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How to Feed a Cat with a Cone (5 Great Tips)

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If your cat has just had surgery or is dealing with another medical condition, your vet may send you home with an Elizabethan collar or “cone” while they heal. Typically, these cones make your cat look like they’re wearing a lampshade, and there’s usually an adjustment period while your kitty gets used to wearing it. Mealtime can be tricky while your cat is wearing an E-collar as well. Here are five great tips for how to feed a cat with a cone.

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The 5 Great Tips to Feed a Cat With a Cone

1. Elevate the Food Dishes

elevated cat bowl
Image Credit: MTS_Photo, Shutterstock
Difficulty: Easy
Materials needed: Commercial or DIY bowl stand, magazines, books, or something else sturdy and stackable

Because the cone sticks out so far past your cat’s face, it may have trouble reaching its food bowl if it’s sitting on the floor. The cone will hit the floor first and keep your poor cat’s mouth from getting to the bowl. Solve this problem by elevating your cat’s food and water dishes off the floor while they’re wearing a cone. You can buy elevated bowls or make one of your own if you’re handy. You could also try stacking up old magazines or books and setting the bowls on top.

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2. Try a Different Bowl Shape

hepper nom nom cat food bowl food

Difficulty: Easy
Materials needed: Plate, saucer, or another flat eating surface

Depending on how your cat moves with the cone, they may find it easier to use a different bowl shape. For example, swap out their usual bowl for a flat plate or saucer. Since these items lack a rim or edge, your cat has more freedom to reach their food even with the cone on their head. However, this tip will likely lead to a messier eating experience. Without a bowl to contain the food, your cat may push it all over the floor as they eat. Consider setting the temporary eating vessels on a place mat or other easily cleaned surface.

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3. Hand-Feed Your Cat

hand feeding cat with a cone
Image Credit: Spring Song, Shutterstock
Difficulty: Easy
Materials needed: A person, spoon (optional), patience (not optional)

An easy but slightly time-consuming tip for feeding a cat with a cone is to assist your pet while they’re wearing the E-collar. This could mean holding their bowl in a position that’s easy for them to reach. You may also need to serve their food by hand, either with a spoon or your fingers.

Depending on whether your cat eats wet or dry food, this option could get messy for you. Sometimes, you’ll only need to hand-feed your cat for a couple of days until they get the hang of eating with the cone.

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4. Try Different Cone Styles

tabby cat in a cone collar while sitting on a sofa
Image Credit: Pixel Cat Photo, Shutterstock
Difficulty: Easy
Materials needed: Other types of E-collars (ask your vet)

For some medical conditions, such as an eye infection or injury, it may not be safe for your cat to wear any cone but the traditional hard plastic version. Other times, you may be able to get away with using a different style of E-collar that’s easier for your cat to eat while wearing.

For example, some vets offer a soft cloth or paper e-collar. Another option is an E-collar that looks like an inner tube. You could also ask your vet if using a smaller or shorter version of the plastic cone is okay. Don’t change e-collars without checking with your vet first, and carefully monitor your cat if you do to make sure they can’t get to their stitches or injury.

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5. Remove the Cone and Supervise Your Cat

cat eating on elevated feeding
Image Credit: Elayne Massaini, Shutterstock
Difficulty: Hard
Materials needed: Your undivided attention

If your cat completely refuses to eat while wearing the cone, ask your vet if it’s okay to take it off temporarily at mealtime under strict supervision. Cats that don’t eat or don’t eat enough for even a few days can develop a life-threatening condition called hepatic lipidosis. Removing the cone may be your only choice if all other options fail. Never do it without your vet’s permission, and stay close to your cat while they’re eating. It can only take a split second of distraction for them to rip out stitches with their sharp teeth. Replace the cone as soon as your kitty is done with dinner.

Other Precautions While Your Cat Is Wearing a Cone

Until your cat gets used to having a bigger head, it may be uncharacteristically clumsy and knock things over. They’ll also be more likely to be trapped in tight spaces they can normally access easily, such as underneath a bed. You may need to block access to these areas until your cat is out of the cone.

Make sure your cat can get in and out of the litter box wearing the cone. You may need to remove the top of a covered box temporarily. Keep the cone clean and dry, especially after your cat eats, and watch for any irritation on your kitty’s skin. Check the cone’s fit frequently to ensure it isn’t too loose or tight. You should be able to fit two fingers between the cone and your cat’s neck.

Your cat likely won’t be able to groom effectively while wearing the cone, so keep them brushed and clean their rear as needed. Make sure other family members know your cat may be more easily startled when wearing the cone because it cuts off part of their field of vision.



Navigating life while your cat is wearing a cone can be a bit stressful, but the good news is that it’s just a temporary disruption. Most cats adapt quickly to the cone, especially if you help them get used to it by offering treats and other distractions. If you’re wondering how important it is for your cat to wear the cone, your vet or their staff will certainly have many stories about dealing with the aftermath of an owner neglecting to use the e-collar as directed!

Infections, torn stitches, and delayed healing are all possible consequences of your cat not wearing its e-collar. Use these five tips to feed your cat while wearing the cone and leave it on as instructed.

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Featured Image Credit: Lillia Solonari, Shutterstock