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Pet costumes ain’t your business

Halloween isn’t just about candy anymore.  

For a university student, the occasion usually means debates over cultural appropriation, objectifying costumes and different forms of drunken adolescent debauchery. 

Most of the general population, and heaven forbid, even the wokest among us have forgotten one of the most important and contentious issues surrounding Halloween: pet costumes. 

Let me make my position perfectly clear.  

I am upset. I am frustrated. 

I am sick and tired of hearing people disparage and insult those of us, including myself, who take pleasure in putting our furry friends in costumes.  

Every year, over and over, I hear things like “I think your dog’s hat is a little tight” or “Are you sure your cat isn’t being choked by that clerical collar?” 

Those radicals at PETA advise against putting a pet in an elaborate outfit. Even more outrageous, PETA also recommends refraining from taking your pets trick-or-treating and offers a variety of vegan Halloween alternatives.  

It’s audacious. 

I enjoy putting my pets in costumes. It’s a family tradition, one that goes back many years. Not only does it delight me and my pets’ admirers, my pets enjoy it too. Do you really think I would hand embroider and dye my little cousin’s christening gown if my dog didn’t enjoy dressing up as a sexy swashbuckler? If only you could see my cat’s little face light up when they get to dress up as Bob Marley or as a bloody nun bearing an oversized crucifix. It’s a great time.  

Festive for survival 

My involvement with pet costumes goes deeper than Halloween.  

You see, my cat Tilley wears clothing year-round. Typically, she wears a simple cape but for festive occasions will opt for a dress. Her outfits are fashionable and functional. But this isn’t a vanity project. My cat has a serious medical condition that forces her to cover up. 

My cat has feline viral rhinopneumonitis. In another word, herpes.  

Her other ailments include asthma, a chronic eye infection, allergies, as well as dietary restrictions meaning she can only eat mashed peas and venison. She has her own file at the local pharmacy. Let’s just say the poor thing was not particularly well bred. 

This is not a laughing matter. Because of my cat’s condition, she’s in chronic discomfort and is usually very itchy, requiring her to wear something to cover her fur so she doesn’t rip it out with her bare teeth. Clothes are the only remedy. 

It must be clear why I get so upset when someone critiques my cat’s wardrobe. Do you know what she has gone through? Do you know all she went through to get to where she is now? The poor girl can barely breathe! 

She’s made it through surgeries, emergency trips to the vet, inhalers and the cone of shame. That’s just the past six months. 

Many who make remarks about my cat’s wardrobe are unaware of her condition, but comments regarding her clothes are more than that. They are comments regarding her health, her life. 

Condemning her decision to wear clothes is condemning her decision to keep pushing. My cat might have herpes, but she’s a fighter. 

So, this Halloween, if you’re so inclined to comment on the well-being of animals, donate to PETA if you must.  

This is a rallying cry for the humans and pets who take part in this honourable tradition. Do not bow down to the mob’s tyrannical pressure to disrobe of one’s costume. And to the detractors, please, spare us from the off-hand remarks about our decision to dress our pets on Halloween.  

For some like Tilley, it’s their only chance.

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