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I cringe to see a cat with their whiskers crushed in a stiff plastic “cone of shame.” Years ago, when my tabby Zoe was spayed, I tried sitting up all night holding her on my lap rather than tie a cone, also known as an Elizabethan collar, on her. (As you can imagine, that didn’t work—we ended up using a small kitten cone.) The good news is that now there are many types of Elizabethan cat collars, or E-collars, that are easier on your cat than the old-school vet-issued cone.
The Best Elizabethan Cat Collars
If your idea of a recovery cat collar is the traditional, stiff, uncomfortable plastic “cone of shame,” you’ll be pleased with the many new and better options out on the market.
They include clear collars with padded rims, inflated collars, lightly padded nylon collars, soft floppy collars, and cushion collars similar to the ones people use for sleeping on planes. Many of the new collars are washable, so you can buy two and know that your recovering kitty will always have a fresh collar.
When checking ratings and reviews for E-collars, keep in mind that many of the collars are designed for both cats and dogs. A negative review from someone whose 80-pound dog gnawed through a size large collar doesn’t tell you much about how the collar will work for your 10-pound kitty.
Bottom line: We sure hope your cat won’t need to wear a cone or recovery suit any time soon. But if they do, know that you can spare them the basic plastic cone and level up to something more comfortable.
The Best Clear E Collars with Soft Edges
These inexpensive Elizabethan cat collars are upgrades from the basic plastic cone, with improvements such as padding to prevent neck irritation, holes for easier breathing, and a wider cone shape to avoid irritating your cat’s whiskers.
While this E-collar looks a lot like the dreaded cone, it has some significant improvements, including top and bottom padded edges, so your cat’s neck won’t get irritated, and a set of holes that make it easier for your cat to breathe. The collar has snap closures with three settings so you can adjust the fit. Because this product is for dogs and cats, you’ll probably want to get the small size for your kitty.
This cone has a padded cotton collar and padded edges, plus Velcro for closing the collar firmly. It’s wider than traditional plastic cones, so it is less likely to irritate your kitty’s sensitive whiskers. Read the product’s sizing guide—and customer comments—before buying. Some pet parents feel that it runs a bit large.
Best Fully Padded E Collars for Cats
These fully padded Elizabethan cat collars are a great choice to help your cat rest comfortably. But they can limit visibility, so your cat should be protected or supervised as they move around the house. Fabric collars that absorb dampness may also get wet in a cat’s water dish.
The cat version of this soft E-collar is the extra-small size of the Calm Paws dog collar. It fits necks 6 to 9 inches and has a depth of 4.75 inches. The heavy-duty outer materials are easy to clean, and the soft, fuzzy inner material is comfy for your recovering kitty. Reviews on this collar are mixed—some praise its comfort, others comment that it’s bulky and perhaps better suited for larger pets.Find on Chewy
Two cool things about this padded collar make it a good choice for cats: First, you can remove the plastic stays to make it less stiff and bulky. Then, if your cat is recovering from a shoulder or upper back injury, you can turn down the collar so the cone goes in the other direction—covering the back and shoulders rather than the head and neck. Durable, tight-gauge nylon is ideal for your cat because their claws can’t get caught in it; the material also allows you to fold it back when needed.
This lightweight, soft machine-washable memory foam collar is designed for cats. Chewy customers rave about it—because cats don’t mind wearing it! Some purchasers inverted the cone to cover the back, chest, and shoulders. However, there are some minuses: Cats can get claws caught in the fabric cover and fabric can get soaked and heavy if it drags in the cat’s water dish.
This collar may not cheer up your convalescing cat, but it is likely to amuse you. Depending on which collar you select, your cat can look like a lion or a sunflower. Some buyers say it is perfect for a cat, while others report that it is a bit heavy. The collar is machine washable.
The Best Inflatable E Collars for Cats
Inflatable Elizabethan cat collars are big and bulky, but they’re very effective at keeping your cat from biting or licking a sore area.
An affordable collar designed for cats and short-nosed dogs, the Kong Cloud Collar inflates to become a big soft donut with a hook-and-loop closure. It’s washable, so your kitty can stay clean and comfortable while keeping wounds and stitches protected. The extra-small and small sizes are for cats—check size information and measuring instructions before purchasing.
Even if your cat does not achieve serenity by wearing this inflatable collar, they’ll be well protected. This collar must be attached to your cat’s regular collar: inflate it, attach to their collar, and use the hook-and-loop strap to close the ZenCollar in front.
Does Your Cat Need an Elizabethan Collar?
As much as your cat will attempt to convince you otherwise, it’s important that they wear a collar when the vet orders it. The restrictive collar prevents the cat from ripping out stitches, licking off medications, chewing on irritated skin, or removing dressings on a wound.
The idea that it’s okay for animals to lick at incisions is a myth, according to veterinarian John Berg, Professor of Small Animal Surgery at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts.
There are, however, things you can do to minimize the discomfort of wearing a collar, including finding the right size, assembling it correctly, and putting it on your cat in a way that limits stress.
You can also try a recovery suits instead of a cone. These cover a wound or irritated area on the torso, preventing your cat from biting or scratching at a sensitive site. In most cases, your cat will be able to eat and use the litter box while wearing the suit.
How to size an E collar
The best place to start is with your measuring tape. Measure the circumference of your cat’s neck above the shoulders at the place where an E collar would hit, then use that to guide your shopping as you check product size charts. As tempting as it is, don’t rely on weight estimates alone—they won’t necessarily reflect your cat’s specific anatomy.
It’s also important to consider the length of the cone. As Dr. Berg advises, “Be sure it is long enough to prevent licking at the incision, but short enough not to make it difficult for the cat to eat and drink—just past the end of the nose is a good rule-of-thumb.”
How to assemble an Elizabethan cat collar
There are different kinds of Elizabethan cat collars on the market, but most hard cones come together in a similar way:
First, you’ll want to identify the base of the cone; many cones have this labeled. Next, roll the cone up so that the ends meet and overlap. Find the long tab, then, working from the outside in, insert it into the first hole. Pull it through the cone, then thread it back out again through the next hole. Work your way up to the top of the cone until no holes are left.
Check that it fits your cat snugly but with plenty of breathing room—usually a half inch or two fingers of clearance. Use the shorter tabs to secure the cone to your cat’s collar at all available points.
How to put an E collar on a cat
The easiest way to get an E collar on a cat is when it’s fully assembled. Once your cone is set, remove your cat’s collar and thread it through the available tabs.
Then pick your cat up and set them on a table or comfortable surface. Use one hand to hold your cat and the other to slide the cone over their head, gently pulling the ears forward to avoid snags as you go.
If the fit looks good, secure the collar’s buckle. If not, remove the cone and adjust it, then begin again.