Anxious Cat Can Win A Thundershirt

This is a little, fun, competition for anxious cats. The cat’s guardian (caretaker), speaking on behalf of their cat, should leave a comment and explain how a Thundershirt will help. That is all you have to do. Anyone in America, Canada and Europe (excluding Switzerland!) can win a Thundershirt.


Thundershirt. “My terrified of everything 2 year old male cat Smokee in a medium Thundershirt…”

The person who provides the best explanation wins a Thundershirt for their cat. Of course, the cat’s caretaker is writing on behalf of their cat so the language could be in the first person. But this in not obligatory. Example:

“I need a Thundershirt because even the smallest, unusual noise makes me jumpy. I don’t know why. Also, going to the vet makes me scared. I’d love to be less jumpy. If I was less jumpy my human companion would be happier because she is so concerned for me. I know she tries to comfort me but I can’t help being jumpy….I am terrified of everything…”

OK, that is the general idea. Now for a little bit about the Thundershirt, which is manufactured in America.

The Thundershirt seems to be named after a pet’s usual reaction to the sound of thunder. Most cats and dogs are frightened by the sound. In fact any loud sound will at least concern a cat and most likely be frightening. Fireworks are the obvious noise that is unacceptable to a cat.

Wearing the Thundershirt calms a cat or dog down. The things that make him jumpy no longer make him as jumpy. How does wearing a coat make a cat feel calm?

As I understand it, the idea originates in what appears to be proven biological science that pressure on the body at certain points has a calming effect. I am yet to see hard evidence but there are enough first hand experiences to support this treatment. There may be studies that I have not spotted.

The well known American doctor of animal science and respected author, Temple Grandin invented the “hug machine”, which is also known as a hug box, squeeze machine or a squeeze box for people based on this scientific “fact”. She used it herself for many years. Incidentally, Temple Grandin agrees with me on cat punishment. The hug machine is a Thundershirt for people.

The Thundershirt is an item of cat clothing that fits tightly over the torso of the cat. The pressure of the garment calms the cat. There are many positive testimonials.

The downside of this product is probably the difficulty in getting it on your cat and making sure it stays on. Then there is the difficulty of getting the shirt to fit snugly. Cats vary widely in shape and size. A manufacturer cannot make tailor-made products. This may result in a less than perfect fit for the Thundershirt. And, as I understand it, a close fit is necessary for it to apply pressure at certain points. However it has inbuilt flexibility.

Those are the negatives, as I see it, but there are lots of positives and this product is definitely worth trying. If you can get one for free by participating in this fun compo, why not try it?

I hope people get into the spirit of this. I also hope that there is more than one comment! Whatever happens there is a prize to be won. The Thundershirt costs about $40 and has a 3.5 star rating from 25 reviews on Amazon.

I will be supplying the shirt from Amazon so each competitor must provide a proper email address with the comment. I can then contact the person and take address details to ensure delivery.

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Anxious Cat Can Win A Thundershirt — 39 Comments

  1. Well, I realize I cannot win the cat-shirt, but that is okay. I am a dog and I already own one. I’ve been a bit jumpy lately. Probably just due to old age. I experience sort of what humans call sundowners syndrome. I have no idea why I am anxious, I just am. I pant, and walk around looking for something but I don’t even know what I’m looking for.

    Well, my human companion is always trying to find ways to make my life better. She even got me a big orange cat friend! He is great, but kind of a pain sometimes. Rub rub rub, snuggle snuggle snuggle. Sheesh. Leave a girl alone sometimes.

    Well, I can recommend this shirt for nervous cats because even though I still sometimes wander, I do love the feeling of security I have when I am wearing it. It is very comfy, and I love it when it squeezes me just right.

    I think all cat companion humans should write a story. If you win the prize, you will see what I mean.

    Good luck!

    Love, Daisy

    • Thank you Daisy for recommending it. I hope some cats have a go and try and win one. And my thanks as well to your human companion, Dorothy for showing me the Thundershirt. I think it is really does work at least to a certain extent.

  2. I really believe these things work if you can get them on your cat. I find (me Marc, I’m in Switz so it’s just me talking here) that when I wear a really tight coat it gives me a feeling that is hard to describe but I could see it might help with anxiety and fear in certain situations.

    The only better thing would be a big orange cat friend 🙂

    • What makes me a tiny bit sceptical is that if they work for cats and dogs why don’t we see people in them all over the place because there are a hell of a lot of people on tranquillisers. Wouldn’t a tight coat be better?

        • I would never use the term “funny farm” because people with mental illness or traumatic brain injuries are not “funny.” Before we had the pharmacology we have today people had to do whatever they could to treat mental illness, including preventing people from harming themselves or others. Were restraints overused? Yes. But not every person using them was just trying to tie people up and not treat them, or we wouldn’t have the advances we have today to treat mental disorders. I’ve worked with people with mental illnesses, traumatic brain injuries, strokes and many different neurological disorders. They are just people like anyone else. Creative healthcare practitioners find creative ways to help them that go beyond just drugs. (Physical therapy doesn’t utilize any meds.) I believe some were doing so even back in the days when the straight jacket was all they had to try to calm agitated, combative patients.

  3. Monty here, just popping in to say I do not want a thunder jacket or any other such nonsense. I don’t like to wear my harness or sweater anymore. I’m a big kitty now so I don’t need clothes to keep warm or a leash to know where I can go outside. I go out all by myself now, although I like to see my mom watching me through the window. She should come out with me like she used to do, but she says the ice out there is too slippery for her. I slip on the ice too, but I go out!
    If there are scary noises I hide under Mom’s bed. That’s what I need to do when I’m scared of strange people or scary noises. Mom shouldn’t put me in my room at night when there is bad weather because it is too scary for me and then I need to hide under her bed. No jacket could make me feel as safe as going into my safe place. Mom even put a big pillow under there for me. It smells like me there and it is warm and dark. If Mom tried to put that jacket on me when I wanted to my safe place I would growl at her.

    • I totally respect your thoughts, Monty. You are an important cat and what you say should be listened to and noted. It seems this anti-anxiety jacket is not that popular. I think if it is used, it should be used for specific events such as travelling in a car. Something like that.

  4. I’m with Monty.
    Just let these mammies try and put one of those things on me and they will be sorry cos I wouldn’t speak to them for a whole week…a month…a year….
    What self respecting cat would want to wear one, specially if it feels huggy, I like to choose when I get my hugs.
    I’ve got my street cred to think about and all, so sorry Mr Broad but this cat aint entering your compo.

  5. Walter here and speaking as an anxious cat I can only say I pity my poor unfortunate brethren who are forced to wear these contraptions. Bad enough to be spooked by the window cleaner, the computer repair man, the vet, fireworks, thunder etc. but to be forcibly picked up and strapped into a strait-jacket on top of all that would probably push me right over the edge. I’d then be running scared with my body tied up and no longer under my control! What say I tried to run up my ladder to the top of the wardrobe and caught those straps on something? Or fell and couldn’t use my natural talent to right myself. No thanks, I don’t want to win THAT! My message to humans who want to overpower cats and take away their freedom is this – back off, let us be or take the consequences and don’t moan when you get a nasty bite or scratch, which is what I’d do with no hesitation if anyone tried to feed me into that thing.

  6. I have asked all my cats if they would like to win a thundershirt and their answer was a resounding
    For myself I HATE to see cats dressed up,it’s not natural,
    I think a thundershirt would cause the poor cat lumbered with it more stress than whatever it was supposed to stop them being stressed about.

  7. I think if your cat will accept wearing it (most won’t) then it will work very well. I really do – based on my own personal experience of the too tight jacket I wear under my coat. It gives me a feeling of security and protection. It’s afunny sensation and you should try it. But I could never get one of those on my cats except maybe Lilly. Thats the problem. But lets not forget that many people have relationships with their cats where they are able to do this sort of thing. I don’t generally agree with it, but for a thundershirt I do. It’s a non invasive and good idea certainly for dags and cats who are accepting of having them put on.

  8. Daisy, in the first comment, recommended this product because it has proven helpful for a dog with dementia. I think under normal circumstances the Thundershirt is probably not all that useful. Healthy young animals find their own way to deal with stress, like Monty having his favorite hiding place. But if there is a neurological condition, then perhaps the usual coping mechanisms won’t work as well, so this product could be useful. It’s very hard to know what to do for an animal who is “sundowning” and showing signs of confusion and anxiety. I think in that case, this would be worth a try.

  9. I think putting a thundershirt on an already anxious cat would make him even worse. Most cats hate being overpowered in any way and forced to do something they don’t want to.
    A cat’s natural instinct is to hide away somewhere they feel safe, we should respect that if that’s what they want to do and we know that they are keeping out of the way for a specific reason, such as fireworks banging.
    Dogs are very different to cats and some people make the mistake of treating both the same, it would be like having a horse and a cow and trying to put a saddle on both, if that makes sense?

  10. My friend Cindy used to try to ride the cows on her parents’ farm when she was a kid. It didn’t work very well– she always ended up falling in the manure. Your comment made me giggle thinking of her telling me about that.

    To use the thundershirt on any cat it would have to be a cat who is used to a harness or other type of garment– like Elisa’s Sealy with his jackets that keep him warm and allow him to sleep more soundly. If a cat who already accepts clothing was beginning to exhibit signs of dementia, I do think the thundershirt could work, because of the effect Marc described when he wears a tight shirt– it’s kind of comforting in a way.

    There are other things to try also, with any animal who is sundowning. I read a study that found that elderly patients exposed to bright sunlight (or a light box) for a certain amount of time each day had decreased episodes of sundowning, and surprisingly, decreased confusion for some. Perhaps the same effect could be produced for animals. Anybody who is kept inside all day probably isn’t getting enough light. I would guess increasing Daisy’s exposure to bright light during the day might have a more dramatic effect long term than use of the thundershirt– but there’s no way to predict for certain. I know Michael had a hard time when Binnie was experiencing stress at night. Maybe this would have helped her, but only if she had been used to wearing something like it when she was younger.

    I don’t see how the thundershirt could really work except for the diffuse, non-specific stress of dementia– that feeling of restlessness and confusion, but not really knowing what’s wrong. If there really were fireworks banging or a big dog barking or a thunderstorm brewing, any animal is going to go into hiding, and wearing the thundershirt wouldn’t change that.

    • Thanks Ruth (Monty’s mom) for the suggestion regarding Daisy. We do live in Sunny California and she has the freedom to be outside if she wants to be. I see there has been a rush of negatives regarding the shirt, some perhaps correct or not. I am willing to take Temple Grandin’s theories as expert, though you are right, It may not work for all cats, especially those so set in their ways. It does seem to relax Daisy, even though I can’t be sure it is the hug of the shirt or something else we are doing. She has good nights and bad nights and is a walking pharmaceutical now. When she isn’t stressing, she is a happy girl like she has been her whole life.

      Sometimes keeping an opened mind is helpful. I hope these two loving cat caretakers find some relief.

  11. Yes Michael I didn’t think many cats would want that prize lol but it opened up a good discussion anyway that most cats wouldn’t like to wear a straighjacket and that is good news for cats because some people may not have known that.

  12. I have an elderly cat, Bester, who I strongly believe would benefit from a Thundershirt. He’s extremely vain and considers any accessory (sparkly collars, collar charms, etc) to be an accent to his overall prettiness. He’ll even wear a Catbib (a piece of cape shaped neoprene that hangs down from the front of the collar, to prevent cats from being co-ordinated enough to stalk birds) in the house just because he, well, likes to be fabulous.

    He’s gotten more anxious as he’s aged, and WILL NOT take pills or gels or any kind of oral treatments, so anti-anxiety meds are out of the question. He also does not respond to Feliway at all. So when I saw the Thundershirt at Petsmart tonight, I thought, wow, finally, something that could help my poor guy.

    I have a disability where my bones move too much and tear up the surrounding joint and muscle tissue. So I don’t sleep well to begin with. When Bester can tell I’m having a bad night he starts vocalizing, and doesn’t stop until I hold him and he’s sure I’m all right. Now, I love this little guy; I’ve had him since he was born; but when my body is literally shredding itself, it’s hard for me to ignore that for anybody or anything. Since what he wants is to be held, and since he loves to wear ‘clothes’ anyway, the Thundershirt could really help us both.

    I came upon this site while researching the Thundershirt, because, being on disability, it’s a relatively non-trivial expense for me to outlay. I would gladly get one for him if it would make him more relaxed and give me fewer nighttime disruptions and thus hopefully need less morphine – everybody wins. But if you’re giving one away, and it doesn’t sound like anybody else here understands that yeah, it really can work wonders for those who have cats willing to wear one, I’ll take it with enormous gratitude. (You can visit my website for more information about my condition and situation and so on if you wish.)

    • Joint Winner!

      Hi Camille, Great comment. I have decided to make you a joint winner with Alex. I’ll also be contacting you soon by email for your address so I can order from Amazon and have it shipped to you. Well done.

  13. Our rescue cat, britomart, has a terrible fear of cars and vehicle noises, we can only assume she had some terrible run ins while she was living on the streets. She gets terrified every time a truck goes by, or if she hears a dog outside, and riding in the car she can hardly stop crying unless someone Is petting and reassuring her constantly. We’ve always suspected she was abandoned, and it breaks my heart when she’s so terrified thanks to whoever had abandoned her, because the rest of the time she’s an absolute sweetheart, but the bad experiences she had as a kitten have left their mark on her, and it would be wonderful to have some way to help her cope with her fears. Britomart is one of three cats in our household, and would be sharing her thundershirt with our eldest cat, who sometimes has problems with separation anxiety and sometimes gets confused when he can’t find us. This would be an incredible help for them both (the middle cat is the most mellow pet I’ve had, and wouldn’t need th thundershirt) so I hope you choose us as the lucky winners

    • Winner Announcement

      Hi Alex, thank you for your comment. I am pleased to make you the winner 😉 Well done.

      You have written a great comment and you have a specific anxiety problem with one of your cats. I’ll be emailing you shortly to ask you for your address and then I’ll order the Thundershirt from Amazon on your behalf.

      When you have the shirt, it would be nice to hear from you in about a month’s time with some feedback.

      • Whew. Congratulations Alex and Camille and good luck with your cats. You both seem like a caring attentive cat owners.

        It was very kind of you Michael to allow both to have the prize. I hope it works out that they will find some comfort using the shirt.

        I suggest you not put it on immediately, but let the soft shirt be in your lap during a regular petting session so they know it is part of the good times with you.

        I believe it is worth trying anything at all to help our cats. Kudos to you both.

  14. I’d be interested to hear how it works too, especially with the elderly demented cats. I often work with people who have dementia, so I’m interested in anything that might be helpful for geriatric animals. I don’t believe the thunder shirt will work for Alex’s cat who is frightened by noises, but I do think the eldest cat in that household will benefit, as will Bester. Interesting to see if my hypothesis is correct.

    When it comes to dementia or even someone suffering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury you have to be willing to think outside the box. I learned that it’s helpful when working with people with dementia to wear neon green clothing. The instructor said that even people with macular degeneration can see that color, but beyond ability to just see it, looking at it has a positive impact on cognitive functioning. Who would have thought something so simple and almost silly sounding could help?

    What works for someone with a neurological disorder would never be applied to someone who does not have one. The thunder shirt shouldn’t just be thrown on any or every cat– just ones who are not processing their environment correctly anymore and therefore have increased anxiety. When I ambulate a person with Parkinson Disease I say, “wiggle your toes inside your shoes and then you will be able to take that next step.” To say that to someone without PD would be weird and insulting even. But when the patient is “frozen” and can’t move though he wants to it is welcome advice.

    I think there is a human precedent for the thunder shirt working, but it’s with infants. In some cultures if a baby is being very fussy they will swaddle him tightly in blankets so that he can’t move and the blankets are tightly against him. This technique works to calm infants and they will usually just go to sleep. Not a technique that should be overused, but only in those times when the baby isn’t able to calm down and sleep, maybe because of illness or exhaustion.

    Straight jackets have a negative connotation, but again, in the right context, perhaps that feeling of being held tightly might comfort a person. What might appear cruel could actually be kind if the person has a brain dysfunction. The problem is when such treatments are used as restraints for the convenience of those doing the treating. Chemical restraints are wrong too, but the same medications used properly are helpful.

    The thunder shirt is not a restraint. The cat can still move, even run and hide. But if it doesn’t seem to help it should be discontinued in favor of other methods. Can cats see neon green?

  15. Congratulations Alex and Camille from me too, Walter and Jozef are very happy the prize has been won and they can sleep serenely knowing they won’t ever be asked to wear one lol

  16. Thank God that awful prize has gone I just hope if the winning cats don’t like wearing them it doesn’t make them worse.
    Cat bibs are another thing I hate,dangerous things hanging impeding a cats natural walk,please don’t run a comp for one of them next Micheal lol

    • Thank God that awful prize has gone…

      Love your comments. And I respect your comments. In a month or so’s time the prize winners are going to leave a comment to say it has been a major success… 😉

  17. Thanks Micheal my outspokeness sometimes gets me into trouble 🙁
    I hope the straightjackets are a success I really do

  18. Wonderful news, Michael! I’d like to thank you on behalf of both Bester and Britomart. It’ll be really interesting to see how they each respond. As we said, Bester is older (17, and logically more ‘set in his ways’) but also is likely to be willing to wear the Thundershirt. Britomart is only about 2 years old (she just came to us on the street a little over a year ago, only three pounds, pregnant AND wormy, and announced she was our new cat) and has gradually taken on full-fledged housecat behaviors (sleeping under comfy blankets, biscuitting, and of course, galloping at the sound of a can of cat food opening – she’d never heard that before but she adjusted very fast!). Britomart is mostly adjusted to the safety of living indoors (and has always been astoundingly well behaved, and sweet), but as Alex said, on garbage night or when we run loud motor-y appliances, she does still get very alarmed. Since she was clearly a scavenger it’s no surprise, but it broke our hearts that we couldn’t do anything about this one outstanding issue. Hopefully the Thundershirt will help her to be more relaxed and accept that now she’s safe for good.

    Though one is near-antique and the other a teenager, they’re both about the same size and weight so it’s likely one shirt will do for both. Alex and I will be happy to post about how it affects them respectively. Surely between the two of these little guys one of them will find benefit. Thanks again from Bester, Britomart, their bro-in-spirit Lacerda, myself and Alex. Michael, we’ll be in touch by email.

    [We do know Lacerda, (another stray who came to stay about 7 years ago, a large-but-fit Norweigan Fisher cat who we THOUGHT was full-grown but who turned out to be probably about six months old – those guys are ENORMOUS!) will not be wearing any shirts as he won’t even tolerate a collar, partly because he’s literally bigger than (Calvin Coolidge) the other two put together and partly because he’s an incredibly mellow and low-maintenance guy. We have been extremely lucky in the cats that adopted us. But we do also understand that some cats simply won’t go for the Thundershirt whether or not it would benefit them. Lacerda is an indoor cat now and we’d love to take him out on a harness and lead – but that’s the one place where he gets bent out of shape. He just won’t wear _anything_.]

    • The Thundershirt has just been shipped from Amazon Canada (7.40 GMT on 4th March 2013). It should be with you Mar 13 2013 – Mar 18 2013. As instructed, I ordered a small one (grey in color).

      Best of luck. Please tell us all if it works 😉

  19. my name is pink and i was born in a county park where a mass TNR was done to help us out with the population. since i was young, i was placed for adoption at the local shelter but did not do so well as i was terrified! i was taken into a foster home until her other kitty got diagnosed with a contagious illness and i was returned. i was brought back to the shelter and faced going to the room that no kitties come out of, but then my mommy who was working there decided to sneak me home in her bookbag. she adopted me the following day when the office opened and while i have a loving mommy, two kitty brothers, and a doggie brother, i still don’t like hoomans much. in fact, i didn’t even let my mommy touch me after we moved out of a small apartment. when daddy moved in i started to like him but mommy is always working with other animals and i get scared by sudden movement. well, mommy got sad that i won’t cuddle with her anymore or let her pet me so she bought me and one of my brothers thundershirts. his biting, pooping outside of the box, and peeing on stuff stopped and now i let mommy pick me up so i can purr in her arms like i used to when she first took me home. my daddy can’t believe the difference and i feel much more calm and relaxed when being approached and held. i recommend the thundershirt for other feral kitties like myself and my brother who need to calm down and learn to enjoy love and cuddles.

    • Nice comment Pink! Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sorry you were so anxious and pleased you feel calmer these days. The Thundershirt has been won already but the best of luck for the future.

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