Should Your Special Needs Cat Wear a Diaper?
Missing the box can be one of many struggles for moderate to severe CH cats — and their parents. Since their mobility and motor skills are limited, it may be near impossible for some cats with cerebellar hypoplasia to stand in, let alone get into a litter box.
If you think diapering your cat sounds bizarre, think again. Some sites claim that as many as 600,000 pets nationwide have incontinence issues, so using diapers or the like isn’t unheard of. While that’s a small percentage of the number of dogs and cats kept as pets (about 0.3%), it can definitely be a big issue if it’s happening in your own home.
So where to start? Here’s some info:
Pet diapers come in just as many varieties as human ones. I’ve seen sizes range from XXXSmall (4-6 lbs) to XXLarge (175 lbs, obviously for dogs). Some are disposable, others are washable. Some have drawstring waistbands, others have adhesive closures. A simple Google search for cat diaper will provide you with a list of dozens of links to information and companies that sell diapers for pets. I’d recommend doing a Google search so you can get the full picture and see what companies are offering.
Of course another option is to modify human baby diapers instead of purchasing (sometimes costly) pet diapers. However, this can be a bit challenging too. Obviously it takes a bit more time and effort to modify each diaper (see the how-to video below), but it may also take a bit of trial and error to find the right size diaper for your pet.
When buying diapers for your cat, there are three things to take into account:
- Your cat’s weight (do not depend on this alone)
- The size of your cat’s hips
- How long your cat is from waist to tail
You see, your cat’s weight doesn’t matter half as much all three factors combined. Selena diapers her most severe CH cat, Shinju, and offers this advice:
“One thing about buying baby diapers is to consider that a cat’s body type is much different from that of babies or dogs, so you can’t put too much weight on the weight category when choosing the right size,” Selena says. “Shinju is petite and lean, and the smaller diapers were way too short lengthwise to cover her sufficiently and I found that she needed the diapers 2 sizes larger.”
She said that since the larger diapers are too large around Shinju’s waist, she’ll simply wrap the diaper over itself. It leaves a bit more room in Shinju’s tush area, which can help prevent things from getting too squished.
Here’s another chart from HandicappedPets.com, which may help you decide which diaper size works best for your cat:
So how do you modify a baby diaper to fit your cat? There are videos on YouTube that show how you can do this; here’s one of the most popular:
Once your diapers are ready to be used, it’s time to gather the courage – to diaper your cat. Fortunately, there’s a video for this too.
Some more tips:
- Put the diaper on backward. Your cat may learn how to take off her own diaper, but this may help prevent that. It will also make it easier for you to remove the diaper.
- With females, you’ll sometimes get leaks. This can happen if the tail hole is cut too large, or if the diaper doesn’t do it’s job quickly enough. Be patient and watchful, just in case.
- Just like with babies, you may need to use non-scented, non-alcohol baby wipes on your kitty after each changing. Diaper rash ointment may be needed too, followed by an occasional bath.
- Keep track of your cat’s feeding and pooping schedule. Most cats can be quite regular, and will go 30 minutes to an hour after eating. If that’s so, perhaps you can work out a schedule where you can change the first diaper in the morning before you leave for work, so your kitty won’t have to live with it until you return home.
Remember, at the end of the day, as convenient as this may be for you, it will be a big change for your cat. Many may be adverse to it at first, but some may become used to it gradually. Remember, your know your cat best, and in all things, patience!
For all of those cat moms and dads out there who diligently change their kitties’ diapers, what other tips or wisdom can you share??