Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > Why Do Cat Collars Have Bells? The Pros & Cons

Why Do Cat Collars Have Bells? The Pros & Cons

Serrade Petit Cat With Collar

Most of the collars you find for cats have little jingle bells on them. We all know them well. Sometimes it can be really challenging to find a cat collar that doesn’t have this feature. But does that mean that cat collars should always have bells?

Luckily, this feature is entirely optional. You can also find many collars on the market that don’t have the bell. But we will still explain why bells have been used on cat collars for years.

divider-catA Little About Bells on Cat Collars

You might think adding a bell on the collar will keep your cat safe, telling us their whereabouts. What is interesting is the bell was designed for indoor/outdoor or strictly outdoor cats. Cats are incredible hunters posing a danger to certain native species.

Domestic cats are the top killer of birds outdoors, which can impact the ecosystem. If your cat has a bell on its collar, it will warn potential prey that the cat is approaching, giving them ample opportunity to escape.

This method doesn’t work in certain instances, but it can severely decrease mortality rates in cat-inflicted deaths. In fact, the effectiveness lies somewhere between 30 and 40%.

Khao manee diamond cat with red collar
Image Credit By: NaNae, Shutterstock

Why Are Cat Attacks Serious?

Cats are natural-born hunters. So what makes it so bad that feral and domestic cats track down so many birds yearly? Decreasing the bird population can seriously impact the ecosystem. Birds have several deaths per year from man-made causes – like airplanes, wind turbines, and other sources.

Rural and suburban areas are also big targets for cats to kill birds because many residential citizens feed them. People have birdhouses, bird feeders, bird baths, and other means to attract birds to their yards.

Because birds are less on guard with the plentiful food supply and ample entertainment around, they might be less keen to notice a predator at hand. The same neighbors who take pride in birdwatching now have to worry about a cat snatching up the animals they’re trying to help.

Other Positives of Bells on Cat Collars

The purpose of bells might be to warn prey of their presence, but they serve other purposes as well. It is beneficial if you need to figure out where your cat is. If they have a bell to sound when they are near, you can quickly locate your cat anywhere in the house or even outdoors if they’re close enough. So you can easily hear them approaching the next time they’re being called to a meal or for cuddles.

blue cat with red calming collar lying on the asphalt
Image Credit By: Tinka Mach, Shutterstock

Potential Dangers of Bells on Cat Collars

Everything has benefits and downfalls. If your cat has bells on its collar, it definitely might warn birds. However, it could also attract other potential predators, making your cat their prey. This is especially true of coyotes, foxes, or bobcats.

This jump of revolt rolls between predator and prey can have dire consequences for your cat. So it’s not always the best idea to have a collar on, especially at night when most predators are active.


Should Cats Wear Bells on Collars?

Whether or not you add the bell to your cat’s collar is completely up to you. You should use your best discernment and use these collars if you have an outdoor cat. This feature might not be as useful indoors, though some people enjoy the jingle, letting them know when their kitty is around.

Just make sure to consider risk factors and benefits alike. For example, if you have an indoor/outdoor kitty in a rural area—bells might draw predators to your cat. But a bell might be a good idea if you live in a calm residential neighborhood where your sweet old neighbor feeds their beloved birds.

Also, it is not essential unless you like knowing your cat’s whereabouts if they are in the house.

cat with collar at home
Image Credit By: Chewy


Best Cat Collars

There are several different types of collars for cats. As you search, you’ll see bells are the classic look for the most part. But many collars have bells that can easily pop off, so you aren’t bound to them. But here are the primary collar types.


Standard collars are typically made out of nylon or polyester webbing and usually have a plastic buckle with an adjustable point. Most of these collar types come with a bell, and some are easily removed. These are the most common kind you will find in-store and online and are generally sufficient to do the job.


Breakaway collars are designed to come apart with resistance. This is a safety feature to protect cats from strangling or choking. This design can be useful indoors, but it is especially beneficial for outdoor cats.

The best cat collars are sturdy, comfortable, and safe. Our favorite is Hepper's Breakaway Collar, a well-designed collar made from 100% natural hemp webbing that softens as your cat wears it. Featuring a quick-release buckle, adjustable slip-locks, and a jingle bell, this collar is as practical as it is stylish!

Hepper Hemp Safety Breakaway Cat Collar with Bells
  • Hemp-Hemp Hooray - hemp breakaway cat collars are long-lasting and resistant to UV rays – The...
  • What the neck?! - Our cat breakaway collar has adjustable sizing with metal slip-locks, and softens...
  • Breakaway Safety - Cat collars breakaway to ensure that when out adventuring, the material getting...

At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!


Reflective collars are another great option for outdoor cats. If you have an outdoor cat, these reflectors can let others know about your cat’s whereabouts to prevent accidents. Just about any type of color can have reflective strips.


Buckle-style collars are similar to the way you would adjust a belt. They fit much the same and are generally more geared toward aesthetics than function. You might see lots of this style of collar made of genuine or synthetic leather.

cat with collar resting on couch
Image Credit By: Chewy


Martingale collars are designed to teach your cat how to walk on a lead. These are not intended for everyday use, but they serve a purpose if you want to teach your cat basic manners when you go out on the town. They are made with a slip design, which applies pressure to the right areas to guide and direct.


So now you know why cat collars are so valuable if your cat is going outdoors. But keep in mind your surroundings. If you live in a highly predatory environment, you might want to protect your cat and keep the bell off. But if you live in any residential neighborhood, the bell is always the best option to save your fluttery backyard friends.

In any case, if the bell annoys you or your kitty, you can permanently remove it – permitting they are safe and sound, of course.

Featured Image Credit: JoeSang, Pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets