You might enjoy the fireworks tonight, but kitty may be hiding under the bed. There’s a new solution for helping cats through stressful situations, like fireworks, storms or other loud events, vet visits, car trips, and grooming. It’s the Thundershirt – an invention that’s been used for years to reduce anxiety in dogs — now available for cats, and it’s proving to be quite a useful tool.
The Thundershirt is a little vest that applies gentle, constant pressure to your cat’s torso, calming them and reducing anxiety. According to the Thundershirt website, “anxiety experts believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system and may release calming hormones like endorphins or oxytocins.” Using pressure to calm and relieve anxiety is common practice: parents swaddle newborn babies, pressure has been used to relieve anxiety in people with autism and with children having certain behavioral problems, and vets and trainers have used gentle pressure when working with animals for years.
Here is a testimonial from a cat guardian who has had success with the Thundershirt:
“Thundershirt has been successful in eliminating Jack’s vocalizing in the car and at home, and reduced hiding at home. His symptoms of fear during noisy events, such as vacuuming and thunder, have been completely eliminated. He will stay in the same room now and even watch me vacuum. During thunder, he calmly sits beside me and will even sleep stretched out on my bed. He has expressed a much calmer nature while wearing his Thundershirt. I am so glad to have it.”
The company gave me a Thundershirt to test with my cats. I’m trying it with Andy, who is generally high-strung, and Ratso, who is having some anxiety around the new foster kittens (she’s not a fan). You need to get your cat used to wearing the vest, which can take a little training. At first, you may get the “Freeze & Flop” where the cat becomes immobilized and falls over, but the Thundershirt website has excellent guidelines for working with your cat to get the maximum benefit from the product. Once the cats have become accustomed to wearing the Thundershirt, they can move around easily and symptoms are reduced immediately. Check out the FAQ page on the Thundershirt website for lots of useful information. I’m still getting Andy and Ratso used to it and will keep you posted on their progress.
The Thundershirt is easy to put on and can be adjusted to apply varying amounts of pressure as needed. It is made of lightweight breathable material and can be machine washed. This is a simple, drug-free solution for reducing anxiety in cats, and it’s an affordable solution, too, at just $39.95.
ENTER TO WIN!
One lucky reader is going to win a Thundershirt to try with their cat! The winner will get to specify the size (S, M, L). To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling us why you need a Thundershirt. The winner will be chosen in a random drawing and announced on July 11, 2012. One entry per person. This giveaway is limited to addresses in the US and Canada.