Article at a glance…
- In my opinion, cat collars are all about safety. Personalized ID collars identify your cat if he or she gets lost. Reflective collars help protect outdoor cats from traffic in the dark.
- Make sure to measure your cat’s neck before investing in a collar, and always choose a breakaway closure.
- Unique designs include high tech GPS collars, seasonal collars, and studded collars for punk kitties!
So, you’ve acquired a cat somehow. One of the first things on your to-do list is letting everyone know he’s yours by putting a collar on him. Maybe you’ve already bought your cat the best cat collar ever but she’s managed to lose/destroy/hide it. So you need a new one. Or perhaps your cat is Instagram famous and you want to add to his already plentiful wardrobe of stylish collars. Whatever your reason, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to share everything I know about choosing the best cat collar for your feline friend.
Features of a good cat collar
Here are all of the points I could think of which are important when choosing a cat collar. We’re lucky now that there are so many pet educational resources online. Our first cat was an outdoor cat and I hadn’t even heard of breakaway collars. Now they’re my first choice for safety.
Breakaway collars for safety
When you pull on a breakaway collar, the plastic buckle opens. This means that if your cat gets his collar caught on a fence or tree, he can pull strongly and release himself. Otherwise the collar can strangle the cat. It does mean that you’ll lose a lot more collars – especially if you have an outdoor cat. But come on, it’s worth it. They’re collars, not Tiffany necklaces. They’re not that expensive. I know I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to one of our pets because of a bad decision I made.
Another option is the elastic safety collar. It has a regular buckle but a short length of elastic which stretches to allow the cat to escape. I haven’t tried this personally, however I feel that the breakaway collars are easier for the cat to release.
The only case where breakaway collars are not advised is when using a clip-on leash to walk the cat. In that instance it’s safer to have a secure collar so kitty can’t escape. You’ll be with him the entire time so you can rescue him if his collar gets caught. That said, a harness specifically designed for walking your cat will be more comfortable.
This should be obvious but make sure the collar fits the cat. It should be comfortable but secure. Not too tight but not so loose that the cat can wriggle out of it. Your cat will let you know if his collar isn’t sitting right. They usually scratch at it and pop it off if it’s a breakaway collar. You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and the cat’s neck, as a guide. Wider collars are usually less comfortable too so choose a narrow width design.
I’m going to be straight-up with you here – my cat Sansa has a seriously chunky neck! That’s why her collar isn’t on her in the picture at the beginning of this post. When she’s wearing it, it can’t be seen because it’s buried in her fur/chub rolls. I think it’s adorable, and she’s a perfectly healthy weight for her breed (British Shorthair), but it’s definitely an important factor consider when choosing a collar.
Since cats grow, both in length and simply getting chubbier, always choose an adjustable collar. This means it can grow with your kitten all the way to adulthood.
Special considerations for outdoor cats
The best cat collar for an outdoor cat will be different to that which suits an indoor cat. In my opinion, safety comes first for outdoor cats while their indoor cousins can afford to be a bit more fashion-focused.
Outdoor and indoor cats should have some form of identification on their collar (indoor cats do escape, unfortunately). An ID tag on the collar lets humans know your pet is not a stray and avoid reporting it to animal control. I prefer a collar with kitty’s ID printed onto the band rather than a tag as the tag can fall off. At a minimum, your cat’s collar should include your name, contact number and the cat’s name. You may also want to include your address. Even if your cat has been micro chipped, this is a necessity. Not everyone who finds a lost kitty will bother to bring him to the vet to have it scanned.
Another important feature in the best cat collar for outdoor cats is a reflective band. This can help let traffic know when he’s crossing the street and help you find him in the dark. You can find collars with lights too (they’re mainly for dogs but this one can be trimmed down to fit your cat).
If you’re a super-protective cat parent (or just curious about what your cat does when you’re not around), a cat collar with GPS locator is an awesome option which has recently become available. They’re like a Fitbit for your pet. It will measure location and activity levels to make sure your pet is getting enough exercise.
Are cat collars with bells cruel?
There’s some controversy as to whether cat collars with bells are cruel. It’s unlikely that a cat bell could reach the decibel level required to damage a cat’s hearing. The guidelines I checked are in reference to human ears but cats and humans have a similar range of hearing (source). That said, I don’t recommend choosing a cat collar with loud bells as this increases the chance of damage.
The bells on my cats’ collars barely make a noise – I only hear them if they’re being boisterous or jumping from a height. This is fine for my purposes. They’re both indoor cats so the only reason I use collars with bells is in case I hear noise in the middle of the night. If I hear the bells too, I knew it’s the cats playing – not someone breaking into my home!
But what about the wildlife?
Some people use a cat collar with a bell to warn birds and prevent outdoor cats from hunting wildlife. It’s supposed to give the bird or mouse a warning that your cat is approaching and allow it to escape. I don’t know how effective this is. Probably less than wildlife-loving owners hope. I’m not sure how well a mouse or bird can pick out a bell from the background noise of nature. If you have an outdoor cat, it will hunt. It’s what they have evolved to do. If it’s something you’re squeamish about, you should keep your cat indoors. In my opinion.
Overall, even if quiet bells are unlikely to do any harm to your cat, I don’t recommend them as there’s a chance your cat will find it annoying. Plus, they often fall off and present a choking hazard. If you have a reason to use them (like me) and your cat doesn’t seem to mind, then go ahead.
Anyway, enough of my rambling. On to my best cat collar reviews.
An Interesting Study on Cat Collars
I have to mention this study, as it’s rare to find scientific research on cat accessories. Published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, four vets looked at various collars. Types of collar included were plastic buckle collars, breakaway plastic buckle safety collars, and elastic stretch safety collars.
558 cats in total were randomly assigned one of the three collar types. They were followed up after six months and it was found that 72.7% of cats were still wearing their collar at the end of the study. The style with the fewest reports of loss was the simple buckle collar. This would be expected since the cat has no way to remove it. 56.3% of the cat owners found their cat tolerated the collar better than they expected. Only 8% reported that their cat didn’t like wearing a collar.
How does this study affect our choice of collar? Overall, it shows us that cats don’t really mind wearing collars. We also learned that just over 1/4 of cats will lose their collars. Non-safety collars are more likely to stay on, however I still won’t recommend them as I’ve already mentioned.
The best cat collars for safety
As I’ve said above, safety should be number one when choosing the best outdoor cat collar. This reflective personalized cat collar from Go Tags fulfills all of the safety criteria I’ve mentioned. Your cat’s identification details are laser engraved onto the band itself so you don’t have to worry about a tag getting lost. You can fit up to 25 characters on the band.
It’s also reflective to help protect your kitty from dangerous traffic. It’s not the most stylish looking accessory but it does come in a lot of colors. Black, blue, pink, red and orange, to be precise. I think the pink is particularly cute! It’s adjustable from 8 to 12 inches and 3/8ths of an inch in width. And of course it’s a breakaway collar. The bell is easily removed if it’s something your cat doesn’t like.
The best reflective cat collar
If you’re looking for the best reflective collar, Rogz has you covered. Not only is this cute printed collar super reflective, it also glows in the dark. It comes in blue, pink and red. It’s adjustable from 8 to 12 inches and is 1/8th of an inch in width. Of course, it has a breakaway plastic buckle like all the collars on my list.
It’s designed with comfort in mind. The edges are rolled and stitched to ensure there are no open ends or sharp edges. The only downside is that it doesn’t include any identification for cat. But not to worry, you can buy an ID tag separately for a very reasonable price.
The best cat tracking collar
GPS technology has come a long way in recent years. Most of us use it daily – I know I’d be lost (literally) without a directions app! Now GPS technology has become available to our pets. Unfortunately it’s still a little clunky. The best device I’ve found – the GPS pet tracker from Whistle – is only recommended for pets 15lbs and above. This is due to its larger size and weight.
It’s not a collar itself. It attaches to your cat’s existing collar. The device’s features, however, are awesome. It connects with your phone via a very sleek app and you can stalk your cat in real time. The GPS pet tracker makes it nearly impossible to lose your pet. It notifies you if your pet leaves a designated “safe area”. And even if they do, you can track their location.
It has coverage throughout the US, although you do need a cellular connection. It’s durable and waterproof – a necessity for adventuring cats! I hope in the future that these sorts of cat GPS trackers will become smaller so that a wider range of pets can use them.
Some fashionable cat collars
When I first got into the world of cat blogging, I was astounded by the number of cats with Instagram and even Twitter accounts. Even if your audience is just family and friends on Facebook, there’s no shame in wanting your cat to look stylish. While I don’t recommend putting a collar on your cat 24/7 just so it looks pretty, it can be fun to put them on for impromptu photo shoots.
Humans have taken to wearing ridiculous Christmas sweaters and Halloween sweaters, so why not inflict this on your cat too? If you don’t want to make your cat feel uncomfortable with an entire costume, a seasonal collar is a cute but subtle alternative. Here’s ones for Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s day.
For a flamboyant look year-round, I love these brightly-colored woven collars from Blueberry Pet. They have an embroidered floral pattern and suit larger cats, adjusting from 9 to 13 inches. The width is a comfortable 3/8ths of an inch. The material is polyester making this collar lightweight and durable as well as stylish.
For the more edgy feline, why not try the classic punk rock studded collar? This design from Angel Pet Supplies is made of real leather and is probably the best cat collar for biker cats. Or should I say, bikers’ cats! It uses a buckle and elastic safety feature rather than the usual breakaway buckle. It adjusts from 6.5 to 8.5 inches so best for more petite felines.
And something a little special
A product which I just have to mention is this adorable cat collar and matching friendship bracelet from Pettsie. Forget about dogs as man’s best friend. Your cat can be your bestie with this set. My cat may not like me, but I can pretend we’re super close by making her wear matching accessories with me.
The design is the epitome of hipster chic – right up my alley. Both the collar and bracelet are made from natural cotton. The cat’s bow tie is gorgeous natural beech. It’s adjustable between 8 and 11 inches for kitty and 5.9 to 9.1 inches for you. The collar’s buckle is a plastic breakaway and it includes a loop for adding a tag or bell.
I hope this article helped you make up your mind on the best cat collar for your feline friend. Have you found some awesome designs or just want to share an adorable photo of your pet modelling his collar? Drop me a comment or tweet, I’d love to hear from you 🙂