Sometimes veterinarians recommend that cats wear e-collars (Elizabethan collars), otherwise known as the "Cone of Shame". In most cases, this happens after surgery, when a cat is injured, or when a cat really needs to stop scratching. The overall goal is one and the same - the cat has to be prevented from reaching a certain area of its body and the collar is the way to do it.
But as any cat owner who has ever put an e collar on a cat knows, the cone of shame always brings out some serious drama. And for good reason; sure, the cat can't reach the forbidden area anymore, but it can't see, hear, eat, or drink properly, and there is an annoying echo every time it moves. Not to mention the inability to move properly, which is absolutely dreadful for cats.
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Cone of Shame alternatives for cats:
It comes as no surprise that most cats are profoundly bothered by wearing the e collar, which begs the question - Are there any viable alternatives to e collars or are cats doomed to wear the cone of shame?
I asked Floppycats readers asked about it on our Facebook page when my brother's cat, Boots, was bitten on the hind leg and the vet recommended the dreaded e collar after surgery. And then recently, another reader asked about it too - so I figured it was a good time to cover it more extensively on the site.
The answer is yes, there are alternatives to the cone of shame and our Facebook Floppycatters have suggested some excellent ones. Here are the best ones:
1. A Cloth Color - Available in Pet Stores
Several of our Facebook fans suggested using a cloth collar instead of the cone of shame because it is much easier on the cat. It is much lighter than the e collar, which is made out of plastic.
In addition, the cloth material does not impair their hearing as much, which also makes this type of collar much easier for the cat to get used to.
The e collar is rigid and difficult to bend, which makes it very difficult for cats to eat and drink while wearing it, but with a cloth collar, this issue is drastically improved. It is not flexible enough for the cat to reach the forbidden area, but just bendable enough for them to be able to reach their bowls better. This is an inexpensive alternative to e collars that you are well worth looking into.
One of the Floppycatters mentioned that she was very happy with a soft collar she found at Petco. She used it for her cat, Rory and that she got around much better than with a hard cone. This is made out of plastic, but it is a much more flexible material than the rigid kind of plastic used in a hard cone (the typical e collar).
The advantages are better mobility and a better reach of the food and water bowls. However, they will still not be able to hear properly with the soft collar. It does not fix all the issues, but it is certainly an alternative that is much easier to accept.
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2. An Inflatable Cat Collar - Available on Amazon
This is quite the revolutionary alternative to the traditional e collar because it resolves some of the biggest issues: the sight and hearing, but also the weight. Imagine an inflatable swimming ring that is the perfect size for your cat's neck and you get this collar.
It reduces the cat's mobility enough to make it impossible for it to reach the forbidden area, but not enough for it to make it extremely annoying.
The cat has much better visibility with the inflatable cat collar and its hearing is only affected to a minimum. In addition, an inflatable device is much lighter than the cloth or plastic e collars, which makes it much easier for the cats to get used to it. This is made out of thick plastic, so the cat will not simply claw its way through it.
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3. A Baby Onesie or T-Shirt or a Suitical
The ultimate goal of using an e collar is to make it impossible for the cat to reach a specific area. The e collar prevents the cat to reach that area and pretty much its entire body because it brings a physical barrier between the cat's mouth and its skin, because it makes it impossible for it to see the area, and because it prevents the cat from moving its head enough to bite. A viable alternative to this is to make the forbidden area unavailable to the cat.
If your cat is not supposed to reach a wound, make sure to cover it up with a proper bandage. Then, you can put on a T-shirt or a baby onesie on your cat to prevent it from taking the bandage off. If the forbidden area is located on the front legs or on its back, then a T-shirt will be enough, but if the area is on its hind legs, you need a onesie to cover everything up.
The main advantage of using clothing is that the cat will be able to see, hear, walk, eat and drink normally. It will not be thrilled to be all dressed up, but it will protest far less. However, there are some disadvantages as well.
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Covering up a bandage with clothing may be no match for your cat's teeth and claws. With enough determination, it can chew its way right through the cloth. So, keep that in mind and use a thick t-shirt or onesie. Another disadvantage is that in some cases, covering up the wound will make it heal slowly, but, nonetheless, it is worth considering if your cat does not accept collars.
Another idea - a reader sent me this image of an alternative cat surgery suit in an email. I do not know who to give credit to - so please let me know if you do.
As you can see, there are quite a few alternatives for e collars out there and they are quite easy to find. Have you ever used any of these on your cat? Tell us about your experiences with the Cone of Shame and any other ideas you might have about other alternatives in the comments section below.
Read how Ragdoll cat Leo's parents navigated Leo's eating with a cone on after he had Entropion in cats.