An animal welfare charity is warning cat owners against ‘dangerous’ collars which could leave felines with fatal injuries.
The RSPCA says that since the start of the year it has received reports of almost 100 incidents involving cats injured by their own collars.
A total of 26 of these were reported to the charity in May alone.
Victims included Nugget, a three-year-old tortoiseshell cat who suffered weeks of agony due to a large wound in her armpit caused by getting her leg stuck in her collar.
Chunks of fur and skin were pulled off when the collar was finally cut loose.
A member of the public spotted her limping around the Yorkshire village of Hutton Cranswick.
Lucy Green, an animal collection officer for the RSPCA, said: “I smelt the poor cat before I saw her. It was pretty putrid and infected.
“There were a lot of flies on her but luckily there were no fly eggs or maggots in the wound or it could have been a much worse prognosis for her.”
Nugget is currently being cared for by staff at the charity’s Hull and East Riding Animal Centre.
Lucy continued: “Staff said that this is the worst embedded collar injury they have ever seen.
“As an animal collection officer I would say that it is definitely up there as one of the worst.
“Her wound was so large vets worried it would keep reopening every time she moved if they stitched it up.
“Staff have been working round the clock to keep cleaning and dressing her wound and giving her pain relief and antibiotics.
“Now it has healed a little bit more they can stitch her up.”
A quick release collar is designed to snap open when tugged with sufficient force and can ensure that a cat is released from its collar if they become stuck.
Elasticated collars, or collars with buckles which do not release without human help can leave cats struggling to free themselves when their legs become stuck - causing horrific injuries.
Cat owners have been urged to only use quick release collars on their pets as other collars can be lethal.
RSPCA cat welfare expert Alice Potter said: “All too often we get called to cats that have become injured due to a collar as there are too many dangerous collars on sale.
“We would strongly advise against purchasing a collar with buckles that don’t snap open, or collars made from elastic.
“The majority of flea collars are also not advisable as they do not have safety buckles, so we would encourage pet owners to prioritise safety first and give your cat flea treatment another way.
“Cats are natural hunters and curious explorers that enjoy climbing trees or pushing through tight spots and for these reasons it is imperative that any collar is designed to free the cat should they become snagged during their adventures.
“If the collar gets caught on something the cat may try to free itself by using its foot and then, in turn, get its leg stuck with the collar ending up under the cat’s armpit causing painful injury.”
Anyone who sees a cat in distress or any animal in need is asked to contact the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.