Orange cat collar: clever idea or a dud? It helps recover lost indoor cats.

Orange collar for indoor cats
Orange collar for indoor cats
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Introduction – May 21, 2022: I am revisiting this page almost 7 years after I first wrote it in 2015. It’s a good thing to revisit pages especially when the topic is like this one. The proposal was that all indoor cats should wear an orange collar with a name tag. Should they escape their home anybody in the neighbourhood who is participating in the project would know that the cat has escaped and that they are full-time indoor cats. They can then return the cat to the owner. The result: less lost cats.

Kitty Convict Project

It is called The Kitty Convict Project and it is still going seven years after it was proposed and created. The person who created this project, Matthew Inman, correctly states that 26% of lost dogs are reported and returned home but for cats it is less than 5% and the reasons, he states, are (1) more dogs than cats have ID collars, (2) cats are better at hiding and (3) when a dog is running around loose outside, people assume that he or she is lost but when they see a cat loose in the neighbourhood, they assume that they are an outdoor cat and don’t take any notice. So, the motivation for a wearable marker that a cat should be at home is a very good one.

Click this for a printable promo.

Kitty Convict Project
Kitty Convict Project. Image: the project.

In 2015 I was sceptical about it as you can see below. The Kitty Convict project website has a link to Amazon where you can buy brightly coloured collars but they are not orange, they are pink.

I don’t know how popular it became. I don’t have any reports on it. Their website is still live but I don’t see any records or reports of what is happening on the ground concerning the project.

Ironically, since the project was commenced somebody devised a brightly coloured cat collar not for the reasons stated above but to stop cats preying on birds. The bright colour gives a bird forewarning that a cat is coming.

Birdbesafe collar – a different purpose

New law: outside cats must wear wide, brightly coloured collars
The photo is copyright Birdsbesafe. This product proved successful in preventing cats preying on wildlife.

It seems to me that the Kitty Convict Project might be able to tie up with the anti-predation project and use the same sort of collar. It would be a dual-purpose collar, one to stop the cat preying on birds and another to allow neighbours to return the cat to their owner should they become lost.

It is pretty well known that if a domestic cat does become lost having escaped, they will normally be lost within about 500 m of the front door.

Original article written in 2015

USA – December 3, 2015: The creator, Matthew Inman, of a sicko computer game (for me) called “Exploding Kittens” (I have been unkind but the name is horrible) has come up with an idea that merits a mention and hopefully some discussion. He wants to make things right with cats. It seems that even though I have not played the game he realises that it is exploitative of the domestic cat population. But that is irrelevant, I guess, in this discussion.

“It’s our form of cat atonement. Catonement,” said Inman

Matthew’s idea is that all indoor domestic cats should wear orange collars so that people can easily identify the cat as being owned and an indoor cat if he/she escapes and is roaming outside. You can then report the matter and try and catch him to reunite him with his owner.

That’s it. The reason why the collar should be orange is because it brands the cat as a “convict”. I suppose this is a reference to indoor cats being imprisoned in the family home and when outside they are said to have escaped like a convict from prison.

We know that many lost cats are not reunited with their owner and a good percentage find their way to a shelter where they can be euthanised as unwanted. Anything to minimise that scenario should be welcome.

I wonder though whether Matthew Inman is being serious – the idea looks a bit tongue-in-cheek. Nearly all full-time indoor cats are successfully kept indoors. I don’t believe there are many escapees. The problem with lost cats comes from indoor/outdoor cats who go walkabout and don’t return. That’s the way I see it.

In fact, many cats who have spent their whole lives indoors don’t walk through open doors to the outside because it is the unknown. They are conditioned to live inside.

Also, a lot of cat owners don’t like collars because they are unnatural and they can be dangerous unless they are quick release. This will be a barrier to the idea being taken up.

That said the suggestion is that the cat can wear any orange item, it need not be a collar – but what?

My gut feeling is that the idea is quite interesting but it does not tackle the problem of lost cats square on and it is also unworkable. I hope I am not being too negative on this.

See the cat convict page.

Below are some pages on lost cats.

17 thoughts on “Orange cat collar: clever idea or a dud? It helps recover lost indoor cats.”

  1. Who is Woody? The special collar for indoor cats so that they’re identifiable if they escape seems like a good idea, but if your cat is orange (ginger to Brits) an orange collar may not be clearly discernable especially for the near-sighted like me. My boy has escaped over a dozen times in the last 12 years. He’s always comes back, on his own or via a neighbor. He’s sneaky. He gets around behind me. I usually don’t know he’s got out. He used to beat up all the neighbors’ cats (embarrassing!), and still comes back with fleas (expensive).

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  2. You are wrong. I have had several indoor cats in my life, and inevitably, one of them decides to try his luck and slip out with the dog. Or rip a screen and escape, ect… It happens about once a year or so, and the little furry b*stard is usually gone several hours before we know to even look for him. While I am not a fan of this game, I do think this is an excellent idea. Having just gone through this when furbutt slipped out of the house two nights ago and was out there during the tornado that ran through Dallas.

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      • I find it interesting how you all think I’m this favorite “Woody” person of yours. I guess if you think any anti-stray-cat comment all comes from the same person that it is so much easier to dismiss. That’s called “psychoses”. What’s that saying about De-Nile isn’t just a river in Egypt? I guess it’s those parasitic toxoplasmosis worms in your brains making you act this way. I can’t fathom any other reason. (Nor can anyone who isn’t a lover of your vermin.)

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          • I think Woody doesn’t realize that his brand of stupid is so distinctive a copycat would really have to work at it. Only Woody would devote so much time an effort to trolling a cat-centric website. I could fill a steamer trunk with the amount of stupid it puts out.

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        • Speaking of which, Woody, I see you’re not over at “One Green Planet” anymore. They tossed you out on your ear, didn’t they, troll? That will happen here too. You must have some kind of mental illness to think that you can troll cat-centric websites and get away with it.

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  3. The people that I know tell all criminally negligent and criminally irresponsible cat owners to put brightly colored reflective collars on their cats, without telling them why. They think it’s because we are concerned for their cats. Well, we are, but not like they might think we are. A brightly colored or reflective collar makes it much much easier to spot them at night and safely aim cars for them (when it is safe for all else to do so) without harming the more valuable native wildlife that could be mistaken for an uncollared cat. Some even go so far as to drizzle fish-oils in the centers of urban streets to make a cat stay longer licking at the pavement. Though this common practice is frowned-on in rural areas where it might endanger valuable native animals. A bright colored collar on a cat also makes them a much easier shooting target during daylight hours, enabling spotting stray cats in the densest of shrubs and brush.

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  4. Michael, I like the concept, but agree with you that it may or may not truly be helpful. My “kids” will peek out the door (it is at the bottom of steps when I first come in to my apartment), but really have no desire to “get out”. Most of them don’t even like going out just to go to see the vet!! I usually don’t *wear* anything on them since they are all indoor only “kids”. . . ♥♥♥

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    • I am pleased you said that. I have seen the same thing at Helmi Flick’s home in Dallas. Her cats are indoor cats and when a large sliding door was opened which leads to the patio the cats looked out but did not step out. It was as if there was an invisible glass panel there. I think cats become indoctrinated into the indoor lifestyle and find the outdoors unsafe.

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      • I live right on a main roadway, and if one of my “kids” happens to be at the door when I or my son come in, and suddenly a vehicle — especially a noisy one — goes by, they run like hell right back upstairs!!!! ♥♥♥

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