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Safety of cat collars

Calver MC, Adams G, Clark W, et al. Assessing the safety of collars used to attach predation deterrent devices and ID tags to pet cats. Animal Welfare 2013;22:95-105.

Many pet cats are occasional or frequent hunters at some time in their lives. Collar-worn predation deterrents are sometimes used to curtail the predatory ability of cats; these include bells, electronic devices, and even brightly colored material ringing the collar. One drawback to the use of these deterrents is the perception that collars cause significant risk to cats through snagging on objects, or by catching their paws or teeth in the collar. This may reduce the use of ID collars. This study assessed the incidence of mishaps involving cat collars in an Australian suburban setting. The investigators defined collar incidents (snagging), collar injuries (requiring veterinary care) and collar death. They surveyed veterinarians as well as owners.
Their data indicated that collar-associated injuries or deaths are rare. Among veterinarians, they reported one incident in 2.3 years of practice. Owners reported only one collar injury and no deaths for the lifetime of their cats; however, 27% did experience collar incidents. In contrast, 22% reported cats needing treatment following road accidents, 53% reported cats needing treatment for fighting injuries, and 62% had owned cats killed on the road. Fighting and road hazards are far greater threats to the welfare of cats than ID collars. [MK]
See also: Lord LK, Griffin B, Slater MR, et al. Evaluation of collars and microchips for visual and permanent identification of pet cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;237:387-394.