Collar Training Nightmare!

bambolinas mum

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Help us, Help us!!!   Our little rescue kitten, Bambolina, (Bambi) is growing despite being on death's door a few times, given up by the vet,  and is now a thriving three and a half month old wild child.  I am desperately trying to get a collar on her but she gets her mouth in it, so it's stuck in her mouth and around her neck.  All the time.  I have to watch her because she starts gagging and her mouth is stuck.   I make sure there are only a couple of fingers between the collar but she still manages to get her mouth in it.  

I was hoping to maybe find a harness that doesn't go around her neck?  She gets out (a lot) and wanders our back yard and always comes back but I want ID ON HER!!!  I am definitely feeling that she has feral genes:  she had to get used to being hugged and kissed and is getting better all the time.

She gets along extremely well with our older cat who has adopted her.

HELP HELP HELP!!!!!
 

yayi

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A breakaway collar is better for cats. It snaps open easily so there is no chance of gagging or choking. A harness may not be okay if an unsupervised Bambi is fond of getting into places it might get somehow tangled resulting to Bambi getting stuck. 

If wearing the collar/harness for ID purposes is the only reason for them, you could ask the vet for other alternatives like tattoos or microchip. 
 
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musicalcats

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I think you should get her microchipped and get a breakaway collar and make it a little tighter on her so she can't get it in her mouth. Is there a bell on the collar? My newest addition hated her collar right away but doesn't mind it since I removed the bell.
 
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bambolinas mum

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yes, i used a break away collar and she still got stuck.  and I did make sure it was two fingers loose and she still managed to get her mouth in it.  i guess your option of a micro chip (are these visible?)  or a tattoo.  I didn't think of a tattoo.  thanks!
 

MoochNNoodles

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Micro chips go under the skin; so she would have to be scanned.  The tattoos go on the inside of the ear.  

Some break away collars are easier to pop open than others.  My state no longer gives tags for cat's rabies shots; but they did back when M&N were kittens.  I don't remember why; but I had the tag on the collar for some reason (possibly from an appointment?) but our old house had the heat vents that are flat with the floor and in the center of the room.  Noodles managed to get her tag stuck in the vent!  I saw her laying there with it popped open but she was still in the same position. She scared me good!  She was still a kitten at this point.  Ever since I test the break away clasp in the store.  The collar she had been wearing didn't open very easy at all!

I do think a break away is much safer than a harness if she is going to go outdoors.  Many moons ago; when I was a younger teen, we had one of our cats come home hobbling on 3 legs because her leg was stuck in her collar and another time she got her leg all the way through but it was still around her neck also.  My mother also found one of her collars tangled in our bushes.  So those are my break-away stories for you. 


I agree about trying it without the bell too.  Is it a kitten size collar?  They do make some you can order online that are personalized with your info on them; embroidered right into it and things like that.  That might be a good option for you as she grows.
 

eb24

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I agree with the others that you don't want to put a harness on a cat who has unsupervised access to the outdoors as the risk of getting tangled up is just too great. So, a collar is the way to go. As far as getting her to stop messing with it.....

- Make sure you have her in the right size collar. At her age she should be in a kitten sized one. Also, for small kittens I have found that at times two fingers can be a little too loose, so it's okay to tighten it up a bit more so long as you check it regularly to make sure it's not too snug. 

- I agree that taking the bell off may help as it won't be as distracting. You may also want to try a different type of collar than the standard breakaway. I am personally a huge fan of the Woofwear collars. Instead of a breakaway buckle they have a think rubber band that will snap if they get caught on something. I just think they have a smoother fit and are much harder for the cat to get off on their own. But, I don't think they make them for kittens. I have also heard really good things about BeastieBands. They are elastic and slip around the neck and so may provide a tighter fit that will be harder for her to get her mouth around. But, you would have to check if they make them for kittens. 

- Aside from removing the bell and having the proper fit, the most important thing you can do is train her to be okay with wearing it. And, I have found that distraction is by far the best technique. After you get it properly sized only have her wear it for small periods of time. And, for the first few sessions, before you put it on, distract her with some toys and/or some treats. While she's playing/eating, slip it around her neck and then just keep doing whatever it is you two were doing. When the session is over slip it back off before she has a chance to mess with it. Doing this will help her get used to the idea of having it on and, as you slowly increase the time she is in it will hopefully make it so she just stops noticing that it's there. 

- While you are training her to wear her regular collar, you can keep her identified by getting some of the paper wristbands they give out at concerts (most office supply stores sell them) and using those for temporary collars. Just write the information that would be on her tag on the strip before putting it on and change it every few days. For these you probably do want to keep it with a two finger fit as they have no give but it will keep her identified and she shouldn't be able to get her mouth around it. The other nice thing is that they are so light that it shouldn't be distracting to her. That said, be sure to observe her for a few hours after putting it on just to make sure!

I hope some of this helps. I know it can be frustrating but just keep trying different things and working with her and eventually she will get used to it. I promise it's better to deal with getting her used to a collar now while she's still small and young versus trying to do it when she's older and twice as strong. I have never known a cat to not adjust to wearing a collar so long as you invest a little time and, above all, patience! 
Vibes and best of luck! 
 
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bambolinas mum

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Thanks EB24.  That paper collar idea is worth trying.  Also it was mentioned that i could get a tattoo.  where would i do this?  at a regular tattoo parlour?  with her phone no. on it?  I will try all these suggestions.  Thanks much!
 

catpack

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The tattooing is done by a vet (while the cat is under sedation.). PLEASE do not take your cat to a regular tattoo parlor.
 
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bambolinas mum

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i tried that paper collar.  i used regular paper and she did keep it on for a bit.  i will find a bit stronger paper and work my way up from there.  and get her a micro chip. thanks for everyone's help!
 

eb24

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i tried that paper collar.  i used regular paper and she did keep it on for a bit.  i will find a bit stronger paper and work my way up from there.  and get her a micro chip. thanks for everyone's help!

Yeah regular paper won't work well- you really need the wristbands because of the thick material and the adhesive. Just remember they are a very temporary fix only to be used as she adjusts to the regular collar. While they have their benefits they also have their drawbacks and you need to check it regularly for fit and that her fur isnt sticking to the tape. Microchipping is of course necessary as well (as its her permanent identification), but nothing will replace having her in a regular collar. It's the one thing that signals to people that she is someone's pet and has a home. Otherwise you risk her being picked up as a stray, and there is never a guarantee that they will scan for a chip.

So, use the paper collars in the short term and have the microchip for the long. But, stay diligent in training her to her regular collar!
 

riley1

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I really do not understand all this collar talk.  I work at a humane society and the best way to keep your cat safe is a microchip.  Collars need to be breakaway and may come off.  Unless you have a pure breed of some kind I doubt that anyone would steal your cat.  Animal control, the vets, humane societies and rescues all have microchip  scanners.  They are pretty cheap $15 to 25 dollars and are painless.  Why put your cat  through the pain of  a tattoo (where would they put it to be seen anyway) when a chip is what everyone will be looking for.  Also if you ever get your cat comfortable with a collar and he continues to get out a lot I would recommend a GPS tracker.  Tagg makes a pretty inexpensive one and you can see where you cat is located anytime.
 

catpack

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While I completely agree that all cats should be microchipped, this, unfortunately isn't fail proof. There are instances where shelters/animal control do NOT scan for a microchip (most recent publicized case came out of Texas...google the story, it's heartbreaking as the guy went and identified his cat and she was still PTS b/c they failed to scan her before the injection.)

There are still plenty of people who do not know about microchips, so a collar with identification tags are still important. Also, most people are not going to take each cat they see without a collar in to be scanned for a chip to see if they belong to someone, if they are lost, or if they are a stray. Collars still play a huge role in saying a cat has an owner.

As for tattooing...
We do not use this; but, my understanding is it usually goes in one of the cat's ears (someone please correct me if this is inaccurate.). Some also will tattoo close to the spay sight to symbolize a female cat has been altered.
 

riley1

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While I completely agree that all cats should be microchipped, this, unfortunately isn't fail proof. There are instances where shelters/animal control do NOT scan for a microchip (most recent publicized case came out of Texas...google the story, it's heartbreaking as the guy went and identified his cat and she was still PTS b/c they failed to scan her before the injection.)

There are still plenty of people who do not know about microchips, so a collar with identification tags are still important. Also, most people are not going to take each cat they see without a collar in to be scanned for a chip to see if they belong to someone, if they are lost, or if they are a stray. Collars still play a huge role in saying a cat has an owner.

As for tattooing...
We do not use this; but, my understanding is it usually goes in one of the cat's ears (someone please correct me if this is inaccurate.). Some also will tattoo close to the spay sight to symbolize a female cat has been altered.
I do not know where you live but here everyone knows about microchips.  Collars are great as a backup if you can get your cat to keep it on.  There are stories of people finding their cats after 13 years because of a microchip.  Plus so few cats make it home even with a collar and a microchip!  As a breakaway is a must; it can easily come off on anything.  It is so heartbreaking to find your cat is missing, hopefully your cat will stay in the yarn, mine does not.  I was taking my cat out on a leash and then free (wearing a collar & microchipped) just around the immediate neighborhood.  A few times he wondered off and I could not find him for hours, only to have him show up on the porch later.  For my peace of mind I invested in a Tagg GPS tracker (only available in the US) so if I lose track of him I can find him.  This is not foolproof either as it can come off.  Not trying to offend anyone just trying to help you keep your baby safe.
 

jennyr

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I do not know where you live but here everyone knows about microchips.  Collars are great as a backup if you can get your cat to keep it on.  There are stories of people finding their cats after 13 years because of a microchip.  Plus so few cats make it home even with a collar and a microchip!  As a breakaway is a must; it can easily come off on anything.  It is so heartbreaking to find your cat is missing, hopefully your cat will stay in the yarn, mine does not.  I was taking my cat out on a leash and then free (wearing a collar & microchipped) just around the immediate neighborhood.  A few times he wondered off and I could not find him for hours, only to have him show up on the porch later.  For my peace of mind I invested in a Tagg GPS tracker (only available in the US) so if I lose track of him I can find him.  This is not foolproof either as it can come off.  Not trying to offend anyone just trying to help you keep your baby safe.
Please remember that this is a world-wide site, and cultures vary as does technology. Here in France, microchipping cats and dogs became law only last year, and then only for animals under one year. Which means thousands of cats out there without microchips, and many people who will not get it done anyway, whatever the law may say. And if an animal gets lost or run over, the last thing most people would think about is taking it for a scan. It is also the culture to let cats out, I am considered actually cruel by my friends for keeping most of mine inside. I have constant arguments about it. So collars are widely used. And yes, of course they are breakaway - and sometimes they get lost. That is what they are for. I have a supply of collars and tags to put on my 2 outside cats every time they come home without them.

We do not live in an ideal world, so it is not kind to assume that everyone is the same or even wants to be.
 

riley1

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I am new to the site and did not know that it was a world wide forum.  Please except my apologies.  Not trying to knock anyone just know how frantic I become when my  cat is missing and know that many are never found due to working at the humane society.  And of course something is better than nothing.
 

riley1

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You are so right about other countries.  I have heard things are this way in the UK. Plus, prior to litter all cats were indoor/outdoor.  It may be much safer but cats want to be out there stalking and hunting.  My little guy lives to go outside and let's me know how important this is to him.  Toys no longer interest him.  He would probably be safe in the neighborhood but as he was declawed by a previous owner he would be easy prey.  People who live in the country let their cats out and of course barn cats are free to do their job.
 

betsygee

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Ours are microchipped but we have breakaway collars on them, too.  I keep spare collars and tags.  One of our guys regularly loses or gets out of his collar, I'm not sure how but I just keep putting them back on him.  He doesn't get out of them as often now, he's getting used to wearing it.  
 
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