Are cat collars safe? Petplan looks at the pros and cons
While a collar is a helpful accessory for a dog, in cats they can be problematical and may not be the best option for your beloved pet.
Petplan takes a look at the common reasons for fitting cats with a collar and what you need to consider...
Using a collar for identification purposes
As cats wander they can sometimes become lost or get injured and, if your cat is wearing a collar with your details on it, this can ensure that you and your four-legged friend are reunited sooner rather than later.
However, cats can entangle themselves in their own collars, such as getting their front legs caught through them when trying to remove them, typically because the collar has been incorrectly fitted or has become loose. Or they can become caught or trapped on fences, gate posts or branches - which can lead to the cat being unable to escape or potentially choking.
With the increasing trend for more elaborate collars such as ones that feature decorations like sequins or diamantes the risk of incidences are even greater.
Therefore, when selecting a collar you should select a ‘quick release’ collar. These are fitted with a catch that releases when force is placed on the collar. These allow your pet to break free if they become trapped. Make sure you test this mechanism before you put it on your cat. It should open under a moderate amount of force. If it won’t come apart at all then it can be dangerous and if it’s too loose then your cat will regularly lose it.
However, for identification purposes microchipping is the best way forward and is relatively cheap, starting from as little as £15. The procedure is available from your vet, your local authority, or animal welfare charities.
A microchip is around the size of a grain of rice and is injected underneath your cat’s skin between the shoulder blades. It’s not painful, and your cat won’t feel it at all once it’s in. It lasts for the cat’s lifetime, and if your pet was to get lost or injured and was taken to a vets or animal charity they would be automatically scanned and identified, allowing them access to your contact details. For this reason ensure your contact and address details are always up to date.
Microchips are also useful because they can be used with special microchip cat flaps. These perform a similar function to electromagnetic cat flaps by allowing access to your house for only your cat – meaning there is very little need to fit your cat with a collar at all.
Protecting feathered friends in the garden
Some owners fit their cat with a collar and bell to reduce their chances of catching birds and wildlife.
However, bells, discs and other bits hanging from the collar can be hazardous as the cat can become entangled on something and can also get their claws caught in the bell.
Have a look at the type of bell on your cat’s collar - make sure that it is one that is completely enclosed, or has a wide groove in it, so that your cat’s claws cannot become trapped.
Protecting your cat at night
Many cat owners who live beside busy roads fit their cats with reflective collars to make them more visible to cars at night.
Of course the same principles apply when selecting a reflective collar as discussed earlier.
Finally – ensure the collar is fitted correctly and bear in mind that kittens grow!
The collar needs to be firmly fitted – you should only be able to get 1-2 fingers underneath. If too loose your cat may be able to get their leg through it. When you first fit the collar your cat may tense their neck muscles so re-check the fit a few minutes later.
Although it’s advisable to not place collars on young kittens - bear in mind that kittens grow very quickly, so check the tightness of the collar every couple of weeks and adjust if necessary.
Do you have any tips, opinions or advice about putting collars on cats? Let us know your thoughts below…