg to differ. The new sensations that costumes bring may cause your furry friend to freeze up because he isn’t sure what to do next.
- Like overeating at Thanksgiving causes a room full of motionless people, discomfort causes your cat to stay still. If your cat is unable to move freely, they may choose to stick to one spot. Again, clothes are a foreign idea to your cat, so they will treat them like a spy going through a field of lasers.
- Your cat is protesting or afraid. It’s no surprise to most cat owners that cats have attitudes. Most cats are also easily spooked, so funny looking clothes might take them by surprise.
- Hindered senses can cause your cat to feel vulnerable. As a natural predator, your cat relies on their sense of sight and hearing. Some costumes can dampen these abilities by covering their eyes or ears, making your cat feel lost in their skin.
Before Your Dress Up Session
Remember that dressing up should be a stress-free experience for both you and your fur baby. Many cats have big personalities and enjoy having their own space (minus the rare few that love hanging out with their owners). So, trying to dress a cat for the first time can lead to an arm full of band-aids. If they don’t want to dress up in a full costume, try a smaller amount of material until they get used to it.
There are solutions to a better Halloween experience. These include using costumes with fewer pieces, making sure you have the right-sized costume for your cat, using comfortable and flame-resistant material, avoiding headpieces, using reflective materials, dressing your cat up regularly, and respecting your cat’s interests. For more costume options check out the best pet costume and onesie ideas!