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Cat Couture: How Designers are Grabbing Feline Fashion by the Pussy

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Cat ownership is on the rise – due, in equal part, to the wonderful companionship they offer and millions of hilarious videos on the Internet. According to the American Pet Products Association, households are home to 95.6 million cats (outnumbering 83.3 million dogs), and are responsible for helping finance the booming $60 billion pet industry in a big way. And we’re not surprised that feline fashion designers are clawing their way into the pet fashion limelight, determined to carve out a niche for style-conscious cat lovers.

If you’re talking about the cat fashion industry, one crazy cat lady (and good friend of PetGuide.com) you need to know is Teri Thorsteinson. The human behind cocothecouturecat.com keeps a posse of at least four stylish pussies in her household since she adopted her first in 1988. Teri’s breed of choice is the Cornish Rex because she feels they are “the perfect combination of ballerina and runway model, even without costumes on!” It was love at first site when Teri saw her first Cornish Rex at a cat show. And now, her fab felines have an entire bedroom closet filled with stylish garments that contribute to their dressing better than most humans do.

Currently, Teri has three Cornish Rexes and one Sphynx who “are all affectionate, heat-seeking, social butterflies that have many fans who follow them on social media.” To go along with their fancy duds, these cats also have cool names. The Cornish Rexes are names Kely Bray, Coco the Couture Cat, and Brighton, while he Sphynx is named Disco NoFurNo.

Teri’s eye for cat fashion began in 1988 with her Cornish Rex, when she took her to a cat show in a simple off-the-rack dog dress and hat. It didn’t take long for people to gather around and admire her. This was the start of custom-made dresses, and with them, a growing notoriety.

Since then, each of Teri’s cats has been on the catwalk, raising money for homeless pets. They participate in the “Pet Me Cats” program by the Cat Fanciers Association as ambassadors for their breeds among others. This has led to bigger and brighter opportunities. Coco caught the eye of photographer Paul Nathan at the ‘Pink Catillac’ event. Nathan photographed Coco and featured her in The Adventures of Coco le Chat, The World’s Most Fashionable Feline.

When asked about training her cats to dress or model, Teri responded that her cats didn’t really require training since they are such an “outgoing, interactive, and adventurous breed.”  She started with simple items like t-shirts and harnesses. She then moved to hats and wigs. Teri is always cognizant of their comfort level and doesn’t leave outfits for too long.

Teri’s bond with her cats has been enhanced by pet fashion, especially through the social events they attend together. She travels, dines, and lounges by the pool with them. Kely Bray even goes to work at the cat clinic in full kitty garb, bringing joy to patients and their people.

Cat fashion doesn’t just look good – it brings cat lovers together for wonderful causes! Don’t let anyone make fun of you for dressing up your kitty. If someone gives you a hard time, just tell them: “You can’t handle my well-dressed pussy!”

Laurren Darr is a lifelong pet fashionologist and founder of International Association of Pet Fashion Professionals. Her book, Pet Fashion Industry Patterns, publishes in the spring of 2017.


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