Do Indoor Cats Need Collars?

It is very common for outdoor cats to have collars. If you have an indoor cat, you may be wondering if it’s necessary for them to have a collar too. There are a couple of reasons why might decide to give your indoor cat a collar, the indoor cat owning community seems divided on the topic. We think that if your indoor cat doesn’t seem to mind wearing a collar, its worth collaring them to provide contact details to help in case they escape. There are multiple considerations you need to take into account in what type of collar to get and what information to include. Read on to find out how you can tell if you should collar your indoor cat.  

Why would my indoor cat need a collar?

Collars are primarily given to indoor cats to hold emergency contact details of the owner, and medical information of the cat. It is also a clear display that the cat is not feral and belongs to an owner. While your indoor cat should not normally need identification information like this, some owners are worried about their indoor cat escaping. Having the right type of collar could mean that your indoor cat is returned safely to you quicker if the necessary information is put on the tag.

Pet owners can also use collars as a means to alert others of where their cat is. This is usually done by attaching a bell to the collar. This is particularly useful for owners who regularly lose their indoor cat inside of the house. But it’s not just humans that benefit from this. The bell on a cat’s collar can alert other animals to where your cat is. Cat owners may collar their pet with a bell to protect the local wildlife from the being hunted. Using a reflective collar makes cats more visible at night. This is especially important if you live near traffic.  

Finally, some owners like putting collars on their cat because they can be a fashion accessory for their cat. Some cats can become quite attached to their collars and even get upset when they are taken off of them.

When does my indoor cat need a collar?

It is not normally a legal requirement to collar your cat. Seeing as the main benefit of collaring a cat is providing your contact details, we think it makes most sense to collar your cat if you think that there is a chance of them escaping their home. The most obvious times that this could happen is when taking your cat outside to visit the vet or to move home. If your indoor cat keeps trying to go outside, you may also consider collaring them for their own safety. You may want to collar your cat during the summer months when it can be easier to leave doors open and your cat may find the outside more inviting.

Does my indoor cat need a collar if they have been chipped?

We would still recommend giving a collar to your indoor cat if they are micro-chipped. This is because missing indoor cats may sometime be mistaken as wild or abandoned cats. Well meaning people who find missing cats sometimes don’t look for microchips to find out if a cat has an owner and end up keeping the lost cat indefinitely. Although vets, police stations, and animal shelters should be equipped to check for microchips in missing cats, it is possible for them to miss them. Putting a collar on your micro-chipped indoor cat removes all ambiguity of this and can help your cat return to you quicker if they become lost.  

What should I put on my indoor cat’s tag?

Cat tags should be filled with clearly visible and concise information. Use large text and short words. This will help people who find your cat outside find out how to get your indoor cat home to you as quickly as possible. When designing a cat tag, we recommend that you should pick and choose information in order from the following list.

  • Warning that your cat should be indoors
  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • Microchip location
  • Health issues
  • Request to not feed
  • Relevant vaccinations

First, we advise showing that your cat should be indoors and has escaped. Next you should include your phone number or address so the cat can be returned to you directly. If you don’t want to put this information on your cat, you can also just say that you cat is chipped so an authority can read the data to return the cat to you properly. You don’t have to put your cat’s name on its tag as they rarely respond to their name, especially when called by strangers. If you are running out of space, we think it would be better to make it clear that your cat shouldn’t be outdoors. The American Humane Society recommends that your cat’s tag should also let people know which vaccinations your cat has and any health issues they have.

What should I look for in a good indoor cat collar?

We strongly recommend that you get a break-away collar

Is it cruel to have a bell on an indoor cat’s collar?

Having a bell on your cat’s collar has been proven in a study to protect local wildlife. This doesn’t affect most indoor cats but you may consider it if your indoor cat escapes often and you want to protect the local wildlife. The alert that bells give other animals goes two ways though, a bell on a cat’s collar will alert predators as much as it will alert prey. Giving your indoor cat’s collar a bell can become a danger if your indoor cat lives in an area where there is dangerous animal wildlife such as coyotes, cougars, and snakes. Not only will these predators get an alert that your cat is in the area, but they will also be able to locate your cat by sound if they try to run.

A common reason indoor cat owners decide to put bells on their cat is to be able to locate them about the house. Without a bell, cats can move silently when they move. If your cat is particularly good at getting into trouble or hiding inside of the house, using a bell with a collar could be a good solution to keeping them out of trouble.

Some owners have worried that putting a bell on a cat’s collar is cruel as they can become stressed by the bell’s constant ringing and damage to their ears. It has been proven that the sound from the bell on a cat’s collar is not loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage. Although people who make this argument have cats’ interests in mind, the worry is unwarranted. It is true however, that the constant sound of a bell can irritate some cats. This is especially true for older cats who may not have been introduced to their collar properly. Irritated cats may develop behavioral issues such as aggression. Cats who are particularly irritated may attempt to chew off their bell which can become a choking hazard.

Should I give my indoor cat a collar?

To summarize what we’ve gone over. Indoor cats can benefit from being collared, even if they have already been micro-chipped. It can improve their safety if they escape and help you find them around the house. We think that indoor cat owners should at least try to see if their pet doesn’t mind wearing a collar. Owners of indoor cats that are extremely curious about going outside or are given the chance to escape when traveling should strongly consider collaring their cat.

Bells should only be attached to collars if you live in an area where your cat has no predators. Additionally, you should monitor your cat for a period of a few weeks when they first get their bell to see if it irritates them. If they start to act and, seem distressed, or become aggressive you should remove the bell for your cat’s well being. There is no risk of the bell causing physical damage to their hearing, but it can become a choking hazard.