How to Feed a Cat Who is Wearing a Cone Around Its Head

Sometimes, the things that are best for our cats are also things they really, really dislike. If your cat is ever injured or has surgery, she may need to wear a cone or e-collar. Chances are that your cat is going to be less than thrilled when you put that cone on her. Luckily, your cat can still do most of her daily activities while wearing the cone, even if she doesn't quite realize that yet.

Gray cat wear cone.
If your cat needs to wear a cone, ask your vet for cat cone advice.
credit: stigmatize/iStock/GettyImages

Fit the cone properly

If your cat needs to wear a cone, ask your vet for cat cone advice. Your vet can help you to find a cone that's the right size for your cat. A cone that's too big will be heavy and cumbersome, but a cone that's too small won't be effective in keeping your cat from licking his wound.

To size an e-collar or cat cone, measure the length running from the base of your cat's neck to his nose. The collar needs to be long enough to reach to or just past your cat's nose when it's on. When fitting the collar, you should be able to fit two fingers between the base of the collar and your cat's neck. Make sure that your cat can comfortably breathe and swallow when the collar is in place.

Setting up food and water

You may need to reposition your cat's food and water dishes while she's wearing a cone. Raising the food dishes up so that they're 2 to 4 inches off the ground can help your cat to more easily eat and drink from them. Your cat will probably be clumsy initially, so you may want to put down a mat beneath the dishes in case she knocks them over.

Some cats find that it's easier to eat and drink out of a saucer than it is to use a dish that has raised edges. The dishes' diameters will need to be smaller than the cone in order for your cat to eat from them.

When your cat is new to wearing the cone, she may be reluctant to eat or drink. Hand feeding her can help her to get used to this process. If your cat continues to refuse to eat, contact your vet to see if you could remove the cone and supervise her as she eats.

Cat cone alternatives

If your cat just isn't doing well wearing an e-collar, you may want to look into some alternatives. Some cats may cope better with a soft foam collar. There are also a number of inflatable collars that don't extend as far around the cat's face as traditional e-collars do. Some cats may enjoy these inflatable options because they can hear and see better with them on. You may also be able to fit your cat with a cloth recovery suit or baby onesie to cover the injury or incision as it heals.

If your cat hates the cone collar, you can periodically remove it to give your cat a break. However, only do this during times when you're able to focus all of your attention on watching your cat. If your cat starts to lick his wound or removes his stitches, you may have to go back to the vet, and the healing time (and the amount of time your cat will need to wear a cone) will increase.

With a little time, your cat should get used to the cone and be able to eat and drink comfortably. In most cases, your cat will only need to wear the cone for a short time, and then he'll be thrilled when the cone is finally removed.