Cats and collars
Information Sourced: http://www.fabcats.org/owners/safety/collars/info.html
Does your cat need a collar?
The first thing to consider is whether your cat really needs to wear a collar. Some people need to attach magnetic or electronic keys to a collar in order to give the cat access through the cat flap. Others wish to have some form of visual identification (rather than just microchipping) in case the cat becomes lost or run over, or just to make sure that the neighbourhood knows the cat is owned. These are all acceptable reasons for wanting a cat to wear a collar.
However, wearing a collar for the sake of ornamentation or it could be argued, just for flea control when there are other very effective methods available, should be considered very carefully.
There are potential dangers and few merits. Advice on using a collar falls into two categories – choosing and fitting.
Choosing a collar
If you are going to use a collar which has an elastic insert check to see how much ‘give' there is. Some have very short bits of elastic which only allow it to stretch a small amount — enough to get a leg stuck through but not to get it out. Some of the all-elastic collars do stretch a long way but may still pose a danger if they get caught on branches, etc. Elastic collars are not recommended for Safety!!
Please read Fudge's story below which is a common danger in the cat rescue world!
Check the quality of the collar – there should be no sharp edges, stitching should not unravel and the buckle should be firm and not sharp.
Flea control can be achieved in many other ways other than using a collar – veterinary only (not shop brought) `spot-on' products are very effective and safe to use. Flea collars are often left on long after the flea control chemicals have ceased to function. Owners reported hair loss and skin reaction – Flea collars are not recommend.
There are few, if any, reports of problems with 'snap open' collars. These have a plastic buckle which snaps together to close it. If sufficient pressure is put on the collar, such as would happen if the cat gets it caught in something or if it gets its leg caught through, it should simply snap open and release the collar and the cat. Check how easily these buckles open – some are firmer than others. One suggestion is to hang a bag of sugar on the collar and see if it opens.
Problems arise because collars are either too loose or too tight. Collars do actually need to be quite firmly fitted – you should only be able to get 1-2 fingers underneath. If too loose then the cat can gets its leg through. Of course if the collar is elasticated this is difficult to measure!
Likewise it is very important to check the collar fitting if it is on a cat which is still growing. There are problems putting collars on kittens because they are small and very good at turning themselves inside out to get the collar off. They also get themselves into rather dangerous situations in general and can get caught up by the collar. It is probably wise to get kittens used to wearing collars at an early age (about 5 months) but to do so when the kitten can be supervised. It can be removed when the kitten is not being watched. The kitten will then be used to the collar when it is put on on a more permanent basis when it goes outdoors.
Bells and bits
Bells, discs and other bits hanging from the collar can also be hazardous – the cat can either become caught on something by one of these attachments or get claws caught in the bell. One owner's cat had become caught in the holes on a storage heater when its disc became twisted in the slot and it could not escape – luckily the heater was not on. Have a look at the type of bell on the collar – decide whether you actually need it there (if you are hoping it will scare away birds then it needs to have a good loud tinkle sound) and if it is the type with large grooves which do not taper and so cannot trap a claw.
Many cat owners are also bird lovers and would like to be able to protect their feathered visitors to the garden. A recent RSPB study found that cats wearing a bell on the collar caught 34 per cent fewer mammals and 41 per cent fewer birds. The RSPB did contact FAB, RSPCA and CP about the choice of the collar in their research and they used two collars, both of the 'snap open' variety. These were the Safe Cat Collar from Coastal Products – made by Highcraft and the Reflective Paw Print collar from Ancol Pet Products.
There will always be a demand for cat collars so while in the ideal world we might feel that cats are better off without them, being able to advise on the best type will allow those who need to use a collar to choose and fit properly the safest available. Collar safety The dangers of cats wearing unsuitable collars are graphically illustrated by the story of Fudge, an entire tom stray.
The case of Fudge
Fudge was being fed by a kind stranger who called in her local Cats Protection branch when she noticed that his front leg was caught in the collar. She was unable to touch Fudge or to catch him and it took hours of patience for Kath Cooney of Cats Protection to finally trap him and take him for treatment. When Fudge was examined the full horrific extent of his injuries became apparent. The collar had cut deeply into his body and the wound was filled with pus and dirt. Kath believes that if he had not received regular food he would have been too weak to fight off flies, which could have resulted in even worse infection or fly strike.
The collar was cut off and Fudge was given a long course of antibiotics. Although the wound finally healed well, it took many weeks of care and attention from Kath and the vet. Thankfully, Fudge’s story has a happy ending as he was neutered and then rehomed with a caring family who adore him. He is now "happy, playful, purring and contented" according to Kath, who was keen for his story to be featured so that all cat owners are aware of the potential problems of cat collars.
Fudge’s story is a salutary warning to all cat owners. In an ideal world, cats would not wear collars but it is clear that in some cases this is simply not practical. Sometimes collars are required for a cat to operate a cat flap, or for visual identification purposes (in addition to a microchip). But putting a collar onto a cat purely for ornamental purposes or for flea control is something that should be considered very carefully as there are few merits and a number of potential hazards.
Information Sourced: http://www.fabcats.org/owners/safety/collars/info.html Purrs recommends - The only collars (if collars are really needed) should be the safety `snap open' collars. These are relatively new products which have a plastic buckle which snaps together to close it.
NOTE! - Please check any collar including Safety snap open collars that they do not tighten on their own if the bell and bell bar is removed. The Bell bar on some collars keeps the size of the collar so if the bell bar is removed and the overlap part of the collar is pulled, the inner part around the cats neck may tighten!
The information is the opinion of the writer in the link to the website provided and is not a substitute for veterinary/professional advice.
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