Hands up if you have a cat. Hands up if your cat goes outside. Now, keep your hand up if your cat is wearing a collar. How many of you are still sitting there with your hands up? Not many, I’d bet.
Well, let’s be honest. Just how do you encourage a cat to keep a collar on?
It’s a delicate subject. There are two main types of collars: the traditional buckle-type collars, or the quick-release clip collars.
Traditionally buckle collars are great. You can adjust them to a size that is both secure around your cat’s neck, making sure that they can’t catch it on something and reverse back out of it, and also make sure that it’s a comfortable fit and not too tight. The downside to a buckle collar is that should your cat get caught on a fence etc, the collar will not give and your kitty could easily asphyxiate. In addition to this, I have also seen cases where cats have (somehow!) managed to force a front leg through their collar, only for the collar to dig its way into the flesh under their leg and around their neck!
Alternatively, there are quick-release collars. These are made using plastic clips that release when a certain amount of pressure is applied. This minimizes the risk of asphyxiation and other collar injuries but increases the likelihood of a determined cat getting their way. (Yes, Charlie. I’m looking at you, young man!)
So what is the solution? How do you train your cat to be accepting of a collar?
First of all, you need to limit the bling and other items that can cause annoyance to your cat-or interest! When teaching your cat that a collar is not the Devil in disguise, remove all trinkets such as bells, name-tags, and other items that might make a noise or seem toy-like. This will help to limit the “annoyance” and “interest” factor of the collar.
Next, whilst you want to be sure that your cat is in no way having their airway or movement compromised, you need to ensure the collar is well-fitted and doesn’t thump against them with each step. This will mean that the collar doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to itself.
Lastly: be persistent! Whilst cats are intelligent, they’re stubborn as mules! So be sure to pop it back on each time that you notice it has come off. This will remind your cat that it’s normal to wear a collar, and that they should leave it alone.
Here you can see a video of the typical reaction you can expect from a cat when faced with a collar for the first time.
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