THE BIG THING: I woke up WEDNESDAY morning to see poor Iza struggling to move around that with awful CONE on her head, needing help to eat and drink, and struggling to get it off. I don't blame her. I decided that there HAD to be some alternative.
I took the stupid cone off her, let her eat and drink and groom normally, then let her sleep happily in my lap while I listened to some classical music. I needed to think, and a cat on my lap with soft classical music helps.
The purpose of the cone is to stop a pet from biting at wounds or stiches. So the point of the problem is the wound. The problem of the cone is that it limits normal activity and that stresses the pet. So I sat there with Iza on my lap and started envisioning ways that would prevent me from scratching at a wound but still give me some freedom of movement. OK, sure, I could probably remove anything short of a straightjacket, but pets aren't quite are dextruous as we are.
Cover tummy, cover tummy, cover tummy...
I finally imagined a towel that could be attached to a cat in a way that protected the tummy but couldn't easily be pulled off. None of my cats have ever worn costunes, but some other cats do. There must be something there. Iza and I dozed a bit...
Somewhere in catnapping, I thought of a corset. Not the tight 1900s kind, but a vest of some type. With holes for legs to go into and attached at the top of the back and neck (so it would be hard for a cat to remove, yet not too restrictive). Especially something that would leave the head (and butt) free. A small towel with holes for all 4 legs, and attached at the top of the back.
Iza finally awoke after about an hour and started after her stitches again, so I had to put the cone back on her. It just broke my heart to see her pulling and pushing at the thing.
Well, I figured out a few things to do to help her. Her eating and drinking problem is that the cone hits the floor before her mouth reaches the food or water bowls. So I found some taller narrower containers that the cone would fit around. She knocked them over a few times, but eventually she got her fill of both for the morning. I may try hot-glueing a couple of those containers to a square foot board so they won't fall over. But for now I am just holding them in place while she eats and drinks.
Removing the cone and then re-attching it is difficult and if I don't do it JUST right, she can pull it off.
So I went back to the vest idea. A towel with holes for the legs, attached at the top of her back, and attached to her regular collar ought to be nearly impossible to remove. So I made a small model of one with paper and tape. It seemed workable, even obvious.
I went online to find the "obvious" commercial product and to my surprise, I couldn't. I called my vet and he didn't know of any product like that either. I was disappointed (and rather stunned), and discouraged.
But I googled "pet cone alternatives". Some stuffed doughnut-shaped collars looked interesting. But then I found a DIY site that had the same idea I did:
Well, at least that is vindication for my idea. I gained some ideas from the site. T-Shirt material is both stretchy and hard to claw apart. That's good; better than my towel idea. But it suggests using safety pins, and that makes me nervous. My cats loosen buckled collars by scratching at them and the idea of a loosened sharp pin is not good. So I decided the top of the back should not have pins but holes to tie, like shoelaces.
Here is what I have so far:
Lay out a T-Shirt.
Cut off the neck and arms. You will have a tube. Cut up along both sides for a cat or small dog. One whole piece for a big dog. Take one piece (we are cats here) and stand the cat on the center. Mark where the paws are and cut out appropriate sized circles for front and back legs (back legs are larger).
Put the cat's paws through the holes and lift the cloth edges over the back. Mark where they overlap.
Trim cloth to size.
Apply 2" wide duct tape to edges, leaving half to fold over on other side of edge. Fold duct tape over both sides of each edge and press hard to attach well.
Make several holes in duct tape/fabric. A paper punch works very well for this.
Lay out the cloth and trim. The butt edge should be cut short and notched to avoid defacation soiling. The neck edge can be trimmed to reduce pressure on the back of the cat's neck.
Refit cloth to the cat and mark adjustments. It helps to have 2 people doing all the holding and fitting.
You want the top of back edges to almost meet (like on shoes where the laceholes almost meet).
Finally, place the garment on the cat from the paws up to the belly, tie shoelace through the holes snug but not tight, and attach the lace near the neck to the cat's collar.
The cat is free to move, eat, drink, use the litterbox, and play, but cannot, hopefully, get at the stiches and pull them out. It will be free of that horrific cone collar.
1 - Getting the cat to mark its paws, be fitted with the garment, etc takes 2 people. For 1 person, it is nearly impossible unless your cat is used to being dressed in costumes.
2 - If you know how to attach snaps to cloth it would be easier than using shoelace. Velcro might work too.
3 - The discarded top of the T-Shirt is useful for staunching blood caused by angry cat clawings.
4 - The product is probably not commercially-produced because there is so much variation in pet body sizes and shapes.