3 out of 4 cats have no qualms wearing a collar, despite owners' fears

Last Updated: Thu, Sep 09, 2010 08:50 hrs

Almost three out of four cats wear collars despite their owners being sceptical about its success, revealed a study.

In a new six-month study, almost 60 percent animals' tolerance of collars exceeded owners' expectations that their cat would keep the collar on without much trouble.he researchers suggest that, armed with this data, veterinarians should include a discussion about the importance of identification during annual wellness exams of pet cats.

They also say microchipping cats remains a useful backup identification method.

The study also found that proper fitting, with room for two fingers between the neck and the collar, is critical.

And owners should carefully observe their cats' behaviour with new collars for the first few days, when problems apparently are more common as the cats adjust.

Convincing cat owners that their pets, even indoor-only cats, need identification is "a tremendous uphill battle," said Linda Lord, assistant professor of veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.

"A lot of people start out with the dogma that cats can't wear collars, that they won't tolerate them or that they're dangerous. Now pet owners can look at this research and, if they own a cat, maybe they will now consider that they will be able to put identification on them. A collar with an ID tag is probably a cat's greatest chance of ever being re-homed or brought back if it is lost," she said.

And indoor-only cats can get lost.

Lord's recommendations from this study are informed in part by her previous research, which has found, for example, that 40 percent of lost cats in one community were indoor-only cats, or that free-roaming cats without collars are very likely to either be fed by strangers - reducing the likelihood that they will return home - or to be ignored as strays.

"The return-to-owner rate is abysmal for cats. Fewer than 2 percent of lost cats are returned to their owners. If we could get cat owners to try using a collar with identification, it would be a big deal," she said.

For those pet owners who are concerned that collars on cats can be dangerous, Lord noted that the study did indicate that there can be some risk associated with the collars.

In 3.3 percent of cases involving 18 cats, the collars got caught on the animal's mouth or forelimb, or on another object.

Owners of 90 percent of the cats told researchers they planned to keep the collars on their cats after completion of the study.

Most of the 25 cat owners not planning to continue using collars attributed their decision to either problems with the collar or the fact their cats stayed indoors.

The study is published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. (ANI)

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