Pet owners have been warned about the dangers posed by certain types of collars after a cat fitted with the wrong one died having become snagged.
The RSPCA issued the plea after a black female cat was found collapsed at the side of a road in Aston, Birmingham, on December 6.
She had got her leg stuck in her collar which had been cutting into the skin under her arm.
RSPCA inspector Kate Levesley, who was called to collect the injured animal, said: ‘This poor cat was suffering terribly and in a really poor state as a result of her collar injury.
‘I think she had most likely been in this state for a while before someone spotted her.
‘I rushed her straight to our Birmingham Animal Hospital but sadly she died just as the vet was about to bring her in. It was so incredibly sad. She wasn’t microchipped and no owner was ever found.
‘These types of collars are such a hazard to cats who can so easily get stuck in them.’
The animal welfare charity warned that elasticated collars or those with buckles which do not open without human help can leave cats struggling to free themselves when their legs become stuck – causing horrific and sometimes fatal injuries.
It instead recommends a quick-release collar, which is designed to snap open when tugged with sufficient force.
Cats are natural hunters and curious explorers and enjoy squeezing themselves through tight spots, the RSPCA added, so it is vital that any collar is designed to free them if they become snagged so they do not get their leg caught.
There were more than 60 reports of cats who had been injured by their collars to the charity’s helpline last year.
Ollie the tabby cat was taken into care last July after being rescued in Biddulph. He was also suffering from a severe injury to his neck after getting his leg snagged in his buckle collar.
Rescuers believe he may have been roaming around with the painful injury for up to three weeks.
The collar was completely embedded into his neck and the wound was extremely smelly and infected.
He underwent surgery and was later rehomed after making a full recovery.
Black cat Poppy was rescued in Sheffield in March last year after being found with a severe collar injury under her right front leg.
After spending weeks treating her, the vet fostered her for seven months while she recovered and then decided to give her a forever home.
Last January, grey long-haired cat Charlie was rescued in West Yorkshire after he was spotted limping with his foot stuck in his collar.
The collar had cut so deep into his armpit that it caused muscle damage. The vet believed he too had been suffering with the agonising pain for up to three weeks before he was found.
He underwent surgery the following day and also recovered well.
Alice Potter, the RSPCA’s cat welfare expert, added: ‘We would strongly advise against purchasing a collar with buckles that don’t snap open, or collars made from elastic.
‘The majority of flea collars are also not advisable as they do not have safety buckles, so we would encourage pet owners to prioritise safety first and give your cat flea treatment another way.
‘The most reliable way to identify your cat is to have them microchipped rather than having a collar and tag which may fade over time, or hinder them when they explore.
‘It is also far better to have to pay for a new collar if your pet has lost theirs than to have to pay for urgent veterinary treatment when your pet becomes injured due to its collar.’
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