A White Paper With Whiskers: Current Trends in Small Pet Clothing

If you think putting pets in perky apparel is a relatively new trend, think again. When King Arthur ruled Great Britain in 520 A.D., they used dogs in the military and in law enforcement, so these working dogs wore protective clothing to help keep them safe in an attack and from the environment. So what's happening in today's world of four-legged fashion?

We still use small pet clothing for some of the same reasons--to protect our furry friends from cuts, scratches and bad weather, but today's pet clothing is more of a fashion statement than it is a necessity. Although big dogs will occasionally strut their stuff in an outfit picked out by a proud "parent," small dogs--and even some cats--are the darlings of the pet fashion world.

Fashions for cats include designer collars, tees and tank tops, dresses and coats, costumes for special occasions and Halloween, and accessories like wigs (wigs?) and bandannas. Even though there's no shortage of cat clothing sites, it's rare to see a cat attired in more than a collar. Most cat owners seem reluctant to clothe their kitties. There are several possible reasons for this:

- They don't want to anger their cat
- They think cats look stupid in clothes
- They're afraid their cat will freak out while being clothed
- They think clothes are a waste of money because kitty will rip them to shreds
- They don't want to anger their cat

Yes, one reason is listed twice. If looks could kill, many cat owners would be goners before they get the little wig attached to kitty's head. Independent creatures that they are, cats might very easily refrain from showing affection after suffering this ultimate humiliation. As far as cats are concerned, they're already fashionably dressed--they're wearing fine fur and PETA's okay with it!

Literally and figuratively, dogs are a different breed. Their passion for love, affection and approval enables their human companions to do pretty much whatever they want to their pooches (although nail clipping can sometimes be a challenge.) Optimists that they are, clothed dogs prefer to think they look cute, and of course, they must, or their owners wouldn't spend the effort or money to amass a wardrobe of designer collars, jackets, coats, sweaters, dresses, tees and tanks, shoes, costumes and clothing for special occasions (like doggie weddings!)

According to Onika Carroll, a designer for Elizabeth Austin, "The dog version of clothing must not only match human styles, it must also be functional for the dog." Consequently, designers of small dog clothing scour the runways in Milan, Paris and New York for the season's trendy styles and colors.

Interestingly, the TV show "Dancing with the Stars" has influenced pet clothing designers, who are introducing longer dresses and ball gowns to the four-legged-fashion world. The season's hot colors are pink, lilac and lime green, with floral designs and polka dots decorating the latest and greatest in cat and dog duds. Be sure to share these exciting revelations with your pets that are, more than likely, aching to learn what they'll be wearing over the next few months. Remember--making a fashion statement is not just for people!

Susan Hawkins is a writer for Max and Mittens where you can shop for small pet clothing including designer clothes for dogs and cats.

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