A collar is more than just an adornment for your furry feline. It can be a life-saver for cats, especially if they are left to wander freely outside. It can provide peace of mind that, no matter what happens, your pet will always get back home.
For first-timers, choosing the correct collar size can be a daunting task. Putting aesthetics aside, knowing the correct fit for your fur baby is very important to avoid choking accidents or injuries.
So what is the correct way to fit a collar on your feline? Let us find out.
Why your cat needs a collar
First, you need to understand why collars are important for your feline’s safety. For most fur parents, a cat collar is a must for a variety of reasons:
1. To show that your cat is not a stray animal
Cats need collars for identification purposes. Although microchips nowadays offer a convenient solution, collar tags can still be useful to identify a lost or injured cat. Felines are naturally adventurous, so whether yours is an indoor or outdoor cat, a collar could one day save him if he escapes and loses his way back home.
2. To enable selective entry on pet flaps
Another reason a cat collar is a must is for cat flap activation. By attaching an electronic or magnetic device to your feline’s collar, the small door can be set to open only for your cat, and not for other stray animals.
3. To warn off prey
Cats are born hunters and any small, moving creature will excite them. If you want to discourage your furry friend from catching and killing his favorite prey, such as birds, then adding a little bell to his cat collar will help. The sound of the bell can notify small animals that danger is approaching so that before these poor creatures become a victim, they have enough time to escape your cat’s claws.
4. To manage fleas
Some cat collars available in pet shops come saturated with chemicals for flea management. The small concentration of permethrin or organophosphate chemicals in flea collars should be sufficient to get rid of these pesky parasites. However, flea collars may not be the safest method of flea management, and some cats suffer side effects such as hair loss and skin irritation.
If you opt not to use a flea collar on your furry friend, there are safer options on the market to effectively remove the fleas. Talk to your vet to know which product works best for your fur baby.
5. To increase visibility at night
If your feline loves the nightlife, then consider giving him a collar with reflective strips. It will help passersby to spot your cat in the dark when he is out on the streets and will make him more visible to drivers.
6. To look adorable
Cats are already beautiful enough, even without collars. But for some owners, fashionable cat collars are a great way to give their kitty a cute personality. These accessories often come in different colors, designs, or material types. But keep in mind that some of these collars can be uncomfortable, so make sure to prioritize your cat’s comfort over fashion.
How to know the right collar size
Now you have finally decided to get your cat a collar to wear, the next thing you need to consider is the right fit.
Collars that do not fit well can come with risks for your cat. Give him a loose collar and your cat might end up strangled on a nearby tree or get his leg stuck through it. If the collar is too tight, meanwhile, it might cause injuries to the neck and even accidental choking.
If you are buying a cat collar for the first time, you may want to first measure the size of your cat’s neck using a flexible ruler or measuring tape. If you do not have one at home, a regular string should work fine.
Place the string firmly around your cat’s neck (make sure it is not too tight) and, using a pen, mark the string where the ends meet. Lay the string flat on the table and measure the distance between the marks using a standard ruler. Now you have a guide for choosing a collar size. For the best fit, you can also have your cat’s collar customized by a manufacturer.
How to fit the collar properly
When you place the collar on your cat for the first time, try to make sure that there is enough space for two fingers to slide between the collar and the cat’s neck. This is the recommended way of knowing if your cat’s collar is correctly fitted. As mentioned, it should not be too tight or too loose, to prevent injuries and ensure that the collar stays on when your feline friend wanders outside.
One important thing to remember when fitting a cat’s collar is to ensure your cat is relaxed. When your cat feels tense, you might not be able to fit the collar properly on his neck. Let him relax for a few minutes, or offer some distractions like tasty treats or favorite toys until he forgets about the collar. Then double-check the fit again and adjust accordingly.
Lastly, it is best to choose a cat collar with a breakaway safety buckle. Cats can sometimes be careless and their adventures might lead to the collar getting caught on a tree branch, or even the cat’s jaw getting stuck through the collar. In case such accidents happen, the breakaway collar will immediately release and save your cat from accidental choking or other injuries. You may lose the collar, but at least not your cat.
Should kittens wear a collar?
It is highly discouraged to place collars on kittens. Young cats are prone to accidents and not yet heavy enough to trigger the release on a breakaway collar if they get snagged somewhere. Moreover, kittens should not be allowed to go outside without supervision, so at this time they really do not need a collar. It is best to wait until they reach six months old before giving them a collar to wear.
Should cats wear collars with bells?
You might have heard some concerns about whether or not collar bells are cruel for cats. The reason for this is that the bell sound might damage a feline’s hearing. But we are here to clear this misconception.
According to animal experts, long-term exposure to sounds of 80 decibels does not endanger a cat’s sense of hearing. Most collar bells can only produce a sound of 50 decibels, so this means they should not hurt your cat at all.
However, some highly sensitive felines might react negatively to the tingling sounds of the bell. A nervous cat may startle as he moves, causing him to freeze and hindering his playtime routine. So, when you place a bell collar on your cat for the first time, watch his behavior and body language closely. If you think the bell collar makes him feel uncomfortable, then it might be best to remove it temporarily and gradually introduce it later until he gets used to it.
Should I remove my cat’s collar at night?
The answer is obviously a big NO. Taking off your cat’s collar at any time will defeat the whole purpose of safeguarding your cat. Remember that felines can get adventurous at any time. During the night, they may go out for a hunt. If a well-meaning finds your missing cat without a collar or tag, he might end up in the shelter or lost from you forever.
Wrapping it up
Having your cat wear a collar not only looks adorable but also ensures your cat’s safety. Collars provide your cat with a means of identification so that if he gets lost you are assured that someone will help get him back to you.
Choosing the right fit of the collar is very important for your cat’s safety. A collar that is too tight or loose can be problematic and might cause injuries to your cat. Thankfully, there is a way to help determine the appropriate collar size for your pet. Choose the right fit and material to ensure that your cat wears his collar proudly, and without any troubles.
Image: istockphoto.com / Angela Kotsell