Why do they put bells on cat collars?

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Motor’s collar doesn’t have a bell on it, but it does come with a metal loop that we could fasten one on to if we wanted to. Since Motor is a 99 percent indoor cat, who doesn’t usually chase birds, we leave her bell-free.

For us personally, cats have been a part of a our lives since we were children. And, in that entire time, we, for some reason we never wondered about the following until today: Why do they put bells on cat collars?

Turns out, the answer is pretty simple. The bells are to warn birds and other animals a cat might prey on of the presence of said cat.

According to https://www.catsdom.com/why-do-cat-collars-have-bells/, the bells also help keep us humans from tripping over our kitty cats as they pitter and patter around our feet, assist us with finding our furry friends when they are hiding, and also because it is cute.

That being said, some warn against having bells on a cat’s collar.

In the article at animals.onehowto.com, it is noted the repetitive ringing of the bell so close to a cat’s ears is likely annoying to the cat and possibly even mentally harmful.

The same article also notes that many cats have been injured by trying to get the bell off of the collar. Those sharp little claws can definitely easily get stuck in the bell or caught in the collar.

For those worried about the dangers of bells on collars but still interested in keeping their feline from stalking birds, there are alternatives available. However, these have their detractors too.

One option is the cat bib, an actual bib that is fixed onto a collar and is supposed to make it hard for the cat to pounce on a bird (because the cat is basically tripped up by the bib). As you can imagine, some cats HATE wearing the bib, at least until they get used to it.

Another alternative is Birdbesafe, a bright-colored, extra large collar that looks sort of like a clown’s collar and is supposed to alert songbirds, which see bright colors well. The size of the collar is of concern to some people, who feel that cats will be uncomfortable wearing it. And, it’s definitely not a 100 percent guarantee: A study showed that 64 percent of the cat owners who used the red collar said it worked, according to pictures-of-cats.org. The rainbow and yellow collars didn’t fare as well (48 and 46 percent respectively).

While the alternatives are interesting, it doesn’t seem like cat collars with bells are going anywhere soon. Indeed, we suspect the bells have also just become something of a tradition over the years, i.e., something manufacturers add because they figure people expect cat collars to have them.

That might be bad news for some cats. But, at least it’s good news for some birds.