Cat costuming is one of the finest of the feline arts — but it’s also one that’s exceptionally tricky to master. Most cats aren’t too receptive about being dressed up in clothing; I once persuaded my cat Mimosa to wear an impromptu pink tutu for a few minutes but that’s about the extent of her tolerance for fashion.
Enter the cat clothing experts at Cushzilla, a website dedicated to providing fancy wigs and costumes for the modern feline. Based in Torrance in southern California, the site’s cyber-racks are stocked with vital kitty wardrobe staples like a Katy Perry wig and a Harry Potter wizard’s outfit.
Impressed by the virtuous service Cushzilla provides, I spoke to Leah Workman, the company’s vice president, about the dynamics of dressing-up cats. In the background Mimosa looked on with foppish fear in her eyes.
Catster: If someone wants to get into dressing up their cat, what would you recommend they begin with?
Leah Workman: First of all, I’d recommend having a very good relationship with your cat! They are not necessarily always into dressing up like the dogs are. I’d recommend something easy to start with like a necktie, especially if your cat’s used to a collar then they won’t seem to mind it at all. They walk around your house like little furry business people.
What’s the next stage in cat clothing after a necktie?
I’ve noticed that the next level up is a costume that’s on their body part more, so like an extension of the capes. They don’t seem to mind that. And the other thing that works well is the pilot costume’s collar part.
How do you work with a cat who is not receptive to being dressed up?
When it comes to putting actual wigs and hats on cats, you definitely need to negotiate with them for a couple of days. At first they’re not used to having their ears go through the little hat holes or wig holes, and they do think the wigs are little toys that you’re putting on their heads so there can be a little confusion there. I won’t say that they love wearing a hat or a wig, but for special occasions and photos they will for a couple of treats allow you to do that.
How long does a cat have to wear a wig for it to be considered a successful dressing-up attempt?
Long enough to take a good picture! I know one comedian, Jenn Schaal in Minnesota, and she needed a very specific wig that looked exactly like her haircut so she could put it on her cat for a graduation card. It was her and her kitty in the same haircut. We got one and it was awesome. So I’d say long enough to take that picture and then you take it off and let them be.
Do you think shelters would be more successful with getting cats adopted if they were all dressed up in costumes?
I honestly think not! But my pets are shelter rescues and I went on to one of the shelter sites when I was looking and I noticed that a lot of the shelters took really unfortunate photographs of their cats and dogs. They’re scared, they’re terrified, they’re shy, they’re in these little cages and unfortunately people take the cute ones so even if they’re the cutest animals they’re photographed in the most horrid conditions, so they’re petrified. Of course they don’t need to be in a wig or a costume, but if you can get someone to take a better picture they’re gonna have more of a chance to get rescued.
What trends in cat clothing do you predict for 2014?
We’re actually coming out with our new wigs and I’m going to say they’re a little more anime and a little wilder and a little spicier. It looks like we’re going into some retro-future Japanese 1980s.
What’s the biggest seller on Cushzilla?
The little pilot uniform. It’s just so instantly recognizable and iconic and it’s just kinda precious. There’s just something ridiculously cute about a little kitty pilot.
The Cushzilla site has a selection of cats dressed up as celebrities. Which celebrity is the easiest for a cat to dress up as?
The easiest is the old Katy Perry from “California Gurls” in the blue wig because it’s pretty recognizable. We don’t have a picture on the site, but the Marilyn wig would give you a pretty good Marilyn kitty too. It’s just that I have boy cats and people were getting upset that we were putting female wigs on male animals because that’s apparently the thing people care about — the gender line — rather than the fact that we’re putting wigs on animals!
If cats could dress humans up, what do you think they’d want to see us wearing?
I have a feeling it would involve us being in a kitchen cooking them special meals, so probably being shackled in the kitchen and with a big fluffy cushion in our laps for when they’re not hungry. And they’d probably put us in very silly wigs just because it’s amusing.
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About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.