It’s natural to want to protect your cat and make sure they can find their way back to you if they get lost. That’s why a lot of cat owners choose to buy a collar for their pet. Sadly, collars can actually be more of a hindrance than a help to our feline friends!
The problem with cat collars
We recommend leaving your cat collarless – it’s usually safer and much more comfortable for them. Here’s why:
- Injuries and choking. Even a well-fitting collar can be dangerous for your cat. Our feline friends are usually very adventurous and a collar can get caught on something while they’re out exploring or scrapping with neighbours. Cats might choke, or injure their neck as they struggle to get free. Sadly, some cats suffocate in situations like this.
- Bad flea treatment. All flea collars stop working after a while, which can vary from days to months depending on the product. If you forget to replace the collar, then your cat could be left unprotected from these troublesome parasites. The chemicals in some flea collars, especially those purchased over-the-counter, can be too harsh for some cats. This can lead to hair-loss around the neck and red and irritated skin.
- Unreliable identification. I.D tags on collars can easily drop off, or your cat could slip out of a loose collar, leaving them cat with no identification if they get lost.
What can I use instead of a collar?
There are lots of reasons why you might think about buying a collar for your cat – from protecting against fleas to making your cat look ‘owned’ and well looked after.
However, there are often better ways to tackle these issues:
Spot-on flea treatment
Spot-on flea treatments offer protection from fleas and other parasites that won’t be affected if your cat wriggles free of the collar. It’s best to get these from a vet as some over-the-counter products aren’t as strong or are only mild repellents and will not kill or keep fleas away. Spot-ons from your vet are very safe to use on your cat because they have been rigorously tested. Treatments still need to be applied regularly so pop a reminder in your calendar for when the next dose is due.
As with all flea products, use a spot-on treatment made specifically for cats. Dog products sometimes contain a chemical called ‘permethrin’ which is really toxic for cats.
Having your cat microchipped is the best way to make sure they can be identified if they’re lost or stolen. Once your cat’s microchip has been fitted by your vet, all you’ll need to do is keep your contact details up-to-date with the microchip database company. Find out more about microchipping.
Keeping wildlife safe
If your cat is a stealthy hunter then you might think putting a bell on their collar will help wildlife like garden birds, mice and shrews hear when your cat is coming. But many cats are too clever for this to work for long and will learn to move to keep the bell quiet and still manage to bring you ‘presents’ from their daring hunts.
Here are some other steps you can take to keep wildlife safe from their claws that don’t involve a collar:
- Make sure any bird feeders aren’t surrounded by trees or bushes – birds will be able to see your cat coming!
- Raise feeders or birdhouses on metal poles as cats can’t climb these.
- Keep your cats inside when birds and wildlife are more active – an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset.
Which cat collars are safer?
We’d recommend leaving your moggy’s neck bare but if you do decide a collar is right for your cat, here’s how to make sure it’s a safe one:
- Does it fit properly? You should be able to slide two fingers under your cat’s collar. Any tighter and it will be uncomfortable but a looser collar could catch on things.
- Is it a ‘quick release’ collar? Quick release collars have a catch on them that’s designed to come undone if your cat gets caught on something. This is essential to keeping your cats safe.
- Is it good quality? Your cat will be wearing their collar day in and day out. Make sure it’s comfortable and well-made. Avoid collars with sharp buckle, studs or scratchy decoration.
Do they need tags and bells? If you add an ID tag or bell to your cat’s collar make sure these are securely attached and can’t catch on your cat’s claws when they scratch or groom themselves.