You have recently bought clothes for your feline. But when you put these on him, he freezes and lies on his side? This condition, jokingly called by pet owners as costume induced sideways cat instability syndrome, can be attributed to the fact that they may feel constrained or even threatened when they wear clothes or even Elizabethan collars.
Why do cat falls over when you put clothes on them?
Some cats will tolerate getting dressed up. Others will wriggle their way out of a costume. But your cat reacts to this action by freezing up. There is no real consensus about the real reason behind this, just theories put forth by cat owners who have experienced this with their felines.
Fight or flight response
You have to remember that wearing clothes is not natural for cats. When you put clothes on your furry little pal, he freezes because he does not know how to react with this new situation. Instead of fighting or running away from you, his reaction is to freeze.
Constricted and unable to move
Some cats freeze up when they get dressed up because they feel uncomfortable wearing clothes. Wearing clothes is an alien idea to them and they can feel their movements restricted.
Sign of protest
Cats respond to this situation differently. Some will bite and scratch, others will run. If your cat freezes after getting dressed up, it can be seen as a sign of resignation. And instead of running away or hurting you as a response, he freezes up as a sign of protest.
Why are cats spooked by clothes?
No matter what your cat’s response is, he still probably hates the idea of getting dressed up. But why do cats hate getting dressed up?
1. He is scared
This is particularly true if you are trying to put a Halloween costume on him. What may seem cute to you may actually be scary to your pet. It may be the extra appendages or the cape, simply put, the costume you bought for your feline spooks him.
2. The clothes smell and sound weird.
Cats have a heightened sense of smell. That is why they seek familiar scents. Now, when you present them with something that smells unfamiliar, they either get scared or act aggressively. Some clothes have weird textures and make unusual sounds that again, can scare your kitty.
3. Wrong size
Sometimes, a cat is unnerved by the idea of wearing clothes because of poor fit. When the clothes you bought your pet are too tight, he can feel uncomfortable or worse, feel pain, especially in the tighter parts of the costume.
4. Hampered ability to communicate
Cats use a lot of visual cues to communicate with other felines and even with their humans. If you dress him up with clothes that hamper his ability to use body language, he may feel uneasy or downright scared.
5. Vision impairment
As a predator, your cat relies on his vision. A lot. Every time his vision is impaired, in this case, by a costume, he feels threatened and unable to defend himself.
6. Movement restriction
Cats are masters of maneuvering themselves out of tight spots. But when you put clothes on him, he feels that his movement is critically restricted, inducing panic.
7. Unwanted stares
The people in your home may gather around kitty in adoration of his new costume. However, your cat may not be a fan of unwanted attention. Cats feel threatened by the attention because in the wild, their ancestors viewed this as the initial step to an attack.
Should you even dress up your cat?
To some cat owners, the idea of dressing up a cat may seem absurd. They would never entertain the idea of buying their pets clothes. But before you dismiss the idea of clothing your cat, you should know that there are a few valid reasons to put clothes on your pet.
For one, if you own a hairless cat breed like the Sphynx, your cat will need to wear clothes to give it warmth and comfort, especially during the cooler seasons.
Cats that are under medical treatment need to be kept away from their wounds or the medical paraphernalia attached to them. Putting clothes on your beloved pet is a great way to draw away his attention from these while offering some degree of restriction.
Cats that suffer from the condition known as feline hyperesthesia can attain a sense of calm when they are clothed.
Making things bearable for your kitty
If you must insist on clothing your cat with a costume, here are a few things that you can do to make the experience more bearable for him.
1. Avoid homemade costumes
If you are dressing up your feline for Halloween or any other occasion, it is a better idea to buy a costume for him instead of making one for him. Costumes made by reputable sellers especially for cats take into account your pet’s comfort. Most of these have passed quality control so you are assured that there are no parts that can be torn off.
Choose simple clothes for your cat. Avoid those with dangling parts or those that obscure his vision.
2. Familiarize him.
Before putting his costume on him, you should allow your cat to become familiar with his new clothes. Let the costume lie on the floor and entice your cat to inspect it. This way, he will become familiar with the clothes’ scent.
3. Coax him gently.
When it is time to finally put on the costume, lure him to follow you with his favorite toy. As you put on his clothes, continue playing with him. This will help put him at ease and allow him to see that his movement is not restricted.
4. Keep a watchful eye.
Once you have put on the clothes, do not let your cat get out of your sight. Always have somebody looking at him.
5. Keep it short and sweet
The quicker your cat gets out of his costume, the faster he will feel relieved. If you are putting a costume on him for a photoshoot, make it quick and remove his clothes ASAP.
6. Reward him
After removing his clothes, offer him his favorite treat for his hard work. He deserves it.
A natural reaction
Whether your cat falls on his side after putting clothes or not, it is critical to remember that felines do not like to wear clothes. Whether you are putting on a costume on him or clothes for added warmth, always keep a watchful eye on your pet and watch his reaction closely.
Image: istockphoto.com / Korkiat