How to Make an E-Collar for a Cat
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The ‘E’ in E-collar stands for Elizabethan. Wrapping round the cat's neck, it provides a similar look to the late English queen and her penchant for wearing soft fabric ruffs. Unfortunately, if a cat is wearing an Elizabethan collar, it is not because they are looking for vintage style points. The E-collar protects them from licking, scratching or biting at wounds, stitches, skin conditions or anything which may be exacerbated by grooming. As cats are such hygienic animals, an inability to groom can be very frustrating. Some believe the hard plastic collars can simply exacerbate the irritation.
AnimalWised not only provides ideas on how to make an E-collar for cats, but we provide some alternative ways to prevent licking and biting. This can save you money or help you if you don't have access to an Elizabethan collar from a veterinary clinic or pet store.
What is an E-collar?
As we said above, the E-collar is used to prevent cats from biting and scratching parts of their body when they shouldn't. It is made of a tough plastic and is wrapped around the neck in the shape of a cone. This is why they are often alternatively called cat cones. They are fastened to the neck with a clasp or an elastic gauze. They are usually of one size, but are adjustable in a similar way to a baseball cap. The conical shape means they can see out of the front, but they are both unable to place their mouth on parts of their body.
Wounds which need protected are often from trauma injuries or stitches as the result of surgical treatments. However, they can be used to prevent licking of sores caused by parasitical infestation or any other dermatological issues they may suffer. E-collars may also be used to prevent scratching due to lice or fleas, even if a wound has not yet appeared.
Prohibiting them from licking or biting their body is not the only purpose of an Elizabethan collar for cats. It also prevents them from scratching their head and mouths with their paws. This could be due to recovery from ophthalmologic or odontological surgeries as well as if they have received a head wound.
If the cat gets used to the E-collar quickly and is not too disturbed by it, then it is a very effective method for health protection. It is also economical and simple to apply. Many of them also have a rubber lining to make them more comfortable and stop them digging in to the cat's neck. Soft E-collars made from fabric are becoming more widely available, but you need to be careful to ensure they are stiff enough to work effectively.
The proper size should be indicated by the vet. Too small and the cat's breathing and positioning will be restricted. Too large and they will be able to slip out of them. The cat will likely be agitated when put on for the first time, but should get used to it. If not, you may want to look for homemade versions or alternatives of the E-collar.
How to make an E-collar for a cat
Here we want to show you the two best ways to make an E-collar for our cat. The cone shape is an easy one to create with crafting materials you may already have at home. They include:
- Large piece of rectangular card (around A3 size)
- Masking tape
- Utility knife or hobby knife (ideal, but can use scissors)
The method of making the homemade E-collar for cats is below. However, you can also take a look at the video to see how it is done with a visual guide.
- Divide the cardboard into 8 equally sized triangular parts. Make an X-shape by drawing lines from the top corners to the bottom with the ruler. Then draw a cross in the middle so that it resembles the British Union Jack flag shape.
- Next you need too cut out the circle for the hole in the cone (where the cat's neck will be). Starting from the centre of the card (where all the lines converge), measure the same distance on each line away from the center and make a mark with the pencil. The length will depend on the size of your pet. When you connect the dots in an arc, you will be able to draw an accurate circle.
- Do the same again, but this time making the marks about 8" away from the first mark. Connect to make another circle.
- Cut out the edge so that you have one big circle, then cut out the center circle. This is best done with a utility knife.
- Cut the circle at any point around the circumference going in a straight line from the inside out. This allows you to adjust the size of the cone.
- Line the inner part of the circle with masking tape so that it will protect the cat's neck. This will be the smaller end of the cone.
- Place the cone of the E-collar around the cat's neck and secure it with more tape when you have placed it around the cat's neck.
Another way of creating a homemade E-collar for cats is to take a disposable paper bowl with steep sides, the kind you would have for a party. Cut a hole in the middle big enough for your cat's neck, then cut a slit from top to bottom in the side. You can place it over your cat's neck and then secure it with staples (tape may not be strong enough). Bigger bowls are required for bigger cats, but make sure their reach is indeed limited.
Elizabethan cat collars for cats alternatives
Although you may want to choose an alternative E-collar for your cat, you may not be as crafty as some for the homemade version. This is why there are other methods for protecting them which can be found below:
- Bodysuit for cats: body suits for cats are great for wounds or stitches on their body. They cover the area, but give them freedom to move. Their paws, head and tail remain uncovered. This means they will not work for wounds or injuries to these areas. They are often used for alternatives to the cat cone when they undergo sterilization.
- Baby onesie: these are sometimes used for cats when they also have wounds or injuries to their bodies. A baby's onesie is actually a homemade alternative, but you need to be able to fasten it properly. Even a baby's onesie might be too big for your cat, so those made for premature babies are often the best.
- Inflatable collar: this cat collar is growing in popularity as they surround the neck in a way which stops them from getting at a wound site, but does not affect their peripheral vision like a cone does. They are more comfortable and ergonomic than a traditional cone E-collar, but they need to inflated properly otherwise the cat can stretch to certain parts of their body.
- Soft cloth e-collar: these are softer than the plastic cone cat collars, but are not as readily available and may be too malleable for your cat's needs. Similar bendable rubber alternatives exist.
- Cervical collar: this alternative E-collar is also known as a neck brace and is the kind humans use when they have a neck injury. However, they are not always very comfortable for the cat and may not be easy to find.
- Leg socks: if the cat's injury is to their legs or scratching is a problem, leg socks can be applied. These are adhesive bandage like items which should not be put on with too much compression. They do not stop the cat from licking any wounds, so have limited use.
Cat cone advice
In the opinion of AnimalWised, we suggest the best options are the traditional cone E-collar for cats or the bodysuit. They are the most effective and also don't come with the price tag some of the alternatives. Homemade E-collars will depend on how good you are at crafting. However, the method you use will also depend on both the type of injury and the character of your cat. Here is some advice regarding problems you may experience with cat E-collars:
My cat keeps removing their E-collar
The agitation and limited movement E-collars for cats provides means they will likely try to move it. Some cats will be more tenacious than others, fuelled by the frustration of wanting to relieve itching or pain. If your cat manages to do this successfully, you will need to adjust the size so that it is tighter. If this doesn't help or being too tight is harming the cat, an alternative needs to be found.
My cat is still able to lick their wound
If the cat is still able to reach their wound or stitches and lick them, then it may be that the cone is not long enough. This may happen with bigger cats or cats with greater flexibility. You can try making your own homemade E-collar with a larger circumference, but you should ideally take them back to the vet for a better alternative.
My cat cannot eat or drink properly
If this occurs, it is best to place the feeder or water directly on the ground. You might also be able to spread the food on the ground so that it is easier for them to reach. If the cat cannot get the food at all, then the cone size is likely to large.
My cat has a wound caused by the E-collar
Although many commercial E-collars will have a rubber protector to prevent friction wounds, it can happen that rubbing on the neck causes damage to the cat. If feasible, then a cat bodysuit is best. If this does not work, then you will have to take them to the vet to arrange a suitable alternative.
My cat is stressed by the E-collar
If your cat is very stressed by the presence of the Elizabethan collar, then you will have to find ways to calm and reassure them. This means using positive reinforcement and ensuring they do not have any unnecessary stressors in their environment. It should be fairly obvious if the cat is stressed by the collar, but you can look at our articdle on signs of stress in cats to see whether they are adapting.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Make an E-Collar for a Cat, we recommend you visit our First aid category.