A Review Of The Thundershirt For Cats

Popular Anti-Anxiety Shirt For Dogs Works For Felines Too

Thundershirt for Cats
The Thundershirt for Cats in its box. Barb Nefer

When I first reviewed the Thundershirt for Dogs is supposed to calm down nervous canines because of its swaddling effect. When I first reviewed it, I was very skeptical that it could live up to its claims.

Amazingly, the Thundershirt worked on my neighbor's dog, soothing him when he was left at home and reducing his anxiety during car rides. Because of this unexpected success, I was quite excited when Thundershirt released a version for cats.

Calming Nervous Cats

Two of my four indoor cats have anxiety problems. Fortunately, they're all very good about using the litter box, and three of them are great about being handled. However, Farquaad hates being crated to go in the car. He drools and gets wide-eyed and crazy as soon as he sees the cat carrier.

Tooncinator, my elderly cat, has never been easy to handle. He was born to a feral mom, and he retains a lot of her wildness. He's mellowed a bit in his old age, but he still gets nasty and tries to bite when I attempt to cut off his mats. He doesn't groom himself anymore, but he doesn't want me to do it for him, either.

These quirks made Farquaad and Tooncinator prime subjects to test the Thundershirt for Cats. The shirt comes in multiple sizes, and large was just right for my two beefy boys.

I decided to tackle Tooncinator first. I've never even attempted to dress Tooncinator in any clothing in the 16 years I've owned him.

Surprisingly, he accepted the Thundershirt for Cats with only some token resistance.

The Swaddling Effect

At first, Tooncinator didn't seem to know what to make of the snug-fitting shirt. He already walks very stiffly due to arthritis, and he moved even more gingerly once he was clothed.

Fortunately, he quickly got used to the shirt, so I decided to try some mat trimming.

He hates it when I do the area around his back legs and tail, which always gets soiled when he uses the litter box.

My cranky old boy was much more cooperative when I handled him while he was wearing the Thundershirt. He still wasn't thrilled with the idea, but I was able to get a lot more trim work done than usual before he decided he'd had enough.

Next up was Farquaad. I didn't expect any complications since he's normally a very laid-back cat when it comes to human handling. Unfortunately, the idea of putting on a shirt terrified him to no end.

The Thundershirt for Cats fastens around the chest and belly, and I got the Velcro on the chest fastened just fine. When I went for the belly band, Quaad decided he didn't want to play along. He clawed my thumb pretty deeply before I realized that he wasn't going to cooperate.

I decided to resort to bribery, poured some milk in his bowl and got him into the Thundershirt for Cats while he was busy lapping.

Freeze And Flop

Unlike Tooncinator, for whom the positive effect was instantaneous, Farquaad exhibited the classic "freeze and flop" response. This is common with many cats the first time they wear the Thundershirt, as opposed to the usual quick acceptance of dogs.

Eventually, Quaad realized that he could move around in his Thundershirt. He resumed his normal activities around the house, giving me an occasional baleful stare. I let him wear it for an hour, then removed it.

It's almost impossible to predict whether your cat will immediately like the Thundershirt or whether he'll need an adjustment period. If you have a "freeze and flop" cat, the trick is to get him used to the Thundershirt by putting it on for a little while each day, or at least every few days.

For this reason, I recommend buying it well in advance of whatever stressful event you want to combat. The Thundershirt also works for general anxiety, so if you have a nervous cat, you might need to be patient to see the full results. Cats are fickle creatures, and they need to accept a Thundershirt on their own schedule.

Adjust Your Expectations

The only reason I dinged the Thundershirt for Cats by half a star, as opposed to a five-star rating for the Thundershirt for Dogs, is because it doesn't have an immediate effect on some felines, though I know that's due to kitty nature.

There are likely some cats for whom the Thundershirt won't work at all, despite a training period. The shirt is guaranteed to work, so if you have one of those resistant kitties, you can get a full refund. And if it does work for you it's very durable, so you won't have to replace it for a long while.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.