When selecting neckwear for your cat, however, your primary considerations should be her safety and comfort.

Why does your cat need a collar? Contrary to her belief, it's not to scare away the birds she's trying to creep up on! For one, its somewhere to hang her ID tags. Without a collar, she may be "adopted" by a well-intentioned stranger or a pet-loving child. Although she may not mind being fed an additional two times per day by the neighbors, she may be regarded as a wild transient and ignored or abused by others not so well intentioned. If she goes outdoors, intentionally or accidentally, and strays too far, a collar with an identification tag can help to bring her safely home to you again.

Safety First

Will your cat mind wearing a collar? The newest collars are made of scratch-resistant nylon, and are very soft and flexible. If your pet is like most cats, she will quickly forget that she has a properly fit collar on, only after a futile attempt to slip out of it to prove her independence! Most cat collars come in a 3/8-inch width, customized to the average size of a cat's head and neck. You should not use a dog collar on your feline - even if you are leash training, you should never use a choke collar. Your cat's windpipe is not strong enough to withstand the pressure.

Now your mission is to look beyond the sequined leather and patterned cloth samples for the most important safety aspect in a cat collar: the elastic expansion feature or breakaway buckle. Your domestic cat is by nature a climber and investigator and will get into situations where her collar can become caught on branches, nails, screws, and even pieces of furniture. An ordinary collar can pose a choking hazard, but an elasticized and/or breakaway collar can save her life.

A few breakaway collars are made entirely of elastic. But many are made of nylon or even leather, with elastic inserts or breakaway buckles that remain almost invisible - so you don't need to sacrifice fashion for safety. When an obstacle holds the collar fast, your cat can wiggle it over her head; under great stress, the collar can break and allow her to get out of a tight situation. Of course, you'll need to consider whether that escape mechanism is always appropriate or if she will just take advantage to lose her fashionable accessory.

If you leash train your cat, outfitting her with a breakaway collar is not the best idea; opt for a cat harness instead. With a leash attached, the harness will go safely over her head and around her midsection and front legs to prevent escape.

When traveling with your cat - even if only to the veterinarian or groomer - a cat harness is, again, a better bet. Remember, though, that keeping her in a pet carrier is the best choice of all during travel. The harness is an extra, worthwhile precaution to help you grad her if she startles and tries to run in a strange place.

The Critical Addition

Ensure that your cat is wearing an ID tag, which can be critical in getting her back to you quickly if she gets lost. No matter what collar you choose, make sure that it includes a sturdy ring for the tag with current contact information.

Add The Extra Touches

A bell can be a nice fashion accessory for an outdoor cat, bows, baubles, beads, and eye-catching patterns and colors notwithstanding. The bell will warn birds and other small creatures of her approach, and it can make it easier for you to find her too!

If you let your pet out at night or live in a heavy traffic area, you might also consider one of the new collars with a glow-in-the-dark stripe or even one with a battery-operated light. These can help motorists to spot her and give you an added sense of safety.

Starting Out

If you have a new kitten or a cat that is just getting used to wearing a collar, you will want to proceed with caution. Even the meekest kitten can sometimes balk at her first exposure to a collar! But don't relent; she'll eventually grow accustomed to it, and the added measure of security it can provide is worth the trouble. Fasten the collar to fit snugly at first. She may scratch at the collar and, if it is too loose, get it caught around her mouth. Leave only enough room for one or two fingers to fit under the collar. Check the fit every few days - kittens do grow quickly and a good fit is critical. By keeping your cat comfortable in her collar, you are making it easier for her to accept the item as a regular part of her life.

When choosing a cat collar, look for the proper size and elasticity or breakaway functionality, for safety's sake. Consider the harness alternative and extra security features such as bells and lights. Then you can select the style, color, and pattern that you like. The wide range of styles, materials, and safety features available at PETCO should satisfy you and your pet's need for safety, comfort and, of course, style!