How to keep a collar on a cat

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cat in red collar
A cat's collar is more than just a pretty accessory
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A collar is as important to your cat as a trip to the vet

Because cats are cats, they naturally donít want to do anything you want them to do. One of those things is wearing a collar. Many cat owners think they donít need to use a collar because their cats have been microchipped. While microchips are a great identification tool, the person who finds your pet needs to take it to a vet to be read, which can be an inconvenience on a weekend or for a busy person who may not even like cats.

On the other hand, a collar can carry an ID tag with a phone number or email address that can be used anytime. More importantly, a good reflecting collar will keep your cat safe in the dark and one with a bell will keep neighborhood birds safe too.

Training your cat to keep a collar on starts before your first attempt to put it on. For your own safety, you may want to trim your cat's nails the day before. When you buy a collar, go for the breakaway kind with elastic components that either stretch or come apart. Besides being an excellent safety feature to keep your cat from getting caught in a fence or tree branch, it can also come in handy if you need to remove it quickly during training.

Fancy cat collars are perfect for special occasions and photographs. Switch to these when you cat is used to it's first collar.

Introduce the collar to your cat, letting it sniff around, bat at the bell or tag and play with it for a while. Just like when you remove a bandage from a child, the best way to get a collar on your cat is with a quick surprise move. Let the cat wiggle and fuss and fidget with the collar.

Of course, if it looks like the collar is too tight or too loose, take it off Ė thatís where the breakaway feature will come in handy Ė and adjust it. If you don't have a size guide, a recommended good fit is when you can put two fingers between the collar and your catís neck.

Once you have the right fit, let your cat wear the collar for a few hours, making sure you pet it and reward it for keeping it on. It helps to let the cat have some play time to distract it from the newness of the collar. Watch for scratching or excessive pawing around the collar. If that happens, remove it and try again the next day. If the problem persists, you may have to try a different size or a different collar material. Also watch for your cat pulling the collar off completely or getting a paw caught in it. If the collar can't be adjusted to stop these incidents, try a different one.

If youíre worried about your cat fussing with the collar during the night in bed, take it off for a few nights but make it later each night and put it on earlier in the morning until it can make it all night. The same is true if you don't feel comfortable leaving it alone with the collar on while you go out. Take it off until you return - the peace of mind is worth an extra day or two of training.

After your cat is used to the collar, you still need to check it periodically. Collars can wear or fray and the elastic in break-away collars can stretch out. if your cat is growing, make sure you get a bigger collar before it becomes too tight.

A collar for your cat is as important to its health and safety as regular visits to the vet. Approach training your cat with confidence. The benefits are well worth the time and minor challenges of training your pet to wear one.

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