Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New & Improved DIY Cat Onesie: Skip The Cone & Make This Out Of An Old T-Shirt, Instead!

John keeps telling me I need to update you guys on the cats, which seems strange since the cats are pretty much ALL I post about over on my Instagram Stories, ha. I know most of you aren't over there, though, and yesterday we invented something sanity-saving that I think you cat Moms and Dads might appreciate:

These strappy one-piece numbers that really bring out their eyes. :D

Ok, really it's a recovery onesie, since both girls were spayed on Monday. We never intended to make these, though, because I thought I was prepared with these inflatable collars:


Both girls wriggled out of them in under 5 minutes. Turns out their safety collars inside the rings just popped open when they kicked at it. So we tried collars without the safety clasps... and Eva nearly strangled herself struggling with it. Terrifying. So, no.

We briefly tried our old DIY cat onesie, but it was way too big. Cute, but big:

Eva was still able to reach her stitches through the lower end.

At this point, desperation levels rising, John went out and bought the standard plastic cones. Suki did... ok?... in it, but Eva lost her furry little mind, instantly transforming into a 6-pound wrecking ball, flailing against every hard surface and giving me a succession of heart attacks as her little head bounced across the hard floors and walls. We tackled her, took the cone off, swaddled her tightly in the onesie again - plus a blanket for good measure - and sat down to regroup.

This is what a rough day looks like.

That's a long windup to tell you I found this "recovery suit" on Amazon while looking for a better collar:

It's only $9 and ships with Prime, but after squinting at it a moment I said to John, "We can make that out of an old t-shirt right now." John grumbled at first, like he always does, but then he got that thoughtful, calculating look that means MAGIC is about to happen. 

Furry Stegosaurus!
John's first prototype just had leg holes and straps, and it worked pretty darn well. The neck part stretched out quickly with the girls chewing on them, though, causing the whole thing to slide down after an hour or two.

Prototype #2 had a head hole and extra front straps. This was the winner for Suki, and she's still snug and happy in it two days later:

If you tie the front straps to the leftover straps at the rear - down the length of their back - it helps keep the whole thing from sliding down. The higher neckline is harder for them to chew on, too.

 Suki's the chill one, so she adapted to this design quickly. Eva, on the other hand, immediately flopped over on her side and refused to move... for over 6 hours. 

 The melodrama is strong with this one.

She'd bat at toys, eat, drink, and enjoy our petting, but she wouldn't stand up or walk on her own. The exceptions were the few times a small sound spooked her, and she'd take off like a panicked wrecking ball again, racing and banging around the house in a frenzy, somersaulting head over heels onto the hard floor and scaring the life out of us.

It was kind of stressful, you guys.

By this point it was 3 in the morning and I was at my end, frazzled and exhausted. John said he'd take first watch, and I collapsed for a nap.

Three hours later John woke me up to unveil his third and final onesie design, and THIS was the winner for Eva. Within moments she was up on her feet and walking almost normally, no panic or flailing.


The key was ditching the head hole and adding neck straps instead, as well as making the leg holes a bit larger. He also added a scoop out by the tail to make litter box use a little easier/cleaner.

(Note: you may not need straps this long; we ended up cutting off at least half that length after I tied them, since Eva is so skinny.)

Here's Eva in a VERY unladylike pose so you can see how low this goes on her belly:
"Do you mind??"
Believe it or not she can use the box just fine in this; everything under the tail is open.

And here she is with the caption someone wrote on FoE that made John laugh so, so hard:

"Master has given Dobby a shirt! ...Dobby doesn't like it."


She's actually quite happy there. This little scrap of cloth has restored peace to our household, praise be.
Suki is still wearing her version 2.0, so here you can see how much simpler Eva's version is:

I do like both designs, though, so it's up to you to decide which is best for your kitty.

Making your own is simple: all you need is a large t-shirt to cut up and some scissors. The most important part is getting the width between the legs and the overall length right, so be sure to measure your cat first.

Once you've got your measurements, reference John's photo and sketch the pattern on to your t-shirt with a bit of chalk or a marker. You'll need a helper to put it on Kitty, but it's easy: have one person hold Kitty belly-out, then feed all 4 legs through the holes. Hold on to the sides of the shirt, set Kitty on her feet, and tie up all the straps. The t-shirt material is soft & stretchy enough to be comfortable, but you can tie the straps snugger later as needed. (You can also untie just the last knot to check their stitches, which we're doing twice a day.)

I'll end with the sweet moment when Suki - still struggling around in her ring collar - ambled over to a miserably flopped-over Eva and began licking her head:

This is when my heart shattered into a million pieces.  ::sob::

No wait, I can't end with that, it's sweet but too sad. Here, let's end with Suki on the desk beside me while I'm typing this:

With bonus Blep Tongue!

Right now you'd hardly know that either girl was wearing a onesie; they've been happy and mobile, but not TOO mobile, thank goodness. I think the pain meds have worn off, so they're moving more cautiously with less crazy jumping. Lots of naps and happy purrs in laps. Suddenly keeping them like this for another 10 days doesn't seem so impossible!

I hope this helps some of my fellow fur-parents out there, and saves you some of the heartache and panic we went through Monday night. My original onesie tutorial is still great if you're trying to cover up arms or legs, but if you just need the belly covered, then this way is much easier, comfier, and cheaper.

Oh, and needless to say, if you ever make this for your own pets we're gonna need photos over on the Epbot Facebook page - or tag me on Instagram!


  1. Adorable. I'm glad you found a solution!! The video of Suki stuck with one foot up in the blow-up collar made me wake my husband laughing. Thankfully he laughed too. :D This would probably be great for smaller female dogs too who don't take to the cone of shame. My dog, Elvira, hated the plastic collar and did everything she could to get out of it. This would have been perfect. I can't remember what we did now to keep her from licking, it's been too long! Here's hoping the next week or so goes smoothly!!

    1. Ha! I wish it was easier to upload my IG videos here to Blogger; I'd have put a bunch of those in this post. :D

  2. I work at a veterinary hospital, and this is SOOO good to see! I'm going to have to remember this for the next patient we have that won't leave their sutures alone! We're used to improvising a lot around here as it is, but now I'm thinking we should keep a few old t-shirts around for this...

    1. Oh that's awesome! Thinking that something we did could help a lot more kitties & doggies at your hospital is making me downright teary over here. Please keep us updated if you do!

    2. If you ask for donations of old t-shirts I bet you'll get far more than you need! Just about everyone has a few they never wear any more laying around :-).

  3. Black cat girls might just be little drama queens. Mine would do exactly like Eva, and lay around like she's corpsified. Heck, she plots murder when I put her little bat-wing harness on for Halloween.

    (Btw, a black cat with bat wings looks an awful lot like Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. Just smaller, and more dangerous.)


    2. Pretty sure I saw bat wings next to these when I was in target the other day..

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Yep, Target has some this year. Mine is technically a dog harness, but it fits my girl just fine. (I also got it for her brother about 2-3 years ago, whom it did not fit.)


    5. Black boy cats are little drama queens too! Benny was a skinny kitten like Eva, the vet called him "tall" for his age. He grew into his legs and ears, and is now 20 lbs! Still a drama queen though, just bigger and louder.

  4. Our cats love to lick off their flea medicine so we had the brilliant idea of trying some flexible cone collars. BIG MISTAKE. One cat flopped down and refused to move, giving us baleful eyes like we had betrayed him until we took it off 30 minutes later. The other froze completely still... then took off like a shot across the room, running into things and generally being a terrifying disaster. And then she'd freeze... and take off again! The worst part? She pooped wherever she was when she took off. We took it off pretty quick. :P

  5. I also "broke" my boy when I put a harness on him to try to give him some outside time (he went from being and indoor/outdoor country cat to being an indoor city cat). He completely forgot how to walk and rolled around the living room and kitchen to get where he wanted to go, meowing plaintively, for over an hour. When he did finally start walking, he wanted to jump up on his cat tower but forgot how, so put his front paws up then tried to reach his back leg up to the ledge, over and over. I've honestly never laughed so hard.

    Luckily my Tia wasn't a licker and left her sutures alone. Honestly think she would have shredded me in my sleep if I'd tried to put a ring of shame on her.

    Glad you found a solution for your girls, they look adorable. I hope they heal quickly and well. Also, love the throw away comment “be sure to measure your cat.” Erm… exactly how does one measure a cat?

    1. LOL - the measuring part was pretty easy for us: just roll each kitty onto her back and use a ruler. You only need an approximate measure, so it's fast.

  6. I wish I'd thought of this when my dog was recently spayed. She was MISERABLE in the cone, but she got an infection and had to be in it all the time. Poor baby.

  7. I hope the next 10 days goes by easily for the kitties. They look so cute together.

  8. I'm so glad you figured something out, and that it was easy AND hilarious (because the whole point of having pets is to amuse your friends, right?). Gotta tell you, though, i choked up a bit when I was the onesie - Lily's onesie! too soon!

  9. I sacrificed a tube sock for my little girl when she got fixed. She was much, much too small for any cone or collar we could find - barely big enough for them to fix her at all - and I remembered seeing a tumblr post of a cat wearing a baby onesie. Best I could do on short notice was to cut leg holes in a sock. XD She flopped over like yours did at first, but after getting a good nights sleep she was exploring and trying to get the thing off of her. All in all she only tolerated it for like three days. I figured it was better than nothing.

  10. Yay, another tutorial!
    Ooh, I totally forgot about a onesie for Blossom when she needed a cone after having a lump removed from one of her legs last month! (It was an allergic reaction to one of her vaccines...) Like Eva, she was a pitiful sack of fur that kept hitting her head on stuff. I'd take the cone off and gently swat her face away if she got at the stitches for about an hour at a time, but then I'd look away for 0.0009 seconds and she'd start to BITE at them. Back on went the cone, and Blossom would just be dramatic until I had free time to watch her again. It was an exhausting cycle, but a onesie probably would've reduced it.

  11. Suki is becoming one lovely colored lady! Eva looks like "Spunk" is her trade mark. Thanks for the tutorial. I bet people with cats freaked out by thunderstorms will use this. Me? No, Maine Coons are spayed and not willing to be confined like this. When they are naughty, they get wrapped in a lap quilt like a purritio. They hate it.

  12. My boy that looked so much like Eva was the same way if we even tried to put a collar on him. He would immediately fall to his side and refuse to move. It was seriously like hitting an off switch.

    He would also get a claw stuck on the carpet while stretching and then just stay there... It was like he would just think, "Welp... Guess this is my life now" There were seriously times where I wouldn't notice that he was stuck and he would stay like that without the tiniest attempt to free himself until I noticed and popped him free... It was much nicer when I got out of my apartment with the berber carpet and had wood floors instead

    1. I totally LOL'd at "this is my life now." :D

  13. great!!! we used a leg of an old pair of tights for Fiona after the lost-mind-with-cone happened. Yes, I will post a picture on facebook

  14. Bless you for spaying your cats.

  15. Why didn't you post this two months ago when I brought home my kitten after her spay???? LOL Seriously though, I will definitely be using this idea in the future - I had to leave the cone of shame on my kitty whenever we weren't around her but removed it when we could supervise her.
    And in other news, I have a dog that LOVES clothing - will pick out what she wants to wear and would wear ALL her clothes at the same time if we would let her (she may have a dress or 15, coats, shirts, costumes, and even a tutu that she loves.) Whereas my middle dog HATES clothing and goes "dead" when you put clothes on her - will sit in the same position with her head down for hours until you remove the offending outfit...its hilarious in its pitifulness.

  16. Thank you for the update for all those who don't do the other things! I'm a bit of a technological resister, so I appreciate the old school! ;)

    Also, that is a great idea! Props for making it work so well!

  17. Our local Humane Society [where we adopted our kitty Mallaidh] makes thick collars for the injured and newly-fixed animals out of old towels duct-taped around their necks. They work the same way as the inflatable collars, simply making it impossible for them to bend their necks down. I'd never try to do that myself without a thorough tutorial though, since I'd be too afraid of choking them.

    This reminded me of when we first brought Mallaidh home as a 10-month-old kitten. She was born at the shelter and had never worn a collar before, so when we put a buckled collar on her and she *freaked out* trying to get it off, and got her lower jaw stuck inside of it more than once. I tightened it enough so that she couldn't reach it with her mouth anymore, then got her a safety collar later. She's another one who "statue plops" whenever we put clothing on her, and she's way too little for regular onesies [we've tried], so I'll have to keep this shirt idea in mind the next time her OCD flares up [she zones out while licking her nipples, sometimes making them raw].

  18. I follow a Japanese quilt-quilt blogger that posted pictures of her cats. They do something similar there. She jokingly called it 'furoshiki furballs' or something like that.

  19. My furry doofus was a master at getting her cloth cone off. She somehow wiggled out of it.. HID IT.. then hours later paraded around with it in her mouth like a flipping trophy. I would have loved one of these onesies for her! Thankfully though she left her belly alone and just seemed to want endless snuggles under my neck.

  20. Hey! This is a great idea! Thank you for sharing! Can you think of a way that I can cover both the back and tummy? My cat is licking herself to death (we've been to the vet) and I think this is WAY better than the stupid e-collar. Thanks!

  21. Honestly, thank you so much. My cat got neutered today and he hated his cone. I tried a baby onesie but he managed to wriggle out of it. This is so customizable so that it gives him more comfort that the onesie but with the coverage he needs. I call it his little hospital gown.

  22. I know this is an older post, but I just found this while looking up how to make a onesie for my kitty who just had her spay surgery yesterday and unfortunately won't leave her sutures alone so I had to put on the dreaded Elizabethan collar. She's very tolerant and doesn't seem to mind it, but it's making everything 10x more difficult because she can't walk or jump very well, so I have to basically babysit her all day to ensure she doesn't hurt herself by trying to jump onto the bed or table but failing... Yesterday she fell off the kitchen counter in a very pitiful and ungraceful attempt to jump down and it sent me into a panic since I don't want her to hurt herself!! Her "older sister" (our other cat) also seems to dislike the collar and keeps growling at her whenever she approaches, which just makes me feel even worse! She already had surgery, and has to wear this very unfashionable collar, but her sister has to be rude to her too?!? She's a very thin little thing, only 5 pounds at 5 months old, ALMOST small enough for a tube sock but a little too big, so I'm going to give this onesie a shot and hopefully it'll make her recovery a little less miserable! I have a lot of fleece fabric from when I used to do crafts back in the day so maybe I can use that instead of a shirt. We'll see! ;)


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