Are you wondering why do cat collars have bells?

Do you want to get a bell for your cat but worry if it will hurt their little ears?

Please keep reading to find out more about bells, their benefits, drawbacks, and possible alternatives.

Types of Collars

The cat collar controversy has been going on for a very long time.

So, before discussing the importance of bells, let’s see the different types of collars and what they’re supposedly best used for.

We’ll give examples for each one.

FYI, this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Traditional Buckle Collars

Traditional Buckle Collars

This is the oldest type of collars. They use a simple mechanism where they lock by buckling.

They are the best for indoor cats but may be risky for cats that love going outdoors.

This lock will not release or stretch even when the cat gets stuck, and this could lead to choking.

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Breakaway Cat Collars

Fantasia Pet Breakaway CAT Collar

Unlike the buckle collars, breakaway collars will release or snap if they are caught by an object.

They are the best for cats that go outdoors often since they ensure the cast backs home safely from his/her escapades.

You can also opt for reflective or light-up collars for cats that love to roam when it’s dark.

The lighting mechanism also prevents your cat from being hit by a car if he/she decides to cross the street at night.

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Stretch Collars

Fantasia Pet Breakaway CAT Collar

These are simple elastic collars that don’t really hold on to anything, and it’s challenging to find one that fits your cat.

If a cat gets stuck, all they do is stretch.

Cat Collar with Bell Charm Floral Design Elastic Adjustable Band
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Your best bet is a breakaway collar with an added an ID tag.

This is to make sure if the cat escapes, whoever finds him/her will get your contact information.

Since the breakaway collars will come off occasionally, you can also consider microchipping him/her. This chip will also bear your contact information.

NOTE: Avoid using a breakaway collar to restrain or walk your cat on a leash. A harness is more suitable for that purpose.

Why Do Cat Collars Have Bells?

Now let’s get to the heart of the question: why bother putting bells on cat collars?

Grey and white cat wearing a bell on his collar

Benefits of Bells on Collars

Let’s start with the upsides of bells. Yep, they actually serve a purpose other than just being cute!

Alert the Birds and Other Wildlife

If your cat brings home dead animals, then you need to install a bell. Cats excel in hunting.

But the problem is that they’ll do it just for fun and bring the animal to you as a “gift.”

To give you an idea of how destructive this habit can be, cats kill 2.4 billion birds annually in the US alone.

Even though wild cats make some of the kills, domestic cats play a significant role.

While they have good intentions, you also have to preserve the animals around your home.

A bell will help warn these animals when the predator is approaching, giving them time to escape.

Track the Cat’s Movements

Cats will often get lost in their own adventures.

They could be in strange places in your house, such as the ceiling, closet, basement, or somewhere in your backyard.

A bell helps cat owners know where their feline friends are at all times.

If you have newly-born kittens, you know they love coming between your legs as you walk. The sounds can prevent you from crashing them.

Alert Other Cats

If you have several cats in your house, some of them may be aggressive and bully other cats.

A bell gives away the bully’s whereabouts at all times. This gives the meeker cats time to prowl, and there’ll be fewer catfights in your household.

Decorative Purposes

You can choose a decorative collar and add a bell to make it “cooler.”

Some cats will appreciate the bell and tolerate the sounds as long as it makes them stand out.

Also, choose a color or design that matches his/her personality. And if your cat doesn’t appreciate it, all that matters is that they look attractive to you.

read why do cat collars have bells

Drawbacks of the Bell

Bells have just as many drawbacks as benefits, especially for outdoor cats.

It Alerts Predators

Cats can be very stealth when treading outdoors.

But the sounds of the bell will always give them away to predators such as dogs, wild cats, or any other animal that may be lurking around in your backyard.

If you’re aware of such dangers in your area, it’s best to keep your cat indoors most of the time or build safe places for them to hide.

It’s a Choking Hazard

The sound of the bell can be quite annoying. Imagine having to hang a bell around your neck and walk around with it.

When cats can’t stand the sound anymore, they’ll start contemplating how to get rid of it. And one way to do it is to chew it off.

This is dangerous since pieces of the bell may get stuck in the cat’s teeth. And they may also choke on the bell’s ball when they accidentally swallow it.

It Interferes With Their Usual Activities

Cats are naturally playful. But with a bell making unpleasant noises around their necks, they will have minimize their movement.

The bell also interferes with their role in getting rid of rodents since the bell will betray them.

Grey and white cat with a purple collar with bells on it.

Will the Bell Damage My Cat’s Ears?

A bell produces noise levels ranging from 50 to 60 dB.

Studies reveal that a cat will only suffer a hearing loss if exposed to 85 dB or louder noises. So your cat’s ears are safe with the bell.

Alternatives to the Bell

Alternatives to the Bell

If you’re still worried about using a collar bell, below are some alternatives to consider CatBib.

This is a tool that prevents your cat from hunting birds. You attach it to the cat’s collar, and it intercepts when the cat is pouncing on the bird.

It’s bright, making it easier for the bird to detect the cat from a distance. And it doesn’t interfere with any other cat’s activities.

You can also track the cat’s movement since the CatBib is bright enough to stand out in a bush.

CatBib - Saves Birds, Protects Cats (Small, Rainbow)
  • PLEASE NOTE: THE CATBIB WILL LIKELY BE LOST IF USED WITH A QUICK-RELEASE COLLAR. A quick release collar can easily unclip, so please use an elastic safety collar with the CatBib. (visit our Amazon store to see a selection: )
  • SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TO STOP CATS FROM CATCHING ALL TYPES OF BIRDS (not just songbirds) WHEN PROPERLY USED* (see directions and tips /tricks below, and e-mail us if you have an extremely skilled hunter so we can help)
  • WORKS BY INTERFERING THE CAT's TIMING DURING A BIRD STRIKE. DOES NOT INHIBIT normal day-to-day cat life. They can still run, jump, climb trees, eat, sleep, scratch and groom.
  • EASY TO CLEAN. Made of thin neoprene backed with nylon. To clean, wipe it off with a damp cloth or throw it in the washing machine. Hang to dry.
  • SIZE: Note the size of the CatBib is not based on the size of the cat. It is based on how aggressive your cat is. We recommend starting with the small CatBib, and moving to the large if your cat can outsmart it.


Do bells on collars bother cats?

Usually, no especially if you introduce it when they’re young. However, if your cat seems to dislike them, you can use alternatives such as CatBibs.

Do indoor cats need a collar?

Yes. And the collar should bear your contact information. Since they may escape outside sometimes, it will be easier to find them if they get lost.

Do bells on collars damage cat hearing?

A bell’s sound ranges from 50 to 60 dB. But according to this study, a cat can handle noise levels of up to 80dB. So, no, a bell is less likely to damage your cat’s hearing.

Grey cat with red collar with a bell hanging from it

Final Words on Why Cat Collars Have Bells

The debate on using a bell on a collar isn’t ending any time soon. But I think the benefits outweigh the negatives.

You get to locate your cat, conserve wildlife, and prevent catfights in your house.

But if they don’t like it to a point where they hurt themselves trying to remove it, consider alternatives such as CatBibs.

Tell us your thoughts on why cat collars have bells below!

Peter W
Peter W

Peter is a cat dad who loves sharing his experience with other cat parents.

Last update on 2021-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API