Halloween is rapidly approaching and this time of year is always very exciting. Leaves are changing color, the breeze is becoming cooler and your kitties are becoming more playful. Whether you put your furry friend in a costume, or not (us included) it’s important to remember a few tips that will make the experience more pleasant for them.
The main thing I like to take into consideration is if Pisco is enjoying himself. This is always a top priority when taking pictures, especially if costumes are involved. Since every costume is different, whether it be something that goes over his face, a cape, or a full body, we try to first see if it would bother him in any way. This is why we stick to face masks that don’t hinder his sight, whiskers, or jaw movement.
Pisco is a very calm cat and he usually just goes with the flow. This is why we have to pay extra attention to see if something is bothering him (costumes or just the general way we take pictures). You can tell he is happy if he pounces around during our photo shoots and is happily chasing the toy chosen to keep him looking at the camera. If he chooses to just lay down, while a toy is present, or walks away, then we can tell he isn’t enjoying the process. If this happens we stop the photo shoot, or permanently remove the costume, if he had one on to begin with. I feel like this instills a trust between us and him, since there isn’t any forceful action going on. This can applied to your furry friends as well. Just note that Pisco is an individual so I can only give advice on how we interact with him.
Now if Pisco likes the way the photo shoot is going, then we continue until we get a couple of shots that we are satisfied with. It usually doesn’t take too long. If Pisco is in a costume that day we cut the photo shoot to a few minutes at a maximum as to not get Pisco in a bad mood. I also recommend this to any pet parent that likes having their pets in costumes. Make sure the event only lasts a few minutes. The goal should be to take the costume off before any resemblance of annoyance even starts to come out. This is why we stick to our masks, since Pisco doesn’t mind those at all. Another obvious way to tell if that cat is okay with a costume is if he/she continues on like normal. For example, since there is always a toy around, Pisco would continue to “hunt” the toy with the mask on. Since he’s a speedy little guy, the mask naturally comes off after a few seconds of play and Pisco seamlessly continues to play as if the mask was never on him. This is usually when we give ourselves a mental okay as to Pisco green-lighting the costume.
Note: When I mention a mask, I mean like the one in the picture above, NOT a mask that covers the face. All “masks” mentioned are like the picture above which DOES NOT cover the face.
Now, I know there are very strong opinions on the subject of costumes on animals. Some people say it’s animal abuse to put a costume on an animal, and the other side feels like they can do whatever they want with their animals. Sometimes this topic can feel like a battlefield, but I will try to give my opinion on things.
Like most things in life, it is important to find a moral gray area as we have to remember there is no absolute truth to this subject. No matter what people tell you, it is just their opinion. Even the ASPCA doesn’t have a concrete answer and just revert to the discretion of the parents.
So, what is my answer to this moral question? Well, it’s complicated. If you’ve visited Pisco’s instagram page, you’ll see that I do put costumes on Pisco.
Now, do I think that Pisco is my property and I have every right to put a costume on him?
Of course not.
Do I exploit him for instagram likes and comments?
No, I do not.
It just comes down to a matter of preference. If I’m browsing the web, and I see something that would fit Pisco’s vibes, or enhances his already cute face, then I buy it and see if he likes it. I consider Pisco to be my son, and like any responsible parent, I see if he likes what I buy him. Since kitty’s haven't developed the ability to talk yet, I have to see how his demeanor changes with a costume on. As I described above, if he likes it, we move on with the photo session. Now I’m not blind to the fact that there are people who force costumes on their cat, which then gives people who are anti-costume very valid concerns. I’d like to address some of the questions I’ve found that come up most often when reviewing this topic.
“How do you actually know if Pisco is comfortable with the costume and isn’t just freezing?”
Well, as I described above, I know Pisco the best and there isn’t one set form of reaction. I see if he plays normally with a toy and how he acts around that toy to see if it is the same as he would act without the costume on. Like I said, Pisco is my son and no one knows him more than me. Not every cat will react like Pisco, which is why it is on an individual basis as to what determines “freezing” or an uncomfortable cat. Look for the signs. If your cat stops moving, lays down, or is in anyway behaving inconsistently then the way they would normally act, something is usually wrong. If you know your kitty is uncomfortable with a costume, then take it off. It’s that simple, but there isn’t a set rule for determining this and it doesn’t mean that your kitty hates all costumes if he/she didn’t like that one particular one. This is why I acknowledge these complaints because there are people that force costumes on their pets. There are people that don’t treat their kitty’s with respect, but that doesn’t mean everyone does. You just have to look for the signs of an uncomfortable, or happy cat.
“Cats aren’t meant to have costumes because that isn’t their natural state of being.”
This one always makes me giggle a bit since cats are never in their “natural state of being” as most cats are indoor cats. Why do we do that? To protect them of course. Now, am I saying putting a costume on a cat is protecting them? No, of course not, I am just commenting on the silly opinion that cats must always be in their “natural state.” That just isn’t feasible. Since some of our kittys are explorers they need a harness. Now what is the difference between a harness and a costume vest and do they both hurt your cat even though one is a neccessity to go outside? Something to think about since they both wrap around the cat’s body. With this being said, our cats have become part of our family, so we try our best to make them comfortable, or treat them like part of the family. That involves getting them that awesome tunnel that they’ve been eying on the internet, or maybe, if they like it, putting that cute costume on.
“It is cruel to put costumes on your pet. Don’t you want the best for them?”
This one also perplexes me as the person saying this takes the moral high ground. I think we all know someone like this in our lives. Anyway, my answer to this can be broken down in a few statements. What determines cruelty and what is best for your pet? In my opinion, putting a costume on your pet is the least of the parents concerns when it comes to cruelty. Now to be clear, I don’t condone forcing anything on your pet. That is absolutely unacceptable. I just question where the line is drawn. Like how many people do you know (pet parents) that feed their pets Beneful, or Fancy Feast because they’re the “cheapest option.” These brands are the McDonalds of pet food and are terrible for your pet. Going one step further, dry-food isn’t necessarily healthy for your pet either, since all the moisture is sucked out of it. On a side note, I recommend people to watch the Netflix documentary “Pet Fooled.” It goes into deeper detail. Also, don’t feel obligated to buy the most expensive food out there, that isn’t the point I’m trying to convey. There are healthy options that are cheap. Nothing beats a home cooked meal after all.
Now what about outdoor cats? Certain experts like Jackson Galaxy insist that having an outdoor cat shortens a kitty’s lifespan as they are prone to more dangers. Is having an outdoor cat “cruel” and not wanting to “best for them?” I mention these things because I am always confused as to why people decide to take a stand on pet costumes but remain silent on the awful food some people feed their pets and even letting some of them roam outdoors. Would you feed your young child McDonalds everyday and let them go outside unsupervised? Of course not, so why is it okay to do that with our pets?
To be clear, I’m not pretending to be the all knowing when it comes to animal safety, these are just my opinions. I’m just commenting on the fact that “cruel” means different things to different people. Person A might think that Person B is “cruel” because they put costumes on their pets, but Person C might think Person A is “cruel” because they feed their pet Beneful. Now Person D might think they’re all “cruel” because none of their pets are adopted. See how ridiculous it becomes when people take the moral high ground? At the end of the day, we are all just trying to be the very best pet parents that we can be. Some pet parents fall short when they abuse, or force their pets into things, and that’s why it’s so important to educate people on the signs of an uncomfortable pet. However, putting blanket statements and accusing all people who put costumes on their pets is also misguided, whether it comes from a good heart, or not.
Moral of this post?
No one knows your pet better than you. Look out for the signs and if they’re uncomfortable, stop. If they like it, continue while monitoring. If you don’t like putting costumes on your pets this Halloween, don’t do it. Trust me, no one will judge you ;)
At the end of the day it comes down to the individual pet and parent like all things in life. Personally, as Pisco’s parent’s we have gotten messages on how Pisco’s feed (specifically some in costume) have really made people’s day and helped through depression. I’m not gonna say that I get a message like this everyday, but I do get them a lot more than I would imagine. This alone, lets me know that I am doing a good thing and hopefully making a difference. Of course, only with Pisco’s permission.
Now here are some references that I found online that may be helpful in determining if your cute pet and costumes are compatible. These are great guidelines to follow while handling any pet.