Additional Information

Site Information

Should Cats Wear Bells on Their Collars?


Cats should wear a certain type of collar only.

Before we discuss whether cats should wear bells on their collars, we must first determine whether cats should wear collars at all. This has been a debate among cat owners for a long time, and whether to put a bell on the collar is an extension of that debate.

Types of Collars Available for Cats

There are basically three types of collars you can get for your cat:

  • Buckle collars are the traditional type that have a buckle closure. They don't release if they become caught on something
  • Stretchy collars slip over the cat's head and are made of elastic. If they're caught on something, they stretch but don't necessarily break, and it's hard to get a proper fit.
  • Breakaway collars, also called safety collars, are a type of cat collar with a clip instead of a buckle that is made to release if the collar is pulled on more than a little bit.

A breakaway or safety collar is the only type of collar a cat should wear.

Cats get into small spaces and can be quite mischievous. They like to climb, jump, and hide. They are almost always at risk of getting their collar stuck on something, and if that should happen when they are unsupervised, and the collar has a buckle closure or is elastic, the cat might be hung at worst or stuck at best.

Cats playing with toys and scratching posts is great for their body and mind.

Breakaway collars are not meant for walking a cat on a leash. You will need to fit your cat with a harness to be able to do that, and the harness should only be on your cat when you are going for a walk. A breakaway collar is only meant to carry a cat's ID, not for restraint, leash-walking, or anything else.

So Should Indoor Cats Wear Collars?

It's a great idea to have a breakaway collar on your indoor cat at all times and to ensure that you have it equipped with ID tags that contain your current contact information. The reason for this is that indoor cats do sometimes escape outdoors, and having proper identification that is visible on your cat can help her get home faster.

There are more exciting things to scratch than your favorite couch!

It's also a good idea to have your cat microchipped, even if she stays indoors all the time, for the same reason. If she escapes and her collar comes off, someone who finds her can take her in and have her microchip scanned so that she can be returned to you.

What About Bells on Cats' Collars?

Now that we've established that both indoor and outdoor cats should wear a collar and what type it should be, we've arrived at the question of whether or not a cat's collars should carry a bell. Here are some of the reasons that a bell on a cat's collar can be a good idea:

  • A bell can help you keep track of the whereabouts of a kitten in your home. Kittens can get into tiny little spaces, and it's easy to lose track of where they are. A bell can help you keep tabs on your kitten, so you can be sure she's safe.
  • In a multi-cat household, if one cat tends to bully the others, a bell on his collar can help warn meeker cats that he's coming and give them time to leave the area and get away from him.
  • When cats go outdoors, a bell on the collar is often used to warn wildlife, especially birds, that there is a predator around. The problem is that cats are such good hunters that it's been found that they can actually learn how to move without triggering the bell or so that it only makes a soft noise, so this particular benefit might not be all it's cracked up to be. Not only that, but the bell might also let predators like coyotes or other, tougher cats know that your cat is around, putting him at risk.

Wearing a bell on his collar might irritate a sensitive cat because of its tingling noise every time he moves. It also might scare a timid cat and frighten him into freezing and avoiding moving around more than he absolutely has to.

So Should I Put a Bell on My Cat's Collar?

As you can see, there is no clear-cut answer to this question, and you must decide based on your individual cat's personality and circumstances. However, if your cat goes outdoors, using a bell might not have its intended consequences.

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.