Is It Okay to Dress Up Your Pet?

September 27, 2013

By Julia Williams

Halloween is almost here, and the stores are fully stocked for fright-night fun.  Alongside all the spook-tacular decorations and giant bags of candy are the costumes.

With so many animal lovers among us, it’s hard to say which is more prevalent in the Halloween aisle – costumes for humans or costumes for pets. There’s no denying that our pets look adorable in costumes. “Cute factor” aside though…should pets wear costumes? Most people fall into one of three camps. There are those who love dressing up their pet, those who think it’s categorically wrong, and those who wouldn’t put a costume on their own pet, but don’t mind if others do. I am in camp number three, but only because I have cats, who tend to be a bit curmudgeonly when it comes to the whole costume-wearing thing.

okay to dress petsIf you go looking for photos of cats in cute costumes, most will either be a) cats with a minimal costume such as a hat or a headpiece, or b) fully-costumed cats who glare menacingly at the camera as if to say, “Just you wait, human. I will get even with you for this travesty! Just you wait.” There’s not a whole lot in-between. Most cats are not costume lovers. Most would, in fact, happily rip your face off if you even tried dressing them up. I haven’t put any sort of costume on my current three felines, because I am sure it would not end well for whatever body parts they could sink their claws or teeth into. Yes, I am a chicken; but “better safe than shredded” is my motto.

As with anything, there are exceptions to the “cats loathe costumes” rule.  Not many, mind you…but some. Such as Luna the Fashion Kitty, who started wearing colorful tutus when she was just a kitten. Luna now wears a costume almost every day, and her human say she doesn’t mind and even seems to like it. Although I’m not entirely convinced that Luna loves to wear clothes, all of her photos suggest she is at least not bothered by their presence. That, to me, is the Golden Rule.

If your cat obviously hates wearing costumes, then it’s not cool to subject them to that – at least not for more than a minute. I think it would be fine to put a costume on them, quickly snap a few funny photos and then take it off. Responsible pet owners just don’t make their pets mad or uncomfortable on purpose. And I am positive that every caring owner can tell the difference between a cat who is ambivalent about costumes and one who will most definitely pay you back – sooner or later – for your transgression.

Many dogs, on the other hand, are not quite as bothered by costumes. Which is why, when you go looking for cute photos of pets in costumes, dog pictures outnumber cat pictures at least five to one. At least. You can find photos of dogs dressed as superheroes, pirates, bees, pumpkins, hot dogs, frogs, fairies, referees…pretty much any costume you can think of, you can find a photo of a dog wearing it.

That being said, the same Golden Rule for cats applies to our dogs too. If they tolerate wearing costumes, great…go for it. Just be sure to reward them with a few CANIDAE dog treats for being such a good sport. If your dog doesn’t like to wear costumes, however, then you shouldn’t subject them to it for your own amusement. That’s just not what our furry best friends are for!

Pumpkin cat by Shan213
Angry Rudolph by RBerteig
Luna the Fashion Kitty
Pug in a Pug Costume by DaPuglet
Dog superheroes by Mike McCune

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  1. meowmeowmans says:

    I agree. It really depends upon the individual pet. We just Photoshop costumes on our cats. Safer that way. 🙂

    Our Angel Graphite loved wearing his little tie and collar, and bandanas. He used to hold his head and tail high when we put them on him. So we were happy to oblige.

  2. Carolyn says:

    I think I would be down A&E double quick if I tried dressing Austin up! Therefore I am (almost) firmly in the never at any cost category, because if I tried to dress up the CAT it would quickly become GORY!!

  3. Depends on the pet personality, we think. Some kitties we’ve met don’t mind at all and in some cases seem to enjoy the attention an outfit brings. But those would be the minority, we’ve found. Can’t help but think it looks cute most of the time but dressing up is not a rule in our house!

  4. I’m with you that you really have to base it on the personality of your pet, and their size, etc. Neither of my boys love dressing up, so on the rare occasions that I try it, it is, as you said, for a quick photo and that’s it!

  5. Catzowey! I dresses up everyday to look meowvalous and stylish cuz I’ma EyeTailYun kitty and luvs my deeziner wardrobe

  6. Fuzzy Tales says:

    To be honest, dressing up non-humans as humans never has appealed to me. I’m in the minority of pet servants here on-line. But for me, the whole appeal of four-legged Beings is that they AREN’T humans. I’ve never wanted to turn my cats into little people and dress them up or marry them off or whathaveyou. And I’m definitely not in need of a human baby substitute. LOL.

    On the flip side, as long as your companion animal doesn’t mind and it doesn’t harm them in any way, then go for it. It’s just not my own thing.