Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Everyone who owns a cat, dog, rabbit, reptile, or other creature knows the struggles of trying to craft with a pet at your side. Sometimes they make great helpers, and sometimes they eat your fabric and pee on all your patterns. Here is an interview with a few of the FanDames about their highlights, struggles, funny moments, and advice for handling costuming and pet ownership.
Which came first, the pet or the costuming?
ELLE D: I have always had fish, but I didn’t acquire my first pet, a rabbit, until after I was committing to cosplaying. He did the least destruction out of anyone, he just always wanted to be in every picture and he thought corsets were for laying on and playing with string. Now that I have my puppy, it’s a whole new, catastrophic ball game.
BRITTY: I've had pets all of my life, so most definitely the pets.
ELLE W: The world's oldest conundrum. [Elle spent the rest of this interview pondering this question]
LAUREN: I technically had a pet first, since I had a German Shepherd that lived with my mom, but I started costuming when I left for college. I got my cat 3 years after I started costuming.
How do you feel about owning a pet while being a cosplayer?
ELLE D: I do love it, but at times it is frustrating. My dog is obsessed with me and wants to be near me at all times, but I have to keep her away from my fabric while I’m working, both for the protection of the costume, and for my own sanity.
BRITTY: I absolutely love having pets while cosplaying! They cheer me up. When I'm having a particularly rough day, they always make me smile.
ELLE W: Everyone knows that cosplay is an expensive hobby, and sometimes it is a toss up between buying a wig or feeding your lovable companions, but I've become comfortable with the choices I have to make for my art.
LAUREN: It's frustrating sometimes because I'll get to a con and my stuff will be covered in cat hair, or I have to be careful when when selling fabric or old costumes. I wouldn't get rid of my cat because of costuming, though. She's a great help when I'm stressing.
How do you keep your animals from destroying your work?
ELLE D: Baby gate. Definitely.
BRITTY: I keep all of my work in a separate room. Once I finish working, I put it up so no mishaps will occur.
ELLE W: I don't think it's a question about keeping my animal from destroying my work, so much as picking cosplays that can benefit from being destroyed. Post apocalyptic, battle, and zombie costumes can benefit from some genuine wear and tear from your pet.
LAUREN: My stuff is stored in boxes to keep the cat away from my work.
Do you have a separate room for your crafting?
ELLE D: Yes, I have a separate crafting room that I can leave the door open to and baby gate my puppy out of. The rabbit never bothers me. The room is full of everything I need to craft and has multiple stations for working on different pieces at one time.
BRITTY: I do! I try to keep them separate, but it doesn't always work.
ELLE W: I have an entire room dedicated to crafting, but due to spacial constraints in my apartment, I also keep my bed and computer in there.
LAUREN: No, I use the desk in my room.
What has been the worst cosplay mishap while you have had your pets?
ELLE D: I had just finished piecing together a skirt pattern that had all my measurements written out and a walkthrough guide of the whole thing, I had meant to post it online. I went to the bathroom and came back, my puppy who was only a few weeks old at the time mistook the pattern for her peepee pad on the other side of the room and peed all up and down the whole pattern.
BRITTY: My dog destroyed all of my wigs. I left them out because I fell asleep.
ELLE W: My cat saw that I was making a Sephiroth costume, got a little too excited about Final Fantasy VII, and executed my dress form with a samurai sword. (see pic)
LAUREN: A few years ago one of my roommate's cats peed on one of my costumes. It was ruined!
Have you ever cosplayed WITH your pet? How did it go?
ELLE D: My dog has a Goku Black cosplay for when she is being especially bad and we need to lighten the mood. Right now I am building her a tiny Dreadsteed cosplay.
BRITTY: I made my cats capes, but I never really cosplayed with them. I am in the process of figuring out how to make my snakes bows that match various cosplays, though.
ELLE W: My cat is under house arrest and unable to leave the apartment due to an altercation involving a katana and a dress form.
LAUREN: No, but I want to! I need to find a good costume for this. LOL
Any parting advice for those with pets who wish to pursue cosplaying, or those who cosplay and long for a pet?
ELLE D: BABY GAAAAAATE. And if you do have to keep them in the room with you, get them a huge pet bed with millions of toys or a pet playpen. It keeps Lucy distracted forever.
BRITTY: Be patient with your animal. Things will most likely get messed up. Don't snap and understand that they don't comprehend how important these things are. They just get excited.
ELLE W: Get a fish. Or, alternatively look at your pets as a resource and not a hazard. There is a book called "Crafting with Cat Hair", and its companion "Crafting with Dog Hair.". Pick costumes that match your pets and cut down on material costs.
LAUREN: Definitely realize that if you get a pet, that pet comes first. You pay for their food and care before dropping money on a costume or a con, because by adopting them, you've accepted all responsibility for their life and care. Also, definitely invest in some solid, pet-proof storage!
Elle Derpstra is a North Carolina cosplayer and an active member of the FanDames Initiative and Excelsior League. She owns a chiweenie, a holland lop rabbit, and a fish. In her muggle life, she works as a nurse and enjoys wrestling with her puppy, going for runs, and playing Blizzard games. You can meet Elle and the rest of the FanDames Initiative this July at Raleigh Supercon!
Contributing Members: Britty Beuttenmuller, Elle Wilburn, Lauren Elizabeth