If your cat has an incision from a surgery or an injury that needs to heal without being disturbed by the cat's licking, it will need to wear an E-collar. These lampshade-shaped collars surround your cat's face and prevent it from reaching and grooming any wounds that need to heal. Depending on your cat's temperament and size, you can purchase several types of these collars.
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Medical collars -- commonly known as Elizabethan collars due to their resemblance to the high-necked, ruffled fashions of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I -- protect healing wounds or skin on your cat. The name Elizabethan collars has been shortened to "E-collar." Usually made of hard plastic, these collars come in a cone-shape, with the smaller end fitting over your cat's neck and the larger part of the cone surrounding the face. The shape and material of the device prevent your cat from licking its body. While wearing the collar, the cat cannot reach its face with its paws, thus protecting facial injuries as well.
Cats will attempt to pull out stitches or staples holding together a surgical incision, causing further injury or infection. Therefore, after a surgery, such as spaying, your veterinarian will recommend the use of an E-collar to protect the area from your cat's grooming and curiosity. E-collars are not meant to be used longer than a few weeks. The collars come in a variety of sizes, based on the size of your pet and the circumference of its neck. Place the collar on your cat by slipping the smaller end of the device over its head and snapping the sides of the collar together. Many of these collars also come with loops at the bottom, with an adjustable strap or string so you can tighten the collar to the proper size of your cat's neck. This prevents the collar from coming off during use.
While these collars primarily come in their original form, made from opaque, hard plastic, you can now choose from a variety of other options. Some E-collars come in clear plastic, which allows your cat to see through the collar, giving it better visibility and mobility when wearing it. You can also purchase soft E-collars made from plastic-coated fabric, paper, foam or rubber, which allows your cat to sleep, eat or manoeuvre around your home more comfortably. Hand or machine wash these types of collars to keep them clean. Purchase these collars from pet supply stores, online retailers or some veterinarians.
Your cat will not enjoy wearing its collar during the healing process and may become depressed. Check to make sure that your cat can eat with its collar on, otherwise, take the collar off during feedings and put it on immediately after. Make adjustments to your home so your cat can easily manoeuvre around without getting its head stuck between pieces of furniture or in doorways. Remove the covers from any litter boxes your cat uses so it can enter and exit the boxes easily. Praise your cat and give it a treat when you place the collar on its head to reassure your cat that you are not punishing it. Keep the collar after your cat recovers to use in case of emergency. Never use the collar to punish your cat.
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