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Do All Cat Collars Have Bells? Are They Needed?

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

munchkin cat wearing collar

If you’ve ever found yourself on the aisle in the pet store that has cat collars, you’ve also found yourself staring at a wall full of tiny bells. Maybe you decided to shift your search for a cat collar online, only to find a ton more cat collars with tiny bells on them.

What’s the deal with cat collars having bells? Is there a purpose that they serve other than creating cute jingling noises when your cat is racing around the house? Here’s what you should know!

Do All Cat Collars Have Bells?

If you’re anti-bell, then you can definitely find cat collars that don’t have bells on them. You may have to do a little extra searching for a bell-less collar, though, because bells on cat collars are definitely the norm, even for kitten collars. The most common type of collar you’re not going to see a bell on is any kind of disposable collar, like a flea and tick collar.

In general, cat collars in pet stores do have bells on them, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Although, you will be more likely to have luck finding a collar without a bell through online shops. You can also remove the bell from your cat’s collar if it really bothers you.

orange tabby cat with reflective collar
Image Credit: Wanthana Manowong, Shutterstock

Why Do Cat Collars Have Bells?

There are two main reasons that cat collars have bells. The first is that it’s safer for your cat, especially if you have a kitten or a cat that is known to get into trouble. Having a bell on your cat will make them easier to hear and find if there is a problem.

It’s not uncommon for kittens to get stuck in or underneath things, and the bell can make them easier to hear. If your cat really gets into a pickle, like getting into a hole in the wall, the bell is one way you’ll be able to track their movements.

The second big reason that your cat’s collar has a bell is to help protect prey species. This is a far more important addition to the collar of an outdoor cat. Cats are apex predators, to the point that domestic cats have been directly linked with the extinction of at least one species of animal.

Outdoor domestic cats can wreak havoc on native ecosystems, and they tend to be highly effective killing machines. Cats are acrobatic enough to catch a bird midair, and they’re also known to kill other small animals, like reptiles and rodents. If you aren’t going to keep your cat indoors or only on supervised outside visits, then your cat needs a collar with a bell.

Hepper-Breakaway-Collar1

We all know how curious cats can be! Keep your cat safe with our Hepper Breakaway Collar, made of 100% natural hemp. This collar's quick-release mechanism will make sure your cat never gets stuck, and the metal slip-locks will ensure a tight fit for any breed. Plus, the included jingle bell will protect your local wildlife.

How to Further Protect Native Species

Sometimes, your cat having a bell on their collar isn’t enough to keep them from decimating local populations of small animals. Some cats are smart and lithe enough to learn that the bell is warning prey of their approach, thus changing their movements to prevent the bell from making noise. To overcome this, some experts recommend attaching a second bell to your cat’s collar.

If your cat can’t seem to keep their collar on for more than a few days at a time, then there are also cat bibs on the market that help protect animals. These brightly colored bibs are quiet, but the colors help alert small animals to the presence of your cat and lessen their ability to blend in or hide from attacks.

Cat Bandana
Image Credit: Jucadima, Shutterstock

Do Bells Hurt My Cat’s Ears?

Some people have voiced concerns about bells being damaging to a cat’s hearing. After all, they wear it all the time, and essentially every time they move, the bell makes a noise. Well, fear not! Multiple experts have denied that bells damage a cat’s hearing.

One PhD student performed a study that indicated that the average cat bell makes sounds at 50–60 dB, while sounds below 80 dB showed no negative impact on a cat’s hearing abilities or aural health.

In Conclusion

While most cat collars have bells, they aren’t essential for indoor cats. However, they are a safety mechanism that can help you better find your mischievous cat and help prey species hear your cat coming.

Ideally, cats should be kept indoors due to their potential for causing ecological damage, but in the case where your cat lives outdoors or spends unsupervised time outdoors, they need to wear a bell to help keep native species safe. In lieu of a bell, your cat can also wear a brightly colored cat bib.

 

Featured Image Credit: Raychan, Unsplash

Brooke Billingsley

Authored by

Brooke Billingsley spent nine years as a veterinary assistant before becoming a human nurse in 2013. She resides in Arkansas with her boyfriend of five years. She loves all animals and currently shares a home with three dogs, two cats, five fish, and two snails. She has a soft spot for special needs animals and has a three-legged senior dog and an internet famous cat with acromegaly and cerebellar hypoplasia. Fish keeping...Read more

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