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Are cat collars safe? Petplan looks at the pros and cons

White tabby cat with yellow eyes looks at camera

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… 

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7 Responses to Are cat collars safe? Petplan looks at the pros and cons

  1. Chris Petrie says:

    I think cats wearing collars should be mandatory

  2. Linda Layland says:

    I have two cats, they are both chipped and I only use a collar on the one cat that tries to catch birds, as he only catches fledglings he has a collar (with bell) on for short times each year, he has lost quite a few of them which proves the quick release ones work, as my cats don’t wander I really don’t see the point of a permanent collar but all cats are different.

  3. Roz says:

    Both our cats are microchipped and have quick release collars….used to buy ones with a bit of elastic as part of collar but they’ve been discontinued. Yep, they come off them but neighbours are good at returning collars found in their gardens! I leave collars on during day because if the worst was to happen to them there is our telephone nos on a tag attached to collar. People don’t always think to take a cat to vet to be checked for microchip. Also we have a magnetic cat flap so collar holds magnet beautifully. Worst thing about that is they have come in with teaspoons etc attached!! Think in the 11 years we have lived here they have cleared all the small metal debris locally!!!
    Neither cat minds the collar. It’s peace of mind for me and at night(we keep our cats in) the collars come off …a genuine purr moment. So, for me, yes to collars but would like to see more with the easy snap free rectangular clasp that’s also easy for humans to undo….plus that little bit of elastic as extra release.

  4. rosemary lee says:

    Our cat is black & doesn’t make much noise so I try to keep a collar with a bell on him so that I know where he is. He hides in sheds & garages regularly.

  5. Sheena Frew says:

    I have 7 cats all are chipped and all wear collars and the oldest is 21. I have had no problems. If they have a collar and they get lost people then know that they belong to someone.

  6. Joe West says:

    i have 2 black cats that are brothers if they don’t wear collars i carn’t tell them apart until they miaow at me!!!

  7. Ruth says:

    I tried for ages to use a collar with my cat, he loses them so frequently (usually within hours) I’ve now given up, he definitely needs the breakaway kind as he’s a tree-climber but with an average use expectancy of a day per collar it’s simply unaffordable! Our previous cat also lost them frequently and often as not brought them back in carrying them in his mouth. His last one was reflective, he was nearly all white, but it still didn’t prevent him being run over and killed. Both are/were microchipped.

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