But it’s not unusual for us to get comments or questions about Sauerkraut’s clothing. It’s true that many cats do not like to wear clothing. I’m sure you’ve seen videos of a cat that someone has dressed up, and the cat either freezes and tips over as if they’ve turned to stone, or they race around trying to shake off the outfit as if it’s made of cat nip and firecrackers.
Some cats are cool with clothing, and for those cats I think it can be really cute to see them in a Halloween getup or dressed to the nines for the Oscars. As long as the cat is cool with it, and their owners have a good relationship with their cat, then all the better!
But for Sauerkraut, we keep her in clothing for a reason.
When Sauerkraut was still a wee tot, and she was just one of several fosters we had in our home, we knew almost right away she had some health issues. She seemed to be suffering initially from failure to thrive - she wouldn’t eat at first, so Humom had to come up with innovative ways to coax her to get enough nutrition to grow.
We also knew she had some facial deformities, which is part of what gives her that adorable scowl. If you look into her mouth (in pictures where she’s yawning, for example) you can see that she has an oddly-shaped palette, and her teeth, well, they’re not quite all there. This makes it tough for her to eat dry food. Although she loves it, it causes her to gag now and then - a sound something like a first-timer on a flugelhorn, and at the volume of a DC-10. The deformities also cause her to have trouble drinking and keeping things in her mouth, which results in food being distributed randomly around her food bowl, and the little stinker drools when she sleeps.
Sauerkraut as a wee tot
Then one morning, we found that Sauerkraut had a wound, above her crest and below her neck. We looked closely but didn’t see anything immediately amiss. We speculated she’d gotten into a scuffle with someone else. We separated her from the other cats so it wouldn’t happen again, but even sleeping in the bedroom with us, her wound continued to grow.
We took little Kraut immediately to the vet, where they tested her for mites or other possible skin conditions that would cause a wound like that. All the test results were negative.
We couldn’t find a bandana that small, but we had a hooded harness we’d been using with her when we would bring her to her vet appointments. We put it on her backward, so the hood hung down in front and kept her from being able to get at the healing scar.
What happened next was, well, almost a miracle. While she had on her little outfit, she stopped all of her abnormal behavior. No twitching, no scratching or over-grooming at all. The scar healed, and as long as we kept her in an outfit, she did no harm to herself. We were pleasantly surprised, and absolutely delighted. And we knew it was solving the problem when a couple months later, Sauerkraut got out of her outfit overnight, and in that short time had another episode in which she scratched her neck raw again.
Sauerkraut's neck finally began to heal after starting to wear clothing
If you do research on FHS, and there really isn’t a lot, you will not find much around the idea of putting clothes on your cat as a medically-recommended treatment. We have been questioned about this course of treatment, even by veterinarians. But what we’ve found is that it works. And we have heard success stories from others that believed their cat, or a cat in their foster care, had FHS as well.
I certainly am not concluding that we’re right and anyone that questions us is wrong - far from it. There is still not a lot known about FHS. But we have found a workable solution to a behavioral issue. It’s taken a close partnership between Sauerkraut’s veterinarians, careful research of accredited online resources, and close observation by us.
If you notice any kind of difficulty with your pet, or your foster, take the time to get to know your cat, their preferences, and find the treatment that yields the best results. And as always, it’s important to do this in partnership with your veterinarian.
Sauerkraut is doing well with clothes. She’s happy, healthy, and as adorably scowly as ever. Not to mention, she’s a fashion diva! :)