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Dressing up your cat in a cute sweater or shirt may be fun for you, but most cats dislike the feeling of something on their fur. It’s usually not necessary to protect cats from the cold, because their natural coat typically regulates temperature and helps to hold in warmth.
An exception is a hairless breed, such as a Sphinx. Cats that have been shaved, either for a surgery or routine grooming, may also need some type of clothing to help keep them warm, says Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
If you would like to try to put a garment on your cat, proceed with caution so as to not upset your pet. “Go slowly and start with short periods of time with rewards like petting or treats, so they have a positive association with the clothing,” advises Wismer. “As they get used to it, you can leave it on them for longer periods of time, always with positive reinforcement.”
It’s very important to regularly monitor your cat when it is wearing clothing. Wismer says some warning signs will signal that your cat is unhappy with the kitty clothes. These include hiding, freezing in place or trying to scratch. It is also important to make sure that the clothing does not impede the cat’s ability to jump, move around or see, all of which could result in accidents. A simple rule of thumb to follow, according to Wismer: If your cat reacts poorly, then remove the clothing! The angst and discomfort simply aren’t worth the possible benefits.
Stacey Brecher is a freelance writer. She has contributed to Animal Fair magazine, and her blogs have previously appeared on The Dog Daily.