1. Get relaxed
The first thing to do is take a deep breath and relax, so that your cat will feel relaxed too! If your internal monologue is telling you that you're a bad cat parent for disrupting your cat's peace and quiet with the arrival of a new collar, don't forget that putting a collar and ID tag on your cat is one of the most important things you can do to keep your cat safe from harm.
2. Strip the collar back
To get started, begin by removing everything dangly from the collar. This includes bells, identity tags, charms - anything but the plain band of the collar.
Once your cat has got used to wearing their collar, you can introduce those things gradually. But to start off, let's keep things nice and simple.
3. Open the collar up
Next, open your cat's collar up. For a breakaway collar, you'll do this by pulling the band firmly apart either side of the breakaway buckle.
4. Adjust the collar length
The Perfect Fit
5. Gather some treats
6. First encountersHold the collar up about 30cm away your cat, and let them inspect it.
My cat wasn't interested in the collar at all
If your cat is relaxed in the presence of the collar, that's great news. You can head straight on to the next step.
My cat has given the collar a good sniff / inspection
Perfect - once your cat has given the collar a good inspection, head on to the next step. They may try to claw at or play with the collar. Don't let go of the collar if they do. Just progress smoothly to step 7.
7. Putting your cat's collar onGet into a position where your cat is facing you head on. I know this is a ridiculous thing to say because the chances of a cat staying still for even one second are slim. But try your best!
Success! We've got the collar on
That's great! You're ready to head to the next step.
My cat keeps running away
If your cat keeps running away, you can try asking someone to hold your cat in their arms while you put their collar on (still approaching them from the front). Take your lead from your cat. If they have a mortal fear of being picked up, then picking them up AND introducing a collar is probably not going to go well. On the other hand if they don't mind being held at all, then this might be an easier option!
8. Take stock
Take a moment to judge your cat's reaction to having their new collar on.
How are they feeling?
My cat isn't bothered at all
Great! Give them a tasty treat and head straight on to the next step.
My cat is giving me a death stare!
It's quite common to find yourself on the receiving end of a kitty death stare at this stage. Don't worry, it won't last! It's just your cat telling you how much it hates having to work out how it feels about new things. This is a good time to give your cat their treat and reward them with lots of praise. When their death stare starts to soften, head on to the next step!
My cat is reacting very badly to their collar
It can be unnerving, but it's not unusual for a cat to react to their new collar by running around like a crazy thing, rolling around on the floor, or pawing at their new collar. Let them do all of these things, it's part of the vetting process. Don't rush over in a panic thinking 'I'm the worst cat parent in the world' and take the collar off again. Just supervise them and wait for them to begin to calm down. When that calm starts to descend and you sense that they are teetering on the brink of a decision about whether this collar is going in the 'OK' or 'NOT OK' mental box, it's time to deploy the treats! Give your cat some of the tasty treats you've assembled and watch their mistrust start to melt and soften. 'Oh, this collar thing comes with snacks? Well then...'
9. Check fitGive your cat a little stroke to reassure them that all is well, and take the opportunity to check their collar. Make sure you haven't trapped any of their fur in the buckle when you did it up (if you did, just unclasp it and do it straight back up again, taking care to clear their fur out of the way).
The Perfect Fit
Take care to get the fit right for your cat. Don't leave the collar too loose because you're worried about your cat. A loose collar can be dangerous, as it's much more likely to catch on things in their environment, and could get stuck in their mouth.