I'm Too Tiny For My Collar
December 3, 2012 6:14 PM   Subscribe

We just adopted two kittens, YAY! They are from a shelter, so they just got neutered and spayed today, but they are actually too small for the smallest e-collars (which we have). Thus, problems.

Collateral Estoppel (Essie) is female, and Res Judicata (Res) is male. They are delightful and we love them already.

They are about two pounds each, about 2.5 months old. Res is basically fine with or without the e-collar, he tolerates it and doesn't lick without it.

Essie is not tolerating the e-collar; it's way too big on her, so she can put her paw through it, and then her paw either gets stuck (and she freaks out), or she manages to pull off the e-collar. When she's not wearing the e-collar, she wants to lick her incision all the time. We can prevent that by holding her, and we're very happy to hold her all evening, but we can't hold her for several days until it heals, of course.

We called the vet; they had no helpful ideas. I asked about giving her more pain medication but they said no, she's had enough for today.

Does anyone have any ideas for
- how to make Essie more comfortable?
- how to keep the e-collar on her and keep her from hurting herself with it?
- how to keep her from licking if she isn't wearing it?

Thank you!
posted by insectosaurus to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your vet had no helpful ideas? Contact the shelter vet, or contact another vet. Do you really want a vet who has no helpful ideas on what seems to be just the thing they ought to advise on?

They make inflatable collars, which are sold at pet stores. You may have more luck with those.
posted by juniperesque at 6:24 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Inflatable collars? The internet is full of other options/homemade versions of the cone of shame.

(Note: e-collar is Elizabethan collar, not electric shock.)
posted by jeather at 6:25 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is based on my experience with a dwarf rabbit that was spayed and not a kitten. She was too small for the e-collar too. We wrapped the rabbit's midsection in an Ace bandage when we couldn't be there to keep an eye on her. I think she chewed on the bandage but never got through it enough to get to the incision. I am sure that we put some kind of sterile layer over the incision itself first, like an unfolded gauze square? Another option might be to cut the foot part off a sock and use the ankle "tube."
posted by cabingirl at 6:26 PM on December 3, 2012

Best answer: We have recently been on an e-collar binge, so I offer up the "soft e-collar" - basically this is made of that same stuff that reusable grocery bags are typically made out of, with stays on the outside to keep it standing up. It has a drawstring collar.

Our vet had them - I would not be surprised if a local vet or surgical facility near you had them, too, and I'm guessing you could snug up the XS one enough that she would be okay. Ours was $15.

She's so tiny! you could also make her a little tube dress out of a sock and see if that keeps her off it.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:27 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I offer this photo of a bandage-wrapped rabbit.
posted by cabingirl at 6:30 PM on December 3, 2012

Is the e-collar tied with something? There should be a bandage threaded through the loops around the neck. Next, cut it down to size with an exacto knife, just like you'd add another hole to a belt. Just measure the appropriate spot and mimic the notches that already there. Trim the excess length so it isn't uncomfortable.
posted by acidic at 6:33 PM on December 3, 2012

Our little guy hated the collar and the soft one as well. I ended up taking a few days off of work and watching him.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:39 PM on December 3, 2012

Yeah, I should have mentioned: there are all kinds of e-collars - one of the ones we have is hard, flexy plastic and would probably over-balance a tiny kitty like that. We have another one that has loops like acidic describes - the thing w/ the gauze always sort of freaked me out, but you could also loop something like that through a tiny, tiny kitty collar.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:39 PM on December 3, 2012

Response by poster: It absolutely had not occurred to me that I could make an e-collar, or even cut the one we have down to size (I was envisioning duct tape and that seemed uncomfortable). The sock idea is also brilliant; she's just the right size for that to work, I think. Thank you all so much - I will report back!
posted by insectosaurus at 6:40 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here are a few DIY options
- paper plate (awwwww)
- ring attached to collar
- Foam tubing
- Cardboard

How is the ecollar you have being tied onto her neck right now? You can take a roll of gauze and use that instead of whatever tie is on there.
posted by barnone at 6:42 PM on December 3, 2012

For dogs, you can also take a towel, and wrap it around its neck, then keep it closed with tape or a belt. It sounds crazy but it actually works really well. Scroll down for a video demo at the bottom of this page. Maybe that would work for your kitten? But I'd be scared it would be TOO tight....
posted by barnone at 6:44 PM on December 3, 2012

I bet a paper plate and a tube of fabric around her midsection would work for the evening!
posted by barnone at 7:01 PM on December 3, 2012

my cat has a super small head! I always just cut one out of a cereal box when he's needed one. unfold the one you got from the vet and adjust for a template, and then just a piece of scotch tape usually holds it together for a couple of days.
posted by euphoria066 at 7:09 PM on December 3, 2012

When my little dog got fixed, I used a baby onesie and cut a hole for her tail. I removed it when she needed to potty and sewed the arms/neck hole so she couldn't slip out of it. Could you do something similar?
posted by dottiechang at 7:35 PM on December 3, 2012

Oops, I mean that I sewed the arms and neck hole to be a smaller size. Not shut! Just want that to be clear. :P
posted by dottiechang at 7:43 PM on December 3, 2012

Response by poster: A sock is working really well for right now. It turns out that she really, really wanted to groom her whole body, and was much more relaxed once she was able to groom (but not reach the incision). Yay, thank you Metafilter!
posted by insectosaurus at 7:49 PM on December 3, 2012

I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their socks, or why.

(But a nice be-socked kitten photo might help solve this puzzle.)
posted by jeather at 9:00 PM on December 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

Please... I want to see a photo of kitty in a sock.
posted by kjs4 at 9:40 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

nthing photo of sock stuffed with cat!
posted by BlueHorse at 1:14 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your vet spayed a 2.5 month old kitten? Weird. Most vets in my city won't do that until they're 5 months.

Neutering, on the other hand, can be done pretty early. But these days vets use surgical glue, which isn't as irritating as sutures and doesn't need to be removed. My new kitten was neutered the day before we got him, and he never wore a collar. He's fine. Boys have it easier there.
posted by valkyryn at 1:30 AM on December 4, 2012

Response by poster: She's sleeping right now & I don't want to disturb her, but I will post a photo as soon as possible! In the meantime, I give you this; the best way to metafilter.

Regarding the timing of the spay, the we adopted from a city shelter, which has a policy that all adopted animals must be sterilized prior to adoption, no exceptions. So, while it would have been ideal to wait and spay her later, it was not an option.

And juniperesque, along those same lines, it was not actually our vet who I called; the shelter sent the kittens to a nearby vet (their choice) for the surgeries. We have picked out a different vet (better reviews, closer to us), and will be taking the kitties there for full exams in the next couple days.
posted by insectosaurus at 3:37 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your vet spayed a 2.5 month old kitten? Weird. Most vets in my city won't do that until they're 5 months.

Mine had to be done at 12 weeks.

They are aweosme kitties, especially the Nennish Tart kitteh. (or Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson" Kitteh.

I can't help your issue. I've never had an issue. I just punch holes in commercial collars.
posted by Mezentian at 4:57 AM on December 4, 2012

We did our kitties at about that age, they too were litter-mates. We were told to keep them separated. They howled and cried for each other. We figured that stressing them out was worse then any harm they could cause each other with rough play. Then, the colar came off, never to be re-attached. Malcolm actually worked with Eartha to get the collar off. She backed out, he held onto it.

I figured if I supervised that I could keep them both from doing themselves mischief. So we all slept together and throughout the night I heard, *slurp*slurp*slurp*.

Despite all of this, everyone healed up just fine.

So do what makes sense.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:25 AM on December 4, 2012

Response by poster: Kitty in a sock - it's a bit bunched up, but she's not licking the incision, so it's working well enough! She seems to mostly want to sleep (and eat. They are the fastest eaters I have ever seen, ever. I am glad I read that kittens often act like they are starving, or else I would be concerned).
posted by insectosaurus at 8:02 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

When my wife's rats have had to have surgery the vet made a cone collar out of x-ray film. It's pretty hilarious to see a rat wearing but it works out great. Just cut the shape out and then tape it into place. My wife went over the cut edges with athletic tape to avoid skin irritation. The vet might be familiar with this technique and the x-ray film was the perfect material. On another note, your kittens are very cute!
posted by j03 at 9:26 AM on December 4, 2012

Response by poster: Again, I wanted to thank everyone who answered this question - we were so worried that Essie would really hurt herself, and the sock worked beautifully.

We took both kittens to the vet we chose the next day; they actually both were running high temperatures and needed fluids, but are now on the correct medicines, temperatures are back down to normal, and they are more playful and clearly feeling much, much better.

If anyone who is reading this adopts from a shelter - which I still 100% think is the best way to get a pet - please take the pet to a good vet the same day or the next day to make sure there isn't anything the shelter missed.

Bonus photo!
posted by insectosaurus at 1:04 PM on December 6, 2012

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