Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > Cat Diapers: How to Use Them, Pros & Cons

Cat Diapers: How to Use Them, Pros & Cons

Cat in Diaper

Incontinence is common in older or ill cats, which can result in a lot of cleaning and odor control for you and discomfort for your cat.

Cat diapers are one of the best options for dealing with cat incontinence, but they do come with some pros and cons. Keep reading while we cover everything you need to know about cat diapers for your incontinent cat.divider-cat

What Is Incontinence?

Cat urinary incontinence can be caused by many conditions, including bladder stones, urinary tract problems, and old age. Some of these conditions can be treated, making the incontinence temporary, while others can be permanent.

The Most Common Causes Include:
  • Obesity
  • Damage to the nerves around the bladder
  • Lesions on the brain or spinal cord
  • Overactive bladder
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Chronic inflammatory disease
  • Underdevelopment of the bladder
  • Pressure on the bladder from a tumor or mass
The Symptoms of Incontinence Include:
  • Wet hair on the abdomen
  • Wet spots or puddles in the house
  • Involuntary urine leakage
  • Inflammation of genital skin
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Moisture around the vulva or penis

Bowel incontinence in cats is a little different – it refers to the loss of the ability to control bowel movements. Bowel incontinence can present with small amounts of feces that the cat seems unaware of, or full bowel movements that your cat understands, but can’t control.

disabled cat with big green eyes in a disposable diaper is lying on a white sheet on the bed
Image By: ERIK Miheyeu, Shutterstock

There are two types of bowel incontinence:

  • Reservoir incontinence comes from a disease of the rectum that prevents your cat from storing or holding its stool. This can happen from inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, or frequent diarrhea.
  • Sphincter incontinence is a loss of control of the anal sphincter, the muscle that closes the anal opening. This can cause feces to leak out. Anal wounds and masses, damage to the surrounding nerves, and spinal cord injuries can cause sphincter incontinence.

The symptoms of bowel incontinence can be mild or severe, but may include:

  • Leaking small amounts of stool without awareness
  • Frequent accidents
  • Bowel movements in strange places
  • Redness or inflammation on the rectum
  • Excessive anal licking
  • In cases of spinal or nerve damage, difficulty walking, and urinary incontinence

Your veterinarian can examine your cat, take radiographs, and perform blood tests or other tests to determine the underlying cause of the incontinence. Some types of incontinence can be treated with medication or surgery, but it depends on the cause.divider-cat

Using Cat Diapers for Incontinence

Scottish fold-eared cat is lying on the sofa in a plastic collar and diaper
Image Credit: Alice Rodnova, Shutterstock

If your cat’s incontinence can’t be treated, treatment may take a while, or treatment isn’t ideal, diapers can be a great option to keep your home and your cat clean.

Diapers are available in these types:
  • Disposable: These diapers are single-use and effective because they’re adjustable. They can get expensive, though.
  • Cloth: These diapers are washable and eco-friendly, making them more comfortable for you and your cat. They may be more difficult to adjust, however, and require frequent washing.
  • Wraps: These aren’t really “diapers,” but wraps that are designed to help with urinary incontinence. They stay on better than some other diapers and don’t restrict your cat, but they don’t help with bowel incontinence.

All types of cat diapers have their pros and cons.

  • Cat diapers are a great way to control the messes from incontinent cats and keep them clean. They also give your cat dignity and independence to go when it needs to, preventing infections.
  • In addition, cats with mobility issues benefit from using diapers, especially in cases of hind-end paralysis. These cats tend to drag themselves around, which can lead to burns on their hind end. Diapers provide a layer of protection for their coats and skin. Diapers also prevent bacteria from entering the urethra and causing an infection.
  • Cat diapers can be a gift if you’re dealing with an incontinent cat, but they still have some downsides. The most obvious is that some cats hate wearing them, which can turn a simple task into a daily hassle.
  • Cats are also talented at getting diapers off, so you could still end up with a mess. Be sure to try different diaper brands to see what works best. You could also try to get your cat adjusted to the diaper a little bit at a time.
  • If your cat refuses to keep a diaper on, you can try a baby onesie. Though this may seem silly, a onesie will work for a cat the same way it works for a baby. Your cat can’t reach the diaper to get it off, and the diaper won’t slide around as your cat walks, runs, or jumps.
  • The onesie will get dirty, so it’s best to buy a few so you can wash and rotate them. Putting on a onesie will also be a new experience that your cat may not love, so remember to go slow and show patience.



Dealing with incontinence can be challenging for you and your cat. If medical treatment doesn’t work or isn’t an option, using cat diapers can help your cat feel more comfortable and dignified, while minimizing the mess for you. Be sure to evaluate your options for cat diapers and see what works best for your needs.

Featured Image Credit: Yaroslau Mikheyeu, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets