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Lost Cats and the Importance of a Breakaway Collar

Updated on June 13, 2019
RuthCoffee profile image

I've owned pets most of my life and volunteered many hours to help others. I've written on topics regarding their welfare for over 10 years.


Do You Worry About Losing Your Cat?

We love our cats and we want to protect them. Losing a cat can be traumatic but it happens every day. If you take a few precautions however you can help reduce the likelihood that your cat will wander off one day and never be seen again.

If you lose your cat there are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of finding them. However, a breakaway cat collar is one very affordable and simple way of protecting your cat. They are the safest collar available on the market. So first, let's discuss the collars that can be part of a solution and then touch on some other things to keep in mind.

Why Does a Cat Need a Collar?


A cat collar can perform a number of important functions.

  • First, they can provide the necessary identification, so that if lost, anyone who finds your cat can easily locate you and return your cat. Microchips are good, but you have to wonder if anyone who finds your cat will think to take it in to be checked. A collar is a very visible item that's hard to overlook.**
  • Even experienced outdoor cats can get lost. Cats that are kept entirely indoors sometimes escape. Collars are therefore a good idea whether you allow your cat outdoors or not.
  • Many collars also have a reflective surface which helps drivers spot your cat before it's too late.
  • Some are also flea collars which help keep fleas in check and your cat healthy.
  • Collars give you a place to hang a rabies tag or anything similar that is required.
  • When a bell is included they can also provide the alert some people want to give potential cat prey an advance warning!

** Personally, I recommend both a breakaway collar and a microchip. The collar is needed because not everyone checks for the microchip and the microchip because it is possible for the cat to become separated from the collar.

Why Are Breakaway Collars Better?


Despite the fact that collars provide important identification information, they can present certain hazards as well. Cats tend to get themselves into tight spots! It wouldn't be unlikely that your cat would get its collar hung up on something as it prowls and roams. Because of this, they could get stuck somewhere, unable to return home or worse yet, they could strangle.

To circumvent this type of occurrence, a breakaway cat collar will give way if enough pressure is applied. For instance, if the cat gets snagged on a small limb, they can pull away and the collar will free them; allowing them to escape unharmed.

Things to Consider


There are several things to think about when choosing a collar.

  • Most good collars will be made with a nylon fabric. It's strong and yet lightweight and comfortable. Other materials may fade or fray.
  • There are a number of colors to choose from and can often be purchased in multiples.
  • Some collars allow you to personalize them, having your contact information printed directly on the collar so that no additional tags are needed. Others, however, require you to place contact information on a separate tag which is then attached to the collar.
  • If you use flea collars you can opt for a breakaway cat collar that has this feature versus having your cat wear two separate collars.
  • If your cat is often out at night, it's certainly wise to select a reflective breakaway collar for added protection.
  • Size matters. While most collars will work, some won't adjust enough to fit a particularly large or small cat. So, it's important to measure your cat's neck and know the size. When fitting the collar be sure that it's adjusted to the appropriate size. It should be small enough to assure your cat won't easily slip out of it but not too tight so that it's uncomfortable. Typically, you should be able to fit two fingers between your cat's skin and the collar. Cats adjust to collars best when they begin wearing them as youngsters although probably not before 6 months of age. You will need to check the collar routinely to assure the fit remains good.

Making Your Own

Of course, it is possible to make your own cat collar with a breakaway buckle. All you need is a couple of feet of nylon webbing and the breakaway buckle. The nylon webbing used for a cat collar is usually only 1/2 to 3/8" in width. You need to buy enough to assure you have extra to lap it over after running it through the buckle. A couple of feet should be plenty.

The process is as simple as running the nylon through the buckle, lapping if over at the end and sewing it down securely. Then you merely need to repeat the process at the other end. The fit should allow you to fit two fingers between your cats skin and the collar.

See How It's Done

Other Tips to Help Find a Lost Cat

A breakaway collar is a good first step in assuring you get your cat back, but there are other things you can do before and after your cat goes missing.

  1. Microchip your cat. If the collar breaks away, the microchip will still be there to identify your pet. If you notify the company that provided your pet's microchip, they typically have them in a database and can assist in finding your pet in a number of ways.
  2. GPS is a possibility. Some are collars and some are tag like items that you place on an existing collar. Obviously, GPS allows you to track your cat's movements.
  3. If your cat gets out and you can't find them, leave food out for them to smell. Try to help them find the way.
  4. Post signs around the area and be sure to get the word out to neighbors.
  5. Post in the local paper, online, Facebook and so forth. An online search will reveal a number of options of where to post a "missing cat" alert.
  6. Go to your local shelter to see if perhaps someone found your cat and turned them over to the shelter.
  7. Spend some time searching the area where you live. Don't forget to look high and low. Cats sometimes hide under porches, in culverts, and so forth for safety. Some may tend to go up high for both safety purposes and the ability to see further. Remember to look as cats often don't respond when called, especially when they are in unfamiliar territory.

© 2009 Ruth Coffee


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