How Often Should You Change A Cat’s Collar?

Updated November 25, 2022
How Often Should You Change A Cat’s Collar?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for how often to change a cat collar because it depends on the collar’s quality and your cat’s lifestyle.

Cheap collars might only last a couple of months, especially if the cat is active and loves exploring wild terrains.

On the other hand, premium-quality cat collars can last years. You are more likely to replace such a collar because you’ve become tired of its look than because it’s broken.

Sometimes, you might need to replace the collar because it has become too small for your pet or your cat’s needs have changed.

To avoid replacing the collar too often, choose durable materials like nylon and genuine leather and regularly clean the collar from debris.

The Collar’s Type

There is no set time when you need to replace your cat’s collar. Regular cat collars with a breakaway mechanism, bells, or reflective panels can serve for years if the quality is good.

However, flea cat collar lifespan is limited. Most flea collars work up to seven months, depending on the manufacturer and active chemical concentration.

After the active chemical wears down, a flea collar becomes useless and needs a replacement to continue protecting your pet from parasites.

Note when you’ve bought the collar and check the packaging for the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember to replace the flea collar timely to avoid flea infestation.

The Collar Is Frayed, Torn, or Otherwise Damaged

Visual inspection is the best way to determine whether your cat’s collar needs a replacement. If the collar is frayed or torn, it obviously is too old, and the problem isn’t solely an unattractive look.

Threads sticking out of the collar are a choking hazard and may irritate the skin because they rub against it.

Sometimes, you may not notice a frayed hem because it’s on the collar’s inner side, but you might notice your cat losing hair on the neck.

Even if the threads are too small for a cat to choke, they can cause gastroenteric problems because they are undigestible.

You may also want to replace your cat’s collar if it has faded, although it doesn’t affect the collar’s functionality drastically.

What does affect the functionality is a scraped or otherwise damaged ID tag, which can prevent people from reading your contact details.

If your cat’s collar looks old, people might assume that the cat lost its owner a while ago. Plus, bright colors are preferred for cat collars because they ensure the cat won’t get hit by a bicycle or car.

Rust on the collar’s buckle doesn’t only look unattractive but may also be dangerous for your cat’s health. Although rust isn’t toxic to felines, some cats are allergic to it.

Often, cat collars come with a warranty. If the collar is relatively new but has already lost its appeal, check with the manufacturer whether you can replace it free of charge.

The Mechanism Is Broken

Most cat collars are equipped with a breakaway mechanism to instantly release if the collar gets caught on something, saving the cat from choking. A breakaway mechanism is a must for all cats walking outdoors but can also benefit indoor cats.

Without a breakaway mechanism, cat collars bring more risks than benefits. An accessory meant to protect your cat can become the cause of an injury or lethal outcome if the mechanism doesn’t work properly.

For this reason, you should regularly check the breakaway mechanism’s work to ensure the safety of your cat. Take the collar off your cat’s neck, secure it around a chair’s leg or your wrist, and pull.

The quick-release mechanism should work without you applying too much pressure. If you need to apply much pressure or the mechanism doesn’t work at all, replace the collar.

Check whether the collar comes with a quality guarantee. Often, breakaway mechanisms are backed by the manufacturer’s warranty, so you might be able to replace the collar free of charge if it’s still new.

Note that the breakaway mechanism on your cat’s collar only works once. Technically, it can work many times.

But if your cat gets caught somewhere and activates the quick-release mechanism, it will get free and run away without the accessory.

The Cat Is Growing

One of the most common reasons a cat collar needs a replacement is that the cat is growing. A comfortable fit is essential for your cat’s health. An overly tight collar can damage the fur, leaving a bald patch underneath it from constant rubbing.

On the other hand, if the collar is too loose, the cat’s paw or chin can get stuck in it, or it might get caught on something. For a correct cat collar fit, measure your cat’s neck circumference, and add a couple of inches.

The best way to measure your cat’s neck is by using a soft measuring tape. But if you don’t have one, you can use a piece of paper or a non-elastic ribbon.

Wrap the ribbon or paper around your cat’s neck, ensuring it isn’t too tight, then mark where the ends meet and measure the length with a ruler.

Ideally, you should make three measurements and find the average instead of relying on a sole result.

You should be able to stick two fingers between the collar and your cat’s neck. If you have a long-haired cat, it’s best to leave even more space to ensure the collar doesn’t damage the fur.

If your cat is still young, check the collar’s fit every week. Although most cat collars are adjustable, they all have a size limit. Collars for kittens won’t fit an adult cat unless it’s a Singapura or a very skinny feline.

Regularly check the collar fit even if your cat is mature because cats can gain or lose weight. You might not have to buy a new collar if your cat gains a pound, but adjusting it will ensure your cat’s comfort.

You Want a More Stylish Collar

High-quality cat collars can last for years without fraying, fading, rusting, cracking, or breaking.

But sometimes, you might simply get tired of the collar and want something fresh. Maybe you’re annoyed by the print or find the collar boring.

Or, maybe you think the collar’s color doesn’t suit your cat’s eyes. Many people buy cheap, tacky collars for their cats at first, worried their cat wouldn’t get used to the accessory and they would waste money.

However, if your cat is already used to wearing a collar, you can get something fancier to make your cat feel special (as if every cat didn’t feel the best of the best as is).

Online marketplaces are overflowing with stylish cat collars for every preference – with rhinestones, tartan check, flower print, genuine leather, crystal charms, velvet bows, you name it. You can even order a custom cat collar to make your pet feel unique.

However, note that not every collar is suitable for everyday use. Some fancy cat collars are intended for occasional use – for example, for a photoshoot, but may be too heavy or uncomfortable for daily wear.

Remember that the primary purpose of a cat collar is keeping your pet safe and prevent wildlife hunting. The collar should be soft, durable, and deal with its primary function; the looks come second.

When choosing your cat a new collar, consider contrasting your pet’s fur colors. For example, if your cat is black, don’t get a black collar because it won’t be noticeable. Instead, get a light or bright collar.

On the opposite, if your cat is white, get it a dark collar instead of a pastel one. The best choice for patterned cats is orange or red collars that instantly draw attention and stand out on any background.

The Collar’s Purpose Has Changed

Another scenario where your cat’s collar might need a replacement is if its purpose has changed. Let’s assume you’ve moved houses and your cat now walks outdoors, although it was an indoor kitty before.

Indoor cats don’t need bell collars because they don’t hunt wildlife. They don’t need glowing in the dark collars either. Collars for indoor cats serve identification purposes, helping people contact you in the event your cat gets lost.

Outdoor cats are at higher risk of contracting diseases from eating prey or getting struck by a car, so they need collars with reflective panels and bells. Alternatively, they can wear colorful bibs.

On the opposite, if you don’t let your cat outdoors anymore, you don’t need to make it listen to a bell ringing non-stop. Find a comfortable, soft collar with an ID tag instead.

Indoor cats also don’t need flea collars. You can bring fleas home on your shoes, but the risk of your cat contracting parasites this way is significantly lower than if it walked outdoors.

Flea collars can cause an allergic reaction or irritate a cat’s skin, so there’s no need to put your cat’s health at risk.

One cat collar type that equally benefits indoor and outdoor felines is a collar with an ID tag and breakaway mechanism.

It’s a universal cat collar type that prevents choking if the strap gets caught on something and helps identify your pet if it gets lost.