Sometimes, cats will need to wear a diaper, either short-term or long-term. This can be related to a medical condition such as fecal or urinary incontinence. This can be for a few weeks whilst recovering from injuries such as a car accident, or long term if the damage to the nerves is permanent. Diapers are also used to protect against accidental mating or even to cover a wound whilst it heals.
Cats can wear diapers to help owners cope with cat incontinence, and there are several different diaper options to choose from. Pet parents can avoid having to clean up soiling from incontinence around the home, and keep an eye on urine and fecal production to make sure it’s within normal volumes. There are some possible concerns, such as urine scaling or sores, which can be avoided if appropriately managed by a dedicated carer.
Cats can wear diapers to help owners cope with cat incontinence, and there are several different diaper options to choose from.
Pet parents can avoid having to clean up soiling from incontinence around the home, and keep an eye on urine and fecal production to make sure it’s within normal volumes.
There are some possible concerns, such as urine scaling or sores, which can be avoided if appropriately managed by a dedicated carer.
The important thing is to know how to manage your cat in a diaper and know the signs of infection or sores that can result from prolonged diaper usage. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the benefits and possible risks of diaper-wearing in cats.
Also Read: The 6 Best Cat Diapers
Why Would A Cat Need A Diaper?
Diaper wearing is a modern phenomenon, and can be a simple solution to an embarrassing problem.
Diaper wearing prevents urine and fecal scalding. An incontinent cat will pass urine or feces continually throughout the day in small amounts. The waste products can leak or dribble onto the skin below the urogenital openings. Over time the skin will become painful and inflamed, and sores can form which can become infected.
These sores take a long time to heal, as the skin is continually exposed to urine/feces. When using a diaper instead, the urine is absorbed into the diaper and away from the skin, reducing the chances of sores developing.
A diaper can also be a way to quantify the amount of urine of fecal production. If using a baby diaper, for example, they have a built-in indicator system that can detect when urine is produced. This can be a useful test if we are not sure that a cat is able to urinate or pass urine by itself.
An incontinent cat or a senior cat with cognitive dysfunction (similar to Alzheimer’s) can cause a lot of mess and staining around the home. By using a cat diaper, you can minimize the soiling of your soft furnishings, and reduce foul odors around the home.
Diapers can be used to cover wounds on the back end of your cat to prevent licking and trauma and allow the wound to heal. This is a short-term use of diapers.
A diaper can act as a physical barrier to prevent mating and pregnancy in female cats. Cats are induced ovulators so you only need to worry about this if your female cat is in the same house as an entire male cat and be aware that this is not a long-term solution.
What Are The Positive Aspects Of Diaper-Wearing?
The biggest plus to owners is reduced mess and stains around the home. When a cat wears a diaper it collects urine and feces and keeps them contained, and allows for easy disposal of the waste products.
When using a diaper you stop the urine or feces from leaking down onto the skin. Urinary and fecal incontinence can lead to hair loss and painful sores on the back legs, that can become infected over time. Using a diaper helps keep your cat comfortable and reduces the chances of getting sores and hair loss.
Some cats who need to have a diaper due to incontinence, also have other issues such as hindlimb weakness or paralysis. These cats still want to get around and tend to drag or scoot their bum and hind legs. Having a diaper on adds another layer of protection and can prevent carpet burns or friction sores.
Owners can save money on litter and litter trays, especially if using reusable diapers, as their cat will no longer use the litter box.
Also Read: Why Is My Cat Not Using The Litter Box?
What Are The Negative Impacts Of Cats Wearing Diapers?
Cats are not designed to wear diapers daily and have the obvious disadvantage of having a tail. Some cat diapers come with holes that the tail can fit through, and others do not.
Always cut a hole in the diaper (when your cat is not wearing it!) for the tail to fit through, as it can be painful to have the tail tucked against the body at an unnatural angle. Your cat also needs their tail for movement and balance if they to move around and jump.
Wearing any form of diaper or clothing can lead to friction or motion rubs and sores. Check that your diaper fits well and look at the skin daily for signs of hair loss, or pink skin that indicates the start of a problem.
The diapers need to be changed regularly. If you do not change the diaper regularly the urine and feces can sit near the skin creating rashes, and increasing the chances of a urinary tract infection.
Diapers may be recommended post-trauma to help with recovery. These cats can sometimes need help expressing their bladder, and having a diaper to collect the expressed urine can make the process a little cleaner. It’s important to know how to express the bladder of a cat if they need help, and to do this regularly as a full bladder can be uncomfortable.
What Type Of Diaper Is Best For My Cat?
There are a few different options available, and it will largely depend on personal preference.
Disposable diapers can be specifically made for cats and dogs, or you can use baby diapers. These diapers are single-use and often have an indicator strip to let pet parents know when the diaper needs to be changed.
Disposable cat diapers are the most leakproof option for cat owners who are concerned about the diapers leaking. As they are single-use, the cost can add up over time, and they are not environmentally friendly.
Reusable diapers or cloth diapers can be custom-made for cats as they need a tail hole. Other alternatives are using baby reusable diapers. These are made of fabric, with liners and an absorbent pad that can be removed and washed. Washable diapers are a more eco-friendly option for those wishing to reduce their carbon footprint and can be a cost-effective solution as only the initial purchase is needed.
Always use a mild detergent for washing, and avoid using bleach to clean stains. We recommend looking for reusable diapers that have Velcro straps as these are easier to adjust to your cat’s waist size.
Whilst there are many benefits to reusable diapers, you need to change the diaper regularly to avoid sores, rashes, or urinary tract infections.
Common Problems With Diapers
Cats sometimes do not appreciate wearing a diaper and will try to bite, chew or rip it off. If a cat eats the material from a disposable diaper, this can be a medical emergency, as the material is super absorbent. When the material swells in size it can cause a blockage of the intestine or stomach, needing surgery to remove. If you spot your cat trying to chew or bite at the diaper, consider using a baby onesie over the top, or using an Elizabethan collar to prevent accidents.
Your cat can become trapped on objects around the home with a diaper on, so always check on your cat regularly to make sure they are ok.
Using pheromone diffusers in the home such as Feliway to help your cat relax, or asking your veterinarian for anti-anxiety medication may also help your cat feel more comfortable about wearing a diaper.
Also Read: The 7 Best Cat Collars
Sourcing Cat Diapers
Your local pet shop or online retailer such as Amazon will have a large selection to choose from. Your veterinarian will be happy to let you know their preferred brand or type, and will also be happy to check the fit once purchased, to avoid any painful rubs or sores.
You may find that your cat has a personal preference or is able to move around better in a particular type of diaper, so always buy a few different types and experiment to see which one will be best for your cat.
Also Read: How To Clean A Cat’s Butt In 6 Simple Steps
In conclusion, diaper-wearing can be an easy and effective solution to manage incontinence, regardless of the underlying cause. Always change your cat’s diapers regularly and make sure they fit well.
Cats often are not fond of wearing a diaper initially, but with the right help and support, they can learn to adapt very quickly. If you are struggling with incontinence in your cat, book a health check with your vet and see if diapers are a good option for managing their health long-term.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can a cat wear a diaper?
Diapers need to be changed regularly, ideally at least every 6 hours to reduce the chances of a urinary tract infection (UTI) and diaper rash or sores.
Can a cat wear a dog diaper?
The main difference between cat and dog diapers is their size. A cat is small, so you may find that a dog diaper will be too big, and waste material will leak easily out of the sides of a diaper. A diaper should be a perfect fit, and not too tight. If you can place a finger comfortably between the diaper and your cat's skin, it fits well.
Do cats feel embarrassed when they toilet involuntarily?
Your cat will know that they are supposed to use a litter tray. They do not feel embarrassed like people, but you can see avoidance behaviors like hiding after they toilet accidentally or in the wrong place, as they know that this is the incorrect place to toilet.
Can I let my cat outside in a pet diaper?
No, it’s not recommended to let your cat outside in a diaper unless you are directly supervising them in a catio or on a cat lead and harness. Cats can get caught on objects like fences wearing a diaper and become injured without anyone there to help them escape.