Cats in Cones

Striped cat with case on front foot with plastic cone around head
© PeachLoveU/

Written by Shaunice Lewis

Updated: January 24, 2023

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Sometimes veterinarians will advise that your cat wear a cone after its visit. Cat cones may look funny and cause your cat to behave strangely as it gets adjusted to wearing them, but they can be very beneficial while your cat is healing. Read on to learn more about cat cones and why it may be recommended for your cat to wear one.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Is in a Cone?

Let’s start by explaining what a cat cone is. A cat cone is an open-ended cone that a cat is required to wear around its head. These cones are sometimes known by other names such as e-collars, Elizabethan collars, etc.

In the past, veterinarians used to have to make cat cones for their clients by hand. They would use materials such as cardboard or plastic and bend it into the shape of a cone for the cat to wear. This is no longer a common practice as there are many ready-made commercial options available. You can even order them online or find them at a local pet store yourself.

When a cat is in a cat cone, it means that the veterinarian has advised that they wear one in order to prevent the cat from biting or licking itself. Cat cones are designed to make it impossible for the cat to be able to lick or bite at a wound, or open sore for example, because of the way the cone is wrapped around its head.

Cones do not hurt cats nor do they cause any serious discomfort. The only thing they are meant to do is keep your cat from licking or biting at its own skin or fur. It is meant to aid in a cat’s healing process by making it impossible for the cat to interfere.

Why Do Cats Wear Cones?

There are many specific reasons why a cat may have to wear a cat cone. As we mentioned, cat cones are designed to prevent cats from being able to lick or bite at themselves, which could prolong or jeopardize the cat’s healing process. Let’s go over some of the instances in which your veterinarian may require your cat to wear a cat cone.


If your cat has recently had surgery, your vet may require your cat to wear a cone so that it doesn’t lick or chew at the site of the incision. The cat may have stitches that the veterinarian doesn’t want your cat to disrupt by licking or biting at the area. The cone would prevent the cat from interfering with the stitches, which helps your cat heal faster. If the cat were not wearing a cone, it would be easy for it to bite or lick at the area, which could cause further irritation or, in the worse case, an infection. This would prolong or complicate your cat’s healing process and could make matters worse.

Rash or Irritation

Just like the case of surgery, a cat cone can prevent your cat from licking or biting at an area of inflammation or rash. Sometimes cats can develop skin issues for a variety of reasons, including allergies or fleas. This can cause your cat’s skin to become irritated and inflamed due to the itching and scratching. If your cat licks or scratches at an area of skin too much, it can develop a rash or a missing patch of fur in that spot.

In order to allow the skin to heal, your vet may require your cat to wear a cone along with regular applications of antibiotic ointment. To prevent your cat from licking the area while it’s covered in the ointment, it is best to have the cat wear a cone. In some cases, they may also prescribe an oral medication.

Types of Cat Cones

There are a few options to consider when it comes to cat cones. It all boils down to what cone is best for your cat and will allow it to heal properly while being the most comfortable for it to wear. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of cat cones available.

Traditional Plastic Cone

The traditional plastic cat cone is the most common type of cone that you’ll see worn. Since it’s made from hard plastic, the cone is sturdy and keeps its shape as your cat wears it. Some plastic cones will have fabric around the edge of the cone that touches your cat’s neck so that it is more comfortable for the cat to wear. Plastic cones can also come in various colors and can be ordered online.

Cones that are clear and see-through make a great option for your cat since they make it easy for your cat to see through as well as let more light in so that your cat can see where it’s going. You may even want to consider trimming down the edges of the cone to make it even easier for your cat to see its surroundings. Just be sure to check with your vet first to be sure that trimming the cone won’t allow your cat to scratch or bite at the area that needs to be protected.

Soft Cones

Soft cones are another type of cone option that may be best for your cat. Unlike traditional plastic cones, soft cones are made out of soft fabric and are more like a pillow cushion that’s designed to be worn around your cat’s neck. These soft cones can be much more comfortable for some cats that are completely against wearing plastic ones. Sometimes the plastic cones can be so uncomfortable to a cat that it will refuse to walk or move while it’s on. If you find that your cat refuses to move or cooperate while wearing the plastic cone, you may want to consider trying the soft cones. There are also some really fun and cute soft cat cones to choose from.

Inflatable Cat Cone

This one is similar to the soft cat cone; however, you are able to inflate it. It’s made from a soft fabric just like the soft cones, but it is filled with air and may offer a bit more protection than the soft cones. Like the soft cones, an inflatable cat cone allows your cat to see its surroundings easier than the plastic cones since it doesn’t block its vision.

These make a better option for cats that are fussy and refuse to walk or move while wearing the traditional plastic cones.

How Does a Cat Eat and Drink While Wearing a Cone?

A cat should still be able to eat and drink its food while wearing a cone, but if you find that yours is unable to, try elevating its food and water bowls off of the floor with a tilted raised food dish. If this doesn’t help or isn’t possible, you can try trimming some of the plastic off of the cone if it is wearing one of the traditional plastic cones.

If none of these methods work and you notice that your cat is still having trouble eating and drinking, it’s perfectly fine to take the cone off for a little while to allow the cat to eat and drink. Just be sure that you are monitoring it so that it does not lick or bite the area that is meant to be protected by the cone.

Once your cat is finished eating and drinking, replace the cone so that it doesn’t mess with the area that is meant to be protected by the cone.

How Do Cats Groom While Wearing Cones?

Grooming is most likely impossible for your cat while it’s wearing a cone. The cone itself is meant to prevent your cat from licking or biting at an infected area, surgery site, or other skin irritation. Therefore, a cat won’t be able to do its usual self-grooming. During the time that your cat is required to wear a cone, you’ll need to brush your cat and make sure that its fur doesn’t become matted. Brushing will also help remove excess shed fur from your cat’s coat, which helps reduce hairballs.

Hairballs can lead to choking, vomiting, and in some cases, obstruction or blockages in your cat’s intestines. This is why it is important to make sure that you help your cat reduce its shed fur by brushing regularly—especially while wearing the cone. Brushing will also help provide stimulation to the skin and help with any itchiness that your cat may feel, being unable to scratch or lick itself.

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About the Author

Freelance writer specializing in natural health and wellness.

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