It is a good idea for a cat to wear a collar at all times, with an address tag informing people of its name and address — or at least the telephone number of its owner — in case it gets lost. For safety’s sake, the collar should be partially elasticised, which will prevent the cat choking or being strangled if its collar catches on a branch in the course of a particularly energetic climb up a tree: and a bell will frighten away the birds before the cat gets too near! You may not realise how useful it is for your cat to wear a collar with an identity tag on it until the day that she gets lost. If your cat has a tendency to wander, it is worth insisting on a collar! If you don’t think your cat needs a collar because it never gets lost, think again! A cat may suddenly become lost if it is startled by an unexpected hazard, such as a dog, which can cause it to rush off in the wrong direction.
Flea collars, which are impregnated with an insecticide, are efficient flea killers, but there have been many reports of them causing a reaction in the cat –either a localised inflammation around the neck, or generalised signs of poisoning.
If you use a flea collar, it is a good idea to allow a new collar to ‘air’ for 24 hours before use.
Not everyone insists on their cat wearing a collar. ‘He doesn’t like it,’ `it rubs his fur,’ `it makes a funny mark round his neck,’ – these are some of the excuses that people give. But if your cat goes out, a collar with a tag marked with your name, address and telephone number is the easiest way for someone to identify the cat if it strays off its regular patch. Cats have a good sense of direction, but even so they can get lost. A name tag can take several forms. It may be a plastic panel, an engraved metal identity disc, or a small tube containing your name and address on a rolled-up piece of paper.
BUYING A COLLAR
When you buy a collar, make sure that it is partially elasticised, or it has an elastic panel. Cats are notoriously adventurous, and the elastic will prevent it choking, or being slowly strangled, if its collar becomes caught in a tree. Unfortunately, if this happens, the cat is likely to struggle to get free, which may make things worse, so look for a collar that looks as though it will allow an easy escape. The idea is that the collar will stretch enough for it to go right over the cat’s head, but that the cat cannot get its front leg under the collar – which can cause even more complicated tangles.
Some collars have a reflective panel, which is a good idea for cats that stray on to roads at night. The reflector catches the light of oncoming cars, warning motorists to slow down – which may help to prevent accidents.
Many cat owners are distressed by their cat’s murderous antics with the local birds, particularly if they like to attract birds to the garden with a bird table. If this behaviour worries you and before your cat decimates the entire bird population, it is worth noting that a bell (or several bells) attached to your cat’s collar will act as an early warning signal that your cat is on the prowl. Your cat won’t be pleased at you spoiling his fun in this way, but the birds will be grateful – or, at least, they would be if they could work out quite what had happened!