It's so nice to be back after a few weeks away from the blog while I've been launching our new range of kitten collars. We've also got a new look for the site and the blog, so it would be wonderful to hear your thoughts and feedback!
In this week's post I wanted to delve into a question that I spent a lot of time researching while I was developing the kitten range. What is the best age to introduce a kitten to wearing a collar?
But there's a bigger question that we should talk about first...
SHOULD KITTENS WEAR COLLARS?
Kittens are such bundles of energy, always exploring, testing boundaries, and learning how the world works. But this enthusiasm and curiosity, coupled with their small size, means that they are especially liable to test the boundaries of your apartment or house and find their sneaky way outside!
Because of this it's absolutely essential to get your kitten microchipped at the earliest opportunity.
However, there's a common misconception that a microchip alone can bring a missing cat or kitten home. The reality is that microchips only really come into their own once your missing kitten has found its way to a vets where it can get its microchip scanned. Before it can find its way there, you're counting on a good samaritan finding your wandering kitty and feeling confident enough to scoop it up and take it into a vet.
This is where collars and ID tags come in. First of all, they show people that your kitten has a loving home and isn't a stray - alerting them to the fact that it probably shouldn't be roaming the streets at such a young age. But they also let people check the identity of your kitten (e.g. against a missing poster), and contact you direct to confirm that it's the right cat. That way they can act in confidence to either take your kitten into the vets or return it to you direct. It's a wonderful way to bridge the so-called 'microchip gap'.
IS IT SAFE TO PUT A COLLAR ON A KITTEN?
Experts agree that putting a collar and ID tag on a kitten increases the chances of them making it home if they are ever lost. But is it safe to do so?
The answer is 'yes' - but you absolutely must make sure that you use a well-fitting kitten-specific breakaway collar. Here's what you need to look for when you shop...
- A collar with a band that will fit your kitten's neck snugly. Ideally this should be an adjustable band because your kitten will grow rapidly and you want to be able to make sure it grows with them.
- A kitten-specific breakaway buckle. All leading veterinarians recommend breakaway safety buckles (as opposed to fixed buckles or elastic) as the safest option for all cats. But if you're buying for a kitten it's really important that you check the buckle is specially designed for kittens. Look for collars with buckles that will break apart under a kitten - not adult - weight.
- A lightweight collar that isn't bulky. Your kitten is small and light, so their collar should be too. Avoid large bulky collars (e.g. those with a traditional belt buckle design which adds bulk in the front).
WHAT AGE SHOULD YOU PUT A COLLAR ON YOUR KITTEN?
Now this is a really good question! The answer is that the minimum age is actually a minimum weight.
You need to wait until your kitten is heavy enough to break the safety buckle of the collar that you've chosen. For instance, our Supakit kitten collars have a weight limit of 1kg / 2.2lbs, so you need to wait until your kitten is that weight or older. Based on average growth charts, most kittens will reach this weight by their 8th week of life. The Humane Society recommend that kittens aren't taken away from their mothers until at least this age, so it's likely that by the time you bring your kitten home it will be heavy enough to wear a Supakit collar.
However, other brands will vary - so do make sure you check or ask the manufacturer about their collar breaking weight!
CAN'T I JUST USE AN ADULT COLLAR?
I know it's an inconvenience to buy something specially for your kitten if you have an adult collar already knocking around. But I really advise against putting an adult collar on your kitten.
Why? Well, most adult cat collars have safety buckles that are designed to break under an adult cat's weight. If you put one of these collars on your little kitten, they will be too light to activate the breakaway buckle if they get into difficulty and get caught.
Added to this, it's likely that an adult collar won't fit your kitten's smaller neck very well. If the collar is loose and hangs away from their neck, there is a high risk that they will get it caught in their mouth, which is very unsafe and to be avoided at all costs.
While I've been researching I've noticed that some unscrupulous suppliers state that their breakaway collars are suitable for cats and kittens of all ages, but their collars actually have adult-weight breakaway buckles, which would not 'break away' under the weight of your kitten. Do beware and make sure you choose a supplier that specifies the breaking weight of their breakaway buckle.
Is there anything special you should be aware of when putting a collar on your kitten?
The biggest thing is the speed with which they grow! They will double in size several times over the next 12 months, so don't forget to check the fit of their collar regularly (I'd suggest every day when you are stroking them) and adjust accordingly. Treasure those kitten months, you'll be amazed at how quickly they transform into confident teenagers and then fully formed adult cats in front of your eyes!
It's also worth mentioning that the younger your kitten is when it starts wearing a collar, the easier the introduction will be. When they're young they're like little sponges, working out how the world works, and a collar and tag will just fit neatly into that. If your kitten has already grown, don't despair! You haven't missed the boat - just take a look at our guide to introducing cats to collars and they'll be wearing their collar happily in no time at all.
Thanks ever so much for reading - I really hope this post has been helpful. If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to get in touch - either in the comments below or over on Facebook or Instagram (both @supakitstore).