Fashion helps cat with allergies to heal

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For a cat born wearing a tuxedo, Hero seemed destined to become the next top model. But when she arrived at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, her little black-and-white body was covered in scabs. She has bad allergies that caused itching, overgrooming and lesions. A soft cone could help protect some of the hot spots, but not all of them. The solution that made the most sense, then, was to get Hero a new wardrobe.

Hero the cat wearing a pink outfit pawing at a small toy dragon

Clothes to help cat with allergies

Hero the cat wearing a blue and white sports jerseyAside from just being adorable, small shirts and onesies can be practical for a cat recovering from surgery, an injury, or in Hero’s case, allergy lesions. Cat World has a small selection of clothes for just such occasions, so the staff was prepared to get Hero suited up and healing.

Of course, there was an adjustment period when Hero learned that she could, in fact, move around with an outfit on. But since her very favorite thing in the world is to be cuddled up in someone’s lap, be showered with attention and be purring her heart out, something like a shirt was not going to stop her. Soon she was hopping onto people’s laps, trotting through the halls and climbing all over the desks in the office where she stays.

With a special allergy-friendly diet, ointment for her scabs and new outfits to keep them covered, Hero was feeling better than ever. Since her clothes are more of a long-term solution for her and the outfits available at Cat World weren’t all her size, it was time to customize her wardrobe.

Hero the cat sitting on the edge of a desk next to a book wearing a pink and white outfit

Altering baby clothes for cats

Gloria Hill, a development coordinator at Best Friends who’s also an accomplished seamstress, got Hero’s measurements and started tailoring baby clothes to better fit her feline proportions. The most important change is adjusting the sleeves. Since people’s arms go off to the sides, but those of a cat go forward, sleeves in baby clothes tended to bunch up uncomfortably around her shoulders. Fix them and suddenly that baby shirt fits much better.

Gloria also adjusts (as needed) the location of the outfit’s closures so Hero won’t accidentally slip out of her clothes. As comfortable as she’s been in her shirts, she would still happily run around in just her own furry tuxedo, but without any covering, her normal grooming habits might become fixated on spots that need healing.

With Gloria’s tailoring, Hero is building up a trendy collection of customized clothing. She has jerseys, cute patterned shirts and hoodies in her closet. So, when it was time to move into a foster home, she had a little extra luggage to bring with her.

Gloria sitting next to a sewing machine behind Hero the cat wearing a red, black and white outfit

In her foster home, Hero quickly settled in and made herself comfortable. With her sweet, outgoing personality, she had no trouble making friends with the family’s big dogs. And she is soaking up the attention from all the people in the house — adults and children alike.

There are desks to climb on, laps to snuggle in and sunny spots to stretch out in until she lands a permanent home. She’s a go-with-the-flow kind of cat. But she will never be underdressed.

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Hero the cat lying on a man's lap next to his desk and chewing on a pen

Photos by Molly Wald and Katie Kyzivat