Generally speaking we wouldn’t recommend putting a collar on your cat. If you’re worried about them getting lost, the best way of making sure you’re reunited is to get your cat microchipped. Collars can easily come off or get lost, but a microchip will always be there to identify your cat. Another benefit of microchipping your cat is that the chip can communicate with certain cat flaps or feeders, allowing selective entry and feeding. Read more about these products and receive 10% off through our partnership with Sure Petcare.
Some collars can also be a hazard for your pet. If you don’t get the right collar, your cat may get stuck out and about if they catch their collar on something. They could even get their own paw stuck in their collar. These collar accidents have the potential to cause serious injury, including strangulation, deep skin lacerations and jaw damage.
If you do want a collar for your cat, read our advice below on finding the right cat collar.
If you’re considering getting a collar for your cat, you need to make sure it’s safe and they won’t get stuck or hurt if it gets caught while they’re exploring.
The safest collars for cats are the ‘quick release’ or snap opening collars. This means that if your cat’s collar was to become caught, it will be more likely to pop open and release your cat so they don’t get hurt or stuck.
We wouldn’t recommend an elasticated collar. While these were once thought to be safe, they can cause more harm than good. If your cat gets stuck in one of these collars, they might try to use a paw to free themselves and get further tangled. It’s far better to choose a quick release collar for your cat’s welfare and safety.
Make sure the collar is of good quality, without any loose stitching or adornments (such as studs or gems) that could pose a choking hazard if they were to come loose. Collars with reflective strips can help cats be seen at night, which can be beneficial around roads and traffic.
There are lots of flea collars available and in general, collars are not very effective at keeping fleas at bay. They may cause local skin irritation and you will still need to ensure they are quick release to keep your cat safe. If you’re thinking of buying a flea collar, some of the newer collars that are only available from vets are the best option. Have a chat with your vet about which product they recommend as the most effective and safe option. For more information on keeping your cat flea free, read our free guide.
You should always make sure your cat’s collar fits them correctly for their safety and wellbeing. Make sure you buy the right type of collar specifically for cats. If they’ll let you, you can measure loosely around their neck to get an idea of size before you go out to buy one. Usually, cat collars are sold as one size you can cut down, but it’s best to check to be sure.
When you fit the collar on your cat, you should be able to fit two fingers under comfortably. Too tight and it will be uncomfortable for your cat, too loose and they could seriously hurt themselves.
Once you’ve fit the collar on your cat, check the fit again after a few minutes. When you first put it on, they might hunch or move around so you’ll need to double check the fit before letting them venture out in it.
If your cat’s collar becomes damaged, you should replace it straight away.
Work done by the RSPB has shown that attaching a bell to a cat’s collar can reduce the number of birds which the cat can catch. However, it’s important to be aware that bells, discs and other collar accessories can be hazardous. These can easily get caught or trapped in small areas, for example between fence panels, causing your cat to become trapped. If you do wish to attach a bell to your cat’s collar, make sure that it is not possible for your cat to get their claws caught in the bell and that you are using a quick release collar.
Other ways to protect wildlife rather than using a bell include keeping your cat indoors at dawn and dusk (prime hunting time for cats) and play with them lots in the house. This should help them express their natural behaviour without harming wildlife. Read more about cats and play in our guide.
If you’re worried about your cat being identified if they get lost, rather than attaching a tag to the collar, the safest way is to get them microchipped.