If getting your cat to wear a collar is not challenging enough, how about getting your pet to keep on wearing an Elizabethan or e-collar?
How to keep an e-collar on a cat
The e-collar, also called the cone, cone of shame, dunce cap, radar, and more, is designed to stop a pet from accessing an area.
For example, if your cat recently went under the knife, he should be prevented from coming into contact with the surgical site. Otherwise, he can infect or even attempt to remove the sutures. At best, that can result in another trip to the vet. And at worst, your cat can cause serious harm.
If your cat needs to wear a cone, here are a few tips that will help him keep it on:
Make your cat familiar with the cone
If your cat’s treatment is scheduled and not an emergency, you will have ample time to make him familiar with the cone.
If possible, buy or borrow a collar. Once you have a cone, allot a few minutes each day to help your cat get familiar with the collar. Follow the steps outlined below until his day of surgery.
1. Allow your cat to inspect the collar
Place the collar in an area that your cat likes to hang out and leave it there for your cat to investigate. Every time your cat goes near the collar to investigate it, reward him with a treat.
If your cat seems wary of the cone, put a treat or toy near it to encourage your cat to come closer. When your cat comes near the cone, praise him and give him treats.
2. Put the collar on your cat
After a couple of days, you can practice putting the collar on your cat. To help your pet remain calm, prepare some of his wet food and place it on a plastic spoon or tongue depressor if you have one available.
Next, put on his cone and then offer him the treat. After a few seconds, remove the collar. Do this every day while increasing the time the collar is on your cat.
Securing the collar
Whether you had time to acclimate your cat with the collar or not, it is still possible that your pet will struggle to remove the cone. That is a perfectly normal reaction.
If your cat keeps on trying to remove his cone, one simple trick you can try is to tie it. Check the bottom of the cone and you will see there are few holes there. These holes have been designed so that you can tie the cone on your cat using gauze, a ribbon, or a long piece of fabric.
Once the cone is secured to your cat’s body using gauze, your pet is less likely to wriggle his way out of it.
Check the cone’s fit
The collar should neither be too tight nor too loose. If it is too tight, your cat will be uncomfortable and might have difficulty breathing. If the collar is too loose, the cone can create friction and chafe your cat, or worse, your pet might pry it loose off his neck.
Ideally, you should be able to slip one to two fingers between the collar and your cat’s neck.
Monitor your pet
As much as possible, never leave your pet alone. Boredom and irritation can be a bad combination when you factor in the e-collar into the equation. If you are planning to go out, have someone look after your cat.
Even if you think that your cat has become accustomed to wearing the collar, he will still try to remove it. And in some instances, he will succeed.
Again, that is normal. The important thing is that you put the collar back again to prevent him from accessing his wound.
Make sure that your cat is comfortable with the collar
Apart from ensuring that the collar fits your cat well, there are a few things that you can do to ensure your pet’s comfort.
For starters, you should help your cat move around. The collar obscures your pet’s vision and if you leave him unsupervised, he can bump himself.
Consider moving a few pieces of furniture around to ensure that there is ample space for your cat to move around and to prevent bumps.
Your cat might also have a difficult time doing his business, especially if his litter box has a cover. To make it easier for him to go to the box, remove the lid.
Help your cat eat and drink with the collar
Another issue that you and your cat may encounter is difficulty in eating and drinking. Simply put, the collar can impede your cat’s movement and obscure his vision.
Observe your cat if he can reach his food and drinking bowl. Take note that some cats can feign difficulty in eating or drinking. To counter this problem, you can raise the bowls so your cat can reach these.
If your cat still does not eat or drink, you can either hold the bowls close to your feline’s mouth or you can just hand feed him.
If your pet still does not eat after trying the previously mentioned tricks, your last recourse would be to remove the collar. However, you should only remove the collar when your cat eats and you should put it back on when he is done.
If you must remove the collar, do not leave your cat alone. This will allow you to move in quickly if your cat attempts to access his wounds.
Do not cave in to your cat’s tricks
Initially, your cat will do his best to remove his collar. He might paw the cone or roll on the ground. He might also try a few passive techniques like bumping against you or he might stop eating.
Understandably, this is a difficult situation for you and your cat. However, you must strengthen your resolve and do everything you can to keep the cone on your cat’s neck.
Do cats get used to e-collars?
A lot of that depends on your cat. Some felines get used to wearing a collar almost immediately. But more often than not, the natural reaction for a cat to wearing a collar is stress.
Apart from the fact that wearing a collar may seem unnatural to them, their vision is obscured. At first, your cat might panic or freeze.
Let your cat get over the initial stress while soothing him with praises and treats. Soon after, he will get used to wearing his collar.
How long should your cat wear a cone?
That will depend on the type of treatment that your pet underwent.
If your cat went under the knife, he will need to wear the collar anywhere between 10 to 14 days. That is about the same time it will take for his sutures to heal. For lesions, recovery time can take about less than a week.
As a rule of thumb, your cat should wear his e-collar until his follow up check-up with the vet.
Although the Elizabethan collar is an effective tool used to prevent a cat from accessing certain areas of his body, it is not perfect.
Simply put, it is inconvenient for both pets and their humans. Fortunately, there are a few alternatives that you might want to ask your vet about.
1. Padded collars
If your primary concern is your cat’s comfort, consider using a padded collar on him. However, you should choose one that has a large diameter. Otherwise, your cat can just turn around.
2. Pillow collars
Pillow collars can be made out of either inflatable materials or cloth. Like padded collars, pillow collars are more comfortable than the traditional cone.
However, your cat can still access his wounds by turning around if the pillow collar is ill-fitting.
3. Dog clothes and onesies
The goal of letting a cat wear a cone is to prevent him from touching or licking his body. But what if you flip things around. Instead of partially immobilizing his head and neck, you can make his body inaccessible by putting clothes on him.
Instead of putting a cone on your cat, you can try putting on dog clothes on him. You can buy dog clothes made for small breeds. Just make sure that you choose one that is snug.
Alternatively, if you still have your baby’s onesie around, you can use it on your cat instead of using dog clothes.
Even if you think that your cat is used to wearing an e-collar, never leave him alone. He will still attempt to remove it. And when he succeeds, you should be there to put it back on.
It is normal for you to feel upset about your cat wearing a cone. That is perfectly normal because you care for your pet. However, you are doing him a great disservice if you allow him to remove it.
Image: istockphoto.com / buddyb76