We recently covered the possible dangers of dog collars, but what about the cats in the family? Cats, too, can be injured or killed if they wear a collar; on the other hand, just like dogs, cats could get lost and need to rely on identification tags to find their way home. So what’s the right choice for your cat? That depends largely on its lifestyle.
Indoor Cats and Collars
If your cat lives exclusively indoors and is microchipped, it probably does not need a collar. The only exception might be if you have recently moved and know that your cat is the type to attempt to dash out the door and look for its former home. In this circumstance, ID tags with the correct (new) address and phone number might be worth the risk of a strangulation accident that comes with collars. If a neighbor sees a new cat without a collar in the neighborhood, they may assume it’s a stray, but if they discover a lost cat with a collar they’re more likely to try to return it to its home.
Incidentally, I feel that an indoor lifestyle is the best choice for all cats. Cats are pets, not wild animals– it is the owner’s responsibility to provide for their needs, from food to entertainment, indoors. Cats that go outside can be eaten by predators, hit by cars, exposed to disease, stolen, or could become trapped away from home. In addition, outdoor cats hunt native birds and rodents, potentially decimating fragile populations.
Indoor/Outdoor and Outdoor Only Cats
While, as stated above, I disapprove of keeping cats outdoors, if you simply must have an indoor/outdoor or an outdoor only cat, the collar question becomes a little more difficult. It’s a must to microchip any dog or cat, but in the case of cats, strays and feral individuals are much more common than are stray or feral dogs. Collars are widely recognized as a sign that a cat is owned. In many situations, it’s to your and your cat’s advantage for it to wear a breakaway collar with ID tags if it goes outside.
For example, if your cat goes begging at a neighbor’s door without wearing a collar, the well-meaning neighbor just might bring it inside for a meal and find a good home for it– all without thinking to have it scanned for a microchip! Or, if a driver hits and kills your cat, they’re much more likely to go to the trouble of calling a number found on its collar than to take a dead cat to a vet to check for a microchip in order to notify the owner. I apologize for the morbid image, but if you choose to let your cat outside, that’s not an unlikely scenario.
My choice for a cat that must go outdoors would be to have it microchipped and have it wear a breakaway collar with ID tags. Testing the breakaway feature is a must. It’s a thousand times better to have a collar that breaks away easily and have to replace it several times than to have a collar that doesn’t break away. You can’t replace your cat’s neck!