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When Should I Use an E-Collar for Cats? What Is It?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

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An Elizabethan collar, commonly called an E-collar or “cone of shame”, is a protective cone that fits around your cat’s neck. It’s made of plastic or material and has an opening for the cat’s head. The collar protects the cat from scratching and biting at sores on its body. Keep reading to learn more about when you should use an Elizabethan Collar for cats.

An E-collar is most often used by veterinarians to protect wounds on cats. In addition, your veterinarian may recommend using an E-collar after surgery to protect the site while it heals. Cats have very rough tongues and mouths full of bacteria, so it is important to keep them from licking wounds.

Who Should Use an Elizabethan Collar?

If your cat has an open wound or sore that is likely to be scratched or licked, it may need an E-collar. The collar will protect the wound and keep your cat from re-infecting the area or damaging the skin. For example, your cat may need an E-collar if it has any of the following:

  • A bandage
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Deep wounds
  • Burst cat fight abscess
  • Illness involving a catheter or feeding tube
  • Wounds that have sutures where the edges of the wound have been stitched together.
  • Surgical wounds
  • To protect the head if the cat is scratching it aggressively

These wounds may require an E-collar for a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the seriousness of the wound.

cat wearing e-collar after surgery
Image Credit: elwynn, Shutterstock

How Do I Know If My Cat Needs an E-Collar?

Your veterinarian will evaluate your cat’s wounds and determine if an E-collar is needed. If your cat has a wound that is likely to be licked or scratched, the veterinarian will likely recommend an E-collar.

What Are the Types of E-Collars for Cats?

An E-collar may be made of plastic or material. And each type has advantages and disadvantages. Your veterinarian will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of E-collars with you and recommend the most appropriate type for your cat. Plastic E-collars are soft, easy to fit , and can be used for a variety of wounds. They come in different sizes so you can select the one that will best fit your cat. There are alternatives such as inflatable neck collars, body suits or even foam e-collars.

black cat wearing pillow collar
Image Credit: lowpower225, Shutterstock

How to Fit an Elizabethan Collar on a Cat?

If your cat is uncooperative, your veterinarian may need to fit the collar for you. If your cat is friendly enough, you can measure its neck and use a ruler to select the correct size. Place the E-collar around your cat’s neck and adjust it so that it fits snugly. The collar should be placed one finger width below the jaw line. The collar should not be too tight.

If you’re able to fit two fingers between the collar and your cat’s neck, the collar is the correct size. If the collar is too loose, remove it and put it on again. If the collar is too loose, your veterinarian can provide you with a different size. Note that the collar should be removed for cleaning.

cat wearing collar
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

How to Clean and Maintain an E-Collar for Cats?

For plastic E-collars, use warm water and mild soap. Rinse the collar thoroughly. Dry the collar with a clean, soft cloth. For material E-collars, use warm water and mild soap or follow manufacturers’ cleaning instructions. Make sure it is completely dry before putting it back on your cat.  You will need to monitor them closely so that they don’t damage the wound while the collar is off.

Tips to Keep Your Cat Comfortable While Using an E-Collar

Cats typically get used to wearing the collar after a day or two, but they can still be very irritating for them. So here are a few ways to make sure that your cat is as comfortable as possible while it recovers from injuries with the collar on:

  • Make sure the collar is the correct size. If the collar is too loose, it will not protect the wound. If it is too tight, it may cause discomfort.
  • Wash the collar once a week or more if getting dirty.
  • Keep your cat indoors until the wound has healed.
  • If your cat has any signs of infection, such as redness, pain, swelling or warmth around the wound, consult your veterinarian.
  • Try a different style of collar if your cat is not tolerating your first choice.
ginger cat check by vet
Image Credit: Nestor Rizhniak, Shutterstock

Wrapping Things Up

An Elizabethan collar is an important part of wound care. It protects the wound and prevents your cat from scratching or biting it. The collar is removed when the wound has healed and the collar is no longer needed. Your veterinarian will advise you when to remove the E-collar.

Featured Image Credit: Vera Aksionava, Shutterstock

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