If your cat goes outside it's a really good idea to use a collar. It lets other people know that the cat has a home, and if your cat should stray or get lost then the contact details on the collar will have you re-united with your cat in no time. Deciding what cat collar to buy can be a more difficult choice than you think. Do you go with a flea control collar, a reflective collar, an elasticated collar, a buckle-on collar, or no collar at all. Do flea collars really work? My experience has been that they don't, but they don't hurt either, so we can look at form and fit.
Fit is the most important consideration when buying a cat collar. If the collar is too tight it can cut off the cat's air and blood supply. Choking your cat is not a good thing!! If it's too loose the collar can get caught up on branches and fences while your cat is out playing. Cats have an uncanny knack of getting out of any collar that's too loose. Or if they don't manage to lose the collar they can get a leg stuck through it.
Then you have a very unhappy kitty on your hands! For kittens and still growing cats you'll want an adjustable collar to allow for some growth, but make sure you check the fit on a regular basis. Most collars have 2 methods of fastening around the cat's neck. You have the traditional buckle style which is easy to put on and take off but the buckle can break.
Then there is the slide through adjustable kind. This is a more secure way of fastening but it's also more difficult to adjust, especially if you have a cat that doesn't like having a collar on. Most cat collars come with an elasticated or a breakaway section.
This is a safety feature that allows your cat to escape the collar if it becomes stuck on bushes or fences. It helps avoid strangulation as well as being trapped. Even though a smart cat can figure out how to escape its collar, this is an important safety feature that you should seriously consider. Along these lines, buy a collar made of a material that can be easily cut through in emergencies.
Another feature you may consider is a reflective strip in the cat collar. This can be helpful at night, especially in areas that have a lot of traffic. The number one killer of cats is traffic, so give the driver every chance to see your cat, especially if it's a dark colored cat. Many collars come with bells or some other noise making device. This is designed to warn potential prey animals that your cat is out hunting.
The idea behind these is to avoid your cat bringing home gifts and presents, especially ones that are still alive!! In the main these devices are ineffective and its usually best to remove them so there's less to get caught up in bushes and fences. If you have an indoor cat that you'd like to introduce to the great outdoors, try buying a cat harness and attach a leash. You should first practice with this indoors until the cat becomes accustomed to it. The next step - take the cat for walks; to the park, to the beach, or to Aunty Jane's house! You can train your cat to use the leash but it will take some time, practice, and a lot of patience.
Steve Dolan is a cat lover and long time cat owner. Find more articles and resources for your cat or kitten at CatSupplies and Cat Food, and for flea collars visit Cat Care and Cat Health.