Sunday, August 5, 2012

Collar Me Confused (or What Collar is Really Safest for your Cat?)

A funny thing happened to me when viewing a fellow blogger's post on FABULOUS collars available in the UK for kitties.....I began to doubt my choice of collar for my outdoor kitties. Since they were young (that'd be 10 years ago!) I've had them in elastic release collars.  It made sense to me -  they could pull out of the collar backwards and they'd always have the ability to free themselves.  I also would wait til the elastic was threadbare before replacing it, adding to the safety with easy-breakage.  I'd purchased "safety release" (the kind with the plastic pronged release mechanism) collars for my 2 indoor cats when they were young, but it seemed to take too much pressure to release the collar.. it made me nervous. (Indoor kitties are 11 lbs and 9 lbs) I never put collars on them at all....well, I tried several times and we had conniptions extraordinaire, complete with Cirque du Soliel contortions and acrobatics, so since everyone (including outdoor kitties) is microchipped, I gave up.

We don't need no stinkin' collars!!

So here I was with the words "Google cat elastic collar injury" from the blog review stuck in my head.  Had I made the right choice 10 years ago or had I just been lucky?  Where should I go to find out which type of collar is safest?  Yep...the cat boards, where the Raw Diet Fanatics and the Holistic Banshees and the ignorant cat folk collide via cyberspace.  These folks (and I'm included in this!) have really strong opinions about EVERYTHING cat - from ultimate cat litter to colloidal silver (?) to diet.  They seem to have HOARDS of knowledge of everything feline (even though it often contradicts) So I asked these opinionated folks: "What type of collar do you use on your cats: elastic or safety and why did you choose that type?" 

(enter sound of crickets here)

 Not ONE response.  I tried another board (behavior issues).... nothing.  Now these are normally folks  that offend each other with their strong beliefs about right/wrong every day!  Why had they suddenly gone silent??  Is it that no-one knows the answer and we all have fears about making the "wrong choice" in this matter?   So I had to go it alone....

Safety or Quick Release Collar

I went to pet stores and twisted and pulled dozens of safety release collars....then, much to the dismay of Pooter and Ivy, came home and pulled on their elastic safety collars...and pondered and pondered and pondered.  Here is what I came up with:

a) Although an elastic safety collar will allow a cat to back out of a situation where the collar is stuck, a safety collar will allow a cat to either go back OR forward when the collar is stuck.

b) Safety release collars have different levels of "pull" needed to get the collar to breakaway.  This can vary by brand, but also just simply between collars!

c) There are safety release collars that are "adjustable" to the weight of your kitty. I found this type on where I also found they had mixed reviews.

d)  For outdoor kitties they make reflective collars, but 3M reflective collars are twice as reflective as the "regular" ones. Again, I found this type on

e) To my mortification, they still sell collars with no safety release at all, and people are still buying them.

f) If you go to your local Petco, you'll shell out $7-$10 per collar.  If you shop online, you can find the same collars for $5.

g) Tags.... if you want CAT small... you're going to pay. Tags in general run about $7 each, but for tiny tags it's a solid $10 each.
Pooter in his new collar

So I switched Pooter and Ivy's collars to "safety" collars, with some trepidation.  The next evening, Ivy came back without her collar.  Great.  $15 in the hole already in this experiment, BUT it did it's job!  My anxiety about my outdoor cats' safety has officially been lowered.  It's been 2 months now, and no other collars have been lost, but from Ivy's first day mystery experience, I know they work!  And if anyone has any ideas how to get extraordinarily opinionated kitties to accept collars, I'd love to hear it! 


The Island Cats said...

Thanks for this good information. We are indoor cats and we wear collars with tags. We wear the safety collars. They do pop of us when necessary. The other collars we have worn are Beastie Bands...which are stretchy and do pull off easily. But we found they rubbed our furs off easily and gave us bald necks so we stopped wearing them.

cindy said...

've not heard of Beastie Bands, but we have no problem learning from other people's experiences! Thanks Island Cats!!

Phoenix Robinson said...

Hi, dis is Phoenix. I jus wanted to stops by and says Hi. Thankz fur the in-fur-mation. I will tellz furmom fur sure!

Everycat said...

This is an interesting post, the debate about collars (elastic or safety) continues in the UK.

I just wanted to relate that my neighbour's adolescent cat Benji managed to strangle himself with an elastic collar. The collar had been caught on a branch (cut branches on the ground) he'd twisted his head and body 360 degrees trying to escape and the collar and elastic tightened and strangled him.

We can't rely on cats sensibly backing themselves away when they are caught.

I'm wary of the safety collars too.