New York City is, of course, known for its trendy fashion. The weird, the wacky, the avant-garde, the hip, and the hipster all make their debut on the Big Apple’s runways. But last week, just a few blocks away from Pier 59, a popular runway venue, four-legged models debuted another line of fashion — kitty couture.
The feline fashion event is dubbed the Kitty CATure Fashion Show and is hosted by the International Cat Association. Last week marked the 5th anniversary, and for the first time the event also included canines.
This year’s event highlighted designers Ada Nieves of Ada Nieves for Pets and Katherine Golden of Golden Couture. The emcee also brought his own cat, a handsome spotted Bengal named Poet, who slept in a chair for most of the event.
After introductions, cats dressed in an array of clothing and accessories strutted down the catwalk with their handlers. Actually, handlers strutted down the runways holding their cat only to deposit them at the end of the runway on a cat-tree podium so that their outfits could be fully shown and photographed by the crowd. At one point the emcee picked up a Persian kitten and held him up like a football overhead so the crowd could ooohh and ahhh at his fashionable top hat and coattails. The show finale was Phoenix Rising from the Ashes, a Savannah cat named Lightening wearing a red velvet ensemble with sequins and wings.
As you can imagine very few of the cats were thrilled with this experience. Some panicked, claws clinging to their handlers, some hissed, while others flopped on the cat-tree podium uncooperatively. Another cat, an Oriental Shorthair, did his best to remove the offending rhinestone collar and evening coat while on stage. Others, in high-fashion style, appeared bored with the whole affair.
Clearly, the Kitty CATure Fashion Show is for human, not feline, entertainment. And while some of the clothing items modeled potentially have value for hairless breeds or cats that live in very cold climates, I found myself cringing at the video footage and wondering if this seemingly silly fun bordered on abuse?
There is no doubt that very few cats are comfortable with new surroundings, crowds, flashing cameras, loud cheering and clapping, not to mention being dressed up in anything other than a collar and their own fur coat. Any of the later scenarios alone can overwhelm most cats, let alone all those things together. Two of my three cats would go absolutely ballistic in any of the aforementioned circumstances. Some cats obviously defy these norms, such as circus cats, show cats, kittens too young to care and odd doggish-cats like my Mr. Mittens. But clearly from the anxious behavior displayed by so many of the cats paraded down the runway many of them were quite stressed out from the experience being thrusted upon them.
Separate from the question as to whether one should dress a cat up in a frilly pink ballerina outfit (as was one cat at the fashion show), is it humane to parade cats around in surroundings that are generally considered stressful for them – and just for human entertainment? If that is not okay, would it be acceptable if money raised from the event went to cat rescue? What if the show organizers only chose cats with circus-cat like dispositions who can handle all of the excitement. Would that be okay? Should animal rights groups call for a ban on feline fashion shows? What do you think?
To see a good sample of photographs from the event visit FashionNewsLive.