Help! My Cat Hates Their Collar – What Should I Do?
You’ve treated your kitty to a new collar and… they hate it! Fear not, we’re here to help and to let you know that all hope is not lost – even collar-loathing cats and kittens can learn to love their collars.
Watch our YouTube video, or scroll down to read the article!
Why do cats hate collars?
Cats can hate collars based on numerous factors. Most commonly the collar has been introduced too quickly. Cats might also dislike their collar due to the smell or feel of its material – we’ll explain why the right material is important soon!
Related: How to put a collar on your cat
My kitten hates its collar
If you have a kitten that hates its collar it might be that the collar was introduced too quickly, without gradual exposure but it could also be that the collar isn’t specifically designed for kittens. At Supakit, we have a pioneering range of breakaway kitten collars that aren't just adorably small and cute. They're the world's first breakaway cat collars to incorporate a safety buckle that's weight-rated for kittens.
How to choose a collar your cat will love
You might have tried several collars and are convinced that your cat just hates wearing a collar but there are important considerations to make when choosing a collar for your cat. The first is to find a collar specifically designed for cats with a breakaway buckle – these are super important for safety and if your cat’s collar does get snagged, the buckle will disengage and release from your cat’s neck.
Related: How do breakaway cat collars work?
Secondly, select a collar that is soft and lightweight. A super comfy collar that feels like it’s barely there is a great antidote to collar-avoiding cats. If they can’t feel it around their neck, they are less likely to try and remove it.
Additionally (this is a bonus tip) try and find a collar made from natural materials, that smell right to your cat. Here at Supakit, we make our cat collars from natural materials like leather and cork because they smell and feel right to your cat and take on their natural scent quickly, so they can forget their collar is even there.
How to fit a collar
Achieving a snug fit is key to increasing the chances of your cat accepting a collar. It’s common for people to worry about how the collar feels on their cat’s neck and therefore fit it too loose; this could be why your cat hates their new collar – loose collars are irritating. We love to explain this like wearing a watch. A watch that hangs off of your wrist will swing around and get caught on things.
At Supakit, we advise that a collar sits close to your cat’s neck, with only one fingertip space between. This super snug fit is not only most comfortable for your cat but it prevents them from sneaking a paw (or jaw) between the collar and their neck, taking matters into their own hands and popping the collar off.
Related: How to fit your Supakit collar
Additional accessories on your cat’s collar could be another reason they hate their collar so get back to basics and remove them. Although their ID tag and bell may be important, when introducing a collar, it is helpful to introduce each individual element gradually. Once your cat is comfy in their collar you can then introduce the accessories, avoiding oversized or heavy additions that your cat could snag on things as they explore.
Related: Should you put a bell on your cat's collar?
How to reintroduce a collar
If your cat needs to wear a collar but up until this point has refused, you’ll want to reintroduce a collar to them and to do that, you’ll need to train them to love a collar. We promise, it can be done but it helps if you have these two things – rewards and an understanding of their body language.
Find a reward that your cat absolutely LOVES. Not that treat they get frequently, think of the treat that you save for special occasions like their birthday! If your cat isn’t really food motivated, it might well be that the treat just isn’t tempting enough. Praise or their fave toy are great alternatives to food-based rewards.
Traffic light zones
Having an understanding of your cat’s body language is super helpful in aiding training. Being able to identify whether they are in the green, amber or red zone, allows you to adapt your training to best suit them. We can show you what to look for, just download the free Traffic Light guide below!
Related: Traffic light downloadable PDF
With these two things, you are ready to reintroduce a collar to your cat. Remember to keep your sessions short and sweet, ending them on a positive (if you can).
- Choose a time when your cat is relaxed and ready to engage, have the reward and collar handy.
First, we need to find a level of exposure to the collar that doesn’t cause our cats any anxiety at all. It will be unique to each cat, depending on their previous experience with collars - some cats may only be calm and relaxed and in the green zone while the collar is on the other side of the room, others may be chilled when it is closer.
Find that level where they stay happy and relaxed with the collar (the green zone) and give them the reward you’ve chosen.
Repeat the exposure and reward a few times, building that positive association.
If you see any sign and that your cat is in the amber zone, move the collar away from them to a distance that allows them to go back to green. If your cat is in the red zone, stop the training. If your cat has been in the amber or red zones, before the next training sessions, begin at a stage your cat was comfortable with – you always want to work just below their fear threshold. Build up your cat’s exposure to the collar, gradually working it closer to them, making sure each interaction is relaxed and calm. Keep rewarding your cat.
- When your cat is happy to have the collar touch their fur, put it around their neck then remove it right away, and issue their reward.
- Increase the amount of time your cat stays in their collar.
- Once your cat is a happy collar wearer, gradually reintroduce the accessories.
So there you have it, that is how you reintroduce a collar to a cat that hates collars. They can learn to love them but some might just take a little longer than others to be convinced that collars aren’t the enemy!