This cat is wearing a breakaway cat collar - these cat collars are the safest for cats.

Cat Collars: Pros and Cons Explored


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Cat collars haven’t always been as popular as dog collars and there are several reasons why. A big one is that cats like climbing up to high perches and squeezing through nooks and crannies. This makes collars a potential choking hazard if they snag on something. Like a branch or a kitchen hook for example.

Happily, just as we’ve seen pet technology advance, safe cat collars have too.

So, without further ado, let’s explore what’s new on the catwalk…

Cat collars in NZ

A quick Google search tells us ‘cat collars NZ’ is a popular search for us Kiwis, with many results. So how do we find a collar that looks good and keeps kitty safe at the same time? The simple answer lies in the breakaway collar.

And before you ask, yes, an ‘indoor cat’ needs a safe cat collar just as much as an outdoor cat. You can never be sure when Felix will make like Houdini and escape!

What is a breakaway collar?

The breakaway collar is designed to unclip if pressure is applied so your kitty can safely ‘break away’. This is an important design in the world of pet collars. Because if (or when) the collar gets hooked on something your cat won’t be in danger of choking or entanglement.

Here’s a video that shows how the breakaway collar works:

A breakaway collar by any other name would still provide safety

Some other names for breakaway collars are:

  • Safety collar
  • Snap open collar
  • Quick release collar

The basic principle is a safety mechanism (a ‘cat collar safety release’) that snaps open if it’s pulled on so kitty can be released and continue with her day unharmed.

Of course, the natural drawback is you might end up buying not one but many of these collars. Every time it snags on something and sticks there you could end up losing it for good. Better that then your cat getting harmed or worse. A breakaway collar could easily save your cat’s life.

Thinking of shopping? Here’s a range of NZ breakaway collars from Purr. Meow. Woof:

New Zealand pet collars

Are cat collars safe?

According to Cat Health, only the breakaway collar is safe for cats. Traditional buckle collars like those for dogs should never be used on cats. A buckle collar doesn’t give your cat an escape avenue if it hooks on anything.

A cat collar that’s a kind of go-between for the buckle and the breakaway collar is the stretch collar.

‘Safety stretch cat collars’ have elasticised parts that stretch if they accidentally hook on something to release your cat. However, being elastic, the drawback is that this design is hard to fit on your cat properly.

It can also be a danger to cats. Instead of releasing your cat, it could trap their paw and leg as they try to wrestle free. So, think carefully before investing in so-called safety stretch cat collars.

Cat collar tags

A collar shows a lost cat is someone’s furbaby rather than a stray. Better yet, fit the collar with an ID tag (with your pet’s name and your phone number). This helps speed up the process of being reunited with lost pets.

Of course, microchipping gives your cat a permanent ID, so having a collar ID just helps to cover all bases. Want to know more about chipping? Read about cat microchips and for dog parents also read about the dog microchip.

This breakaway collar is designed to unclip if pressure is applied so your kitty can safely ‘break away’.

Should outdoor cats wear them?

The breakaway collar makes sense if you have an outdoor cat that goes exploring. Firstly your collar serves as identification if they get lost or hurt. Secondly we all know our cats have a penchant for squeezing through small spaces. Squeezing between prickly branches or barbed wire is exactly when a collar can snag.

But your outdoor cat can escape and come home in one piece.

Should indoor cats wear collars?

There’s lots of support for indoor cats to wear collars too. No matter how safe your domain seems, your indoor cat can still get it’s collar snagged. For example on a door handle, or electric cable etc. Then there’s the chance of an indoorsy cat managing to get outdoors (don’t rule this out – all cats are Houdini by nature).

If your indoor feline gets out they won’t be used to traffic. They won’t be familiar with the sights and sounds. They could easily get disoriented, hurt or lost. They’ll be a whole lot safer with a collar and of course, one that won’t snag.

Thinking of taking your indoor cat for special outings? Then read about training your cat to walk on a lead.

Is a cat flea collar safe for cats?

Flea collars keep fleas off your cat’s head and neck but tend not to give your cat full body protection. They’re don’t snap open so they’re a choking hazard if they snag on.

However it’s worth noting that not all vets think flea collars are safe. Some say the chemicals used in flea collars can be dangerous for cats, especially so near to their faces. As a result, the general consensus we’ve read is that flea collars don’t work.

We say always ask your vet for a recommendation when it comes to parasite fixes like tick and flea treatments. And while we’re on the subject of safeguarding their health, read up on pet vaccinations and other routine pet care.

Outdoor cats should wear safety collars that unclip if they snag on branches and other things.

How to fit a cat collar?

Cat collars adjust for comfort and safety. If you can fit one or two fingers under the collar then you’ve got it right. That way you know it’s snug but not tight.

If your cat’s tense when you put the collar on, check again later to see if it still fits correctly. When your cat is anxious they flex their muscles in their neck. This makes their neck puff up in size. Rather check it later in the day when your cat is calm and relaxed.

Want to relax your cat? The try out some catnip (read  why cats love catnip) to get them playing then check the fitting after.

If you have a young growing kitten check their collar often to make sure it’s not too tight. Young cats grow fast. You’ll want the collar size and fit to stay in step with their feline growth spurts. It must never too loose or too tight as both can end up causing accidents.

Ready to welcome a cat/s into your heart? Read our article on one or two kittens – which is best?

Watch this video to see how to fit a cat collar well:

Are bell collars bad for cats?

Many of the native birds, lizards, fish and critters in New Zealand are on the endangered species list. As cat parents, we must help rein in our feline kids’ natural hunting behaviour (even if they don’t like it).

A safe cat collar with a bell is one of the simplest solutions to the problem. Remember, we can’t necessarily change a cat’s urge to hunt, but we can limit the hunting urge. And a bell does this by sounding a tinkly alarm which can give would-be prey the chance to escape.

Some cat owners worry bells are too soft for prey to hear. Or conversely that they’re too loud to keep cats safe from larger predators that may hunt them. But the consensus is bells do work. They help protect our valuable wildlife from our pets. And unfortunately larger predators are just as likely to recognise a cat’s presence, with or without a bell.

However, some cats just can’t manage a bell. It’s too uncomfortable and they simply don’t adjust. Then leave it off for their and your sanity. But look for other ways to curb kitty’s enthusiasm for hunting, like keeping it inside at night. And think about cat toys for safe mental and physical stimulation.

Give your cat added protection with pet insurance

One of the best ways to ensure your fur kid’s long-term safety is a cat insurance policy. Pet insurance reduces the out-of-pocket expense for non-routine vet visits, prescription medication, treatment for accident and illness and more.

If you buy your pet pawlicy online with PD Insurance, you can also get one or more months for free! Why not take 2 minutes to get a quote? Click below to start today.

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