Surgery can be tough on our cats—especially the recovery period. To help make it as quick and painless as possible, most vets will recommend an e-collar, a simple yet effective wearable that keeps your cat’s healing wound safe from, well, your cat.
An e-collar, or Elizabethan collar, is a simple device that you might know by its more common name: the cone of shame. E-collars have come a long way from the hard, clear plastic cone you may remember. There is now a wide range of alternative e-collars that are often more comfortable for your healing kitty. They’re also quite affordable, with the cost for both alternative and standard e-collars typically coming in around $10 to $20.
How to Choose the Best E-Collar For Your Cat
After your cat has surgery the last thing that you want to do is to cause them any more stress or discomfort. When picking out an e-collar, choose one that will be as comfortable as possible while also keeping them away from their wound.
It may take some trial and error to find out which e-collar your cat prefers. Ask your vet if they have a recommendation, particularly since the best type of e-collar may be dependent on what type of surgery your cat had and where the healing is taking place. Fortunately, alternative e-collars aren’t too expensive, so if you buy one that your cat ends up hating you can try out something different and see if it’s a better fit.
If your cat has surgery coming up, then it’s a good time to do some research on alternative e-collars that might help them sail through the recovery period with more comfort and less stress. Here are five that you might want to consider.
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Inflatable (Donut) E-Collar
A donut e-collar is an inflatable tube that’s positioned around your cat’s neck to limit the range of motion of their head. Think of it like an airline pillow, but one that completely encircles the neck.
- Come in a variety of materials, including soft ones like felt
- No sharp edges
- Doesn’t block your cat’s vision
- Possible for your cat to “pop” the donut with their claws or teeth
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These look like your standard cones of shame, but instead of being made of hard plastic they’re made of soft, pliable materials that are often a lot cozier around your kitty’s head.
- Softer and more flexible than traditional e-collars
- Machine washable
- Makes it easier for your cat to sleep
- Determined cats might be able to navigate around them
- Drawstring closure may come undone
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Recovery suits and other clothing options like puppy sweaters and end even baby clothes may be a good choice if you want to nix the e-collar altogether. Instead of limiting your cat’s range of motion, recovery suits act as protective clothing that covers up your cat’s wound and keeps it away from the elements.
- Doesn’t limit your cat’s movement
- Can protect healing wounds from dirt, litter, and other types of harmful debris
- Not all cats are willing to wear a full body suit
- Cat may still chew or claw at the wound, even if they can’t directly access it
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Neck Control Collar
A neck control collar is a long collar contraption that stretches from a cat’s shoulders to the base of their ears. While more commonly used for dogs, there are some cat neck control collars out there, though they’re not necessarily the most comfortable alternative e-collar option available.
- Keeps your cat from twisting their head around
- Maintains your cat’s peripheral vision
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- May be uncomfortable, especially for sleeping
- Makes it hard for your cat to lower their head to eat or sleep
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If your cat isn’t going to need their e-collar for long and you want to have some fun with it, there are some specialty e-collars that offer a bit more pizzazz. These are pretty much just your standard recovery collars, but instead of a solid design they’re made to be a bit more silly, such as giving off the appearance of a lion’s mane or a crab.
- Made of soft materials
- Often feature Velcro closures, which are more durable than drawstring
- Extra embellishments might impede vision or annoy your cat
How can I take an e-collar off my cat?
Carefully! Since your cat likely isn't very happy about its collar, it may be ecstatic when you start to remove it. Try doing so when your cat is just up from a snooze and a bit groggy.
How do you put an e-collar on a cat?
Carefully! Cats do not like e-collars, and will likely fuss when you try to get it on. Stay calm, offer treats, and speak to your pet calmly and you slip on the collar.
How should an e-collar fit on a cat?
It should fit snugly around the neck, with just enough room to slip a couple of fingers between the collar and the neck.
How do I feed my cat with an e-collar?
Elevating the bowl is an option, as is holding the food dish as your cat enjoys dinner.