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Cat Shock Collars: Are They Safe?

Shock collars: chances are you’ve heard of them. A device more commonly associated with training dogs, shock collars are used as a way of training an animal to stop a certain behavior.

Some swear by them, while others swear that it’s a form of animal cruelty.

Are cat shock collars really safe? Though it’s not a totally definitive answer, no, they most likely are not safe for cat use. Let’s find out why.cat face divider 2

Do Shock Collars Work For Cats?

Maybe your cat is getting on your nerves with annoying behavior like incessant meowing, scratching up your furniture, or running away. You’d like to know if they make shock collars for cats. In fact, some companies have developed shock collars for cat use. Usually, though, people who want to get their cat in line through shocking opt to put collars made for small dogs on their cats.

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Image Credit: stockelements, Shutterstock

But just because something is out on the market, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe, or even legal!

Electric shock collars have been banned in Scotland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and some parts of Australia. While they are not illegal in America, some stores like Petco have stopped selling shock collars altogether. This could be warning enough to steer clear of this method of training your cat.

However, there are always two sides to an argument. Read on as we reasonably look at the facts regarding whether cat shock collars are safe for cats.3 cat face divider

Cat Shock Collars

A shock collar is a piece of webbing worn around an animal’s neck that delivers an electric shock to the pet. This shock is delivered in one of two ways: through a manned device or when an invisible barrier is crossed.

Remote Control Shock

This type of shock collar comes with a remote. When the pet owner decides the pet is not behaving the way he or she wants it to, they push a button on a remote to give a vibration, sound, or shock to the pet. These remote-controlled versions will usually give the warnings in that order, so the pet learns to stop the behavior before the shock comes.

Automatic Shock

There are two types of automatic shock collars; ones that go off when an invisible barrier is crossed and one that goes off when a certain decibel of noise from the animal is reached.

The invisible barrier collar is used to keep a pet within a certain area or out of a certain area. Invisible fences in yards keep pets from running away. A motion-detection one can also keep pets out of a certain room you don’t want them to enter.

The other type of automatic shock collar delivers the animal a shock when they make a loud noise like a bark or yowl.

How Do Cat Shock Collars Work?

Shock collars are used as a form of “positive punishment,” as some behaviorists call it. The collar itself has two prongs on the inside that touches your cat’s skin. Depending on the type of shock collar, a shock is activated through an electronic feature on the collar.

Some shock collars are specifically designed for cats. Most of the time, though, these are rare, and most people put collars made for small dogs on their cat.yarn ball divider

Are Shock Collars Safe for Cats?

The evidence is pretty strong that shock collars are not safe for cats. Most collars deliver a shock that’s between 100 to 6,000 volts – 300 volts of current feels like an intense burn to a human, imagine what it feels like to your small cat.

Not only is it possibly cruel to send pain to your cat through electric shock, but the shock administered from a shock collar can also be fatal for cats. Even a less intense current can mess up a cat’s cardiovascular or nervous system, no matter what your cat’s age is.

Shocks can also prevent a cat from defending herself in emergencies. Perhaps she needs to get your attention with loud noises or get away from a predator, but a shock collar is inflicting pain on her instead.

Additionally, manufacturers are typically not transparent about the amount of shock their collars deliver, or the intensity of their vibrations or beeps. So, you are at the will of the device when it comes to the intensity at which you are punishing your cat. You could be sending a way stronger shock than you intend to.

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Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

Should You Use a Shock Collar On a Cat?

The consensus with most vets and cat behaviorists is that cat shock collars can be dangerous and are ineffective in training a cat. We already have discussed why they are unsafe, let’s talk about how they don’t work for cat behavior training.

Positive Punishment is Ineffective for Cats

A shock collar is a form of “positive punishment,” which cats do not react well to. The cat brain does not respond as well to punishment to change their behavior. They don’t understand that pain means “no,” rather, they understand when a reward means “yes.” So, a more effective way to train your cat is to give him praise and treats when she has good behavior.

Corrective Punishment Could Make Bad Behavior Worse

Cats are known to be vengeful creatures. If you inflict pain on them physically or emotionally, they will commonly lash out in other ways. Cats have been known to attack people or destroy things like furniture when they’ve gotten a negative message from their owners.

Not Many on The Market

Lastly, shock collars made for cats are sparse and can be difficult to find. If you decide you absolutely want one, you will probably need to do extensive research on small dog shock collars to decide if they give a small enough shock to not harm your cat.

More Humane Alternatives to Consider

While shock collars for cats can be unsafe, ineffective, and difficult to find, there are other options when it comes to behavior training your cat. Keep in mind that punishing your cat for bad behavior typically doesn’t work for most cats. However, some cats might have the right personality for this kind of training.

Training collars

If you feel like you fully understand the implications of using vibration and sound to train a cat, this could provide a more humane way to train your cat. Some collars are specifically made for small dogs or cats.

Instead of a shock, these collars work by vibrating or making a loud sound to discourage behavior. You can choose which one you want your cat experiencing.

Cat Sprays

Another more humane way to “positively punish” your cat into good behavior is by scaring them with a motion-detection spray. When your cat enters a forbidden space or goes near a forbidden object, this spray will be set off. It harmlessly sprays compressed air to scare your cat away, but your cat could be irritated enough to inflict bad behavior in some other manner.

A more effective method is to try cat pheromone spray. These sprays contain ingredients that calm cats down, which could lull your cat into a zen state.

Positive Reinforcement

The best way to try to change a cat’s behavior is by praising wanted behavior. While cats are egged on by punishment, like we learned earlier, they usually are very responsive to rewards.

Employ this tactic by giving your feline a treat or a pet in their favorite spot when you notice them on good behavior. This will encourage your cat to keep repeating the good act until it becomes a habit.

Preventative Measures

Cats usually have normal instincts behind the behavior that we don’t want happening. Incessant yowling every two weeks coming from an unspayed female cat is simply a part of the female cat cycle. Cats jump on your counter because of their instinct to feel safer by climbing high up. They scratch things to mark their territory and file their nails.

It’s possible to redirect these behaviors (or stop certain ones by either spaying or neutering your cat), but you will not be able to prevent them from acting on their instincts. For cats who like to jump, get them a cat tree. For scratching cats, try scratch pads where they like to scratch. This way, your cat can be free to be a cat, and you can have your sanity back!

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Cat shock collars are increasingly rare to find due to legislation in certain countries banning them, animal rights activists declaring their cruelty, and large pet chains discontinuing the products. We’ve learned why: the shock delivered to a cat could be harmful to their health and cause them to act out in other ways. Shock collars for cats can be unsafe and ineffective, so it’s best to try one of our other methods to change your cat’s behavior.

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Featured image credit: Pixabay