The Usage and Benefits of Cat Diapers

No one wants to think about having to use diapers on their beloved cat. It can be a daunting task. How do you get them used to wearing one? How often do you change them? You may even be wondering, why would my cat even need to use a diaper?

Woman putting diaper on cat

Consult your veterinarian to determine if a diaper is best for your cat.

The first step is to determine if a diaper is the best course of action for your cat, and that’s a decision that your veterinarian should help you make.

Some common reasons that owners elect to use diapers for cats are:

  • Incontinence. This means, for whatever reason, possibly old age, possibly an injury, your cat no longer has control over his bladder and/or bowels. He may urinate while asleep in bed, while walking around, or even on his way to the box because he suddenly can no longer hold it in any longer.
  • Excessive territorial spraying or marking. Spaying and neutering reduce spraying behaviors in cats by about 90%, so if your cat is spraying, this routine surgery may fix your issue without needing to use diapers. You can also talk to your vet or a certified cat behavior consultant about behavior modification steps to reduce spraying, but diapers can be an option as a last resort.
  • Mobility issues. If your cat has a genetic abnormality or neurologic disorder that causes weakness or decreased range of movement, a diaper can prevent any “road rash” and keep the area clean if his rear end is spending any time dragging on the floor.
  • Females in heat. If you are a responsible breeder who regularly has female cats go into heat, a diaper can help keep any discharge or bleeding in check.

Overall, diapers have many benefits, including keeping your cat (and your home) clean and protecting them from any infections or rubs if they have a condition where they consistently have their rear end dragging along the ground. However, they should never be used as a band-aid fix for cats who are just generally having issues using the litter box. If your cat is peeing outside of the litter box and isn’t truly incontinent, it’s best to speak to your vet or a behavior consultant to see if you can address the issue at the root, rather than subjecting your cat to a life of diapers full time.

A few cons of using diapers for your cat that should be considered:

Woman playing with cat in diaper with wand

As with a human baby, a cat's diaper should be changed each time they become soiled.

  • They can be difficult to keep up with. Not only will your cat need to get used to wearing them, but the actual process of putting them on and changing them multiple times a day can be time-consuming. Just like a human baby, they should be changed each time they become soiled. A dirty diaper can cause discomfort and even infection.
  • Cats will need to be gradually introduced and conditioned to wearing them. Don’t expect to just slap one on your cat and have everything go perfectly swimmingly. Your cat may refuse to walk, may try to pull it off, or he may panic – tons of things can go wrong. Use positive reinforcement, giving your cat plenty of treats and praise when he has one on. You may find that he can only wear one for 5 minutes at first. But by allowing him to gradually get used to it and providing him with lots of treats, play, and attention, you can teach him that it’s not so bad.
  • Diapered cats need to be monitored closely. How often should you change your cat’s diaper? Every single time they use it. As mentioned before, you absolutely cannot leave your cat wearing a dirty diaper. Not only will it stink and potentially leak all over your home anyway if too full, but it’s also just not hygienic and not humane to allow your cat to sit in his own mess for hours. If you need to leave your cat alone for 8-10 hours on a typical workday, diapers may not be a viable option for you unless you can get someone to check in on him throughout the day.

Once you and your vet have decided that diapers are a good option to try for your cat, it’s time to decide what type of diapers are best for you and your cat. They come in disposable and cloth reusable, just like those for human babies. Disposable diapers are more convenient in the moment, but the price can add up over time and produce a lot of waste. Washable diapers can be a little more comfortable for your cat but are generally harder to put on and you’ll find yourself doing a LOT of laundry! There are also diapers specifically for male cats that do allow them to defecate normally, just not spray urine.

Now comes the tricky part: Putting that diaper on.

Woman pulling cat's tail through diaper

Putting on a cat diaper can be tricky at first and stressful for your feline. Take your time and reward your cat.

Begin by sliding the cat’s tail through the tail hole. Use the long end of the diaper to tuck under your cat’s belly, bringing the shorter end up along the back. Secure the Velcro tabs up and around just above the cat’s tail and his hind legs.

If your cat absolutely needs a diaper and gradual desensitization is not possible due to lack of time, you can consider getting a surgical suit or baby onesie to put over the diaper and keep it held in place. Of course, this could cause more stress for your cat, so if you have time to take it slow and reward your cat a bunch for being good in the beginning, it will be easier for you to continue this process long-term.

If you are a cat owner who is willing and committed to helping their struggling cat stay in their home by getting him used to wearing a diaper, you’re already the best kind of cat owner out there! If you need further assistance, remember to speak to your vet about suggestions and ideas.

Safety Information: Cat feces may contain a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a potential health concern for pregnant women and immunosuppressed individuals. Care should be exercised when changing the cat diaper, including thoroughly washing hands afterward. At-risk individuals should seek advice from their physicians for additional information.