We continue our series of recommendations for new cat owners. See the entire new cat shopping list here.
Every cat should have a collar. Every. Cat. Indoor cats need not wear them 24/7 unless they’re door-darters, but they’ll need one for trips to the vet or other ventures outside the home. Some will resist at first, especially if they've never worn one before, but most eventually adjust.
Since they’ll need to wear a collar from time to time, it’s to your advantage to get them used to wearing one at a young age so they won’t resist it when you really need them to wear one. We suggest putting the collar on and then engaging the cat in play or a training session. You want to distract the mind from the new sensation of the collar. Treats should only be given when the cat is ignoring the collar. We like to train using the word “calm” to teach a cat to sit calmly when being offered food or a treat. Once achieved, this can be applied to other situations like putting on the collar.
There are several concerns when picking out a collar. It's most important that the collar have a breakaway connector. In the event your cat gets the collar caught on something, they can break free. Buckles are no good. A buckled collar is never coming off and your cat could possibly die, or at the very least, be hurt.
We recommend the "Safe Cat" collars from Coastal products. They come in a lot of different colors, are durable, and have the "Safe Cat" breakaway connector. They come with a small bell that we recommend you remove.
In addition, these Coastal collars can be embroidered with your cat's name and your phone number, eliminating the need for hanging identity tags. We recommend an ebay seller called jpborre. Their store can be found at http://stores.ebay.com/Pets-and-Tots . This doesn't eliminate the need for microchipping, but that's a subject for another post.
If you're looking to take your cat outside on a lead, there's no better harness than the Kitty Holster. It goes on easily due to the velcro closure and remains securely fastened. If your cat is willing to accept being in a harness, this one will make them feel most secure. It also puts no pressure on their neck when they tug on the leash. We've seen no better product on the market for this purpose.
Be especially diligent when it comes to leashes. Choose one that doesn't stretch or extend. A cat can run away suddenly and a bungee cord or retractable leash can allow them to run into harm's way before you even realize they're gone.