This cat can't be collared
June 21, 2018 3:25 AM   Subscribe

My cat Lev is a fiend when it comes to collars. It's not even that he seems to mind wearing them; he just goes out and then comes back without them. When he's out on Cat Business I think he spends a lot of time crawling between branches and skulking in thorn bushes; he can lose collars within days. I need to find a collar that strikes the right balance between being too easy to release (meaning I have to buy new collars and tags every couple of weeks) and too hard to release (meaning he could get trapped and not be able to extricate himself). I don't know how to make sure I've got such a collar. Note: I am in the UK, meaning that it's usual for cats to roam outdoors, and also that I prefer UK vendors.

At the moment he doesn't even have a collar, because he was losing them so often that it didn't seem worth it; I can get the collars themselves in bulk, but tags still cost quite a bit, and the cheaper collars come off even easier. I would prefer it for him to have one, though; I don't want people thinking he's been abandoned. HE IS MICROCHIPPED of course but I'd rather have an additional method of ID that's more obvious.

More pictures. I love him despite his collar-losing ways.
posted by Acheman to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Buy some elastic and the fabric tags you put in clothing for kids. Very cheap.
posted by jeather at 3:53 AM on June 21, 2018

Response by poster: Quick note: my understanding is that elasticated collars are far more likely to result in accidents, as the cat can try to get it off and end up with the collar stuck around its leg or jaw. If anyone knows a way to make them safer, I'm all ears though.
posted by Acheman at 4:09 AM on June 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

Honestly, all the rescue orgs I know (but I'm in France) no longer recommend collars at all. If your cat has a microchip, that's great. Here they also used to do ID tattoos (inside an ear) but don't any more; if that's still available in the UK it's good as well since it's a visible clue.

I remember a few years ago still seeing a lot of people who would critique someone who didn't put a collar on their roaming cat; the last year or two it's entirely switched over to people critiquing those who do put collars on their roaming cats. Two reasons: first, identifying your animal is required by law, so a lot more people now assume a roaming animal without a collar has a microchip (also, getting a microchip read at a veterinary office is free, or a city employee can even go to the site the animal's at with a chip reader). Second, what with ubiquitous mobile phone cameras, there are a lot more horror story images of collar accidents.
posted by fraula at 5:07 AM on June 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

Also: one way I've visibly identified my cats is by going outside with them when neighbors are out :) word gets round that the tortie who chases spiders is the tall American's who lives at such-and-such, for instance.
posted by fraula at 5:11 AM on June 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

I mean sewing elastic, like this. It stretches and breaks easily enough to avoid risk. This was what was recommended to be and it worked until all my cats transitioned to entirely indoors.
posted by jeather at 5:28 AM on June 21, 2018

I found a collar with an adjustable breakaway for my heavy boy. It has three settings meant to adjust how easily the breakaway clip snaps, so that bigger cats can't break it quite as easily. The collar brand I got is called Rogz, and I ordered it from Amazon. Good luck, and your Lev is a majestic cutie!
posted by reseeded at 5:39 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

If your primary purpose is to mark sweet Lev as "not a stray", and it's replacing the tags that bothers you more than the collars, maybe you skip the tags, just write your phone number on the collar with permanent marker.
posted by aimedwander at 6:48 AM on June 21, 2018 [6 favorites]

I had a Lev! (FWIW, I did end up microchipping her--which I know you've already done--and I don't think we ever did find a decent collar solution, but I still think the harness might have been viable.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:10 AM on June 21, 2018

My cat was like yours, and I did eventually get frustrated and give up on trying to collar him because it was just too expensive to be buying a new $10 collar every few days. My eventual "solution" was keeping him well-brushed so he looked like he had a home (with the microchip for backup).

I bought him a halter to see if that would work better, but it didn't go well. I put the halter on him, locked him in the kitchen with me, and turned my back to do the dishes. A while later I heard a funny noise behind me and turned around to find my little monster had one hind paw thrust up through the collar of the halter, he'd caught his lower jaw under the collar, and he was flopping around on the floor like a landed fish. If you decide to try a halter on Lev I strongly encourage you to keep him indoors and preferably in the room with you while he's wearing it until you're 100% sure he's acclimated to it.

If you can handle the cost of the replacement collars the fabric labels mentioned up-thread are a great idea and are what we used with my previous cat. You can fit a fair bit of info on a relatively small label - we had just our name and phone number, but that could then be used to find our address in the phone book. If the label is sewn to the outside of the collar it's easy for someone to spot and casually read.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 7:57 AM on June 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

American here. The only collars I've had any success at mostly keeping on my indoor and outdoor cats are the Tufflock brand breakaway collars. I've no idea if there are any UK retailers, though I've seen them sold on eBay.

eBay also sells plain engraved metal tags for relatively cheaply, or you may be able to buy tags in bulk from somewhere like Alibaba.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:17 AM on June 21, 2018

My old calico Capella refused to wear a collar as it came from the store, with a bell on it, and would quickly lose it. If we removed the bell, she'd keep the collar on for months before losing it.
posted by chromium at 8:33 AM on June 21, 2018

We gave up on collars for cats when Ginger Robert came wandering down the garden with one of his front legs wedged inside the one he was wearing. Thereafter the dead collars became toys for his mom, Juliabear the Incredible Self-Taught Retrieving Cat.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 11:22 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I sewed simple collars with ribbon and a 1/2 inch of elastic when I had a plethora of cats next to a jungle. They were fairly rubbish in that the enterprising cats lost them relatively quickly, but I was able to make 50 in a day for about $50, so meh.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:57 PM on June 21, 2018

Not sure if this is helpful, but my dudes also lost their collars regularly until I realized I was not making the collars the proper tightness, and they were looser than recommended (1-2 fingers underneath). That has at least lengthened the time between losses to about five months for Oliver. Rufus still has his Christmas collar. They are indoor/outdoor and I don't want them to look homeless.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:49 PM on June 22, 2018

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