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At What Age Should You Put A Collar On A Cat?

Updated September 21, 2022
At What Age Should You Put A Collar On A Cat?

You might be excited to put a cute collar on your pet, but what’s the right cat age to put a collar on?

The cat should be mature enough to walk alone outdoors but still responsive to training.

The most common mistakes in cat collar training are starting too early and being impatient. Kittens that lived through a negative experience will be hesitant to wear a collar in adulthood.

There is a bottom age limit, but there’s no upper age limit for wearing a collar. You can teach a 12-year-old cat to wear a collar. But should you?

Cats don’t typically like accessories on their neck. They don’t fancy bling and don’t care that the collar matches their eyes. Consider whether your cat really needs a collar before beginning the training.

Can You Put a Collar on a One-Month-Old Kitten?

There’s no definite answer for when to put a collar on a kitten, but one month of age is certainly too early.

Feline behavioral experts and veterinarians recommend waiting until the kitten is old enough to explore the world around it.

The first month of a kitten’s life is full of new achievements. Each day is a small milestone when the kitten opens eyes, begins walking, or learns to interact with its littermates.

By one month old, kittens already stay on their tiny feet and play with each other and toys. They can react to your voice, and some even begin learning to use the litterbox.

However, one month is too young for a kitten to wear a collar. Kittens at this age only start gaining interest in the outer world, but they are still very dependent on their mother cat.

At about three weeks old, kittens can begin socializing and learning to interact with humans and other felines. First experiences are very important.

If one of a kitten’s first memories about you is negative, it can grow up anxious about you or people in general. And having a collar buckled up around the neck isn’t a pleasant experience.

Furthermore, such small kittens have no benefits from collars. They still eat mother’s milk and haven’t yet undergone essential vaccinations, so they cannot walk outdoors.

An overly tight collar can negatively affect a kitten’s development, preventing proper blood supply into the brain and affecting fur growth on the neck.

The only reason for putting collars on kittens is to distinguish them. If you have multiple kittens and struggle to distinguish them, get soft kitten-safe collars, but don’t forget to regularly adjust the size as kittens grow.

Can You Put a Collar on a Two-Month-Old Kitten?

Two months old is the most active play and socialization period for kittens. They begin to rub against each other, groom themselves, play with objects, hunt, leap, and chase.

At two months old, kittens can be weaned from their mother and learn to become independent. Because kittens two months old are no longer dependent on their mother, they often arrive in new homes at this age.

One would think it’s the perfect moment to get a kitten acquainted with a collar. However, kittens at this age still haven’t completed their vaccinations and shouldn’t go outdoors.

Responsible breeders don’t give kittens away until 16 weeks of age because, at that age, they complete the vaccinations and are fully independent of their mother.

Furthermore, if you’ve just brought a kitten home, it needs some time to adjust to the new environment and people. Putting a collar on its neck would be too much stress for the little creature.

Each kitten is unique, and there’s no guarantee your pet is ready to encounter the wild outdoors at two months of age. It’s best to wait until the kitten is a bit older.

However, some kittens might have no problem wearing a collar at two months. Most importantly, you should introduce the kitten to the collar gradually and regularly adjust its size to prevent it from becoming too tight.

Another note is that you shouldn’t let the kitten wear a collar non-stop because it’s still developing. Only let the kitten wear a collar for short periods.

A two-month-old kitten shouldn’t walk without supervision anyways and doesn’t pose a threat to wildlife. The only reason for wearing a collar at this age is to get accustomed to it. Still, kittenhood is the time for complete freedom.

When to Start Getting a Kitten Used to Collar

Some owners start getting their kittens accustomed to wearing a collar from four months old. This makes sense because kittens complete their vaccinations at 16 weeks and can safely go outdoors.

Plus, they are fully independent of their mother and very curious. A four-month-old kitten can even catch a bird or small rodent, so some owners are concerned about the safety of wildlife.

But here’s the catch. Kittens are too young to walk alone outdoors. Letting your kitten out in your backyard under supervision is fine, but you should never let it wander alone.

Kittens are too light for the collar’s breakaway mechanism to work. If a kitten gets stuck in a tight space, the collar won’t help it. Even worse, the collar can be the reason the kitten gets stuck.

Kittens also don’t need reflective collars because they shouldn’t walk outdoors at night. A bell collar is unnecessary because a kitten is unlikely to kill any wildlife, at least under the owner’s supervision.

Furthermore, four-month-old kittens still grow and need to have the collar adjusted regularly. If the collar is too tight, the kitten might have a bald patch on its neck.

In the worst-case scenario, a tight collar will hinder blood supply into the brain. The only benefit of collars for kittens, whether they are four months or eight months old, is protection from fleas.

Flea collars can be used for kittens from 12 weeks or older, but only when they walk outdoors. Don’t have your kitten wear the collar constantly.

The best time to start cat collar training is when the cat is fully grown. Most cats reach their full size at 10-12 months, but some might need more or less time to develop.

Most breakaway collars are designed for cats weighing over eight pounds. If you have a large-breed kitten, it can start wearing the collar a bit earlier.

At one year old, cats are smart enough to walk without supervision, heavy enough for the breakaway mechanism to work, and have completed all their vaccinations and health checks.

Can You Put a Collar on a Senior Cat?

Training a kitten or young adult cat is one thing, but training a senior cat is an entirely different story. Cats don’t like changes. They prefer routine and can be very sensitive to any novelties.

An old cat is likely to react poorly if you suddenly put a collar on it. It can become anxious or aggressive, depending on your cat’s temperament.

However, sometimes, there’s no choice but to train an old cat to wear a collar. For example, if you’ve moved houses and your cat regularly escapes outdoors, a collar can save its life.

If you want to put a collar on your senior cat, take things slowly. Let your cat get accustomed to the collar first – leave it within your cat’s reach and let it approach the collar first.

Your cat will likely sniff the collar and walk away. Reward it with a treat. Then, touch your cat with the collar. Reward your cat every time it doesn’t show aggression or anxiety signs.

If your cat reacts poorly to the collar, comfort it and give it more time. Eventually, you should be able to put the collar on your cat’s neck and buckle it. Pick the right moment – your cat should be calm.

Remember that even one negative experience can take you several steps back. If your senior cat doesn’t really need a collar, don’t risk it.

Does Your Cat Really Need a Collar?

Collars have many benefits for cats, but does every cat need a collar? Absolutely not. Most indoor cats don’t need collars because they cause discomfort and have no benefits.

Cats walking outdoors need collars to prevent them from hunting wildlife, keep them visible at night, and protect them from fleas.

Bells on cat collars or colorful bibs ensure that your cat doesn’t remain unnoticed by wildlife and doesn’t get ill or poisoned from eating prey. Plus, bones are a choking hazard.

If your cat walks outdoors at night, get it a collar with reflective panels to ensure it doesn’t get struck by a car. Flea collars are excellent at preventing parasite infestation.

Some owners rely on cat collars for identification purposes. However, microchips are much more convenient and reliable. Any vet can identify a cat and find its owner with a quick scan, whereas an ID tag can get lost or caught in a tight space.

Collars are only necessary for outdoor cats; other felines can do without them.

Prolonged collar wear can affect a cat’s fur and blood supply and make it easily irritable. Even if you think collars look cute, don’t force one on your pet unless necessary.