A very exciting study focusing on collar use and cats has just been published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA). The study was conducted by some big hitters in the field—Dr. Linda Lord, Dr. Brenda Griffin, the ASPCA’s own Dr. Margaret Slater, and Dr. Julie Levy. I am so excited about this study because it debunks the belief that many pet owners hold that cats cannot wear—and can even be hurt by—collars. These concerns can limit guardians from placing collars—and therefore simple personalized ID tags—on their cats.
The objective of the study was to determine the percentage of pet cats who were still wearing collars and had functioning microchips 6 months after they were placed on the cats.
Three different collars were used for the study—plastic buckle collars, breakaway plastic buckle safety collars, and elastic stretch safety collars. A total of 558 cats (and 338 owners) participated in the study. Each cat was randomly assigned one of the 3 collars. The collar, a microchip tag, and a microchip were all applied to the cat at the start of the study. Guardians were contacted after 1 week, then 1 month, and then monthly until the study's end (6 months after the intervention).
Here is where it gets wicked exciting! Of the 538 cats enrolled in the study, 391 (72.7%) wore their collars through the completion of the study. 72.7%! Wowza!
The style that had the fewest reports of loss, forelimbs caught in collar, and mouth caught in collar? The simple buckle collar. The authors explore other collar issues, too—and the buckle collar most often comes out the winner. This is really important information as we are ultimately aiming for collaring and tagging of all cats who leave shelters. By choosing the collar that is least likely to be troublesome, and least likely to be lost, we will be truly decreasing risk by helping to ensure that cats can be quickly identified and reunited with their owners.
The authors had surveyed the cat guardians at the time of intervention about their expectations of how well their cat would tolerate the collar, and then asked post-intervention about how well the cat was tolerating the collar. They found that 56.3% of the guardians reported that their cat’s tolerance of the collar exceeded their expectations, with only 8% reporting that their cat’s tolerance was worse than they expected. Think about the education opportunities we may have by simply putting the cat collar on the cats before they leave the shelter!
I have only touched the surface of this exciting research—I suggest you grab a copy and read it through. Tell me what you find most interesting and how you would use this research to help cats in your community.