The Cat Cone [A Complete Owner’s Guide]

So your vet mentioned something called a cat cone. Now, your cat isn't wearing it just yet, but the very idea might have you feeling a bit confused, worried, or even guilty.

Don't worry - it's not as scary as it sounds.

This guide will break down all there is to know about cat cones: why your furry friend might need one, the different types you can find, and how to ensure your cat is comfy if she ends up needing to wear one.

Wondering if you could make one yourself? We've got that covered too. And that question niggling at the back of your mind - "Does my cat really need this?" - we'll get to that as well.

Understanding more about cat cones can help your cat recover without causing any unnecessary stress.

So let's clear up all of your questions surrounding the cat cone - for both your peace of mind and your cat's well-being. Ready to learn more? Let's go.

What Is A Cat Cone?

Image of orange cat with veterinairy cone on its head, after surgery.

It's a pretty simple gadget, really. It looks like an open-ended cone that wraps around your cat's head.

You might hear it called a few different names. Some people refer to them as Elizabethan collars, E-Collars, or Buster collars.

But let's face it, these things can look a bit funny on our furry friends, so they've earned some nicknames too, like the "cone of shame", "pet radar dish", or the "lampshade".

Back in the day, vets used to make these cones themselves for their furry patients, using bendy plastic sheets or cardboard.

But now, it's super easy to get a cat cone. There are lots of different types you can buy online or from your local pet shop. Some are store-bought and others you can even make at home.

Don't worry - we're going to cover all the different kinds in this guide. Keep reading!

Why Would Your Cat Need A Cone?

Gray cat in a veterinary collar sleeps on a bed.

Basically, the cone stops your cat from licking or biting certain parts of her body. Say your cat just had surgery and has stitches - the cone keeps her from chewing at them.

Or if your cat has a habit of grooming so much that she hurts herself, the cone can prevent that too.

The cone can also stop your cat from scratching at her own face. This might be needed if your cat had eye surgery or has a skin problem on her face that she keeps scratching.

But remember, a cat cone isn't a fix-all solution. It's only supposed to be used temporarily, and only when your vet says it's needed.

Don't try to use a cat cone just to stop your cat from scratching her face or licking a part of her body.

It's important to get your furry friend to the vet for a check-up first to find out what's really going on and treat the root cause of the problem.

Does my cat really need a cone?

That's a great question. Because wearing a cone can be uncomfortable and stressful for your cat, it's usually seen as a last resort. Some vets will recommend a cone for any cat that's had surgery, even common procedures like spaying and neutering.

But it might not be necessary. Many cats do just fine without a cone or anything else getting in their way. They might lick their wound, but as long as they aren't biting or tugging at the stitches, it's usually no big deal.

The best thing to do is chat with your vet about your options. After surgery, keep a close eye on your cat. If she starts pulling at her stitches, that's when you might need to use a cone or another method to protect the wound.

But if your cat is just occasionally licking the area without bothering the stitches, she probably doesn't need a cone.

Types Of Cones & Alternatives To Cat Cones

Domestic gray British Shorthair cat with orange eyes in a protective collar at home on the couch after surgery. The topic is medicine and the protection of pets. The cat is resting after castration.

Let's look at different types of cones and some alternatives to cat cones:

A Traditional Plastic Cat Cone

This is the most common type of cone, easily identifiable by its round sturdy shape. Plastic cones come in a variety of colors and designs.

Lucy wearing a plastic cone - submitted by @katachtig

Some plastic cones have a softer edge, covered with fabric, like this one:

See This Cat Cone On Amazon Here

If you can, try to get a see-through plastic cone. It lets in more light and can help the cat manage its surroundings better.

Hatchet in his plastic cone - submitted by 709Juggalette

Talk to your veterinarian about trimming the edges of the cone. This may prevent some of the unwanted behaviors while allowing your cat a better view and ease of movement.

Sadie showing off her trimmed cone - submitted by xocats


Soft Cones For Cats

Made of foam and covered with colorful fabric, this soft version of the cone may be more comfortable for some cats. Others may manage to fold the cone by pressing it against a hard object, thus rendering it ineffective.

See This Soft Version Of A Cone On Amazon

Fabric Cones

Some cats do well with a soft pliable cone like EZ Soft Pet Collar.

It comes with its own drawstring, but TCS members comment that it's best to attach it to a proper cat collar as many cats don't like the feeling of a string around their necks.

See This EZ Soft Pet Collar On Amazon

Inflatable Cat E-Collars

Inflatable cones are soft donut-shaped Elizabethan collars like this one by Kong. They're lightweight and less obstructive than traditional cones but aren't as limiting as the traditional plastic cone, so may not always be suitable.

See This Kong Cat Collar On Amazon

Creative Alternatives To Cat Cones:

The Paper Plate

You might be surprised to know that you can make a DIY cone at home. Some vets still recommend the old-school method of using a large paper plate as a makeshift Elizabethan collar.

It's budget-friendly and easy to find, though some cats might manage to shred the paper.

Lola with her homemade paper plate e-collar - submitted by @digitalsyrup

Post-Surgical Jacket And Recovery Suits

Sometimes, you don't have to resort to the dreaded cone. If you need to protect a spot on your cat's body (not on their face), you could use a specially designed garment instead.

These jackets, sleeves, or suits are usually less stressful for cats than a traditional cone.

There are several commercial options, like this one by Suitical -

See This Post-Surgical Jacket by Suitical On Amazon

For homemade versions, our members have used baby onesies.

[Cezare wearing a onesie Posted by @darlenam8]

Or even used a sleeve from an old T-shirt. Find a stretchy T-shirt, cut off the sleeves, and carefully pull it over your cat's body.

What's the best choice for your cat? Well, it depends. If you're trying to stop your cat from licking or chewing a spot that can be covered by a "suit," that's probably your best bet.

It won't restrict your cat's movement or interfere with eating or drinking. But if you need to protect their face from their claws, a cone is likely your only option.

What To Expect When Your Cat Wears A Cone

A British Shorthair cat lies on a sofa in a plastic collar after an umbilical hernia surgery. The cat tries to get rid of the collar and itches with its hind paw. A bandage is visible on the abdomen.

Let's be real: cats and cones aren't a match made in heaven. Most cats detest having a cone around their neck, and there's usually a period of getting used to it. In the first few hours, many cats struggle to walk with the cone.

Some backpedal, others bump into walls. Some cats just give up walking and resort to crawling or dragging themselves around. Be patient and give your cat time to adjust to their new accessory.

Keep a close eye on your cat during the initial hours. Make sure the cone is doing its job and keeping your cat from licking, chewing, or scratching the trouble spot.

Be aware, cats can harm themselves if they try to scratch using a hard plastic cone.

Some cats can worm their way out of the cone, or get stuck in tight spots or under furniture, so keep an eye on them and block off any risky areas.

Even if your cat usually roams outside alone, they need to stay indoors while they're wearing a cone. The cone can affect their vision and hearing, making them vulnerable to outdoor hazards.

How Will My Cat Eat and Drink with a Cone On?

Some cats can still reach their food and water while wearing a cone, but others can't. Monitor your cat's eating and drinking habits during the first day to ensure they're actually able to reach their food and water.

If the cone keeps their face too high, try raising their bowls by placing them on a stable, narrow base. If that's not enough, you might have to trim down the cone.

As a last resort, you'll have to remove the cone for a few hours each day to give your cat enough time to eat and drink.

How Will My Cat Stay Groomed With The Cone On?

Your cat is unlikely to be able to self-groom while wearing the cone. Even a shorthaired cat may need your help during this time. Brush the coat to prevent matting and provide your cat that much-needed skin stimulation.

Our member @Columbine helped her coned cats by scratching the areas they couldn't reach. She suggests drawing an imaginary circle away from the stitches and then scratching gently around that area without putting any pressure on the surgery site.

Remember, this is only a temporary thing! It may be uncomfortable but sometimes it's just unavoidable. The cone can benefit your cat and it won't last forever!

In Conclusion: Ensuring Comfort and Care for Your Beloved Cat

Understanding the ins and outs of cat cones is essential for the well-being of your furry friend.

By exploring the various types of cones available, including traditional plastic cones, soft fabric alternatives, inflatable options, and even creative DIY solutions like paper plates, you can find the best fit for your cat's specific needs.

Remember, a cone should be used as a last resort, under the guidance of your veterinarian.

Monitor your cat's behavior closely during the adjustment period, ensure they can eat and drink comfortably, and provide assistance with grooming as needed.

While it may seem challenging, rest assured that the cone is temporary, serving as a valuable tool to aid in your cat's recovery.

By staying informed and taking the necessary precautions, you can provide the care and comfort your cat deserves.

We're here for your cat and you while the journey lasts, so why not start a thread about your cat's health problem and cat cone adventure in the cat health forum?


The Cat Cone: A Complete Owner's Guide

You Might Also Like:

Your Cat’s Eyes and Vision: The Complete Guide

Stress in Cats – The Ultimate Guide

Note: We may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page.

27 comments on “The Cat Cone [A Complete Owner’s Guide]

eli March 16, 2023
We just got my cat spayed today and I feel horrible. My cat has always been (oddly) scared of everyone else except me, including my parents and siblings. When we got her she was skittish and she stays the same, only liking and cuddling with me. Now she got fixed and we couldn’t afford to get the surgical onesie, so she has a fabric cone. Unfortunately, she hates it and is very stressed about it. I will not be there for her the next 3 days (going somewhere) and she has to be taken care of by my mother. It’s upsetting because I have no idea how to help her.
Lee Carlson January 30, 2022
My cat has an eye ulcer and has to wear a cone. It depresses him when it's on and I cannot figure out a good way to put drops in the eye as he closes the eye tight and it's hard to administer the drops. I put the drops in as best I can and wait 10 or 15 minutes and then take cone off in order for him to eat or drink because he won't even try with it on. Just sits and stares. I am hoping the cone can come off on tuesday. My question is, what is the best way to ensure the drops are in the eye when they wear a cone and it's difficult to get him to open that eye when he sees the drop bottle?
    Khairio February 20, 2022
    Same as mine, my cat go eyes ulcer and it’s been 4 months already, luckily he’s calm when during putting eye drop and everything. Maybe u can remove e-collar(cone) when putting eye drop and put it back when it’s done.
    Rhonda December 1, 2022
    little known fact...many cats are allergic/sensitive to plastic. If your kitty has plastic food or water dishes please keep a watch on their lips/chin for little sores or inflammation, as this is possibly a indicator of an allergy/sensitivity to plastic. this being said, i wonder how many cats who are sensitive to plastic have issues wearing plastic cones. I say this because I just had my four month old rescue spayed yesterday and she seems to be really itchy around her cone and I worry about her being sensitive to things because when I got her she must have had 300 fleas on her easily and she was not fed for most of her first few months. don't worry she's insanely spoiled now. Just something to think about...
izzy June 17, 2021
my cat WILL NOT keep his water in his bowl while he wears a cone, following getting neutered. i have to keep him locked up in my room while he heals meaning he doesn’t get water while i’m gone at work. when i am home and able to give him water he just splashes it all on the floor. what is happening? will he stop doing this? i’m so worried he’ll get dehydrated
    Kenny July 19, 2021
    Water spilling is normal while a cat has a cone on. Its hard to navigate and do most of the things they used to do while its on so they will be bumping into things and spilling food and water. I suggest putting a couple towels where they eat and drink or adjusting their drink bowl so it can be easier to get into while wearing a cone. My cat with her cone at first was spilling her water too so I changed her water bowl to a normal bowl I had around the house so it will fit in the cone with her without knocking over and I've had less accidents this way. Hope this helps. best of wishes to you and your fur baby :)
      Lisa April 29, 2023
      I just set up a Mason jar with water and the cone fits over it. My cat hasn’t been able to drink for almost a day until I figured this out. The trick will be to keep it topped off so he can get the water. I did the same for his dry food. Of course, he still is not too happy about the cone, but he had surgery on his foot and he’d get to his stitches for sure without a cone. Good luck!
    Foreverlouiemylove November 14, 2021
    I think you need to talk to your vet about that and also you can use or Chewy offers free vet cat and live video chat for auto shipping service member. My cat just started having a cone today to avoid he scratches his eye. He just has red, itchy eye and can’t get any clue. He was fine even early morning and found it a few hours later. I wanted to see my vet but not available so I had to run for ER clinic. ER vet was a but disappointing because he did not take time with us enough. He looked so busy. Anyway, he said my cat needs to keep on 24/7 for 10 days to get adjusted. My cat usually drinks a lot but he looks gloomy and he did not drink water as usual. I’m also very concerned so I trimmed a little bit a cone for his mouth area for easy access of water. Also I tried to give him a canned food adding some water to avoid dehydration. Also I gave him water by spoon for him to lick.
Sophia Fisher March 10, 2021
My female kitten just recently got 40% of her tail amputated and must wear a cone so she will not lick her stitches. My other female kitten hates the cone and hisses at Checkers (Kitten with the cone) whenever she sees her with it! What do I do to let Chess (Kitten who is scared of the cone) get used to it? (the cone is semi-clear and is made of plastic with no soft edges)
Nate February 18, 2021
My male cat just got neutered and some complications occurred. He has scrotum swelling and bleeding. So he's wearing a cone. the swelling is almost as large as his testicles used to be. He is a very energetic cat and he always wants to play, jump on things or get pettins but vet says he needs to stay calm. suggested leaving him in the bathroom but he just claws at the door and jumps around in the bathroom. so he's roaming my apartment crying. He had pretty severe difficulties eating and drinking so I had to remove the collar so he can drink. so happy you suggested that. and now I found a way to feed him by shoving wet food in his face and he just gobbles it up. He also was able to get the collar off pretty easily so I had to tie up a kind of harness around his body and looped through the holes in the collar using shoe string and that seemed to work pretty well. except just now as I type this he was able to get his collar off. stressful. had to make the harness tighter.
Anita Jewell December 29, 2020
My kitten got spayed today and got her cone off so I got a shirt for her to wear she got that off too. Now she has nothing on and seems happy she’s sleeping at the moment has had a lick around the area but not on the wound. What to do for the best ?
Crystaldiane December 23, 2020
I just had my kitty spayed and was surprised when my daughter brought her home and she was wearing a soft cone around her head. Poor thing. Growing up with female cats, I had never seen this done before. To help her bathe, I took a warm cloth and wiped her down and brushed her. Every time she simply tries to bathe I can hear the 'scratching' sound of her tongue licking the cone. The vet said to leave it on for 10 days so I'm going to follow the vet's recommendations, but I wish there was another way. I saw one idea of putting a onesie on the cat instead of a cone. My girl is a ragdoll and so her temperament is a little more tolerant than the cats I grew up with so this may work. I believe for us cat lovers we just feel bad for our fur babies and we know they have no idea why they are suddenly wearing this awful thing. Lol. Hang in there, and soon when kitty is healed she/he can be free again.
Teresa December 12, 2020
Can I reverse the cone? I mean the other way still protecting my cat from licking her wound underneath her armpit? She would be able to see better her surroundings. The cone is made of some kind of fabric enforced by plastic sheet. She would have a better access to food and water dishes. Thank you!
    Crystaldiane December 23, 2020
    It sounds like a good idea, as long as the cone doesn't inhibit that cat's arm and shoulder movement. The cone my cat is wearing while she heals from being spayed is soft and I believe she could reach her stitches with her mouth if I reversed the cone. Let us know how it worked, though! Crystal
      Mandi December 7, 2021
      My cat is wearing a cone because of a severely inflamed eye. So the cone is to prevent scratching the affected eye. He is having to wear it 24/7 because as soon as I take it off he starts scratching the affected eye. Is there anything I can do to stop him from scratching?
Suzette July 19, 2020
My mail cat Won't keep an e-collar on, he can remove one within 1 minute, same with bandages. He recently got a wound on his neck, it'll scab over, n then he scratches the scab off, he's been to the vet, n had an antibiotic shot, and they gave me a spray to use.... he don't like that much either..... wound is just under his chin on the neck. What are other alternatives.... I'm fixing to hog tie him lol. (Joke) Isn't there like a Plastic Nail cap or covering available, he's a dern Houdini at getting things off. Have to find a way to kep him from scratching it open.
    MarkMDP July 20, 2020
    Hello Suzette! You are welcome to join the forums (it's free!). Our expert members would be glad to help. The Cat Health section is a good place to start a thread. Here's the link: Note: No online advice beats professional diagnosis. Always consult the vet for serious medical problems.
Kathryn April 18, 2020
My cats have just been spayed, they are wearing their cones. And are not happy. They are miserable and I keep finding them just staring at the floor or wall :-(
    Sarah April 1, 2023
    Sam's my cat Oliver looks so miserable and I can't get him to drink or eat I elevated his water and food dish but nothing is working I try to also hand feed his food to him and he turns the other way I can't stand seeing him like this I hope he will eventually get hungry or thirsty enough that he will eat or drink for me I would take it off but my cousin put it on him I didn't know how to do the con so now I am like if I take it off how will I get it back on
Radio March 26, 2020
My cat just had an abcess drained that was near the base of his tail and is now wearing a cone. Ever since he got home, he has been walking backwards, trying to get out of it, and has bumped the wound site into doorframes and table legs several times, which probably hurts a lot. How many hours does it typically take until they adjust to the cone?
    Stephanie August 14, 2020
    How did that work for you? The same thing just happened to my cat last night and he ate a little bit last night after we got home and drank a little, too. I was able to give him his pill last night and this morning just fine,but tonight he would not take it at all. He has been basically sleeping all day and he hasn't gone to the bathroom yet. Im nervous to keep the cone on him for a week if he's not going to adjust.
Ginny March 4, 2020
My cat recently had to have her tail stitched up because she tore a gash in it, and while that's healing we have a cone on her. She still manages to seem to get to her tail, and she's just licking it, but I'm worried if that will effect the healing process of that? She's also licking the inside of her cone, and I'm wondering what that may mean?
    Norachan March 9, 2020
    You'll get better replies if you post this question in our forum @ginny
Nacho Kitty January 22, 2020
Brought my kitty home from eyelid surgery today with her cone and she is really miserable. She can eat and drink but she is now racing around and bashing into things and I'm afraid she's going to hurt herself. I feel like she might heal better if she could just relax. Will call the vet in the morning and see if it's possible to just keep a close eye on her to make sure she's not messing with her sutures. Poor kitty. :'(
Cheryl Lamere January 19, 2020
My cat had a cone on for a week and was miserable. Now that the cone is only eating and sleeping after 3 days
Ljbonnard April 7, 2019
My 9yr old male cat broke his front leg 2 weeks ago, he is currently stuck with a cone on and is not happy. He was coping really well but his leg is healing nicely and he should be able to take it off in a week's time after checked over by the vet. He can eat and drink with the cone on but it is the second cone as he is a large cat and the cat collar still allowed him access to the wound. He settled for the first 2 weeks with the cone bothering him but now he constantly scratches at the cone (with both front legs) and I feel awful but I'd rather not have him open his wound so he has to deal with that. Also it's not just the cone that is stressing him out, because of the break he is confined to an XL dog crate to prevent jumping while the bone heals. I'm double mean hahaha
tarasgirl06 February 27, 2017
I have one of the traditional clear plastic cones with white webbing string, from a long-ago vet visit I don't even remember; I keep it just in case, but hope never to have to use it, because I know these must cause quite a lot of stress to a cat. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *