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Have you ever wondered why most cat collars have bells on them? Do they serve a particular purpose? And in case your cat collar does not have a bell on it, should you go and get one? We've done the research and here's what we found out.
Cats, particularly those who are allowed to wander outdoors, need to wear collars with bells. Felines are skillful hunters and can kill 10 to 20 small animals in just one day. The bell is an anti-hunting device. Its sound will alert their prey that they are near. This will give them a chance to run away and go to a safe place where the cat can't harm them.
Continue reading to know more about why it is important to put a bell on your cat's collar. We'll also answer your questions regarding their safety and how they affect your beloved pets. We'll also share with you other safe alternatives if you don't like to put bells around your cat's neck.
Should I attach a bell to my cat's collar?
People say cats and wildlife don't mix. All cats are predators and they can easily prey on other animals. They have a very strong motivation to hunt. Once the opportunity presents itself, domesticated and well-fed cats will attack birds, mice, rabbits, and other small mammals sometimes just for the fun of it. If left on their own, they can go for 10 to 20 kills in just one day.
It is for this reason that pet parents of cats living near natural areas are advised to have their felines wear cat collars with bells on them. The bell will serve as a warning device to their prey. When they hear its sound, they would know that danger is imminent. They can run away and be saved from being cat meal for the day.
This is important to protect and preserve the ecosystem. This is the bubble of life where every living and non-living thing in a particular area, may they be big or small, interact and perform their own function. With obligate carnivore cats on the loose, they can upset this balance by killing the smaller animals.
Why are there bells on cat collars?
The expression "bell the cat" was taken from Aesop's fable entitled Belling the Cat, also known as "The Mice in Council." According to the story, the mice faced a big problem that also happens to be their greatest enemy, the Cat. The cat posed a constant threat to their community and they wanted to find out how they would be able to defeat their enemy. One of them suggested putting a bell on the cat so that they would be alerted when the cat is near.
In the story, no one wanted to volunteer to put a bell on the cat. But nowadays pet owners have the option to put bells in their cat's collars. This still has the same purpose as in the fable—to alert mice or other prey of their presence.
Bells are used as an anti-hunting device. Experts say that the prey that cats with bells on their collars catch are cut by half. It is important that they don't pose a threat to other species so that they don't upset the natural ecosystem where they live.
Do cat collar bells work?
Researchers have studied the effectiveness of putting collar bells on pet cats. They concluded that this is indeed helpful in reducing the number of prey that cats are able to catch within their surroundings. The sound of the bell is enough to alarm other animals of their presence. Thus, they are able to hide or run away before the cat can capture them.
As mentioned earlier, collar bells are one of the recommended anti-hunting devices. Other alternatives that pet parents can consider are rainbow-colored cat bibs or a cat enclosure. These have also been proven to reduce the predation rate of felines. The bright colors on the bib are able to alert birds because they have excellent color vision. Cat enclosures prevent them from wandering off and hunting other animals.
Does an indoor cat need a bell?
The purpose of the bell on a cat collar is to alert their prey regarding their presence. This is recommended when you allow your pet to go outdoors where she can meet other animals.
For indoor cats that live in a more controlled environment, bells aren't that necessary. They might occasionally catch a mouse or some insects. It's gross but that would be good news for you since your pet could help rid your house of pests.
In fact, experts suggest that pet parents keep their cats indoors if they don't want to put bells on their collars. They won't pose any threat to other animals, especially endangered species, inside your house.
Will my cat get used to the bell on her collar?
Some pet parents are concerned about putting bells on their cat's collars. They think that the sound of the bells would bother their pets. Don't worry because these devices only produce sounds within the 50 to 60 dB range. According to experts, it would take around 80 dB for felines to be bothered by any sound. So, in general, cats won't be troubled by the sound that the bells on their collars make.
Studies have shown that cats don't seem to be bothered by the sound of the bells on their collar. Like everything else in their usual surroundings, they will eventually get used to them.
Why you should not put a bell on your cat
Many pet parents raise concerns regarding putting a bell on their cats and here are their reasons:
- They are worried that the sound won't just alarm prey but predators as well. In turn, this would put their pets in danger.
- The sound would bother their pets. It can be annoying and since the bells are near the cat's ears, they might affect their hearing.
- The bells on their collar can put felines at risk. They can become entangled with their claws or other things around them.
However, experts are quick to reassure pet owners that bells on cat collars are safe. The sound they make is relatively quiet so large predators won't be able to hear them. Even their own pets won't be bothered by the noise. Cats are normally affected when the sound reaches 80 dB but bells just fall within 50 to 60 dB. They'll get used to the sound after some time.
According to vets, collar-related injuries are very rare. They just happen once every 2 years. But for their peace of mind, pet owners can use breakaway collars so that they can easily open them when their pets feel uncomfortable or endangered.
It is part of being a responsible pet parent to put a bell on your cat's collar especially if she goes outdoors. Cats are highly skilled predators by nature and even if they have been domesticated, their instincts would still tell them to hunt wildlife around them. The bells would at least alert their would-be prey of approaching danger and give them the opportunity to flee to safety.