Should You Put a Bell On Your Cat's Collar?

Should You Put a Bell On Your Cat's Collar?

Why do cat collars have bells?

All Supakit breakaway cat collars come with a removable jingle bell - so that you can choose whether or not to put a bell on your cat's collar. So why would you put a bell on your cat's collar?

1. Anti-hunting device: For cats with access to the outdoors, a bell can reduce hunting by warning birds, mammals or reptiles that there is a kitty on the prowl.

2. Locating your cat: A bell can help you locate your cat around the house. Especially when small, cats and kittens can be at risk from being accidentally stepped on, and a bell helps to guard against that. 

Supakit breakaway cat collars

Are cat collars with bells cruel?

You might have heard people saying that wearing a bell can damage a cat's hearing, but thankfully, this isn't the case. Experiments have found that a cat's hearing is unaffected by long-term exposure to sounds of around 80dB (about the volume of a dishwasher or a carwash at 20ft).

By comparison, a cat collar bell has a maximum volume of only 50dB, which because of the way the decibel scale works, is actually 1000x quieter than the 80dB sound. The result is that even loud cat bells will fall into the 'safe zone' for your cat's hearing. 

As for whether your cat will find the sound of its bell annoying - there is lots of evidence to show that just like us, cats soon phase out sounds that are predictable or routine. But if you're still concerned, the best thing to do is to try your cat with a bell and see how they respond. Keep an eye on your cat's body language and behaviour, and if they show any signs of distress you can remove their bell. We tend to find that most cats are surprisingly unfazed by their bells! 

If your cat is new to wearing a collar, we recommend that you leave a bell off their collar at first and then introduce the bell gradually later - see our How to put a collar on your cat guide for more information.

Do cat collar bells stop bird catching

Do cat collar bells stop bird catching?

It's long been thought that a bell on a cat's collar can help to audibly warn birds, mammals and reptiles in the neighbourhood that your cat might be eyeing them up for their next meal. But is this actually true?

For decades, each new scientific study seemed to deliver a new, conflicting answer to this question! But luckily newer, more comprehensive studies have finally delivered an answer - in England at least, a collar bell reduces a cat's mammal and bird kills by 34-50%.

It's not a 100% reduction, but it is enough to make a significant impact on the wildlife in your area, and it's comparable with the two other main anti-hunting collar attachments available: 

The CatBib™ is a collar attachment that “works by gently interfering with the precise timing, and coordination a cat needs for successful bird catching”. It was found in Australian studies to reduce predation on birds by around 50%, mammals by 80% and amphibians and reptiles by a third.

Another option is the BirdsBeSafe® collar cover which is designed to give a visual warning to your cat’s prey. An Australian study tested the collar covers and found that they reduced captures of birds, amphibians and reptiles by 54%. However, they didn’t reduce predation on small mammals.

A shorter study in the USA found an even stronger anti-bird effect (an 87% reduction) and even an anti-mammal effect of up to 50% in the fall, so there are probably differences in how effective all of these methods are depending on the particular wildlife in your area.