At What Age Should a Cat Wear a Collar?

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Make sure that your cat's collar is always size appropriate.
Make sure that your cat's collar is always size appropriate. (Image: Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Although pretty much universal in dogs, collars often elicit annoyed initial reactions in cats. That doesn't mean, however, that they can't help keep your pet happily at home down the line. Collars can be useful even in cats who don't normally ever go outdoors, as handy "just in case" precautions. Start early in getting your sweet kitty acquainted with collar wear.

As Kittens

Younger cats might adjust more easily to the idea of sporting collars. Get your cat familiar with wearing a collar as a wee kitten. Aim for an age range of around 5 months, as suggested by the Feline Advisory Bureau. Kittens are not as set in their ways as adult cats, and often adapt to new things more seamlessly. Just don't be surprised if your pet starts by frantically trying to tug his way out of the collar -- it's a brand new concept to him. Since kittens of 5 months have smaller necks than adult cats, look for a collar that is specifically labeled as being for kitten use. Also note that some collars are equipped with kitten-friendly safety features, such as "quick release." With a simple pulling motion, safety release buckles come apart, allowing kittens to safely get out of dangerous situations -- think tangling.

Strength

It's important to wait until kittens are around 5 months old to ensure that their necks are sturdy enough to serve as foundations for the collars. By the time kittens are this age, their necks should be able to accommodate collars safely.

Monitoring Early Collar Wear

Always carefully and closely monitor your kitten's early collar wear. When you can't keep an eye on him, take it off. Do this repeatedly until you feel that your pet is comfortable enough to wear the collar full time. Be safe and do not rush things. Just because your kitten is old enough to fit in a collar does not mean that he is old enough to wear it all of the time. Also, if your kitten seems to have trouble adjusting to a certain collar even after some time, it just might be time to explore another fit or style.

Right Fit

Appropriate fitting of the collar is vital in cats, especially when they're tiny kittens who are in the process of growing and developing. Collars that are excessively taut are hazardous, as are collars that are too slack. Always make sure that your pet's collar is just secure enough. Test the fitting of the collar routinely. For kittens, if you can fit one or two digits below the collar, nothing more and nothing less, then you -- and your cutie -- should be safe and good to go. For fully mature cats, you should be able to get in two digits.

ID Tags on Collars

As soon as your cat starts wearing a collar, equip it with identification tags -- the true safety measure behind it all. If your cat for any reason makes his way outside of your home, or gets lost in the neighborhood, ID tags can help people who encounter him get him back into your cozy home as soon as possible. You can easily purchase ID tags at veterinary hospitals and pet supplies retailers everywhere, so don't waste any time in providing your cat -- and yourself -- with a little extra peace of mind. Clearly and legibly write or print out your cat's information, including your phone number, address and name. To be on the safe side, provide a backup contact number, as well -- say that of a nearby reliable neighbor. Even if your pet has been microchipped, physical identification tags that others can instantly see cannot hurt.

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