Cat Collars – Types of Collars & Cat Collar Safety

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  • Cat collars come in a vast array of styles from plain to fancy. They can serve multiple purposes depending on the type. This article will explain the different types of collars you can use on your cat.

    Safety (breakaway) collars

    Cats are at risk of strangulation if they become snagged on something (for example a tree branch). There are two types of collars available for cats.

    The first (and most common) has an elasticated strip that stretches to allow your cat to slip out should it become snagged. Then there are the cat safety collars.

    Safety collars are the safest type of collar. They are designed to break enough pressure is applied, therefore greatly reducing the chance of choking. The safety collars are the best type to use on your cat.

    Flea collars

    There are many different types of flea collar on the market. Some are insecticide only and work by killing adult fleas on the cat. Other flea collars contain IGR’s to kill the eggs and larvae.

    Flea collars often only kill fleas on the cat’s head and neck, but fleas further down the body survive.

    Some cats can develop a rash from the chemicals in the flea collar. This is known as flea collar dermatitis or flea collar rash. If your cat develops a rash from the flea collar, it should be removed immediately and an alternative flea control method should be used in future.

    Decorated collars

    Decorated collars add a bit of bling. There are literally hundreds of different styles available. If this is the type of collar that appeals to you, make sure it has an elasticated strip that will enable your cat to wriggle out of the collar should it become snagged on something.

    Magnetic collars

    These collars have a magnet attached which is used in conjunction with a cat flap. The purpose is to allow your cat entry into your house but not neighbourhood cats or wild animals.

    Reflective cat collars

    If your cat is outside at night, the reflective collar will glow when it is exposed to light (such as car headlights), which makes it easier for car drivers to see your cat.

    Identification tags for collars

    Tags come in various shapes and sizes including plain disks, barrels that contain your cat’s information on a slip of paper and fancy tags in different shapes such as love hearts and bones. Most pet shops and supermarkets sell ID tags for a few dollars. The disadvantages are that they can easily fall off and as such are not permanent. Use identification tags in conjunction with a microchip, which is a permanent means of cat identification. A small microchip the size of a grain of rice is inserted under the skin by either your veterinarian or an authorised implanter.

    With any type of identification, it is important to keep the information up to date. So, if you change phone numbers and or address, make sure you change your cat’s ID tag and microchip details with the relevant registrar.

    GPS collars

    A new player to the market, the GPS collar can help cat owners keep track of their cat when outdoors. Prices start from around $100.

    Bells for collars

    The purpose of bells attached to collars is to alert wildlife that your cat is near. The usefulness of bells is debated, many people believe bells serve little purpose as cats can learn how to move more stealthily, preventing the bell from making a sound.

    A fact sheet put out by the Mammal Society but unfortunately no longer available on their website showed that putting bells on cats does not limit their hunting ability, in fact, belled cats in one particular study caught more wildlife than their unbelled equivalents. Some reasons given were that belled cats learn to move even more stealthily, the bells are not loud enough to alert wildlife of danger anyway, and inertia holds the clanger stationary and therefore silent when the cat makes the final attacking leap. At least two other studies have highlighted that the belling of cats has no effect on a number of birds caught. “The efficiency of fitting cats with bells is contentious. Barrette (1998), found that belling of cats has no significant effect on the amount of prey caught. *

    Collar safety

    Never use collars designed for dogs on your cat. They don’t have the safety clasp or elastic strip and can pose a danger if your cat gets caught on a tree branch.

    Kittens under 6 months of age should not wear a collar.

    You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and the neck.


    • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

      Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio