How Big Should A Cat Collar Be?

Updated November 28, 2022
How Big Should A Cat Collar Be?

When choosing a cat collar, the first question that comes to mind is – how big should a cat collar be?

The answer depends on your cat’s age, breed, and weight. Typically, cat collars range from six to 14 inches in circumference.

Kittens and petite adult cats might wear the same collar size, whereas large-breed cats sometimes have to wear dog collars because finding one that fits correctly can be tricky.

A too tight collar can damage a cat’s fur and intervene in breathing, while a loose collar can get caught on something, or the cat might take it off. Thus, you should know how a cat collar should fit.

Remember to check your cat’s collar fit regularly. The best cat collars are adjustable, lightweight, and have a breakaway mechanism for comfort and safety.

Collar Size for a Kitten

Most veterinarians agree that young kittens don’t need collars because they shouldn’t walk outdoors until all the vaccinations are complete at 12-16 weeks. Plus, they grow rapidly, and the collar size constantly changes.

However, if you decide your kitten needs a collar for identification or flea protection, wait until it reaches four months old. Depending on your kitten’s breed and growth pace, its neck might be six to ten inches in circumference.

Some brands make collars for kittens, but others only have small, medium, and large sizes. In that case, check the measurements on the package to ensure the small size isn’t too big because it might be intended for petite adult cats.

Remember to check the collar’s fit regularly and adjust it to ensure your kitten’s comfort. Don’t buy a non-adjustable collar for a kitten because it will become too tight very soon.

Note that many collars for adult cats are too heavy for kittens, even if the circumference is suitable. Pick a lightweight collar that won’t apply too much pressure on your kitten’s neck.

Collar Size for an Adult Cat

Collar size for an adult cat depends on the cat’s weight, coat length, and breed.

Long-haired cats typically need slightly larger collars to avoid damaging the coat underneath by abrasion. However, the collar shouldn’t be too loose, or the cat might take it off.

Smaller cat breeds, such as Abyssinian, Siamese, Singapura, Sphynx, Devon Rex, and female Burmese cats, usually need small collars. You may even have to buy a kitten collar if your cat’s neck is very slim.

Remember – it isn’t about the overall body length but the neck circumference. Typically, these cat breeds have necks ranging from seven to nine inches. However, male cats might have thicker necks, up to ten inches.

Medium-sized or long-haired adult cats like British shorthair, Ragdoll, and American shorthair might need a medium collar size ranging from eight to 11 inches.

Note that these figures are only an estimate. If your cat has extra weight or is genetically bigger than average, it will need a larger collar. Conversely, if your cat is genetically smaller than average, it will require a smaller collar.

Collar Size for a Large Cat

Standard collars don’t fit large-breed cats like Maine Coons, Savannahs, and Norwegian Forest. They need collars designed for bigger cats, ranging from ten to 14 inches in circumference.

Young large-breed cats under two years of age still maturing can wear medium collar sizes intended for medium-sized cats. However, you should be mindful of your cat’s weight gain and change the collar when it becomes too tight.

Similarly, large-breed kittens might not need kitten collars but collars for small adult cats. Still, they should be lightweight.

Consider collars for small to medium-sized dogs if you struggle to find the necessary collar size in pet stores. Ensure that the collar is adjustable and has a breakaway mechanism for your cat to escape if the collar gets caught on something.

How to Determine the Fit Is Correct

The best way to determine the necessary cat collar size is to measure your cat’s neck circumference using a soft measuring tape. Try to get the tape as flat against the skin as possible for accurate measurements.

Don’t squeeze your cat’s neck, or the collar will be too tight, but don’t make it too loose. Use a strip of paper, ribbon, or string if you don’t have a soft measuring tape.

Wrap the paper or ribbon around your cat’s neck, mark where the ends meet with your finger or a pen, and measure the length with a ruler.

The process is the same as measuring your finger’s circumference to determine your ring size. Ensure that the ribbon or string isn’t elastic, or you will get incorrect measurements, and the collar will be too loose.

Note that your cat might need a larger size for a wide collar and a smaller size for a narrow collar.

Ideally, measure your cat’s neck circumference three times and find an average figure. Add the measurement results and divide them by three to find the average.

For the best fit, choose an adjustable cat collar. Your cat might gain weight and the collar will become too tight. Plus, the collar should be slightly larger than your measurements.

You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and your cat’s neck. When the collar arrives, put it on your cat and adjust the size accordingly. You will need a collar two to three inches larger than your cat’s neck circumference.

Some veterinarians and cat owners recommend sticking three fingers under the collar. Three fingers are too much for short-haired cats but will ensure the comfort of long-haired cats, preventing fur damage.

Some collars have elastic panels. The elastic panel isn’t intended for a comfortable fit or to grow with your cat. The panel must let your cat escape if the collar gets caught on something.

The collar shouldn’t restrict your cat’s breathing or damage its fur by abrasion but also shouldn’t be loose, or it might get caught on something, or the cat might take it off.

The best cat collar width is 0.5-1 inches because narrow collars can be uncomfortable digging into the skin, and too wide collars restrict neck movement.

If your cat’s collar fits correctly, you don’t have to take it off at night. Cats can wear lightweight, comfortable collars for long without harming their health.

How to Understand the Collar Is too Tight

You should know the signs cat collar is too tight to ensure your pet’s comfort. Firstly, you should be able to slip two fingers between the collar and your cat’s neck. If you can’t, the collar is too tight.

One may think that if the collar buckles up, it’s alright. But if you cannot slip two fingers under the collar, it will be too tight for prolonged wear because your cat’s neck can swell slightly.

An overly tight collar rubs against the fur, so it can cause hair loss on the neck in the long term. In the worst-case scenario, prolonged wear of an overly tight collar damages the air follicles and prevents fur from growing entirely.

However, a bald patch under a cat’s collar doesn’t always signal an incorrect fit. Sometimes, it occurs because of an allergy, flea infestation, or causes unrelated to the collar.

Stray cats and dogs that wear too tight collars for long sometimes get wounds on their necks that require urgent veterinary treatment.

Even if the collar has the correct fit but is too heavy, a cat might have bald patches or wounds underneath it. Your cat shouldn’t wear a heavy collar for too long.

You should be able to turn the collar around without significant resistance. If the collar doesn’t turn around properly, it’s too tight, and you need to make it looser.

Sometimes, collars are so tight that they intervene in the cat’s breathing and hinder the blood flow into the brain. As a result, the cat might experience respiratory and neurological problems.

If your cat is still growing, check its collar fit twice a week and adjust it accordingly to prevent hurting your pet. Even if your cat is mature, check the fit regularly because cats tend to gain weight as they age.

How to Understand the Collar Is too Loose

Too tight cat collar is dangerous, but so is a too loose collar. If your cat’s collar dangles freely from its neck like a necklace, it’s at higher risk of getting caught on something, like a fence.

Or your cat might get its paw stuck in the collar while it’s scratching its ear or jaw stuck while eating. Plus, your cat can take the annoying collar off at any moment through its head.

The collar is too loose if you can take it off your cat through the head; that’s obvious. But it might be too loose even if you can’t take it off easily.

You shouldn’t be able to stick more than two fingers between your cat’s neck and the collar. The collar shouldn’t rotate around your cat’s neck without any resistance.