Not every kitty responds well to the stiff plastic cones handed out at the vet’s office; to help reduce stress while your pet heals, the best cat cone alternatives have comfortable design features like soft fabric, padding, and flexible construction. They come in a variety of designs that are suited for different pet health needs. Here’s what to know.
Alex Schechter, DVM, is a founding veterinarian at Burrwood Veterinary in Royal Oak, Michigan and a graduate of Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. With extensive training in small animal medicine and surgery, Dr. Schechter puts an emphasis on progressive medicine and personalized care for pets.
Dwight Alleyne, DVM, is a graduate of the Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine, and has been practicing veterinary medicine in Georgia for the past 15 years. In addition to acting as Medical Director for Destination Pet in Woodstock, Georgia, he is also a veterinary advisor for BetterPet, where he provides wellness-focused advice for cat and dog owners.
Does My Cat Need A Cat Cone Alternative?
While a vet may send you home with a standard plastic cone, Dwight Alleyne, DVM, says “Cat cone alternatives should be considered when [you have] a very nervous cat, very active cat, or if you notice they are depressed when they have the cone on.” In other words, while most felines may not particularly enjoy having an apparatus on their body, it’s important to take into account your pet’s typical behavior, as well as assess whether a standard cone seems to make them uncomfortable or stressed — or inhibits their ability to eat, drink, or play.
What To Consider When Shopping For Cat Cone Alternatives
According to Alex Schechter, DVM, soft fabric recovery collars can serve as a great alternative to those made of hard plastic, as they “allow cats to move around more freely and can help reduce their stress and discomfort.” He advises steering clear of rigid, heavy, or bulky materials. Dr. Alleyne agrees, adding that you may want to avoid anything that “may interfere with movement and eyesight.”
Choosing A Cat Cone Alternative That’s Compatible With Your Pet’s Health Needs
“When selecting a cone alternative, choosing a style appropriate for the cat’s specific injury or condition is essential,” emphasizes Dr. Schechter. Here’s a quick breakdown of your options, with vet recommendations for when each one should be used.
- Soft E-collars: Also known as “Elizabethan collars,” E-collars are distinguished by their cone-like shape that angles outward from the neck. Whereas standard plastic E-collars are stiff, soft E-collars are made from flexible fabric, lending your feline greater mobility. The neck hole can be adjusted with Velcro straps, and the entire collar folds easily when not in use for convenient storage. As the cone shape of an E-collar can impair peripheral eyesight, Dr. Schecter recommends them for cats who only need to wear a cone for short periods of time due to minor injuries or skin irritation. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, E-collars are also helpful for keeping your kitty from pawing or scratching at their head — so they’re a good choice if that’s the area of your cat’s body that needs protection.
- Recovery suits: Commonly referred to as a “cat onesie,” a recovery suit stretches over your pet’s torso, much like a baby onesie. Dr. Schechter explains that they’re helpful for cats with skin conditions or surgical incisions, as they provide “a snug fit that prevents the cat from reaching the affected area.” They can work well for cats who have been recently spayed or neutered, as they may help protect your pet’s sensitive areas while still allowing them to eat, drink, and use the litter box as usual. If your goal is to keep your cat from scratching their head, however, a recovery suit won’t be effective.
- Plush and inflatable collars: A plush collar encircles your cat’s neck and has a fluffy filling that creates a barrier to prevent your cat from licking their wounds. An inflatable collar — which resembles a pool float with a soft fabric covering — works the same way, but allows you to customize the fit by adding or releasing air. Since neither affects your cat’s vision or ability to eat or drink, they’re a good option for cats with upper body injuries that need protection for an extended period of time. However, they may still allow your cat to reach the lower half of their body — so they aren’t the best choice for cats with injuries in those areas, or those who have been recently spayed or neutered.
Some “cone of shame” alternatives come in adorable designs, but aesthetics should be an added bonus rather than a deciding factor. You should, however, measure your cat’s neck and body prior to buying to ensure you pick the size that will offer the most secure fit.
Last but not least, it’s a good idea to consult with your personal vet to ensure you choose a cat cone alternative that’s safe and effective for your pet’s particular needs.
With all that in mind, here are the best cat cone alternatives to help support your kitty’s healing — without causing undue feline stress.
Shop Cat Cone Alternatives
In a hurry? These are the best cone alternatives for cats:
- A Padded & Flexible E-Collar With Removable Stays: All Four Paws The Original Comfy Cone
- A Soft Fabric E-Collar With A More Open Design: SLSON Soft Cone Collar
- A Recovery Suit That Covers Up Torso Injuries: Coppthinktu Cat Recovery Suit
- A Plush Collar That Doubles As A Pillow For Your Cat: ANWA Adjustable Cat Cone Collar
- An Inflatable Collar That Lets You Customize The Fit: BENCMATE Protective Inflatable Collar
1. A Padded & Flexible E-Collar With Removable Stays
- Features rigid plastic stays that are padded for comfort
- Stays can be removed for more flexible protection
- May block peripheral vision and interfere with eating and drinking (so best for short-term use)
Although it closely resembles a standard cone, this Elizabethan collar for cats is a more comfortable, flexible alternative, and it’s suitable for felines with either upper-body or lower-body injuries. The interior plastic stays (which are covered in padded nylon) provide structure when needed but can easily be removed so that you can flip the collar down when your cat wishes to eat or drink. This reversible design also means the cone can be folded over to shield injuries or irritation on your cat’s neck and shoulders — without interfering with vision or eating. A set of inner loops allows you to connect the cone to your cat’s collar, while the adjustable Velcro closure helps ensure a secure fit.
Made of water-repellent, durable nylon fabric, it’s arguably the most durable cat cone alternative on the list, making it a good pick for active kitties. Just note that the design may interfere with your cat’s peripheral vision, so it’s best for pets who only need to wear a cone for short periods of time. The sizes are based on neck circumference, ranging from 9.25 to 12.5 inches.
According to a reviewer: “I cannot say enough good things about the Comfy Cone!!! I have had several cats in the past and always felt awful making them wear the plastic cones of shame. […] These cones are a game changer!!! I bought them for my big tom cat after he got neutered, and while he still did not enjoy wearing a big ole contraption around his neck/head, I truly believe the Comfy Cone offered him as much “comfort” a recovery cone possibly could.”
- Available sizes: 8
- Available styles: 2
2. A Soft Fabric E-Collar With A More Open Design
- Lightweight and flexible
- More open design that won’t interfere with eating or drinking
- Your cat may be able to fold the collar back on their own.
Like my first pick, this soft cat cone has an E-collar shape, making it ideal for protecting both lower- and upper-body injuries. However, the cotton fabric design is lighter and more flexible (there are no plastic stays), and the less narrow design means it won’t interfere with peripheral vision quite as much. Like with the first option, you can easily bend the collar back when your cat needs to eat or drink. Available in two sizes that are suitable for cats ranging from 5 to 25 pounds, the cone has an adjustable Velcro closure that helps keep it securely on your cat’s neck, but there are no separate loops for connecting it to their collar — which means some escape artists may be able to wriggle their way out.
With an adorable flower-shaped design, this collar is definitely one of the cuter choices on this list. Just beware — some cats may be able to figure out how to push back the flexible petals when you’re not looking.
According to a reviewer: “This cone was a total game changer […] it’s soft and more comfortable to rest on, and more importantly he couldn’t get out. We would remove [the] cone a few times a day to give him some supervised time to eat and relax and putting it on again was very quick and easy. This cone was a life-saver.”
- Available sizes: 2
- Available styles: 1
3. A Recovery Suit That Covers Up Torso Wounds
- Fully covers irritation or incisions on the torso
- Secure fit, and won’t interfere with your pet’s ability to eat, drink, or use the litter box
- Curious kitties might claw at it.
Dr. Schechter recommends a recovery suit for cats with irritating skin conditions or surgical incisions on their torsos. Made of a soft, breathable cotton fabric, this cat onesie secures in the back with a Velcro closure, and it has neck and leg holes that are sewn with elastic to create a secure fit. With this pick, your cat will still be able to eat, drink, play, and use the litter box normally, but keep in mind that they’ll also still be able to scratch their head — so it’s not suitable if your pet has head or neck injuries. It’s also important to note that since the fabric is lightweight, your cat’s claws may be able to snag it if they try to take it off.
The recovery suit is available in bright, sunny colors such as blue, pink, and yellow, as well as gingham and camouflage patterns. There are sizes available for cats anywhere from 2 to 18 pounds — several reviewers stated that this suit runs small, and there is little room for adjustment, so be sure to take accurate measurements when picking one out.
According to a reviewer: “My kitten got spayed and I knew she was going to hate the traditional plastic collars that vets give out post surgery. This outfit however is a game changer! […] She had no desire to lick her post surgery area and did not try to take off the outfit. She was able to use the restroom without the outfit getting in the way. This was perfect.”
- Available sizes: 3
- Available styles: 7
4. A Plush Collar That Doubles As A Pillow For Your Cat
- Won’t affect peripheral vision or interfere with eating or drinking
- Cute design
- Some reviewers reported their pet was able to take it off.
This plush cat recovery collar creates a barrier between your cat’s head and any upper body injuries, but the relatively flat design won’t block peripheral vision or affect the ability to eat or drink, making it a good longer-term solution. As a bonus for your kitty, the microfiber cover is soft to the touch, and the fluffy filling acts as a pillow they can rest on throughout their recovery process. Rather than a Velcro closure, this design features an adjustable, locking drawstring cord that allows you to tighten or loosen the collar. Just keep in mind that the lack of inner collar attachments may make it a bit easier for an active cat to pull it over their head, so you’ll want to keep an eye on them to make sure it remains in place. This collar comes in two sizes that accommodate cats from under 7 pounds up to 18 pounds.
Now, for the fun part: It comes in colorful fruit designs, including an orange slice, watermelon, strawberry, and pineapple.
According to a reviewer: “Kitty had wound and needed stitches on his upper front arm.[…] Found this soft donut-like collar and decided we needed to try. He was fine with it from the start. He sleeps in it, eats with it, walks with no issues. This is a winner and we’re so glad we got it. He’s a little guy so we got the small and it works fine for blocking his upper arms. Not sure about rest of body or tummy, but larger one might work better for those areas.”
- Available sizes: 2
- Available styles: 4
5. An Inflatable Collar That Lets You Customize The Fit
- Inflatable design that lets you add or remove air for a custom fit
- Lets your pet eat and drink normally
- Your pet’s claws may be able to puncture it.
With a soft microfiber cover, this inflatable cat collar lets you add or release air to adjust its thickness for your pet’s needs — some cats may require full inflation, while others may do better with the collar only partially filled. This collar stays securely on your cat’s neck, thanks to a Velcro strap and a set of inner loops (note that it must be used in conjunction with a standard collar). Two drawbacks to note: First, since this model is inflatable, keep in mind that your cat may be able to puncture it with their claws if they scratch at it. Second, some reviewers reported their kitty was able to wriggle out of it. That being said, if you have a relatively calm cat, it may still be a good option.
The sizes are calculated according to your pet’s neck circumference, accommodating measurements of 5 inches up to 25 inches.
According to a reviewer: “I got this product for my cat whom was needing some skin to heal so fur could grow back. Although he did not like this it fit really well and he was able to eat, sleep, use litter box just fine. the only concerns is once he new how to get slide it off his head that was a challenge to keep it on. but overall very nice product.”
- Available sizes: 5
- Available styles: 7
Alex Schechter, DVM, Michigan-based veterinarian and founder of Burrwood Veterinary
Dwight Alleyne, DVM, Georgia-based veterinarian, Medical Director for Destination Pet, and advisor for BetterPet