How to Get a Cat to Wear a Collar – Catmart
How to Get a Cat to Wear a Collar
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How to Get a Cat to Wear a Collar

Collars seem like a vital piece of kit for any cat, and indeed, any household pet. But if your cat has never worn one before it might wonder what a cat collar even is!

How can you make a cat wear a collar for the first time? Let your cat get used to it by sniffing it before you put it on them. Pick a time of day when your cat is inactive and tired so that it won’t fight you off. Once it’s on, act normally and reassure your cat with affection and treats. Make sure you pick the right size cat collar for the job.

The most important rule? Never lose your cool. Cats don’t learn from you shouting at or punishing them. So, stay positive throughout this difficult process!

How to Get a Cat to Wear a Collar

If you have ever tried to fit a cat collar and been successful in the first attempt – congratulations! – this is a difficult task to fulfill.

Most cats don’t like wearing things around their neck. And when cats don’t want you to do something, well… They won’t let you do it. That’s basic cat behavior.

They will run in circles, paw their necks, and scratch away at it until it comes off. And putting on cat collars can be just as frustrating for the owners as it can be for the cat. But sometimes wearing collars, like a collar for cat fleas, is necessary. Despite that, research suggests not enough owners are actually using them. Today, we will discuss more about the importance of a flea collar. We will also discuss how to get a cat to wear a collar without a huge fight.

Types of Cat Collar

Before we talk more about how to get a cat to wear a cat collar, let’s first talk a little bit about different types of collars you might need your cat to wear:

Cat Identification Collars

cat collar
That’s not the sort of cat collar we had in mind. Image from Wikimedia

While you don’t have to have an identification collar for your cat, they are one of a few essential cat products. An identification collar will have a small tag that includes your cat’s name, address, and a telephone number where you can be reached. Should your cat ever get loose, anyone who finds it can use this collar to ensure that the cat is safely returned home. Of course, any time your information changes, it is also important to change the information on your cat collar. Having an identification collar will greatly increase the likelihood of your cat being returned home safely if it is ever lost.

Cat Flea Collar

As you have probably already guessed, a flea collar is designed to protect your cat from fleas. These collars work by emitting a toxic gas that is known to repel fleas. The gas is released and dissolved into your cats skin.  Eventually it will spread through the fatty layers of your cat’s body. In return, any fleas that have made home within your cats fur die.

Unfortunately, not all flea collars for cats are made equal. Store bought flea collars are not as strong. In return, they generally only kill fleas that migrate towards the neck area. In addition, some store-bought flea collars can be toxic to the cat itself. This is especially true if the cat licks or bites the collar. With that being said, safer flea collars with less toxic chemicals can be purchased. These are generally only available through a veterinarian prescription. Other options for flea prevention are available (tablets, spray-ons, etc.), but flea collars remain one of the most popular options due to the low cost.

Decorative Collars

We all love to play dress up with our animals, and many cat owners like to do this by giving their cat a decorative collar. There are thousands of decorative collars that you can find online, in stores, or even have custom made. They are designed to give your cat a little “bling”.

Magnetic Collars

Magnetic collars are used in conjunction with a magnetic cat flap. This is a flap that is installed in your doorway and used as a cat door. The idea here is to provide your cat with an entrance and exit to and from your house. The goal is to let your cat in without allowing other cats from the neighbourhood in. In other words, the magnetic collar acts as a “key” to the cat door.

Reflective Collars

These collars come in especially handy if your cat is ever outdoors at nighttime. When exposed to light, reflective collars will glow, making it easier for cars to see your cat. In return, the collar helps to keep your cat safer during night hours.

GPS Cat Collars

If your cat has a tendency to wander, a GPS cat collar can help you to keep track of where they are. While they are relatively new to the market, this type of cat collar is starting to become more and more popular, especially for owners who have outdoor cats.

Safety Collars

cat collar
A safety cat collar reduces the chances of your cat being injured. Image from Pexels

Sometimes referred to as “breakaway” collars, safety collars are, as you may have guessed, designed with a built in safety feature. One of the biggest concerns with cat collars is the fact that they could get stuck on something and end up with your cat choking. But safety collars are designed to prevent this from happening.

Instead, they allow your cat to twist and slide it’s way out of the collar if necessary. Safety collars may have a breakaway buckle, or may be designed with a stretchy elastic material. In terms of safety, we recommend using this type of collar whenever possible. Always look for a cat flea collar, identification collar, or other type of collar with this feature built in.

If your cat doesn’t like her collar, you can always choose a new one. Here are some great deals we managed to find just from a brief search:

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So, as you can see, there are plenty of different kinds of cat collar. Some of them are great ideas, others less so (and if you’d like to know which is the best, check out our cat product reviews here). But if it’s so much of a hassle to get them to wear one, why should we bother?

Why Do Cats Wear Collars?

  • For identification purposes. If your cat should ever get away on you, an ID tag can help other people return the cat to you safely.
  • For safety purposes. GPS collars, reflective collars, and ID collars are all designed to keep your cat safe when they venture out of the house.
  • To prevent fleas. There is nothing worse than when a cat brings fleas into your home. Fleas can make life unpleasant for both you and your cat. With a cat flea collar, you can kill any flea that comes into contact with your cat’s body. With that being said, make sure your flea collar is veterinarian approved. This will  prevent causing any harm to your cat.

So Why do Cats Hate Collars?

Before continuing on to learn how to get a cat to wear a collar, we first want to touch base why they hate them in the first place. To answer this question, we would like to pose a question to you. Would you like to wear a collar around your neck 24/7? Probably not. Collars aren’t always comfortable, and unless you train your cat from birth to wear one, they might be quite irritating. And that is the first reason that cat’s hate cat collars.

In addition, most people put on their cat’s collar way too loose or way too tight. A collar that is too tight can feel restrictive and can lead the cat to have a difficult time breathing. A collar that is too lose can rub up against your cat’s neck, causing friction and irritation.

In regards to a cat flea collar, these can sometimes cause reactions as well. Many cats can have reactions to store bought flea collars. This can cause both irritation and itchiness. Again, this problem can often be resolved by ensuring that your flea medication is veterinarian prescribed or approved.

Luckily, many of the reasons that cats hate flea collars can be resolved. By learning how to put on a cat collar properly, you can avoid many of the annoyances and irritations it may cause.

How To Put A Collar On A Cat

In order for your cat to accept it’s new collar, you need to strike a good balance between too loose and too tight. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to fit 1-2 fingers underneath your cat’s collar. If you can’t comfortably fit one to two fingers, your collar is too tight. If you can fit more, it is too loose.

Keep in mind that your cat may be tense the first time you apply the collar. And if their neck muscles are tense, the collar may actually end up being too loose once they finally relax. Be sure to check your cats collar again once they have calmed down.

Also keep in mind that kittens will quickly grow into cats. You should double check the fit of your cat collar at least once a week to ensure that it is still safe to wear.

How to Get a Cat to Wear a Cat Collar

Cat collars can be difficult to put on, especially if you have an untrained cat that doesn’t like them. But when it comes to things like a cat flea collar, sometimes it is just necessary. So how can you win the battle between your cat and it’s collar? Here are a few tips to help you put a flea collar on your cat without a huge fuss:

1) Choose your time of day wisely.

There are some times of the day when your cat is more active, and other times when it is more laid back. Try to choose a time when you cat is more laid back to put on its new cat collar. If you know your cat is wildly active at night, choose a time during the day to put the collar on. Alternatively, if you know your cat is more active during the day, choose a time a night when your cat is more sleepy to put the collar on for the first  time.

If this doesn’t seem to work, try putting on the cat collar when your friend is distracted with something else. This could be while your cat is playing, or while your cat is eating food. Sometimes a good distraction is all you need to take your cat’s mind off of it’s new collar.

2) Let your cat investigate the collar.

When learning how to get a cat to wear a collar, it’s important that you don’t just jump right in. Putting cat collars on without forewarning is just asking for disaster. Instead, let your cat warm up to the collar. Allow them to investigate the collar on the floor. Let them paw and sniff at it if they want to.

To make the collar more attractive to the cat, add your own scent. You can do this by spraying it with perfume/cologne that you often wear. Alternatively, you can  simply rub the collar on your clothes or bedsheets. If you like, you can apply the cat’s own scent to the collar by rubbing some of it’s fur on it. This is especially important when wearing something like a cat flea collar that may have other scents already on it that may stray your cat away.

It’s important that you don’t rush the investigation process. Some cats will warm up to collars more quickly than others. Allow your cat to warm up to the collar on it’s own time. If necessary, introduce your cat to it’s collar a few times each day for a week or two. You may need to make the introduction several times before actually putting the collar around it’s neck.

3) Reassure your cat.

Like people, sometimes animals need reassurance. And though cats are often very independent, they sometimes need reassurance too. When putting a collar on your cat, be sure to give your cat plenty of love and affection. Speak calmly, and remain calm – animals feed off of our energy. If you reassure your cat but they still seem anxious, let them relax and try again in a few minutes.

4) Integrate your cat.

You should never put a collar on your cat and let them run with it. Integrate in. Aim for a few minutes at a time. As your cat becomes more comfortable, you can start to extend the amount of time you leave the collar on. Remember, cats should be adapted to cat collars at their own pace – not at yours.

5) Give treats.

cat collar
With the right approach, you can persuade your pet to wear a cat collar without scenes like this! Image from Wikimedia

When putting on a cat flea collar, you want to make sure you reward your cat. Anytime your cat keeps the collar on without trying to paw it off, give them a treat. This is called conditioning. Soon your cat will associate their good behaviour with reward. Eventually, they will just start doing the behaviour on their own – no treat required.

When giving treats, remember that you only want to reward the behaviours that you are looking for. Do not reward your cat if they start to paw at or bite their collar. They may think that you are rewarding them for doing so.

6) Check the sizing.

If your cat’s collar is too tight, they won’t want to wear it because it will be constricting. If your cat’s collar is too loose, they won’t want to wear it because it’s irritating. To ensure your cats comfort, triple check the sizing. Remember, you should be able to fit 1-2 fingers in the collar – no more.

When asking how to get a cat to wear a collar, remember that patience and persistence are key. Some cats take longer to adapt to collars than others. But if you can remain patient and persistent, you will eventually be able to make your cat more comfortable with their flea collar, or any other type of collar you want them to wear.

Are Cat Collars Safe?

The answer to this question is yes and no. If not used with precaution, cat collars can be hazardous. Not only can your cat catch their collar on something, but they can also try to bite it off. When this happens, their jaw can actually become stuck in the collar.

Having said that, if you take the proper precautions, cat collars are completely safe. It’s all about patience and monitoring.  And when put on properly, cat collars can be life savers. Here are some tips for safely using a cat collar:

1) Always check the sizing of a cat collar.

We spoke a little bit about this above, but we will emphasize the importance of sizing once again. This is the single most important thing that you can do if you want to protect your cat’s safety. If the collar is too loose, it could easily become caught on something and create a choking hazard. If the collar is too tight, it becomes a choking hazard in itself. Follow the two finger rule when sizing the collar. And don’t forget to check it regularly. Anytime your cat loses or gains weight, the collar will need to be resized. To be extra safe, check sizing at least once a week.

2) Observe your cat’s behavior.

Until you are certain that your cat is completely comfortable wearing their flea collar, never leave them unattended. At first glance your cat may seem okay with the collar, but something as little as eating, playing, or moving a certain way could trigger a reaction. Monitor your cat regularly when first adapting them into a collar. Never leave them on their own until you are 100% sure that they will not try to get it off themselves.

3) Choose the right cat flea collar.

Choking isn’t the only hazard that is presented with cat collars. If you choose a low-quality flea collar, you could be putting your cat at risk. Not only can certain flea collars for cats release chemicals into your cat’s body, but if your cat tries to bite it off, these chemicals could go straight into their system.  In some cases, this could make them very sick. As such, always check with your veterinarian before putting any flea collars on your cat.

4) Test the buckle/safety features.

Before we talked above how to get a cat to wear a collar, we also spoke a little bit about the different types of collars. When it comes to cat collars, you can choose ones with breakaway buckles, or ones with different safety features. But regardless of which type you choose, you should always test them first. If you have a breakaway collar, how easy is it to actually break away? If you have an elastic collar, how much stretching does it actually do? Double check the feature of any collar to ensure that your cat can safely squirm out of it if necessary.

5) Avoid hanging tags.

Hanging tags produce an extra and unnecessary hazard. If at all possible, avoid them. Opt for a tag that is attached, or that can clip on.

So there you have it, you now know how to get a cat to wear a collar – safely. Yes, there are risks that come along with wearing a flea collar and other types of cat collars, but sometimes the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. When worn properly, a cat collar can save your cat’s life, or at the very least ensure that they return home safely to you each night.

Hi! My name is Jamie Fallon. I run Catmart, an online cat health and cat behavior resource. If I'm not sat in front of my PC—and I usually am—then I'm either spending time with my cats or my other half... Whoever jumps on me or asks me for food first!

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