A not uncommon scenario I see is a cat with a large gash in its axilla (our armpit). The cat has frequently been missing a day or two and the first question I ask is "was it wearing a collar"? 

What generally has happened is that the cat has got a front leg through the collar and the tightly stretched collar has sawn a wound into the axilla over a period until it breaks off! The cats generally go missing until they rid themselves of the burden though sometimes they will turn up after a time with collar still displaced.

I have also seen injuries to the side of a cat’s mouth when they have managed to get their lower jaw under their collar. These injuries often may be due to the collar being put on too loosely.  Collars should be put on fairly tightly with only a small space - two fingers as a rule of thumb!

Recently I have noticed several cats wearing dog collars. The difference being that cat collars always have a release - either a stretchy band or a clasp that readily breaks open.  This is necessary because cats are great climbers and may get their collars tangled in tree branches etc.  Some have been carrying magnets which the owners may not wish to easily lose.  You have to ask yourself though, is it better to replace a collar or magnet or find your cat has hung itself! 

Another problem I occasionally come across is a pet that had a collar fitted when young and it has recently grown or got fat.  In some of the fluffier breeds especially, it may not be noticed that the collar is too tight and rubbed the under lying skin or even cut into it. A particularly severe irritation can occur with some collars; some pets may be allergic to nylon in particular, flea collars can be an irritant (and are considered a very inferior flea control these days).

Lastly, some people like to put a bell on cat's collars to stop them catching birds and other wild creatures. Most agile cats can learn to move in such a way that the bell does not make any noise. If you have a wily cat that is killing wildlife try adding an extra bell and maybe get the cat a toy to work off its frustration!

Collar rules:

* Use cat collars on cats.

* Apply them comfortably but fairly tightly

* Allow for growth in young animals

* To protect wildlife cats generally need two bells

* Check under the collar occasionally for irritations

© Dr Brett Kirkland

Beach Road Vet Clinic

New Zealand



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