There’s nothing cuter than a kitten wearing a tux and a bow tie. Okay, well maybe there’s a few things cuter, but not many. Still, is there any way to pick out cat clothes that the cat won’t hate and you can enjoy matching with? We think so.
If you’d like to step up your cat’s style while providing them with some real utility instead of just annoying them, you’ve come to the right place. Below we’ll break down the 15 things you should consider when buying clothes for your cat.
Start With Simple Clothing for Your Cat
Don’t immediately throw your cat into a complicated halloween costume if they display any discomfort wearing clothes. Instead, start small and work your way up.
Using a combination of treats and light shirts that can easily be slipped on and off, you can make your cat associate wearing clothes with positive feelings. If you come in too hot, however, and immediately make them wear something like a complicated Halloween costume, you may scare them from ever wanting to wear clothes.
Ensure You’re Buying Clothes That Will Fit Your Cat
Size matters. While there isn’t as much variation in the sizes of domestic cats as there is with Dogs, there still are some differences. The last thing you want is to get a new outfit home and find out that it’s just barely too big or too small.
Clothing sizes for cats are determined by three basic measurements:
- Chest width
- Weight of your cat
These usually appear on the clothes’ packaging, and sometimes even on their tags like that of humans.
Measuring the Length of a Cat
The length of a cat (for clothing) is found by measuring from the base of their neck to the base of their tail. Getting the right length will ensure that you have clothing that fits over the entirety of the cat’s body without having to be dragged on the ground.
Clothes sizes are divided accordingly based on length
- Small Length: 10 to 13 inches
- Medium Length: 13 to 16 inches
- Large Length: 13 to 16 inches
Measuring the Chest Width of a Cat
The chest width is determined by measuring across the part of a cat’s chest, which is the widest. You can get this measurement yourself with a small tape measure. The only difficulty might be getting them to sit still.
Clothes sizes are divided accordingly based on chest width:
- Small Chest Width: 11 to 14 inches
- Medium Chest Width: 14 to 17 inches
- Large Chest Width: 17 to 20 inches
Measuring Your Cat’s Weight
You can get a special cat scale at just about any pet store. Likewise, if you have a small plastic tote (big enough to fit your cat) and a bathroom scale, you can make do and weigh your cat that way. Just put the cat in the tote and the tote on the scale. Get that measurement. Then weigh the tote by itself and subtract that from your previous findings.
The weight of cat is divided into the three following categories:
- Small: 4 to 8 pound
- Medium: 8 to 12 pounds
- Large: 12 to 16 pounds
Keep an Eye Out for Signs of Stress
There are some individual cats, whose temperament will not allow them to wear any kind of clothes without stress. Others will tolerate some types of clothes but not other types. Whether it’s all clothes or just some, you shouldn’t cause your cat stress by making them wear them.
You can tell if the particular clothes you purchased your cat are stressing them out by watching for these signs, both physical and behavioral.
Physical Signs of Stress in a Cat
Too many stress hormones can interfere with the basic physical functions of a cat. For every cat, the physical symptoms they display will vary, however, they all should be in the ballpark of a few basic categories. Whether it’s how much they eat or the stool’s content, they will give off some physical symptoms when they’re stressed.
If you notice any of the following signs after dressing your cat up, chances are they are experiencing stress as a result.
Any cat owner can tell you, cat’s love to eat. If your cat suddenly stops eating nearly as much, and it happens in tandem with them trying new clothes, chances are it’s causing them stress.
You can also note if your cat normally hovers around you while you eat and they are not doing it anymore. This is a pretty big sign of a reduced appetite.
A refusal to eat treats they normally can’t get enough of should also be suspicious. If these problems aren’t resolved by reversing whatever you suspect led to them, make sure you take your cat to the vet.
Bald Patches/Scratches on Your Cat’s Coat
When cats are stressed they will sometimes over groom themselves. This leads to bald patches and scratches popping up.
With clothes, you should look at exposed areas adjacent to where the clothes end. If they don’t like the sleeves, for example, they may scratch the area around them raw with their back legs.
More Hairballs Than Normal
Hand in hand with bald patches, extra hairballs are the result of over grooming. Sometimes the hairballs will simply be larger. Watch for this sign of stress to be coupled with others, like scabs and scratches on their skin.
Diarrhea or Constipation As a Result of Stress Hormones in Your Cat
Just like with humans, stress hormones can affect a cat’s digestive system. If there have been no changes to their diet but they develop diarrhea, there is a good chance they are experiencing some degree of stress.
Keep in mind that this can sometimes also have an opposite effect where your cat becomes constipated. You can tell when this happens if you’re suddenly not having to clean out the litter box as often as normal.
Behavioral Signs of Stress in a Cat
Most obviously, stress affects the behavior of cats. Depending on the breed or the individual cat, the specific symptoms they have may vary. Still, they should all fall into the same basic types of behaviors.
If any of the following behaviors begin or intensify after putting your cat in clothes, the clothes may be causing them stress.
Sleeping More Than Usual
This one can be difficult to pick up on, as cats are nocturnal and sleep for most of the day anyway. But if you notice your cat isn’t getting up at feeding time or they don’t greet you with early morning meows the way they normally do, those are signs that they are stressed.
Displaying Aggressive, Lethargic or Needy Behavior
Just like humans, when cats are upset, they can sometimes take it out on those around them. If your cat is acting more aggressive than normal, the new clothes may be stressing them out.
Likewise, if they seem more affectionate and needy all the time in a way that they don’t normally act, they may just be expressing that stress in a different way. You can think of this like with humans. When we get stressed, some of us just want to be alone, while others seek the company of others for comfort. Cats do the same thing.
On the other end of the spectrum, some cats become more lethargic when they are under stress. If your cat suddenly loses its fascination with a laser pointer or other toys it normally enjoys playing with, you should be concerned.
Urinating or Spraying Around the House
If, after dressing your cat up, they go and urinate around the house (assuming they don’t normally do this otherwise), then there is a good chance they are experiencing stress.
One caveat that we must place here is that if you have a male cat that hasn’t been fixed, they could start spraying around the house for reasons other than stress, namely when looking for a mate. If they stop wearing clothes and they continue to spray, that is likely the problem.
Meowing More Than Normal
When they’re stressed, cats are more likely to go around the house meowing. If your cat starts meowing shortly after putting them in clothes, it is a sign they weren’t ready for them.
If you notice they start meowing after a certain amount of time wearing clothes, then make an effort to never make them wear clothes that long. You can gradually get them to wear them longer over a period of time.
More Responsive to External Stimuli
All the funny cat videos on Youtube confirm that cats can be startled pretty easily compared to other pets. All you have to do is set a cucumber behind one while they’re eating and when they turn and see it, they’ll jump sky high. Still if your cat is jumping at every little sound that pops up in your house, chances are they are under distress.
Constant Pacing Around the House
It’s no secret that cats like to laze around all day. That’s why when they won’t stop pacing around, you should be concerned. If your cat hasn’t stopped walking since you put an outfit on them, it’s time to take it off and try a simpler one.
Make Sure Your Cat’s Clothes Aren’t to Thin or Too Thick
Clothes can help keep your cat nice and warm no matter what the temperature is. At the same time, a thick sweater might make them overheat. So how exactly do you find the right balance when picking out your kitty’s wardrobe?
- Pick clothes with a thickness that is appropriate for their fur. For example, if you have a Maine Coon you’ll want to look for clothes made from a thinner material, so their skin can still breathe. If you have a Sphynx Cat on the other hand, a thick sweater will be welcome in the winter.
- Pay attention to the temperature in your house if you have a house cat. Thanks to modern technology, it can be blazing hot outside but as cold as an ice cycle indoors. When you’re thinking of what material is appropriate for your kitty’s outfit, make sure you adjust for the indoor temperature and not just do whatever it is outside.
- Remember to take a break from thick clothes if your cat is sick. Cats get sick just like humans. And when they do, like humans, they can sometimes overheat. You may want to take a break from cute outfits entirely if your cat isn’t feeling well.
Ask if the Clothes Are Primarily for Style or Function
For most breeds of cat, fashion is just a fun hobby they can part in with their owner. For others, however, clothes can become really important in the winter months.
Hand in hand with our previous tip on making sure the clothes are the right thickness, you also want to make sure you’re putting function over style when appropriate. In the wintertime it is important that you prioritize having warm clothes over any particular style if you have a hairless cat like a sphynx cat.
Consider Your Cat’s Age
It is much harder to find the right clothes for kittens because they grow so fast. If they are still small, you might want to buy something they can grow into. Just make sure it’s not so big that it gets in the way of their mobility.
There are pros and cons to waiting for your cat to get a little older before you introduce them to clothes.
If you wait until your cat is fully grown to start dressing them up, you can invest in more clothes and make them last longer. On the other hand, it’s easier to get a kitten to learn to wear clothes than an older cat that is more settled in its ways.
Keep Track of Your Cat’s Skin Health
Some materials are safe to use on nearly any breed of cat, while others can irritate the skin of select types. To further complicate things, some individual cats have skin conditions that preclude them from wearing outfits that the rest of their breed can enjoy.
This is why you need to make sure that you are tracking your cat’s skin health and the reactions it may have to the materials your cat’s outfits are made from. Look for these signs to know that your cat’s skin is not reacting well to their outfits:
- Dry skin: Many cats keep in moisture with their coat. If their clothes are impeding this process, it can result in dry skin. When you’re changing your cat you should make sure their skin isn’t dry.
- Hair loss: If it seems like they’re shedding more than usual then the clothes might be presenting a problem. Usually, this hair loss can be attributed to over scratching from itchy materials.
- Scratches/Scabs: If the clothes are really making your cat itch, you may find small scabs and scratches on their skin. If you discover this, then stop using clothes with that particular material.
Find Clothes Your Cat Will Like
While we might enjoy gawking at cats wearing cute outfits, it’s no secret that many of them don’t like it. Fortunately, it’s not always because the cat actually doesn’t like clothes but because owners haven’t taken the time to find out what kind of clothes they would like.
- Make sure the clothes don’t restrict their movement. For both their physical and emotional health, cats need to be able to move around freely and quickly. If clothes restrict your cat’s movement, try a bigger size or a different design. They will be much happier for it.
- Don’t make them wear any clothing that obstructs their vision or imposes on their whiskers. This is mainly a difficulty that arises with hats and halloween costumes. When you obscure a cat’s vision or their whiskers, they have trouble knowing where they are keeping balance. It can cause a great deal of distress in your cat.
- Make sure you’re not restricting their claws. You’ll run into this problem with socks, shoes, and halloween costumes. Generally it’s not a good idea to cover their paws for an extended period of time as they need to sharpen their claws everyday. This activity not only affects their physical hygiene but reduces stress as well.
- Pick clothes that don’t restrict the movement of their tail. Cat’s use their tails to establish balance when they walk around. If the clothes they are wearing get in the way of that, they can have issues always landing on their feet. So be good to your cat and always make sure they have room to move their tail.
Experiment With Styles of Cat Clothing
The only way to find out what styles work best with your cat is to try them. Don’t just stop at one look; try some of these different styles for your cat:
- Formal attire: Having an outdoor wedding or some other formal event? Well why not get the cat dressed up as well? You can find tuxedos and even fake suits for these various situations.
- Casuals: These are like T-shirts, sweaters or any other type of clothing you might wear on a day off. Cat’s need casual Fridays as well, you know.
- PJs: There are some cute PJ onesies that cats can enjoy. Just make sure that they don’t cover their whiskers, tails or paws.
- Costumes: Perfect for a costume party or an at home celebration of Halloween, you can find all kinds of costumes for your cat. Be careful with these, however, as some are not built with the cat’s comfort in mind. If a costume upsets your cat, don’t force them to wear it.
Buy Cat Clothes at the End of the Season to Save Money
Like with human clothes, as we transition from summer to fall and winter to spring, season-specific outfits go on clearance. If you want to expand your kitty’s wardrobe by leaps and bounds, pick up outfits a year early at the end of whatever season they are meant for. If it’s late enough in the clearance cycle, you may be able to pick up three or four for the price of one.
This is also true of kitty Halloween costumes. When stores like Walmart and Target start to transition their Halloween displays to Christmas ones, they try to quickly sell what they have left related to the former holiday, so they have space for their winter themed products.
Usually, somewhere behind the normal pet supplies, you’ll find all the costumes stacked together at a clearance price. If you pick your cat’s Halloween costume a year early, you’ll get so much more bang for your buck.
Don’t Forget to Try Out Accessories
If you really want to bring your cat’s wardrobe to life, consider buying accessories on top of the basics. There are way too many accessories to list them all. However, here are some of the most popular:
- Bow Ties/Ties
Just remember to make sure that accessories, particularly the ones that go around the neck, are the appropriate size so that they do not restrict any breathing or blood flow. If all is done correctly, your cat will be feeling safe and stylish in no time.
Learn How to Put Clothes On Your Cat Ahead of Time
Some cats can be easily startled. If you accidentally startle your cat when you’re trying to put clothes on it might turn into a face full of claws if you’re not careful. This is why it is important that you have a strategy ready to get the clothes on your cat before you try to actually do it. You should also be open to adjusting your plan depending on how they react.
- Get them in a comfortable position. You can either use this as an opportunity to brush your cat if you know that calms them down or pet them. Get them to sit in front of you.
- Put the shirt over their head first. If you haven’t already started petting them, you should. When they’re enjoying the pets, put the shirt/sweater into the hand you’re petting with and quickly slip it over their head.
- Slip their paws through the sleeves. The last step may surprise them or rile them up a bit, so before you do anything else you should pause and give them some more pets or even a treat or two. Then as your petting, gently put their paws through the sleeves.
Brush Your Cat Before Putting Them in Clothes if They’re Shedding
If your cat is shedding, you should both reduce the amount of time that they are wearing clothes and brush them out before putting them in some. If you don’t you’ll end up with a lot of excess fur stuck to the inside of their clothes, which can cause them to overheat or feel more itchy.
Use Dressing Your Cat as a Bonding Time
If you make the process of dressing up your cat fun, it can become a valuable bonding time for both of you. Make sure to give them lots of pets during the process and maybe have a treat or two on hand for when they’re all dressed and ready.
For your own attachment to this ritual, you can try and find something that either matches or goes well with your cat clothes. Then you won’t just be owner and pet but a dynamic fashion star duo. In your own house at least.
Let Your Cat Get Used to Clothes in Their Own Time
Don’t just throw clothes on your cat and tell them to get used to it. Instead, you can gradually increase the amount of time they wear them, so they have an opportunity to get used to them.
Some cats may have some trepidation at first, but then come to be grateful for their outfits when it gets colder outside.
If you force a cat to wear clothes they aren’t yet comfortable with you may traumatize them from ever wanting to try any others.
What Should You Consider When Buying Clothes for Your Cat?
You can really give your cat a burst of fun and style by finding comfortable, classy clothes for them to wear. Just remember that cats need time to adjust to changes. You should start with simple outfits and work your way up to the more interesting ones. Similarly, you should gradually increase the amount of time they wear the clothes until they are comfortable.
You want always to make sure that whatever clothes you use do not restrict their movement, disrupt their balance or obscure their vision. Anything covering their whiskers or their tail will disrupt their balance, whereas clothes that are too tight to too big will impede their movement. Keep all of these things in mind, and your cat will be the biggest fashion star in town. To you, anyway.
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