We have 3 pets in our family, 2 cats and a dog, all around the same size, yet all vastly different in personality. Truffles, the 'first born' of our clan spent the majority of the first half of her life by my side at all times. Not only did she become attached, to the point of exhibiting nerves when doors are closed, or she is left alone for a period of time- but she does not respond well to new people. Frankie, adopted as an adult cat with little personal background has an immune disease which causes excessive 'self soothing' grooming, difficulty digesting, and constant sneezing. He is great with strangers, and loves attention, but grooms to the point of licking furniture and his humans. And Nora, the youngest, our 4lb Morkie, has exhibited her own signs of separation anxiety. As I am home during the majority of the day, all week, she is having trouble coping with crate time when we leave.
Recently I began seeing displays for a product called Thundershirt (more of a vest), which claims to help soothe common anxiety triggers through a non evasive training approach. With 2 varieties, canine and feline, both products are virtually identical save a more narrow chest band for cats, and longer length for dogs. Thundershirts are made from a very durable, yet slightly stretchy, gray fabric that 'wrap' your pet to produce a gentle sensation of pressure (much like a steady hug). The gentle, yet constant, pressure is thought to naturally calm pets in stressful situations. While some are skeptical of this theory, and cats seem to respond more sporadically than easily adapting dogs, I had reason to believe the product would work in our home. I have long applied the notion of pressure therapy to Truffles during grooming and introductory (new people) situations. When she was a kitten I would swaddle her, just like an infant, post baths, which were particularly distressing for her. Almost from that very first, tight, but safe, wrap, Truffles was instantly eased- to the point of falling asleep! Some of you may have seen my nail care photos, with her swaddled, and asleep- it is the most peaceful time for her.
We received a Small Cat Thundershirt for experimenting in our home. The Thundershirt wraps around your pet beneath the front arms, and across the chest beneath the neck. There is a well designed flap to cover any excess Velcro, and smooth the appearance of the vest (Thundershirt). For reference Frankie is approximately 9.5lbs, Truffles is 7lbs, and Nora is 4.5lbs. This Thundershirt fit Nora perfectly, despite being the Cat version, as it was just the right length, and fit without any creasing. On Frankie this size was a little snug, only due to the fact he has so many folds of fur. It also seemed a little short, making him a better candidate for the Medium, though it did fasten on both ends. Truffles was a trickier case, as she is quite the smarty cat and will 'scrunch' her body to make herself wider and stouter all around. This is a defense tactic meant to limit my grip, and the number of places I can effectively manage her when she feels threatened. She commonly does this when she has done something she knows is wrong, and I can often hear the growling before I've even discovered what she's done!
Now Frankie, who we consider a very mellow cat to begin with, seemed more confused than annoyed, at first application. There were a few times where it seemed like he was testing whether he could get up and move- but would instead lay backwards and stretch with a purr. He seemed to really enjoy the Thundershirt most. His first application resulted in 30 minutes of solid purring (without human interaction), and no visible grooming; which is a real triumph for us. He also, unlike Truffles, was mobile in the Thundershirt, eventually getting up to resume his daily activities around the house. We have been utilizing the Thundershirt as a daily therapy, and noticed a marked cut in the amount of self soothing/grooming; though we are still having issues with his sneezing.food sensitivity (I fear we will be battling that his entire life).
As the Thundershirt fits Nora perfectly, I've had some time to experiment with her as well. Since the concept for Thundershirt anxiety treatment for pets is not based on a formula, it is possible to cross treat your own pets, so long as the fit is snug and secure. However, it is likely best to have one for each of your pets, specially sized and designed to their anatomical needs. You see, I didn't originally intend on using the Thundershirt with Nora, until we had our first (and likely only) Thunderstorm of the year. She is sufficiently terrified of loud, unexpected, noises, and will tremble during them. With no sign of a letup in the storm I exercised some quick thinking and grabbed the Thundershirt. Nora, as a small dog, is used to being dressed up, but never in anything so secure and form fitting. She seemed to be calmer, even as I was applying the Thundershirt, and within 5 minutes had calmed enough to fall asleep, fully stretched, on her bed. I'd like to continue playing with the effects, in an effort to ease some of her anxiousness over being left alone, and intend on making this Thundershirt hers, and investing in a Medium Cat for Truffles and Frankie. While I frequently find amazing products for my pets, it is a rare case I find something so universal to improve the quality of their lives, all around; and even rarer I will shell out my money to buy duplicates!
One Time Out For Truffles follower will win a Thundershirt for their cat or dog!
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