Do Cats Need Diapers Too? The Truth About Incontinent Felines


Feline incontinence, or the inability to control urine flow, is a condition that affects many cats as they age. Just like human incontinence, feline incontinence occurs when nerves or muscles in the bladder and urethra weaken and no longer function properly. This results in urine leakage that the cat cannot control. According to a 2020 study, the prevalence of feline lower urinary tract disease, which includes incontinence, is around 2.2% in cats visiting veterinary clinics (1). While the exact prevalence is unknown, it’s clear that a significant number of cats suffer from incontinence.

Cats with incontinence will passively leak urine and often feel the urge to go frequently. This results in urine accidents around the house that can damage floors and furniture. Incontinent cats need specialized care and products to manage their condition and live comfortably. One essential product for incontinent cats are diapers. Feline diapers catch leaked urine and allow cats to live active lives without constantly soiling their environment. They are an important tool for caring for cats with incontinence.


Signs of Incontinence in Cats

There are a few key signs that may indicate your cat is suffering from incontinence or loss of bladder control:

  • Dribbling urine – You may notice small amounts of urine around the house from your cat leaking urine.
  • Leaking urine – Your cat may leak larger amounts of urine while resting or sleeping.
  • Wet fur around genitals – Your cat’s fur around their hind end and genitals may often be damp from leaking urine.

According to this veterinary resource, these signs of uncontrolled urination are the most common indicators of possible feline incontinence. If you notice your cat exhibiting any of these symptoms frequently, it’s a good idea to have them evaluated by a veterinarian.

Causes of Feline Incontinence

There are several potential causes of incontinence in cats. Some of the most common include:

Urinary tract infections – Infections in a cat’s urinary tract can cause inflammation and irritation that leads to incontinence. UTIs are more common in female cats. Treatment with antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian can often resolve the infection and restore continence.

Kidney disease – Kidney disease impacts a cat’s ability to concentrate urine. This results in larger volumes of dilute urine that a cat has difficulty holding. Managing kidney disease and hydration levels can help improve continence.

Diabetes – Similar to kidney disease, uncontrolled diabetes leads to the production of excess urine that a cat cannot control. Getting blood sugar levels under control is key.

Age-related muscle weakness – As cats grow older, the muscles surrounding the bladder and urethra weaken. This makes it more difficult for a cat to control urination. There are medications and supplements that can help strengthen these muscles.

Types of Cat Diapers

There are a few main types of diapers made specifically for cats:

Disposable Diapers

Disposable cat diapers are designed for one-time use and are thrown away after soiling. They often have a waterproof outer layer with an absorbent inner pad. Some popular disposable brands include Petco Disposable Cat Diapers and Paw Inspired Disposable Diapers.

Reusable Cloth Diapers

Reusable cloth diapers can be washed and worn multiple times. They are environmentally friendly and cost effective over time. Some feature Velcro or snap closures for a snug fit. Popular cloth diaper brands include KittyKones Washable Cat Diapers and VeeCraft Washable Diapers.

Belly Bands

Belly bands wrap around the cat’s midsection like a belt. They are ideal for male cats that spray urine. Belly bands absorb urine and can be reusable or disposable. Examples include Pet Parents Washable Belly Bands and Wegreeco Disposable Belly Bands.

Measuring Your Cat

Getting the proper fit is crucial for your cat’s comfort and to prevent leaks. When measuring your cat, use a soft measuring tape and wrap it around their belly just in front of their hind legs. Make sure the tape is snug but not tight. It’s important to measure while your cat is standing so you get an accurate waist measurement. For the tail hole, measure from the base of the tail to the tip to ensure the hole will accommodate their full tail length.

According to Pet Parents, “Do not guess your cat’s size. Measure your cat’s waist in front of their back legs. If your cat is in between sizes, factor in their weight as well.”

Pet Parents Brand also recommends taking measurements before purchasing: “In order to get the size right, properly measure the girth of your cat around the area in front of the back legs.”

Putting On the Diaper

Putting a diaper on a cat takes some getting used to, both for you and your cat. Here are some tips for easing the process:

First, choose a room that is quiet and free of distractions. Having towels or a mat down can help in case your cat squirms or rolls around.

Speak to your cat in a calm, soothing voice throughout the process. Offer treats as positive reinforcement.

Lay your cat on their side and slip their tail through the tail hole in the diaper. Then wrap the diaper around their belly and fasten the tabs, checking for a snug but comfortable fit. Avoid making it too tight.

Give your cat treats and pets when they allow you to put the diaper on without too much fuss. This will help make it a more positive experience.

Expect some resistance at first. Remain patient and move slowly. With time and consistency, your cat will get more accustomed to wearing a diaper.

Initially, only leave the diaper on for short periods of time, then extend the duration as your cat adjusts. Watch for signs of distress.

Use diaper liners or pads for extra absorption. Change frequently to avoid rashes.

Give your cat lots of affection and playtime without the diaper so they don’t associate it with all interactions.


Litter Box Use

Feline incontinence can complicate your cat’s litterbox habits. Cats in diapers may struggle getting used to
eliminating in the litterbox while wearing a diaper. Some special considerations should be made regarding litter
types and litterbox setup when your cat is in diapers.

Clumping litter is easier on sensitive skin and is recommended for cats in diapers. Avoid scented, dusty litters as
these can further irritate the skin. Use a high-sided litter box to accommodate the diaper and prevent urine leakage.
Place the litterbox in an easy to access area without nearby obstacles.

Initially, you may need to place your cat in the litterbox periodically to re-establish good litter habits. Be patient
and watch for signs your cat needs to eliminate like sniffing around or squatting. With time, most cats adjust to
using the litterbox with a diaper on.

Cleaning & Skin Care

Preventing urine scald and keeping your cat’s skin healthy is important when using diapers. The fur and skin around the genitals should be cleaned at every diaper change to remove urine and prevent irritation. Use gentle unscented baby wipes or a soft washcloth with warm water to gently clean the area and pat dry.

Check for any signs of redness or rashes, which can indicate urine scald. If present, apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment formulated for cats, such as Neosporin. Consult your veterinarian if the irritation persists or worsens. They may prescribe a topical ointment to promote healing.

Fur in contact with urine can become wet and matted. Gently brush or comb the fur after removing the diaper to fluff it up and allow air circulation. Trim longer fur around the genitals if necessary. Keeping the area dry and clean is key to preventing urine scald and skin infections.

Bathing your cat too frequently with diaper use can also cause skin irritation. Bathe monthly or only as needed. Use a gentle, scent-free shampoo formulated for cats. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry.

Alternatives to Diapers

For cats with minor incontinence issues or cats that won’t tolerate diapers, there are some other options to try before resorting to diapers. Here are a few alternatives:


Your vet may be able to prescribe medication that can help treat an underlying medical issue causing the incontinence, like a urinary tract infection. There are also supplements and hormonal therapies that can help strengthen the urethral sphincter in some cats. Medication can potentially resolve minor urinary incontinence.


For cats with a neurological issue or problem with the urethral sphincter, surgery may be an option. This involves inserting an artificial urethral sphincter that the cat can control. Surgery can be expensive but may cure incontinence.

Expressing the Bladder

For some cats, manually expressing the bladder on a regular schedule can help prevent accidents. Your vet can show you the proper technique. This involves applying gentle pressure to the bladder to fully empty it. Expressing the bladder may be a temporary solution for minor incontinence.

When to See the Vet

If your cat is suddenly having accidents outside the litter box, it’s important to take them to see the vet. There may be an underlying medical issue causing the incontinence that needs treatment.

Signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI) include straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and frequent trips to the litter box. UTIs are common in cats and can often be cleared up with a course of antibiotics from your vet.

Other conditions like kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism can also cause incontinence in cats. Your vet can run tests to determine if your cat’s accidents are due to one of these illnesses.

It’s recommended to take your senior cat to the vet for a checkup every 6 months. Let your vet know if you’ve noticed any accidents around the house. They can examine your cat for signs of age-related diseases that may be impacting their bladder control.

See your vet promptly if the accidents start suddenly. This could signify the onset of a UTI or other condition requiring treatment. Don’t delay, as some illnesses will only get worse without medical care.

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