cat surrendered with embedded collar
December 13, 2011

Marcella's neck, after the removal of the collar and surrounding necrotic tissue
the kitten collar removed from Marcella's neck, with fur and tissue

Marcella, a sweet 2-year-old tortoiseshell cat, was surrendered to us last week through our Law Enforcement department.  Sadly, a collar was embedded in the skin and fur of her neck, and she was suffering from a painful infection.  We don't know how long Marcella was living in this condition, but it way have been for several weeks.

Luckily our vet Dr. Pam Wilmot was on site, and was able to treat Marcella.  She carefully removed the collar from around her neck, which had cut through the skin layers into muscle.  Afterward, Dr. Wilmot and the Noble Family Adoption Center Manager, Maya Wolf-Pollina, cleaned the wound and applied a topical antibiotic ointment.  Marcella was started on a medical treatment program that includes prescription antibiotics and pain medication.  Though both Pam and Maya have seen plenty of wounds in our medical suite, both were shocked to see such a blatant case of neglect.

Marcella is fortunate to have recovered so well from her emergency treatment last week.  However, her injury was completely preventable.  While the MSPCA believes that cat collars are important and should be used, they must be the correct type of collar and they must fit the cat appropriately.  Marcella was wearing a damaged collar designed for a kitten - a collar that should have been removed and replaced long ago.

Why do we recommend collars for cats?  One important reason is that a large number of cats brought to our adoption centers - more than 1 in 4 - are stray cats without identification.  Microchipping is a wonderful tool to help ensure your cat is reunited with your family should she become lost, but for the average person this system is still a mystery, and a cat without a collar might appear homeless and be claimed by another family.

What is the right kind of collar for a cat?  Cats should wear break-away collars.  Unlike dogs, who can wear flat or martingale collars, cats get themselves into much more troublesome situations - for example, they can climb trees and become tangled in the branches.  Break-away collars sport a safety clasp that pops open when pressure is applied, freeing your cat should the collar pose a strangulation risk.  There are also hook-and-loop (Velcro) collars on the market, allowing a cat to wriggle free in the event of a tangle.  Either option is good, but the collar must fit the cat appropriately.  Make sure the collar is snug, but not tight.  You should be able to easily fit one or two fingers between the cat's neck and the collar, but not more.  And you should check the material and the fit of the collar regularly.  If the material begins to fray, or if the plastic or Velcro becomes damaged, toss the collar and get a new one.  And if your cat loses or gains weight (this will happen quickly with a kitten!), be sure to resize the collar to match.

If you would like to donate to our Angels for Animals fund, a restricted account used to treat animals like Marcella, please click here.