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DIY E-Collar Alternative for My OCD Cat

My adorable Simon-cat has a not-so-adorable problem. Much like his cat-mom, he suffers from some pretty serious OCD.

Like most cats, Simon is a thorough cleaner. The problem is, if he comes across any sort of scratch or skin irritation—as critters that come equipped with sharp claws are wont to do—he’ll obsessively clean the area until he’s created a painful sore, which he’ll then want to clean some more. This scenario always leads to the same inevitable conclusion: a trip to the vet and several weeks in the Cone of Shame. This is not a happy outcome for anyone involved.

So, when a spot that I’d been watching crossed the line yesterday, I dug out the cone and watched sadly as my poor little kitty sulked around and bumped into things. On a whim, I started googling around for alternatives to Elizabethan collars, thinking that maybe I could put my DIY skills to work on something that would make Simon more comfortable. When I came across this ProCollar Protective Collar, which promised to restrict movement while leaving vision more or less unrestricted, the gears in my head started turning.

I went to work on designing a version that would hook right to Simon’s collar, giving it the best chance of actually staying in place. The process was pretty quick and dirty—I wanted to get Simon out of that cone ASAP—but it’s basically comprised of a 20″ fabric tube with tabs sewn into the seams. To keep it both fluffy and light, I reinforced all of the stitching, then stuffed the tube with plastic shopping bags before closing the final seam. Once fitted, I stitched the ends together to form a closed loop, then threaded the collar through the tabs.

It may not be the most elegant solution, but it works. Just like the cone, the padded collar doesn’t allow belly access, so Simon can’t lick the irritated spot. But, unlike the cone, he can still turn his head and see where he’s walking. With his peripheral vision mostly unobscured, he doesn’t feel like something is always about to sneak up on him, so he’s much calmer and more relaxed than with a traditional E-collar. He still walks a little funny and bumps into things occasionally, but instead of a having a full on pimp walk, it’s more like a low-key stagger step. (I was tempted to post a video, but I’ll spare him the harassment.)

A quick note on Simon: Simon is a 9-year-old rescue cat who has always had anxiety and stress issues (and whom I love more than just about anyone else in the world). We work very closely with our vet to ensure that he has the right diet and home environment to keep him as relaxed and healthy as possible. Simon’s obsessive tendencies are mostly well-controlled. While the over-grooming issue isn’t a frequent occurrence, it is one that must be dealt with when it arrises.


  1. SisterDiane says:

    Oh, poor Simon. I'm so glad he found a supportive home with you. And what a brilliant solution! He looks like he might be enjoying the pillowy head-support when he's resting, at least.

    • Tana says:

      Thank you so much for sharing! My in-laws cat has a similar problem but with her head. I used a long sleeve t-shirt. It seems to be working. My mother in law was able to take the cone off and now she seems much happier. We shall see if she is able to scratch her ears . So far so good. Thank you!

  2. Kyrie says:

    Our cat nilla is the exact same way~! All her sores are on her neck though so she cant wear a collar, which is so tragic. I really love this idea though so Ill have to try to think of some way to adapt this for out kitty.

  3. Diana Clarke says:

    So lovely. Thank you for sharing this. My cat, Dennis, is also obsessive compulsive and has recently developed this over-licking habit. I have been looking for a DIY idea since he is currently wearing a traditional e-cone with an extension made of cardboard (his sore is on his tail, which makes virtually every store-bought cone inadequate–he is very flexible and persistent). On to the pattern drafting!

  4. Kelly Lamb says:

    I think I should make one of these for my OCD Angel. She grooms non-stop when it comes time for bed… and wants to be near my face or arms when she does it. Makes for a long period of trying to go to sleep. Cute, friendly idea! 

  5. Maoi says:

    Oh fantastic! my cat is having this exact issue, and we’re both going crazy. me – from trying to make him stop licking the scratches on his belly, and he – wanting to do it. It’s been going on so long now that he’s got a bald spot the size of my palm. So i’m gonna sit down and make this right away!

    Thank you SO much!

  6. Sam Smith says:

    Love it! This is genius & so creative!! Have you thought about a patent? Perhaps mass production on Etsy? Thanks a million for sharing; this has solved a problem that had me stumped. My kitty Coco recently had a major surgery and the cone the vet gave me was so uncomfortable for her. It’s really rigid and hard, and it was made for a small dog instead of a cat :( She couldn’t lay her head down, she kept bumping into things and it was impossible to get comfy. I followed your directions and whipped up one of these for her in minutes for free using stuff I already had (and I’m no seamstress either…) I just wish I had found this for her days ago, but at least now she isn’t miserable anymore & the Cone of Shame is gone! I’m a huge fan, following you on FB & Pinterest :)

  7. J says:

    I made one that I could place on top of two 3″ relatively flat soft collars that I also made. Even with the underlying soft collars, my 9.5 pound (apparently super-flexible) 10 year old cat was able to easily reach over the collar to chew on his “bum” and upper rear legs. Yes, I made the tube collar with a decently-sized diameter (and stuffed it with cotton batting). My cat is also able to easily reach over the 3″ BiteNot collar. I’m still looking for an alternative to the plastic E-collar… he’s soooo uncomfortable. Any other thoughts?

    • Darn flexible cats! ;)

      I’ve heard good things about fabric e-collars. Maybe try making something like this http://www.amorepetshop.com/Ez-Soft-Collar-Extra-Small-X-Small85-X-65-X-15_p_1155.html using plastic aquarium tubing around the outer opening so it stays open and keeps shape? You could also use more tubing or a few flexible plastic strips as boning to keep your acrobat kitty from reaching around the opening.

      I hope that helps! Good luck to you and your kitty.

      • Diane says:

        The boning does work.
        I sewed one on each of the seams of a blue collar and then finished inside and outside circle seams with seam binding. The boning was also held in place with seam binding.
        This was good for about a year as he must have it on 24/7.
        My cat has soft tissue damage on the upper side of back haunch and chews through to the muscle if permitted.
        His femur top was surgically removed as a result of a dog attack.

  8. Julie says:

    Thank you for this fabulous alternative to the plastic collar. Mussi was so unhappy after her surgery and more stressed with the collar. We have made two so far and they are working well.
    I know this great idea will speed along her recovery.
    Thank you and Best regards,

  9. sharron craner says:

    my cat is very allergic to plastic so was unable to wear the plastic cones.
    i just bought a collar very similar to yours, paid $20.00, made out of leather(i think) and he has clawed it and somehow still is able to lick his sore leg.. this one is held together with a long strip of velcro., that way you dont have to pull it over their head.it also does have tabs to tie..
    will use your pattern but put the velcro on , also will make one for our vet and see if they like it better.
    thank-you for rescuing . our cats are also rescued cats
    love u

  10. Joy says:

    My cat also suffers from OCD licking. It’s been going on for years. I have tried everything – the feliway worked for a year or so, and it’s impossible to get him to take medicine. Therefore, my cat has be literally strutting his cone for quite some time. It’s small enough so that he gets around just fine, but cannot lick his inner arms ( he licks them until they are bleeding!). I recently purchased the “bite proof” 21st century inflatable collar – yeah, first night he deflated it. This is a great idea and I’m gonna have to try it! Thanks for sharing! Gizmo thanks you too!

  11. Nanette says:

    I just saw the picture on Google search of your pillow. this is brilliant, now I need to make 2 in the next 36 hours as my 2 boys are getting neutered on Thursday. The store wants $25 per blow up version, now I can save a little and then even use up some of those Walmart bags that multiply faster than rabbits!!

  12. A.C. says:

    Simon is a cutie … I have a gray cat too … A three year old FEMALE named Grady … I found your site while searching for ways to keep Grady from scratching her neck all the time … And I really don’t want to put a “Cone Of Shame” on her because I feel like she’ll get upset with me (and upset, in general) … Thanks for the idea … Hope Simon is doing well =)

    • Good luck with Grady! For what it’s worth, for scratching, I’ve had really good luck with Soft Paws claw caps. Both of my kitties wear them, and since the caps still allow the claws to extend and retract normally, neither cat even notices that they’re there. (In addition to licking, Simon goes through phases of of obsessive chin scratching too. Soft Paws caps don’t keep him from scratching, but they do stop him from irritating his skin when he does it.)

  13. Heather says:

    Aww. I had an OCD kitty once. :) She always had a naked belly, but it was heart breaking when she created sores. :( Hopefully your little man doesn’t have the episodes often. The slightest things to us seem to trigger it for them.

  14. dkw1975 says:

    Thanks for posting. I have a tiny dog (6 lbs), and when we visit my parents, she can escape out a few small gaps in their fence. I put an e collar on here when she goes out so that she cannot get out the gaps. This will be a good alternative. She won’t be able to get out, but she’ll be much more fashionable. (No, I don’t leave her out unsupervised, but once she learned she could get out….she runs straight for the two gaps even if I am watching her. She’s a heathen beast.)

  15. katrina says:

    Thank you for this! I am going to try an make it tonight for a stray cat I’ve taken in who is covered in stubborn granulomas. If it works I’ll make a couple. The worst one is heart-shaped between his shoulder-blades, from him licking from both sides. But because of where the sore is, I’m sure the collar will get blood on it, so this design is great because I can make a couple and throw them in the washing machine.

  16. laney says:

    I just stumbled on this and am so excited! I have a fabric collar, but it’s cone shaped and she can’t eat wearing it. My kitty has the same weird ocd. Def going to try this!

  17. Shelly says:

    Thanks for posting this. I just made something like this for my cat. He has an irritated front paw and kept licking at it so it wouldn’t heal. I used an old pillow case folded it in thirds lengthwise and stitched it down the side. Filled with light plastic grocery bags. Added tabs for the collar and tied it at the ends. Cat does not seem too traumatized by it so far.

  18. Sena says:

    I understand the length of your tube was 20″. What was the width of the fabric piece? I’m not sure how thick the tube should be. Thanks!

    • The width of the fabric varies depending on the size of the pet/how thick you’d like the collar to be. I’d recommend stuffing and basting a scrap piece of fabric, making adjustments until you figure out the best width for your pet.

      • Sena says:

        Thank you so much! I am so happy you shared your creativity! You have saved me from shedding some tears! Our cat licks until he has bald spots and then licks them until they bleed. :( He is currently wearing baby pajamas and the new soft e-collar to hopefully let his legs heal. I made one of yours last night (20″x11″) and it is working very well. I used gross grain ribbon for the loops. Thank you again!

  19. Debora says:

    Thank you for sharing the DIY collar! I made one for my 13 yr old calico cat. I did have to overlap the top and used Velcro to secure it because somehow she turned it and was able to lick the spot near her tail until it was bleeding. You are awesome for sharing.

  20. Irena says:

    This is fantastic! My cat underwent surgery yesterday morning and the vet recommended the cone of shame as you call it. Absolute horror! bumping into things, not being able to eat and sleep…You know it all. So, at 4 am I was searching the net and found your website. Thank you so much for sharing this great idea of a collar. Big Kiss to Simon for me.

  21. Kathy says:

    This is awesome. Going to try for my OCD poodle cross who is super anxious all the time who is also a rescue dog. She constantly scratches and bites herself, we get her groomed every 6 weeks and ive used rescue remedy and other thingd to no avail. Cant wait to try, I think I will use a pool noodle as the insert too. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Harriet Boatwright says:

    I’m def going to make one of these! My cat’s problem is on her front paws; do you know if this will keep her from reaching those, or if I would just need to make the collar taller and thicker? Thanks again for sharing!

  23. Wynema Helton says:

    Thank you for sharing your diy E-collar for kitties. I took your concept and used an old slipper sock along with a few plastic grocery bags stuffed inside the sock. Then I used a safety pin & a badge clip for lanyards to finish the connection.
    Piper is sleeping & I am able to sleep better knowing that she is not trying to lick her stitches.

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