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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

When your beloved little cat is prescribed a neck brace, the main purpose is to protect your cat – mostly from itself. Wounds need time to heal, so licking and scratching them is quite counterproductive. Unfortunately, our pets often don’t understand that wearing this usually bulky and unpopular neck brace is sometimes simply necessary. Are there perhaps less unpleasant alternatives? What is the best way to get your cat used to? 

When is a neck brace necessary?

Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary for our pets to wear a neck brace. This is because it prevents your cat from licking and/or scratching certain areas, or biting open possible stitches. It is also important to remain firm and not give in to attempts to get free of it. Even if your cat is visibly suffering and appears severely restricted, it is simply necessary under certain conditions:

  • After surgical procedures or for various injuries and skin rashes, as well as allergic reactions. By licking and nibbling at the wound, bacteria in the cat’s mouth can sometimes cause infections.
  • Cats may re-bite or scratch surgical sutures, as mentioned earlier.
  • In general, a neck brace protects against a cat’s sharp claws by making scratching impossible. Especially wounds in the head area are protected.

How long does a cat have to wear a neck brace?

How long your cat has to wear it depends on the injury and how well the wound heals. One thing is certain, however, it is better to give your cat a few days longer than to have to treat an infected wound for weeks or even months. So keep this in mind if you want to do something good for your darling.. 

As a rule, however, you can expect about 7-10 days. Especially after surgery, scratch and lick protection for a longer period of time is advisable. Your vet will certainly give you detailed information on how long the collar should be worn.

Important: One thing in advance, for safety reasons it is recommended not to let outdoor cats outside during this time.

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Are there alternatives to the classic neck brace for cats?

When you think of a brace for a cat, you immediately see this bulky, relatively huge funnel, usually made of transparent hard plastic, which is attached to the cat’s neck. Usually a collar or similar is threaded through it and attached to it. These types of neck braces are usually very uncomfortable for our beloved cats:

  • Visibility is obstructed.
  • Freedom of movement is restricted.
  • Eating and drinking is difficult. 
  • Sleep is negatively affected.
  • Are usually noisy when the cat bumps into something. 

Fortunately, there are some more cat-friendly alternatives: 

  • Experience shows that some cats leave small wounds alone after operations, so that some vets do not use neck braces. However, you should keep an eye on your pet and get a brace in case your cat lick or scratch the wound. 
  • A special cat body (except for wounds on the head) is a good alternative in many cases. 
  • Models made of softer materials.
  • Inflatable neck braces that resemble a donut.
  • Cushion-like braces (also looks like a donut).

It is important to pay attention to the size of the neck brace. They need to be big enough that your cat can’t get to the wound. Bodysuits need to be tight enough to prevent licking.

So what makes a good neck brace? 

A good neck brace must do one thing, and that is to protect your cat first and foremost. No matter how special and fancy the model is, it won’t do any good if your pet can get at the wounds. 

Models made of very soft materials and inflatable braces are more comfortable to wear because they are soft and flexible, but the scratch and leak protection is not 100% in some wound locations. These models are more recommended for wounds on the chest, back and thighs.

  • The chosen model should be easy to clean.
  • In general, you should pay attention to hygiene and clean the neck brace daily (be careful with chemical agents). 
  • Look out for sharp edges, protruding parts, cracks and fissures.
  • The right length is crucial, it should be a bit longer than the snout.
  • Make sure it is the right size. It should fit tightly, but without cutting off the air.
  • Drinking and eating should be possible. Your cat may need help with this at first.

How do I get my cat used to the neck brace?

One thing is for sure, it is usually too late to start getting your cat used to the neck brace when he or she is in acute need of it. In any case, it is advisable to familiarise your cat with it in advance, so that he will not be afraid of it if the worst comes to the worst.

  • As a first step, let your cat sniff and explore the strange thing. If the cat is interested, reward it thoroughly.
  • Now click and reward every look and every approach of your cat towards the opening of the neck brace. 
  • As soon as your cat slips into it on its own, a really great reward follows.
  • After that, your cat will slowly learn to take a step with it.
  • Now it’s time to get your cat used to everyday life with a neck brace step by step. Here, too, your cat will receive plenty of praise. 

If you have any questions or training problems, you can always contact a certified cat trainer.

How much does a neck brace cost?

Depending on the model and size, the costs vary between €3 and €40.

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Usually disliked by cats, but sometimes indispensable to promote wound healing: The neck brace. Fortunately, there are now models that are more comfortable to wear. However, scratch and leak protection should be the top priority when choosing a brace.