Halloween is coming and costumes are on the minds of many people. Parents are helping their children pick out the perfect ones or they’re channeling their inner Martha Stewart and creating homemade costumes.
When you open your door to trick-or-treaters this year, as every year before, you’ll not only see children dressed up, but many adults as well. Not to be outdone, many dog parents will also adorn their precious pooches with the latest in Halloween canine fashion. And, although you probably won’t see any costumed cats strolling the streets, rest assured, there will be plenty of felines enduring the costume ritual as well.
Do Cats Enjoy This?
Although there certainly are some cats who have been dressed up in Halloween costumes (or any costume) from the time they were little kittens and are very used to it by now, it still doesn’t make it a wise thing to do. They may tolerate it and may not even mind it but I seriously doubt one could go out on a limb and say cats actually enjoy it.
If you’re considering dressing Fluffy up for Halloween, here are some things to consider beforehand:
1. Communication Impairment to Your Cat
We all know cats are predators but many people don’t realize that because of their size, they’re also prey animals. They depend on all of their senses to stay aware of what’s happening in their immediate environment. Costumes that cover their ears, squish their whiskers or limit their ability to see or move, can cause unnecessary stress. Even if you know nothing is going to ambush your cat, he doesn’t know that. Additionally, in a multicat household where there’s even the smallest amount of hostility, it adds to a cat’s stress to be in a position that puts him at a disadvantage when it comes to advance warning of an approaching opponent.
The cat wearing the costume may also be upset enough to lash out at another companion cat. Other cats in the home might additionally be alarmed at the costume and go after the poor kitty imprisoned in the Halloween get-up.
2. Inability For Your Cat to Escape
A costume can limit the cat’s ability to move about freely which can create anxiety. Cats are very flexible and used to being able to climb, jump, twist or even dive under a piece of furniture in the blink of an eye.
3. Discomfort to Your Cat
Even if the costume doesn’t appear to impair the cat’s ability to move, the material may simply be uncomfortable against his fur. If you normally use a collar on your cat, think back to the when you first attempted to fit it on him. It was stressful, right? Well, at least the collar was for safety reasons but a costume is something that can cause stress without having any benefit for the cat.
Some cats are very sensitive about anything touching their fur and so having a costume that binds or presses against specific areas of the body can be very uncomfortable, itchy or downright painful.
A costume that covers his ears may create an annoying sound that could actually be painful due to the sensitivity of a cat’s hearing.
4. Scent Issues for Your Cat
Cats use scent as a major method of communication and identification. The costume itself will have an unfamiliar scent that will cover the cat. This unfamiliar scent can be unsettling to the other cats in the home who may not recognize the costumed kitty.
Once the costume is removed, the cat will probably end up spending a large amount of time grooming himself to re-establish his familiar scent.
5. Your Cat is at a Choking Risk
Some costumes have pieces that can easily be chewed off, especially if the cat is determined to remove what he’s wearing. Costume pieces might get swallowed which can lead to choking or intestinal blockage.
6. The Focus of Attention
This may sound like a good thing but for a fearful or timid cat, the last thing he wants is to have everyone giving him direct stares and trying to interact with him. In the animal world, a direct stare is a sign of a challenge. The cat who looks adorable in his Halloween costume may actually be enduring tremendous stress as family members and guests intrude upon his personal space and force unwanted interaction.
Use Common Sense
Enjoy your Halloween and let your cat enjoy it as well in a way that provides safety, security and comfort.
Need More Information?
For more information on cat behavior and training, refer to any of the books by Pam Johnson-Bennett.