Many people pop a collar on their Maine Coon and think nothing of it. After all, collars have been used on cats for many years and are a good idea, right?
If you are intending to use a collar on your Maine Coon, make sure it’s for the right reason and is a safe design. And there is one type of collar that should be avoided at all costs.
Should you put a collar on a Maine Coon?
You don’t have to put a collar on a Maine Coon: it’s not a legal requirement. However, you might consider using one if you plan to let your Maine Coon roam free: a collar is a visual sign that a cat has an owner. But beware: there are certain collars you should avoid using and some that are outright dangerous.
Good uses, bad uses, styles, safety aspects, dangers, alternatives: this guide covers everything you need to know before deciding whether or not to put a collar on your Maine Coon.
Three types of collar you should not use on a Maine Coon
Never use a solid collar with a traditional buckle that does not pull apart. If this type of collar gets caught on a protruding object such as a branch, the unthinkable could happen: your cat could easily be left hanging.
Avoid stretchy collars with no buckles as these are still difficult for a cat to wiggle out of if they get snagged.
Finally do not use a flea collar. The chemicals used in these can cause skin irritation, gastrointestinal problems, and even organ failure leading to death. There are much better ways to control fleas and I cover these in this article: How to get rid of fleas on a Maine Coon.
The best collars for Maine Coon cats
If you choose to put a collar on your Maine Coon, make it a fabric one with a breakaway clasp. These come undone under the slightest pressure to prevent a cat from getting hooked up.
Adjust the length of the collar so that you can get 2 fingers comfortably between it and your Maine Coon’s neck. This will be loose enough to be comfortable but tight enough to lessen the chance of anything getting caught in the collar as your cat goes about its usual daily explorations.
Your cat will probably lose many collars so always keep spares handy.
You can find a great selection of safety collars on Amazon. I prefer the personalized type. Here’s a very good example: GoTags Personalized Breakaway Reflective Collar
Why do people put collars on Maine Coons?
People put collars on cats for many reasons including:
- They think it’s a legal requirement
- To let people know the cat has an owner
- To attach an identity tag, bell, or tracking device
- To reflect car headlights
- To attach a medical alert
- To attach a leash to
- To kill fleas
- As a fashion accessory
Let’s address each of these reasons in turn:
Are cats meant to wear collars?
In many areas, dogs must wear collars by law but this does not apply to cats, not even big cats like Maine Coons.
So, you are not breaking the law if you do not put a collar on your Maine Coon.
A cat’s collar shows it has an owner
As free-roaming cats go wherever they please, they often end up in other people’s land or homes. A collar helps everyone understand that a cat has a home elsewhere.
Of course, this doesn’t mean a cat is OK. It may be lost or have escaped when it’s not usually an outdoor cat.
If you are ever concerned about a feline visitor, collar or no collar, try to establish who owns it. This may be by looking for a tag on its collar, taking it to a local vet for a scan, or asking a local charity to pop along with a scanner to see if it has a microchip.
Collars can hold tags, bells, and tracking devices
Nearly all cat collars have a bell attached to protect the small species that cats love to prey on. Whether you care about saving wildlife or just can’t be dealing with your cat bringing you “presents”, a bell scares off small creatures before they can end up in your cat’s jaws.
It is possible to attach a disc with your contact details to a collar but I prefer the type of collar with a phone number embroidered on it.
Either way, this is a quick way for someone to let you know where your cat is without having to scan for a microchip.
There are some great small tracking devices available. These can be attached to your cat’s collar to help you locate it at any point. And, if your cat comes home without its collar and the tracker, you should still be able to locate it!
If you have an iPhone and Apple AirTags, there’s a collar designed to hold an AirTag so you can then track your cat this way. You can see it on Amazon at this link.
Reflective collars make cats more visible at night
Many collars have a reflective surface. Bear in mind that a Maine Coon’s neck ruff may cover the collar too much for this to be effective.
Also bear in mind that most accidents involving cats and vehicles happen at night so it’s really not a good idea to let your cat roam outside after dark – for its own safety and for your peace of mind.
Using a collar to attach a medical alert to
If your Maine Coon has a medical condition or is on a special diet, a collar can be used to hold vital information about this should your cat get lost or injured.
You can get a mini capsule and store a small piece of note paper in this containing pertinent information. These are attached to a collar in the same way as bells and tags are.
Do not use a leash on a cat collar – buy a cat harness instead
These days, it’s not unusual to see a Maine Coon being walked on a leash. However, cat collars are not safe for this purpose.
A cat will very easily slip a collar or snap it undone and you are very likely to lose your cat if this happens.
If you want to walk your Maine Coon, buy a good quality, escape-proof harness. I’ve never used one but many of my Maine Coon owning friends use a vest-type harness, like this adjustable rabbitgoo harness (click the link to see more details on Amazon)
Never use a flea collar on a Maine Coon (or any cat)
If you want to prevent fleas on your cat, do not resort to a flea collar. As mentioned earlier, flea collars can make cats ill and have been associated with causing organ failure and death.
Instead, speak to your vet about a monthly spot-on treatment.
Maine Coons are beautiful and don’t need a fashion collar
If you search online for a cat collar, you’re bound to see some fancy ones pop up. Some look like bow ties or fancy ribbons. They are not functional and are simply designed to make people go, “Ahhhhh!”
As far as I’m concerned, a Maine Coon does not need a fancy collar just for show – it’s beautiful as it is. If you must put one on your cat, ensure it is not going to put it in danger.
The problems with putting a collar on a Maine Coon
A collar may seem harmless but there are several problems and dangers to bear in mind:
- They can get hooked up. Maine Coons are naturally curious and love exploring! They climb trees and squeeze through hedges where it’s easy to catch their collar on a branch and become trapped. They might get free but injured in the process.
- Collars can rub. Wearing a collar all the time, especially if it’s not fitted properly, could rub against your cat’s skin. This can make their skin sore and cause them to lose fur or develop mats around their neck.
- They could get stuck on the collar itself. Again, if your cat’s collar isn’t fitted properly or becomes loose, it could get it stuck in its mouth or even get a paw or leg stuck in it which can result in serious injuries.
What can you use instead of a collar?
Always, always get your Maine Coon microchipped even if you never plan for it to step paw outside your home.
No matter how careful you are, Maine Coons do sometimes get out, for example, through a window, when someone accidentally leaves a door open, if a fence breaks, or as a result of a break-in at your home.
Microchipping is inexpensive, harmless, and invaluable as a way of reuniting the two of you if your cat escapes or goes missing.
Microchipping is a quick and easy procedure performed by a vet. It involves injecting a small chip into the scruff of a cat’s neck. This chip has a unique number on it which is stored in a central database along with your contact details.
The chip can be read by a scanner and the database searched to find you. All you have to do is ensure it is registered and that you keep your details up-to-date if you move or change phone number.
Do indoor Maine Coons need to wear a collar?
It’s entirely up to you whether or not you put a collar on an indoor-only cat. I never do because we are extremely careful, and have a fully escape-proof garden.
If you think your Maine Coon might ever escape, a collar will give you peace of mind as someone could use it to identify your cat as yours without having to resort to scanning a microchip.
Size guide: what size collar does a Maine Coon need?
Place your first and second finger on your Maine Coons neck and measure its neck (including your fingers) with a soft tape measure. You might need someone to help do this accurately!
Then check the size on the collar you are about to buy. It should tell you the range of neck sizes it is suitable for. As long as the measurement you just took falls within this range, the collar is suitable.
Make sure it’s a breakaway collar, of course. When you fit the collar on your cat, adjust it so you can just slide yout first two fingers in between the collar and your cat’s neck.
Is it OK for a cat to wear a collar all the time?
As long as the collar doesn’t irritate your Maine Coon, it’s OK for it to wear one all the time. I would still remove it daily to groom underneath it so that mats don’t develop and to check it’s not rubbing the skin.
Always ensure your cat’s fur has not wound around the breakaway clasp as this could stop it from undoing in an emergency situation.
It’s fine to take your cat’s collar off at night but bear in mind you must be sure it can’t escape, especially if your are using the collar for identification or medical message purposes.
Should a Maine Coon wear a collar? Conclusion
Putting a collar on a Maine Coon is a personal choice and there is no legal requirement for you to do so. Should you choose to use one, make sure it is a safety breakaway collar and fits your Mane Coon properly.
Have your Maine Coon microchipped whether it’s an indoor or outdoor cat. Cats lose collars quite easily but a chip will always be there ready to help the two of you get reunited!