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How do you keep a collar on a stubborn cat that hates it?

Our question this week was:

Do you have any suggestions as to how to keep a collar on a stubborn cat? I have collared him repeatedly and he hates it. He waits until I leave and then somehow gets it off. I come home at night and it is sitting next to his water dish as if to say thank you but no thank you.

He is an indoor cat and nine-years-old. I am thinking that maybe I should have a chip put in him but that seems so extreme for an indoor cat! He hides whenever anyone comes over so it’s not like he will get out the door. Even when we come home and he ventures out the door he is a big fraidy cat and runs if he hears anyone else (we live in an apartment building). I would love any and all suggestions. Oh and by the way, I am putting the collar on as tightly as I dare without actually choking him.

Celia Schnitzer


Hi Celia– thanks for your email. Cats are tough and I have experienced the same problem with some cats. First, make sure the collar you are using has a quick release in the case he gets caught on something. The quick release will help ensure he doesn’t choke if he does get caught.

There is no easy way to make your cat adjust. I think the lightest type of collar can make it easier on some cats. By light – I mean a very light-weight fabric or material. You could also try putting the collar on and then stimulating him with his favorite toys and “distracting” him while he has it on. You can also try to distract him by placing it on him just before feeding him with some of his favorite canned food. This can be perceived as a “reward”. When he behaves well, praise him.

You could leave it on for small periods of time and remove it. However, I know that some cats really just hate it no matter what you do.

If your cat is indoor only – and has any possibility of running out – having some form of identification is important. If he ever did get out – the only way he could be identified and returned could be either by a tag on a collar of a microchip.

An article that might be helpful to you is Methods of Identification in Cats.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra