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Okay, I’m not gonna lie. I’m a sucker for cats wearing little people clothes. Who isn’t? Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t completely lose it when you see a kitty in a dapper little bowtie, or wearing a fancy pink tutu? Animals in clothing may be the purest, most delightful sight to behold in all the world. But even though it is a true pleasure to see them sporting human duds, is it really something we should be doing to our furry friends?

WHEN RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

To start off, let’s assume we’re talking about your average tabby cat with no medical problems and a full coat of fur. Does Snowball need a sweater? No. Does he seem to like wearing a sweater? Also no. Should you force him to wear it? I mean, probably not. Is it considered animal abuse to make your cat wear clothes? Nah, it’s probably just slightly annoying and, at worst, uncomfortable for your cat to be waddling around in that sharp little vest that you bought for him from the baby section of Target. But, this is your wedding! And he’s your ring-bearer!

First of all, adorable. Second of all, if you simply must make him suffer through an hour-long photoshoot with him in a vest, then I’m sure he’d appreciate it if you just take the dang picture and be done with it. Probably best not to push it past that though, and let him live the rest of his life au naturale. If he goes absolutely nuts when you finally manage to stick him in the thing, then it’s definitely not a good idea to force him to smile for the camera. Just let him be his perfect self, sans clothing.

Additionally, it’s never a good idea to keep your cat in clothing for very long, especially warm clothing such as sweaters. Even in chilly weather, it’s dangerous to put a sweater on Mr. Mittens and keep it on him for a long period of time. This is because cats are kept warm by their own furry coats, and an extra layer on top of that may cause them to overheat.

Another thing to take into consideration is how active your cat is. If he’s always on the move, putting clothes on him might restrict his movement, resulting in bumps on the noggin and, at worst, a broken bone. But, if you have a particularly docile cat who is older and doesn’t move around as much, it’s okay to put him in a sweater just for kicks, but keeping it on him might interfere with his ability to regulate his body temperature. So basically, it’s cute for a few pictures, but don’t overdo it - especially if the weather is toasty to begin with.

THE CONE OF SHAME

Now, let’s consider another possibility. Perhaps you have a cat who’s just been fixed, or needed surgery. Now she’s home, but she’s got a big ol’ set of stitches, and an incision (or wound) that needs to heal. The classic route is going “cone of shame”; wrapping her little head up in a big plastic cone so that she looks like the lamp from Pixar. Though medically necessary, some cats find it particularly humiliating and cumbersome to be walking around looking like a satellite dish - and to be fair, it does impede their movement and ability to feed themselves. An alternative to the cone of shame might be, you guessed it! KITTY CLOTHING. You can either get a small dog sweater for them from the pet shop, or, fun fact, many cats fit in baby clothes sizes 0-3 months. You’re welcome.

HAIRLESS FASHIONISTAS

Lastly, another time when it is acceptable, and in some cases downright necessary to put clothes on your cat, is when you’re dealing with hairless breeds. Sphynx cats, for example, have a soft “peach fuzz” coat of fur, but that fur is hardly good at keeping them warm during the winter months. Therefore, just like humans, hairless cats need to wear sweaters when the temperatures drop. In addition to keeping your hairless kitty safe, comfortable, and warm, it offers the opportunity to make them look absolutely fabulous. So, in this instance, go crazy! I mean, not too crazy. But you can go a little crazy. Stock your kitty’s wardrobe up with all the latest winter fashions. She’ll be set for another season of frigid temperatures - in style.

Most importantly, always be considerate of how your cat feels. Like I said, if they’re not having anything of it, it’s best not to force them to wear anything they don’t need to. And trust me, you will know if they’re not having anything of it. If they’re more laidback and you are responsible about it, it might be cute to give it a go. In cases when it is necessary, well - that answers the question for you. Above all, your cat’s health should be your primary concern. And if you do have the opportunity to dress them to the nines, take pictures!

Written by Diomira Keane