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Why You Should Not Put A Bell On Your Cat

By Max. D Gray. Updated: March 30, 2017
Why You Should Not Put A Bell On Your Cat

To us, the image of a cat wearing a bell is almost natural. Although for many years it has been seen as a nice accessory and, in a way, necessary for a cat that is out and about in the wilderness, there is a growing argument against putting this noisy article on your cat's neck. At OneHowTo.com, we explain why you should not put a bell on your cat, as it is not as good an idea as you thought.

You may also be interested in: Is it Safe to Put a Collar on a Cat?
Steps to follow:
1

Firstly, the main reason is the noise. And not just because it is repetitive and annoying for you, but because it is harmful to your cat's health. The bell is too close to their ears and in the long-term, this powerful and constant noise will impair your cat's sharp hearing. It could even turn your cat deaf if the bell were a big enough size.

2

The bell's ring can alter your cat's mood. Of course, having a perpetual ringing sound coming from their neck will make your feline very nervous. Think of the calm and silent stealth that cats, by nature, ooze. Moving skilfully, with indifference, and above all, are the image of relaxation and Zen. With a bell, you are putting your cat and yourself on edge, leading to a stressed cat.

3

A collar with a bell ringing is all but convenient. Indeed, many cats try to get it off, or even try to bite it to stop the ringing. There have been many cases of injured cats, as many catch their bottom jaw with the bell when trying to get it off.

It is possible that your cat has grown used to it, but nothing is at all natural about carrying this around its neck.

4

The reasons in favor of putting a bell on your cat include that the cat will catch less wildlife, as the sound of the bell will warn possible prey. However, studies by Barrette from the Mammal Society have proven that cats with a bell catch as much prey (or even more) than those without one. Take a look at everything you need to know on the actual figures in AnimalWised's article Cats killing birds: separating fact from myth.

Birds and other wildlife will be aware of a cat's presence not by the noise of the bell, but because of physical viewing, so a bell will not make a difference in this sense. Another reason that makes a bell useless in this sense is that, over time, cats have learnt how to walk without the bell ringing.

If this is the reason you want to put a bell on your cat, then a Cat Bib may be an alternative your cat could adapt to instead.

Why You Should Not Put A Bell On Your Cat - Step 4
5

If despite all this, you cannot resist from putting a bell on your cat, try to only put it on from time to time or at least, buy a small one. We know that collars serve many purposes: identifying, flee-removal, being aesthetic-pleasing, a tracking device, etc. While wearing a collar might be necessary, it does not need to have a bell. Put yourself in your little furry friend's position, just because it seems funny or cute does not mean you should go a step further and ruin your cat's hearing and peace. For more useful advice on raising cats, we recommend consulting our cat section on OneHowTo.com

If you want to read similar articles to Why You Should Not Put A Bell On Your Cat, we recommend you visit our Pets category.

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40 comments
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mandi spence
I have a little cat myself she os my world and I don't believe in bells because the cat can choke on it so never put a bell on a cats coller .......
Catherine
Bought my Gently a breakaway collar (which came with a bell on it). He ripped. it off three times. The third time he hid it so well that I didn't find it until we replaced the hot water heater this year. So I gave up, and kept him inside until we built him a catzebo. He has now ripped two holes in the chicken wire so he can get out and terrorize the neighborhood, when he's not timing it exactly right to dart out the door with the dogs.
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Melissa
I hate bells on cats, for all the reasons listed above. But I have a 1 year old, new to the house. Putting the bell on lets me keep track of the cat as it explores all the nooks and crannies that my older cats have long neglected, or haven't found interest in. Also, my cat is pitch black, and impossible to see in any shadows - if I need to find him, the bell helps. Lastly, my eldest cat is 16, and the bell helps give her warning that the cat is coming near. She's not in love with the idea of a new cat in the house, and she's a tiny thing with arthritis. Until she comes around, or at least gets accustomed to the new scents and movement (I'm giving her 6 months to a year. I'm under NO illusions) the bell is necessary to give her warning so we can stress her out a little less. The bell doesn't ring with every movement, so it's not quite as obnoxious as other bells I've heard or seen. Thank you for the pointer about the cat's hearing... on that end, I am more concerned with the constant hums and buzzing from various plugged in machinery around my house. There is no real "quiet."
Randa Boisclair
I wonder if a bell on a cat's collar serves as a warning to potential prey, doesn't it also endanger a cat as a way for predator's to more easily track them?
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Eugene L Wenceslao
My cat has a bell. They dont go deaf idiot leftist. They mostly lay around napping. What if i play my guitar too loud or play some music., or decide to watch a movie on my big screen tv with surround sound. Lawn mowers, garbage trucks, motorcycles, my wind chime, everyday sound. If you forgot noise pollution is everywhere. How about my barking dog will he go deaf if he barks too loud cuz he does.
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Eugene,

We always appreciate input from our community, but we would respectfully request you don't resort to personal attacks or making assumptions about a person's belief system. It does not promote the kind of supportive community we want to have here and, honestly, reflects badly on you. We know there are many issues regarding animals which are politically fraught, but we politely ask our commentators to not create any further unnecessary division.
Mary
This article has nothing to do with leaning leftist. I'm a leftist and I completely disagree with this article, so you saying that is ridiculous.
Bryan
I would happily agree with what you said if it wasn't for the hateful way you presented it. I don't understand why politics had to come into it at all.
Emma
My cat is so small we have to give her a kitten collar (we make sure it is big enough to not hurt her) but she always manages to get out of it, bell or no bell. We gave up on collars and got her chipped.

If a cat is showing signs they don't like the bell keep them inside if they are okay with it let them outside because cats are natural hunters and have hunted many small creatures to extinction. Don't get me wrong I love cats but I also love every animal so please take responsibility for it.
Warwick
I read that chipping is only for identification if the pet is returned to a vet and will not locate a lost pet. You need a GPS tracker on it.
OneHowTo Editor
You are correct. GPS trackers are not available to be embedded in a cat. Part of the reason for this is because the GPS sends a signal which means it needs to be battery powered, something not suitable for inserting under a cat's skin.
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...
great article, insightful...
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Dave
It's this simple. Shoot all the cats in your neighborhood, or put a bell on them. I feed birds and squirrels...and feral cats. One species does not have the right to wipe out the other species. Guess which is happening? I used to have a yard full of happy birds and squirrels stuffing themselves... then cats... feral and wild... started using my back yard as a hunting ground. I had choices... I chose to try to keep ALL of the species alive and well. And yes, I feed the cats. One lives in my house most of the time. It is time consuming. The easy answer is to transport the cats or get them to an ASPCA or some such incarnation... but the local one is FULL of cats and kittens, and turned mine away. So... let them rampage my exotic birds, squirrels, and some cats terrorize other cats... or BELL them. Nuff said.
melissa
Have you looked into trap and release, so the feral cats don't reproduce as often, or at all? That will slow down the feral cat population, and help save the birds and squirrels. Awesome for you looking out for all creatures.
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Mary Sadler
I agree 100% with the article. Cats are invaluable in keeping pests under control, can you imagine the numbers of mice and rats if there were no cats to catch them? Ask the ancient Egyptians! I think mice are cute, but I don't want them partying in my pantry, thank you very much. To bell the cat as an alarm is inhumane and against everything nature stands for. If you don't want your pet to catch prey, get a stuffed one.
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Leslie Carol
It's worth a little discomfort to save the lives on countless wild birds. Many birds are endangered because of domestic cats! The common house cat is NOT! #1 DO NOT let your cat outdoors. But if you do, they MUST wear a bell to warn wild birds. Thank you!! :)
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Chloe
if cats aren't allowed to be belled you claim they could go deaf from the bells. so how is it any different if they were playing with a toy with a bell on it?
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the difference is that they aren’t attached to the toy!!
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crazycatlady
If you think that the reason people have bells on their cats is because it's "cute" then you're willfully ignorant. Have you ever actually asked someone why they have a bell on their cat? I, along with most people, put bells on my cats so I can hear them getting into trouble, trying to sneak outside, trying to get up on the counters trying to get food that might be dangerous to them, or if they do manage to get outside (which thankfully they haven't, they are indoors ONLY), I would be able to easily find them if I can hear their bells.
I('m not getting my cats chipped. I can't afford it with as many as I have).
They may have a natural instinct to be stealthy or whatever, but it's also natural for them to be outside in the wild and by that logic should I let my cats outside in the wild so they are at the mercy of wildlife and traffic and lunatic animal abusers who would love to do god knows what to them?
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Laurie
I need a bell on my kitten to know if she is near my motorized chair, so I don't run over her. She is an indoor only cat. Please don't discourage everyone not to use bells. I am open to suggestions if u have an alternative. TY
pam
1st of all , plz dont put a bell on any cat, it is harassment for the cats, i hve 2 indoor cats , none of them like anything around their neck.... will u like to put a belt with bell around ur neck, and roam all day ? if not ,then plz, plz dont do it to ur cat...enough said .
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Allie
As others have mentioned, please cite your references. You mention work published by Cornell that states bells do not not decrease wildlife killed by domestic cats. It would be really appreciated if you could put an actual citation with a link or the title/author to make it easier for us readers to judge the primary evidence. Which brings me to my biggest concern: your assertion that bells are actually harmful and can cause deafness. This is a significant claim and were this true, backed by evidence, I think I would likely not use hunting bells. So far I have not found any evidence to support this, but I really urge the author to include their references if they have them. Cheers
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Sam
Cats eat birds and mice it's natural, they have evolved nicely on this diet, their wellbeing depends on it.
Don't keep cats indoors, it a prison.
Mary
Cats are detrimental to wildlife populations and ecosystems in sensitive areas. Letting them run wild and loose is ridiculous. House cats are just fine indoors, and lead much longer, healthier lives.
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Signs of autumn
I have a solution. Don't let your cat outside.
I love all animals and I've rescued cats dumped on my street and found wonderful homes for them, but they do kill lots of wildlife . It's instinct and fun for them . I thought by feeding the left behind cats in my area would prevent the killing of wildlife, but it doesn't . A bell is not going to cause deafness in a cat. It's just going to annoy it. Too bad. If my neighbors don't keep their cats in. They need to collar and bell them. Bells do save wildlife. I'm a wildlife rescuer and I observe wildlife and the cats in my neighborhood . The bell raises the rabbits , squirrels or birds attention immediately and they learn when they hear the bell. It's a cat coming .RUN!
Sadly the baby rabbits don't learn quick enough and they're torn apart left to slowly die on my lawn. As are the baby squirrels just coming out for the first time . Obviously wildlife is wild and free . We can't bring it in our house or pen it up, but cats can be kept in and if you care about your cat. You would keep it in for several reasons. Owls, hawks, raccoons, foxes, rabies, fleas, ticks, and rotten people who target cats to hurt or kill them for fun. If you have a pet. Be responsible. Keep them indoors and safe. Take them for their vaccines and check ups.
Teach them to walk on a harness if you want them to enjoy the outdoors. It's not easy, but possible. Or have a cat pen outside for fresh air with a top on it. Just because your cat cries to go out or tries to get out. Doesn't mean you should let it. Once a cat is taught to stay in. It does. All my cats liked their house and never wanted to go out. They would panic if they followed me outside by accident They would crouch low and wait for me to carry them in. In the end it's lazy or irresponsible owners with an out dated belief cats belong outside. Unless cats are on a farm for catching mice and rats. They don't belong outdoors. PERIOD! Cats are not wildlife. They were man made if you research their history. We don't let our dogs run loose just because their ancestors were wolves.
Further more. There's 1000's of cats in shelters and rescues, because people let them roam free not spayed or neutered and there's not enough homes. They end up euthanized. If you truly love cats. Keep them indoors or you're lying to yourself about how much you really care about cats.
Dave cat
I'm calling BS dude or dudette. Cats are animals and I've had upward of 10 cats, each of them hated when I tried to keep them inside. You are just a pansy control freak lol
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Zoe
Hey, I am doing a study on cats with collars for school and I need to know when this was published. I couldn't find it. Could you please tell me?
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Zoe,
The last time this article was edited was: 19th September 2016

Regards
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Karen
I think this is an ad for CatBib, which looks far more annoying for a cat to wear than a bell. That thing is ridiculous.
OneHowTo Editor
Dear Karen,
OneHowTo has absolutely nothing to do with any of the companies that sell cat bibs, we are independent expert writers.
Hope this answers your question.
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Meryl
What a lame article. Have you any scientific evidence to back up these claims? My feeling, due to the lack of evidence here, is that these points are just opinions. In which case, it is very irresponsible for you to make these arguments which could potentially encourage owners to removes their cats' bells without proper consideration of the real facts.

Will cats' hearing really be diminshed as you say? You claim that a bell is 'harmful to your cat's health' but cats are harmful to the health of wildlife. So why should cats be favoured for the sake of conserving their sensitive hearing - a relatively small benefit - when they cause the DEATH of around 275 million animals a year just in the UK (Woods et al, 2003)? Furthermore, research by Woods et al. (2003) from The Mammal Society found that cats equipped with bells actually bring home LESS wildlife than those without bells which contradicts your point that cats may even bring home more wildlife when wearing bells. You are cherry-picking evidence and misleading readers and that is irresponsible.

I'm not an expert on cats or bells but I can't see how a tiny little bell is detrimental enough to your cat to justify removing it at the expensive of wildlife. I'm an animal lover but I hate cats more than anything for the impact they have on wildlife and I just don't see the appeal of them. I would appreciate owners who put bells on their cats as I think that is the responsible thing to do.
OneHowTo Editor
Dear Meryl,
There are several studies by different universities such as the Cornell University college of Veterinarian Medicine have found that putting a bell on a cat does not stop it from hunting.
Hunting is in the nature of a cat as it is a natural predator, this is how nature works. Moreover, there are more effective and less harmful methods to stop them from hunting such as the cat bib.
On the other hand, as you say yourself, you are not a cat expert. You may not have seen a cat's reaction when he or she wears a bell for the first time. Though some get used to it, it drives many crazy. The bell has no real purpose and will not help reduce wildlife death, which, on the other hand, cannot be compared to the damage that mankind is doing to it.
We do feel sorry that you hate cats, at OneHowTo we are of the opinion that all animals deserve respect and a good quality of life.
Kind regards.
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Marie
The only reason I haven't removed the bell from my black cat's collar is bc if she eats mice or birds she will get parasites and I really don't want that,and I cant give her meds for it before I see the worms in her poo, stupid rule.
And I use a collar on her bc its reflective and that lower the risk of her being hit by a car or a bike. It has a cat safe lock so if it gets stuck she can open it by putting some weight on it. And she only wears it when she is outside.
She doesn't mind wearing it. She doesn't try to get out of it or anything. She did try to find out where the noise came from in the beginning but now she kinds of ignores it. I have a bell like that on a homemade cat toy ( yarn with a piece of paper tied to it with the bell in the middle,she enjoys that very much.

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