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Why won’t my cat keep its cone on?

Any time a cat has surgery, the vet may order a cone for the cat to wear around its neck. The vet orders a cone to keep the cat from pulling at its stitches or licking a wound until the area heals. Most cones are made of rugged, stiff plastic. The narrow end fastens at the neck and fans outward just past the tip of the cat’s nose.

These cones come in various materials, from hard plastic to soft fabric. If your cat hates a stiff plastic cone, it may adapt to wearing a soft cloth cone or an inflatable cone, much like an inflatable pool toy.

Cones come in various sizes and ways to close them around the cat’s neck. These cones have various names that all mean the same thing.

  • Cones
  • Elizabethan Collar
  • E-Collar
  • The Cone of Shame
  • Lampshades
  • Dunce Caps
  • Satellite Dishes

Despite all of the crazy names that people come up with, these cones are a necessary nuisance to help the cat’s wound heal without complications. Cones are ordered until the cat’s wounds completely heal with no complications.

If your cat has a scheduled surgical procedure, it is wise to determine which cone you think it will adapt to better and purchase this before surgery. You may even put it on your cat as a trial to get the cat used to wearing it before it becomes necessary for healing.

Why Won’t My Cat Keep Its Cone On?

Imagine a wide cone around your neck that you must wear for at least seven days, day and night, after a surgical procedure. A cone for a cat is much like putting you in handcuffs for seven days.

While you can still do things, these cuffs hinder what you want to do and how you accomplish what you want to do. Handcuffs keep you from going places you want and doing things you need to do. A cone on a cat does the same.

For example, wearing these handcuffs causes you to take longer to eat, drink, and use the restroom. And, when you go to bed at night, you may have to readjust your sleeping position preferences.

At the end of the day, cat cones are a plum nuisance for any cat! However, cats seem to adapt better than humans, and after a few days, most cats seem to work around having to wear the cone, and the cat usually adjusts.

But, what do you do if your cat refuses to adjust to a cone and makes life miserable for them and you?

Because all cats (or humans) are individualized and unique, every cat is different. Some cats are resigned to the fact that the cone is not going anywhere soon, and they adapt as best as they can.

Other cats cannot and will not wear a cone. It is not unusual to see a cat shake its head or paw at the cone consistently, trying to remove something that is not supposed to be there. Some cats will try anything and everything to get it off its neck.

  • Your cat may hang its head as though doing the walk of shame.
  • It may shake its head constantly, trying to remove the cone.
  • It may hit its head on objects to try to remove the cone.
  • It may try to slip a leg up and through the cone.

What happens if you are at work, no one is home, and your cat does this and gets its leg caught? 

The outcome may not be good. For this reason, cats with cones cannot be left alone!

  • It may refuse to eat or drink until you remove the cone.
  • I have seen cats slowly explore how their cones are made and what holds them together.
  • I have seen these cats slip out of the cone one leg at a time.
  • I have seen cats find the cone fasteners and learn how to work them to release the fastener.

Many of these cones are held together by a strip of Velcro. Some humans may find it difficult to tear a Velcro strip apart, but not a cat. I have seen a cat pull Velcro apart like a knife through butter.

Cats are persistent and clever. When a cat does not want to wear a cone, it will work to figure out the best way to get it off if it takes them all day.

Never leave your kitty alone when they are wearing a cone.

  • If your cat does not wear a cone, make sure the cone is the right size. Most cones are comfortable unless they are the wrong size, making them uncomfortable to wear.
  • Confinement causes a cat to become anxious and angry. Cones around a cat’s neck offer an unwanted element of confinement.
  • Understand that cones restrict the cat’s vision.
  • Cones often cause the cat to bang into objects.
  • The whiskers on a cat are part of its touch sensation. Wearing a cone disallows the cat to use its whiskers.
  • Help your cat become accustomed to wearing a cone as much as possible. You know that cones are not a forever thing. Your cat does not understand this concept.

What to Do If My Cat Won’t Keep Its Cone On?

First, there are things that you do not want to do if your cat is non-compliant with wearing a cone. Your cat does not understand that the cone is in place to keep them safe. You never want to,

  • Punish your cat
  • Get angry
  • Yell at your cat
  • Ignore your cat’s efforts to remove the cone
  • Withhold essentials, thinking that your cat will comply

Most cats do not appreciate wearing a cone and will work hard to remove it or make life miserable for you until you take it off them. You can do a few different things if your cat does not keep its cone intact.

Helpful Cone Tips

If you tried everything and your cat has stopped eating or drinking because of the collar, there may be practical alternatives. First, ensure the correct collar fits. Your vet should make the correct measurements for the first time.

  • Research collars before your cat has surgery and purchase the one collar that you believe your cat will wear.
  • Ensure that the collar fits correctly by measuring the cat’s neck size. You need to be able to fit two fingers between the collar and the cat’s neck for a proper fit.
  • Make sure the collar goes no further than its nose.
  • Continually monitor your cat while in the collar to assure safety.
  • Help your cat navigate its surroundings.
  • Supply loads of hugs, love, kitty kisses, praises, and treats

You will need a cat sitter while you are at work because your cat needs monitoring 24/7. It is dangerous to leave a cat alone wearing a cone. You do not have the option to remove the cone because this puts your cat at risk of serious complications.

Alternatives to Cones

You tried everything, and nothing is working to keep the rigid plastic cone on your cat. You can try the following alternatives.

  • Neck brace collars
  • Soft collar cones
  • Inflatable collar cones
  • Small dog sweaters
  • A baby onesies
  • The BiteNot Collar
  • TCOA Soft E-Fabric Collar
  • The ProCollar Premium Protective Collar
  • A Comfy Collar
  • Kong EZ Soft Collar
  • The Boobooloon
  • The Optivisor
  • The Novaguard

It is best to speak with your vet about which cone is the most acceptable type for cats before your cat has surgery. Ask your vet if you can purchase an alternative cone for your cat should his cone not work. It is wise to have an alternative available before your cat has surgery.