Cats Can Wear Collars!

Cats have surpassed dogs as the most popular pet in the United States with 38.4 million households owning an estimated 88.3 million cats.  Despite this popularity, fewer than 2 percent of cats entering animal shelters nationally are ever reclaimed by their owners.

In two recent studies, among a cohort of owners searching for their lost cats and dogs, only 18 percent of cats had some form of identification, compared to 48 percent of dogs.

This lack of identification of cats, and the inability of shelters to locate owners, results in serious welfare concerns for cats and often leads to euthanasia of cats who have owners.

In this study, researchers evaluated the success of three different types of collars for pet cats over a six-month period. They also implanted identification microchips and tested their readability six months later. From the study abstract:

Design—Randomized controlled clinical trial.


Animals—538 client-owned cats.


Procedures—Cats were randomly assigned to wear 1 of 3 types of collars: plastic buckle, breakaway plastic buckle safety, and elastic stretch safety. Each cat was fitted with the assigned collar, and a microchip was inserted SC between the scapulae. Owners completed questionnaires about their experiences and expectations of collars at enrollment and at the conclusion of the study.


Results—391 of the 538 (72.7%) cats successfully wore their collars for the entire 6-month study period. Owners’ initial expectations of the cats’ tolerance of the collar and the number of times the collar was reapplied on the cats’ necks were the most important factors predicting success. Type of collar likely influenced how often collars needed to be reapplied. Eighteen (3.3%) cats caught a forelimb in their collar or caught their collar on an object or in their mouth. Of the 478 microchips that were scanned at the conclusion of the study, 477 (99.8%) were functional.


Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Most cats successfully wore their collars. Because even house cats can become lost, veterinarians should recommend that all cats wear identification collars since they are the most obvious means of identifying an owned pet. For some cats, collars may frequently come off and become lost; therefore, microchips are an important form of backup identification. Owners should select a collar that their cat will tolerate and should check it often to ensure a proper fit.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Subscribers and affiliated academic institutions can read the complete study here; others can read the abstract and purchase the study at the same link.

This study was a multi-institutional collaboration between veterinary colleges at the University of Florida, Ohio State University, Cornell University, and Texas A&M University. It was funded by the Humane Society of the United States.

The UF component was conducted by Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Research Fellow Lauren Unger.