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4 Cat Calming Collar Side Effects You Need to Know

Written by: Brooke Billingsley

Last Updated on June 7, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat wearing a purple calming collar

4 Cat Calming Collar Side Effects You Need to Know

Cats can be anxious or scared animals, especially in stressful situations. There are lots of things that people rely on to help manage their cat’s anxiety, and one of the most popular is a calming collar.

These collars are sold over the counter and often use pheromones to help calm your cat.

Before putting one of these collars on your cat, it’s important to understand any potential side effects of using them. Otherwise, you may notice a problem with your cat and not understand the cause.

Thankfully, there are very few reported issues with calming collars, and none of the pheromones used have shown any negative side effects.

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The 4 Side Effects of Cat Calming Collars

1. Skin Irritation

cat scratching skin
Image By: rihaij, Pixabay

This is the most common side effect seen with calming collars. Usually, this occurs when the collar is put on too tightly, causing rubbing against the skin and coat. This can result in hair loss, skin redness, and potentially a mild rash.

The skin irritation associated with these collars is extremely mild, and although the most common side effect, it is still an uncommon problem. This is most likely to occur in kitties with existing skin issues.


2. Fear

Fear is not specifically associated with calming collars but with collars in general. Cats that are not used to wearing a collar may have a fear response when the collar is first put on them. This can cause them to run and hide, scratch, or even become aggressive.

For some cats, it will just take patience, time, and positive reinforcement with petting, treats, and soothing talk to help them get used to wearing a collar. Some cats may completely refuse and panic to the point of causing injury when attempted. The latter would likely do better with a different type of calming intervention.


3. Choking

cat choking
Image By: pyulus, Pixabay

Any type of collar poses some risk of choking. Breakaway collars are usually the lowest risk, and some calming collars do come in a breakaway design. Most of them do not, though, so you’ll need to use your best judgment when using these calming collars on your cat.

For cats that do a lot of climbing and spending time outdoors, a calming collar is likely not going to be appropriate or safe for them, along with likely not being effective either. For most indoor cats, calming collars are safe for them to wear, but you should make sure not to put them on too tight.


4. No Effect

While this is the opposite of a side effect, it is a reaction that you should be prepared for. Calming collars are extremely effective for some cats while being completely ineffective for others. There is no guarantee that your cat will experience calmness from the use of a calming collar.

For cats that have lots of fear and anxiety, the collar likely needs to be used in conjunction with other interventions, like pheromone plug-ins, calming shirts, prescription medication, or creating a less stressful environment.

If your cat doesn’t experience relief from anxiety through the use of a calming collar, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your cat or their ability to smell or metabolize pheromones. Just like some people don’t experience effective relief from some medications while others do, cats are the same way.

yarn ball dividerTypes of Calming Collars

  • Pheromone: Collars with pheromones are the most commonly used and are typically the most effective option. Different companies use different pheromones, but these artificial pheromones mimic things like the pheromones that cats release when running their face on something and the pheromones that a mother cat releases when nursing her kittens. Since there are multiple brands of this type of collar, the pheromones can vary between brands. Studies have shown efficacy with the pheromones used in Feliway products. Sergeant’s has a calming collar that they claim has shown efficacy in studies, but the studies have not been released.
  • Herbal: Some cat collars that are marketed as more “natural” may use herbal blends to produce a calming effect. However, “natural” is a marketing term and doesn’t mean anything. In many cases, this type of product is less effective than the pheromone collars, but it may be a good secondary option for cats that didn’t experience relief with a pheromone collar.
  • Oils: Much like the herbal calming collars, oil-based collars are often marketed as a more natural alternative. The blends of oils used in these collars are usually protected, so it’s difficult to say what they may use. Presumably, the oils used are safe for your cat’s skin and respiratory system. Keep in mind, though, that most oils are not recommended for use on your cat’s body or for consumption.

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Calming collars can be a great option to help your cat out with their anxiety, especially if you need something to add to interventions you’re already using.

Make sure to use these collars as directed to make them as safe and comfortable as possible for your kitty. They have a low risk for any type of negative side effects if used properly. If you do think your cat is having any difficulty with the collar, though, then you may need to try a different type of product.


Featured Image Credit: MarinCa, Shutterstock

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