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Should Cats Wear Collars? Do They Need a Specific Type?

The way we see it, we have two types of people in this world. You’re either an ailurophile or a cynophile. An ailurophile is someone who fancies cats as pets, more than any other animal. A cynophile, on the other hand, is only into dogs. If you purport to love both animals equally, you’re just a pet lover.

People love cats for different reasons, but we love them because they often trigger the release of a neurochemical called oxytocin. Oxytocin is also called the love hormone, and it’s actually good for your health. As per neuroscientists’ findings, it increases your emotional perception, while simultaneously reducing blood pressure and cortisol levels.

The point is, if you ever find us pampering our cats, now you know why—and pampering might sometimes include buying it a collar or two.

The only problem is, according to vets, these collars aren’t always good for the animal’s general health or even their mood.

divider-catclaw1Should Cats Wear Collars?

Like everything else in life, before making up your mind, you have to weigh the pros against the cons. If the pros of wearing a collar outweigh the cons, there’s your answer. But in this case, we think it solely depends on your preference, and what you feel is good for your baby.

For instance, if the cat has always been raised indoors, but lately, it’s been wandering around outside, maybe buying a collar that comes with a tag is not a terrible idea.

person holding a gray cat with collar
Image Credit: Artem Beliaikin, Unsplash

Can a Collar Just be a Cute Accessory?

Yup, it definitely can. Particularly if it comes with those shiny bells that let you know where they are at all times, or what they are up to. With such a collar, you won’t have to panic every minute of every day, thinking someone just stole your baby while you were focused on something else.

cat paw dividerWhy Shouldn’t You Put a Collar on Your Cat?

For starters, there’s the issue of safety. Take an instance where the pet parent never got a breakaway collar (which is a type of collar, by the way), and instead bought one that can only be removed conventionally.

If that cat got stuck in something while they were away, that’s it. It won’t be able to maneuver its way out of that situation, even if it tried. By the time the owners get back, they’ll either find it dead or badly maimed.

Choking is the other reason why so many cat parents should avoid putting collars on their babies. If that fur grows too quickly, your little tiger will have a very hard time breathing. And just so you know, it’s been documented that hypoxia not only affects the feeding habits of animals but also their growth patterns. That’s to say, your cat’s overall health will be subpar at best.

putting a collar on a cat
Image Credit: Patara91, Shutterstock

Do Microchipped Cats Need Collars?

Again, it all comes down to your personal preference. We don’t think they do if the only reason why you’re buying the collar is easy identification. Microchips are more efficient than collars in that department. But if the primary goal is to accessorize the cat, then we say go for it.

The only issue that we have with microchips is how they always force finders to visit animal care centers so that they can identify a lost pet using a scanner. Without that scanner, you’ll never be able to tell who’s the pet owner or where it came from.

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How to Choose the Right Collar in 5 Steps

1. Understanding The Purpose

One of the first things that you’ll realize the minute you walk into a pet store is how diverse these products are. The brands usually offer us a wide range of products because they know every consumer has a specific want or need that they are looking to fulfill.

lynx point tabby cat wearing flower collar
Image Credit: Inga Gedrovicha, Shutterstock
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2. Easy Identification

Are you looking to buy an identification collar? Something to help you easily or quickly find your baby in the event you two get separated at a mall or in the park?

If that’s your reason, you’re justified to get one. We believe microchipping is the best and safest method for cat identification, but if you find visual markers more suitable for the job, why not?

Such collars normally come with conspicuous tags that allow you to add your contact information and anything else that you might deem necessary.

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3. Protecting Other species

We all know cats are predators. And they’ll prey on any small mammal or bird in their vicinity, even if they’ve just eaten. Collars aren’t the best solution for avoiding such cases, but they still help in limiting the number of wild animals being tortured or killed by our feline friends.

The American Bird Conservancy was once concerned about the drastic decline in the overall bird population in Canada and the United States. So, they hired a team of researchers to find out what exactly was going on, and that’s when they discovered predation by domestic cats topped the list as the number-one direct threat to birds.

The numbers were shocking, seeing as it’s estimated that about 2.4 billion birds are killed by outdoor cats every year, in the United States alone. That number almost doubles if you add those in Canada.

It’s easy to dismiss such facts—and even go as far as saying that that number sounds exaggerated—but once you do the math, you’ll find that it all adds up. The number of outdoor cats in the US is estimated to be tens of millions. If each one of them kills a bird on any given day, we’ll be talking about millions of dead birds in a single year.

cat wearing a purple calming collar
Image Credit: MarinCa, Shutterstock
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4. Protection Against Parasites

The flea is the most common feline parasite. And the infestation consequences can be fatal, if not taken care of sooner rather than later. Experts say that the obvious symptoms are constant licking and nibbling, so look out for that.

They usually lead to skin irritation, reddening, miliary dermatitis, or hair loss. And that’s if you’re lucky, as fleas can also transmit tapeworms and several other parasites that prefer cats as hosts.

At the store, you’ll most likely find collars that contain permethrin or organophosphate. Permethrin is a medication that’s applicable in cases where one’s trying to deal with lice or scabies. You could also apply it as an insecticide, to kill parasites such as mosquitoes and fleas.

Organophosphate is also an insecticide, and a chemical compound produced by mixing alcohol with phosphoric acid. We believe that the unification process is called esterification, as it involves combining alcohol with an organic acid to produce an ester and water.

This form of ester is mostly useful in veterinary practice and agriculture, as it’s effective in the eradication of harmful insects.

Cat experts are always against using these chemicals even in small quantities because they can be harmful to the cat in the long haul. But if you’re just planning to use the collar while on a short trip or vacation, that’s okay.

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5. Walking The Cat

We find walking pets therapeutic. It’s definitely beneficial to your mental health, seeing as it helps reduce anxiety or depression. Studies have proven that humans often have this innate instinct to feel or touch other animals, with the hope of forging a bond that makes them feel wanted. So, if you can’t find that from another human, get a cat (if you’re a cat person), buy a collar, and walk it!

Cat wearing a harness on a walk
Photo credit: Cat wearing a harness on a walk by Trougnouf licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0

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3 Types of Cat Collars

1. Breakaway Collars

The breakaway collar is the most preferred collar and the safest. These are sentiments shared by many animal health experts.

A breakaway collar has a buckle, designed to come apart or “break” should you exert a small force. So, if the cat inadvertently worms their way into something dangerous, they’ll be required to just pull the collar a little bit harder for it to unbuckle.

The other unique property of the breakaway collar is the fact that it can be adjusted to “break” when different amounts of pressure are exerted. It has three settings, labeled as heavy, medium, or light pressure. To top that off, the exterior is always reflective to facilitate visibility in low-light situations.

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2. Waterproof Collars

Most of our domesticated species don’t like water. The Abyssinian, Bengal, and Maine Coon are examples of the few breeds that don’t mind being washed from time to time or playing with water. If your cat loves taking a few laps around the pool, this is the collar for you.

Although they do get wet, you’ll never have to worry about them becoming some soggy burden around your baby’s neck. Waterproof cat collars aren’t made using polyester or nylon. The material will either be BioThane or something coated but with similar properties.

cat with red calming collar
Image Credit: Daniel-Rajszczak-Shutterstok
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3. Personalized Collars

We’ve seen cats refuse to wear custom-made identification tags one too many times. It’s not that they don’t like being identified, but because the tags usually make noises that are like nails on a chalkboard—too distracting and very irritating.

If you’ve experienced this issue in the past, collars are the way to go. Specifically, personalized collars. You’ll be able to add whatever information you wish to add to it, and then some.

divider-catclaw1Final Words

Don’t force your cat to wear a collar if they don’t want to. Also, don’t make the mistake of assuming they will instantaneously fall in love with whatever collar you buy him or her.

Give it time to get used to the smell, and the feeling of walking around with something around its neck. You could even train it by offering treats every time it has the collar on. That’s the trick that we’ve always used, and it has never let us down.

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Featured Image Credit: bmf-foto.de, Shutterstock