The Elizabethan collar is important for the health and well-being of injured cats. It prevents the cat from licking and biting its wounds - which can remove the stitches and lead to the cat having to go through even more surgical procedures. The veterinarian can put the collar on for you, but in case of emergencies, it's important to know how to put the collar on the cat yourself.
Part 1 of 3: Preparing the necklace
Step 1. Measure the cat's neck
This will help determine the size of necklace you will need to purchase and how tight it should be. When choosing the collar you feel is appropriate, place it on the cat to see if the size is ideal.
- You can place a tape measure around the cat's neck to estimate the required width of the collar. However, testing different collar adjustments on the cat is the only way to see which one is right for the cat.
- Ideally, the collar should be put on by the veterinarian the first time. If you feel the need to remove and replace the collar later, use the same adjustment made by the veterinarian.
- The Elizabethan collar should be tight so that the cat cannot move its head too much.
Step 2. Fold the necklace
Before assembly, the collar is completely flat. Roll it up to get the famous cone shape of the Elizabethan necklace. Wrap the collar with the underside (usually labeled in such a way) under the opposite side.
- The collar should be rolled up until it is tight enough. Most Elizabethan necklaces are adjustable. Test to see what size is right for your cat.
- If neither side has labels indicating which side is under or over, place the side with a long plastic tab on top.
Step 3. Attach the long plastic tab
The top side of the necklace should have a long piece of plastic sticking out of the inside of the fold lined up with two large holes. The underside should have four small inlets, in some cases labeled "in" and "out". Align the folds so that you can insert the plastic tab completely into the first hole, pull it out through the second hole, insert it into the third, and pull it out through the fourth.
- At the end of the process, the necklace will ideally have the shape of a cone.
- This is a good time to try to slide the cone onto the cat's head and determine if the collar is fitting correctly. Remember that you will use an additional collar to hold the Elizabethan collar at the end of the process.
Step 4. Attach the three smaller plastic tabs
The collar should also have three small pieces of plastic encircling the inside. These must be inserted into their own holes. Use the respective holes to insert and remove the tabs. At the end of the process, the inside of the necklace should have four arches.
- Check that the flaps are securely attached and cannot be removed easily. It might be a good idea to bend the end of each flap a little and pull the bows so that they are snug.
- These bows will be used to insert the regular collar around the inside of the Elizabethan collar, helping to secure the collar.
Step 5. Pass the cat's collar inside the bows
Now that the Elizabethan necklace has four bows, run the regular necklace through them. The collar can be used to help secure the Elizabethan collar to the animal's neck.
Part 2 of 3: Putting the Elizabethan Collar on the Cat
Step 1. Carry the cat
The ideal way to hold the cat will depend on the cat's cooperation. If the cat is well behaved, hold just below the cat's abdomen with one hand. Keep it pressed against your body. Use your other hand to hold the animal's chin. Carry it to a flat surface such as a table.
- If the cat is scared, put a towel over it. Leave the animal in place for a few minutes until it calms down. Then wrap a towel around the cat's back and lift it still with the towel.
- If the cat is aggressive, hold it by the fur behind its neck. Use your other hand to hold the animal's back legs and support it from behind.
Step 2. Hold the cat
If you have someone to help, ask the person to use both hands to hold the cat's neck or front paws. The person should also lean over the table and press their arms against the cat's sides - this way the animal will be trapped on both sides.
- Talk to the cat in a calm voice to relax her and make her feel more comfortable.
- If you are having difficulty holding the cat on its own, hold it by the fur behind its neck, lifting its front legs. That way one of your hands will remain free. Also, the cat will not be able to scratch you in this position. As kittens, cats are carried in this way by the mother, so this procedure can also serve to calm the animal.
Step 3. Place the Elizabethan collar on the cat
It might be a good idea to ask someone to hold the cat - the animal probably won't cooperate. From behind the cat, pass the smaller opening of the collar over his face, sliding it down to his neck. Gently pull the cat's ears forward.
Step 4. Close the collar
Close the collar located between the arches of the Elizabethan collar. This will serve to hold the necklace in place. Fasten it firmly, but in such a way that it does not compromise the animal's breathing.
Instead of the collar, you can also thread a ribbon inside the bows, tying it to secure the Elizabethan collar
Part 3 of 3: Keeping the collar on the cat
Step 1. Get professional help
While it is important to be able to put on and take off the Elizabethan collar on your own, you should ask your veterinarian to assess whether the collar adjustment is right for your cat. Ask a professional to help you place and remove the necklace whenever possible. Do not discontinue use of the collar until you receive veterinarian approval.
Step 2. Avoid removing the collar from the animal
Although the Elizabethan collar may look uncomfortable, your cat should be able to eat, sleep, and move around during use. There is no need to remove the collar. If you do, the cat will be able to undo the stitches in its wounds and will have to undergo serious surgical procedures.
If you really have to remove the collar from the animal, the process shouldn't be too difficult. Simply remove the collar around the Elizabethan collar arches. Then pull the collar toward the cat's head. Keep the rest of the collar assembled so you can easily reuse it when needed
Step 3. Ask your veterinarian if there are other options
Currently, there are alternatives to the Elizabethan collar that are more comfortable and even safer, as they do not block the animal's peripheral vision, reducing the risk of accidents. However, it is important to consult your veterinarian and get their approval before trying these alternatives.