your cat need a collar?
first thing to consider is whether your cat really needs to
wear a collar. Some people need to attach magnetic or electronic
keys to a collar in order to give the cat access through the
cat flap. Others wish to have some form of visual identification
(rather than just microchipping) in case the cat becomes lost
or run over, or just to make sure that the neighbourhood knows
the cat is owned. These are all acceptable reasons for wanting
a cat to wear a collar.
wearing a collar for the sake of ornamentation or it could
be argued, just for flea control when there are other very
effective methods available, should be considered very carefully.
There are potential dangers and few merits. Advice on using
a collar falls into two categories – choosing and fitting.
Avoid collars with elastic inserts - these can stretch to different extents and some will allow cats to get a leg stuck through. The collar can then become stuck and cause injuries in what we would think of as the 'arm pit', (ie. under the front leg). Some cats can also get collars stuck over the jaw in the same way.
You should also check
the overall quality of the collar – there should be no sharp edges,
stitching should not unravel and the buckle should be firm
and not sharp.
control can be achieved in many other ways other than using
a collar – veterinary `spot-on' products are very effective
and safe to use. Flea collars are often left on long after
the flea control chemicals have ceased to function. Owners
reported hair loss and skin reaction – if you do use a flea
collar check it very regularly to ensure there is no reaction
are few, if any, reports of problems with 'snap open' collars.
These have a plastic buckle
which snaps together to close it. If sufficient pressure is
put on the collar, such as would happen if the cat gets it
caught in something or if it gets its leg caught through,
it should simply snap open and release the collar and the
cat. Check how easily these buckles open – some are firmer
than others. One suggestion is to hang a bag of sugar on the
collar and see if it opens.
Problems arise because collars are either
too loose or too tight. Collars do actually need to be quite
firmly fitted – you should only be able to get 1-2 fingers
underneath. If too loose then the cat can gets its leg through.
it is very important to check the collar fitting if it is
on a cat which is still growing. There are problems putting
collars on kittens because they are small and very good at
turning themselves inside out to get the collar off. They
also get themselves into rather dangerous situations in general
and can get caught up by the collar. It is probably wise to
get kittens used to wearing collars at an early age (about
5 months) but to do so when the kitten can be supervised.
It can be removed when the kitten is not being watched. The
kitten will then be used to the collar when it is put on on
a more permanent basis when it goes outdoors.
discs and other bits hanging from the collar can also be hazardous – the cat can either become caught on something by one of these attachments or get claws caught in the bell. One owner's cat had become caught
in the holes on a storage heater when its disc became twisted
in the slot and it could not escape – luckily the heater was
not on. Have a look at the type of bell on the collar – decide
whether you actually need it there (if you are hoping it will
scare away birds then it needs to have a good loud tinkle
sound) and if it is the type with large grooves which do not
taper and so cannot trap a claw.
Many cat owners are also bird lovers and would like
to be able to protect their feathered visitors to the garden. A recent
RSPB study found that cats wearing a bell on the collar caught 34 per cent fewer mammals and 41 per cent fewer birds. The
RSPB did contact FAB, RSPCA and CP about the choice of the
collar in their research and they used two collars, both of
the 'snap open' variety. These were the Safe Cat Collar from
Coastal Products – made by Highcraft and the Reflective Paw
Print collar from Ancol Pet Products.
will always be a demand for cat collars so while in the ideal
world we might feel that cats are better off without them,
being able to advise on the best type will allow those who
need to use a collar to choose and fit properly the safest
Updated July 2009