Can you engage in Halloween dress-up fun with your cat without ruining your relationship?
Keen for some fantastic Halloween photos of your kitty – or you – but don’t want to traumatise your favourite feline or ending up covered in scratches?
If you want to dress your cat up for halloween but he doesn’t, as a good owner you shouldn’t make them. But you can test if your cat is open to some gentle dress up fun with the right guidance.
The Discerning Cat asked well-known London vet Suzanne McNabb, Veterinary Surgeon and co-founder of The Neighbourhood Veterinary Centre for some advice.
“Cats use their whole bodies to explore the world and anything that restricts their movement means that they will immediately feel threatened and unhappy” said McNabb, “so avoid items that restrict their paws or tail”.
Halloween cat themed collars or items that adhere to your cat’s collar won’t restrict your cat’s movements. Nor will items which work like a harness on your cat – but avoid anything that that weighs on your cat’s tummy or they may well fall over.
“Start by leaving the clothing item near your cat for a couple of days so that they can have a good sniff. Let your cat get its scent on the item. Then gently try placing the item on your cat’s fur for a few seconds so they understand what it will feel like. Work your way up slowly and incorporate treats, hugs and feather toys as positive feedback for your cat”
If your cat gets stressed remove the item/s as quickly as possible. Key signs that your cat is unhappy include clawing at the clothing item, your cat refusing to move or hissing.
At The Discerning Cat we recommend getting some terrific props like Halloween paper, fake cobwebs, pumpkins and black hats. Set up a “photo shoot” for your cat using the props to create a Halloween feel. This means that you can minimise your cat’s dress up and still get a fantastic Halloween photo.
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A useful acronym to use when you are dressing up your cat is PET – can your cat play, eat, and go to the toilet in their clothing? If the answer is yes to all three then you are probably on the right track.
⇒ One of my favourite places to get Halloween outfits for my cat Alexei is Etsy – check out their Halloween Costumes for Cats.
Top 9 Tips for a Happy Halloween Kitty
- Pick the right mood – Don’t try to dress your cat up when it’s feeling playful or high energy – it will resent you trying to make it stay still. Wait till it is a little sleepy or feeling cuddly.
- Take it slowly – leave the costume near your cat for a day or two so it can sniff it. Then gently rub the costume against your cat’s fur – this way it knows what the fabric feels like. Wait another day or so before trying your cat wear it
- Avoid costumes that restrict your cat’s paws and tail. If your cat can’t move its paws full range or tail it will become very agitated. This is because if your cat can’t move its paws/tail it can’t defend itself against attack so it becomes vulnerable and agitated
- Use Props – use pumpkins, Halloween wrapping paper and fake cobwebs etc as your backdrop and props – your cat will need less Halloween items that actually touch its fur and you will still get a full Halloween effect
- Join in as a cat! Why don’t you become a Halloween cat? A photo of you and your favourite feline together with you dressed as a cat with Halloween props can make for a fun photo
- Look at collars or items that adhere to collars. Your cat may well already wear a collar for its protection. Just change it to a Halloween themed collar. Or get a cat-sized Halloween bandana that can adhere to your cat’s collar. Your cat will be used to something on its neck and this won’t restrict its movement in any way
- Be quick! Once your cat is dressed they won’t want to wear any items for long. Have your camera, lights, and props all in place so your kitty is only Halloween friendly for a few minutes – this will reduce his discomfort.
- Pack treats – reward your cat with treats and cuddles/tummy rubs throughout all the stages so he learns to associate some dress-up with positive elements.
- Be ready to quit – if your cat is obviously distressed eg heavy meowing, clawing at you – do cease immediately. We love fun photos but no photo is worth upsetting your favourite feline.
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