Viki here: This is the story of my wee kitten Winifred, her overwhelming anxiety and how we both learned to love the Thundershirt.
Winifred started off as a foster. We met last June at three months old, and the very moment I opened the carrier door, she bolted for my room and just as quickly found the darkest, smallest corner of my closet to hide: and there she sat, eyes wide and terrified. She wasn’t interested in my other cats and she certainly wasn’t interested in me. After a long hour of lying on the floor, stretching my arm waaay out in order to pet her, I managed to pull her out of the closet. And then I did the only thing that made sense: I made her a cat fort out of my duvet cover. A quiet, warm, protected space for her to feel a bit of safety.
She approved. A little less wide eyed, but still unwilling to venture out, she ate her meals in that little fort. And she slept. She even played a bit.
As the weeks passed, she spent less and less time under the covers, playing with the other cats and running around like the little maniac she was. That is until she heard a noise. Or we stood up too fast. Or someone came over. Terrified. It was absolutely exhausting to watch and I’m sure even more exhausting for her.
Working at Bailey Blu these last two years, I’ve seen first hand the benefit of anxiety wraps for anxious dogs and specifically the success of the Thundershirt. Modeled after the therapeutic anxiety wraps used to alleviate anxiety and panic in children with autism, the Thundershirt applies a gentle, constant pressure on the torso. It is believed that this particular pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system, lowering heart rates and providing a sense of security. And then they came out with a Thundershirt for cats!
I rushed home, wrapped Winnie up and then waited for a reaction. Instead of squirming and fussing about like I expected (cats were never meant to wear clothes, afterall), my normally anxious cat was calm. Flopped over on the bed, she laid there looking up at me, totally comfortable. And when someone came to the door a few days later, I scooped her up, wrapped her up, made her a little duvet fort and plopped her in there. For the first time in her short life, instead of being overwhelmed with panic, she took a nap. Progress!
Now it’s a routine: people coming over? Thundershirt. She’s much happier for it!