Cats and collars: Why breakaway design is so important
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Cats and collars: Why the breakaway design is so important

April 30, 2024

Do you have a breakaway collar for your cat?

Whether he’s a kitten or an adult, or fond of being inside or out, consider having your cat wear a collar that will unfasten when something pulls on it with force.

Cats whose collars become entangled are at risk of choking or serious injury as they struggle to free themselves. Breakaway collars, sometimes called quick-release collars, are designed to snap open when tugged with sufficient force. This helps to ensure the cat is released from the collar should it snag on something like a tree branch.

“Even if your cat never goes outdoors, it’s best to be safe just in case,” says BC SPCA manager of animal welfare Kim Monteith. “You never know when someone might leave a window open, or your cat could escape out the door with an unexpected delivery, or if something frightens them, like fireworks.”

Don’t rely on just a collar and tag

Because they’re highly visible, a collar and tag are great for alerting people that a cat spotted outdoors has an owner to contact.

But keep in mind that a breakaway collar is designed to do just that — come undone when tugged — so if your cat’s collar falls off, so will his tag. Cats should always have permanent identification as a backup.

“We always recommend that cats have permanent ID, such as a microchip or ear tattoo, as well as a collar with an ID tag with contact information to help them find their way home in case they’re lost,” says Monteith. The BC SPCA also recommends registering your pets with the BC Pet Registry to improve the chances of being reunited with your pet in such an event.

Do a collar inspection

As with any collar, the fit of a breakaway collar is key.

“Breakaway collars are usually adjustable, so make sure your cat’s collar fits him well without being too tight around his neck,” Monteith says. “You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and your cat’s neck. Also, check the condition of your cat’s collar regularly, making sure it hasn’t frayed or loosened up too much over time.”

Tabby cat with long hair wearing id at home looking up

Collar training

There’s a popular belief that cats don’t tolerate collars very well.

“Sometimes cats don’t like to wear collars, but it’s for their safety and there are ways we can teach them that wearing a collar is a fun, positive thing to do,” says Monteith.

You can make wearing the collar a good experience for your cat by introducing it slowly at home and associating it with food. Using treats, work up from just showing him the collar to feeding treats as he puts his head through the collar. Once he’s comfortable putting his head in the collar, have him wear it for increasing periods of time until he has it on full-time without any problem. Contact an AnimalKind trainer who works with cats for help.

The BC SPCA offers breakaway collars in our online store. Find the one that best fits your feline friend today.