Alternative to the Elizabethan Collar

Elizabethan collars are clear plastic cones placed over the head of an animal in order to prevent them from scratching or licking a wound (see 3rd picture). Although E-collars are effective they can also cause the animal a lot of stress. E-collars limit peripheral vision causing the animal to run into a lot of things and also make it harder to eat and drink. This instructable offers an alternative that is cheap, easy to make, and will work in most of the situations that one would use an E-collar.

Warning: This collar is designed to give an animal more freedom than an E-collar and therefore cannot be used in every situation that an E-collar is used. In particular, it may not prevent an animal from licking/biting its front paws or the end of its tail. However, with cats (and some short faced dogs) it will prevent the animal from using its front paws to scratch its face. In any case, you should always watch your pet for a while to make sure this collar works as intended.

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
1. Foam pipe insulation: This is the insulation used to keep pipes from freezing in winter. It should be fairly ridged foam and should defiantly not be fiberglass. What matters most is the outer diameter (O.D.). However, insulation is generally measured by the inner diameter so take a measuring tape. For my small to mid-sized cats I used foam with an O.D. of 5cm (2in). This size prevented one cat from licking or biting her hindquarters and prevented another cat from scratching her chin. For a large cat you should have 6 cm foam. A large dog would likely need foam with an O.D. of 10 to 15cm.

For large dogs you may want to fill the inside of the foam with cloth or smaller diameter foam so the dog can't simply crush the collar.

2. Electric or other plastic tape. The kind of tape you use is important as the collar is inevitably going to have contact with whatever your pet eats and drinks. I tried cloth athletic tape first and within a couple of days I had to negotiate terms with the colonies of bacteria that had seized control of the collar.

3. Shoelace, or other thick piece of string.
NaughtyZooty6 months ago
I really like this idea because it functions as needed and your pet can still be comfortable when they lay down. Great idea!
Ahaa6 months ago
I just made this in blue and so far it is awesome! I got a regular cone e collar from the vet and he has been depressed for a week. And of course he keeps getting it off and then he rubs his face raw and we start all over. I tried to freestyle the collar from the pictures and was so frustrated I had to put it down and start over. I have black insulation so the key is to get a silver marker to make your marks and do the math and it works perfectly! Now I just have to see if he can reach his face. Thanks for figuring this out! I found this instructable by searching online for e collar using pipe insulation because I knew there had to be a way.
juise9 months ago
Thank you for this! Just made one for my cat that started tearing herself up when she got fleas... I got rid of the fleas, but the scratching, biting, constant licking seems to be compulsive at this point, or the wounds are just itchy. Her wounds have only been getting worse with no sign of stopping, and they are grade A nasty now.

Found this just before going out to get a cone of shame, seems so much nicer for the cat! She's not *thrilled*, but she's also not seeming very bothered at all, certainly nothing like what she'd be experiencing with a cone. She's sitting on my lap purring right now, despite having collared her an hour ago. :) I've seen her react *far* worse to a harness.

Hopefully she won't be able to get to her back / base of tail / chin, (haven't seen her manage it yet!) and she will be able to heal. No, I wouldn't use this for *all* situations, but it is certainly a *great* alternative for others, thanks again!
mowdish (author)  juise7 months ago
Hi Juise. Thanks for commenting. I'm always happy to know that some cat is suffering a little less because of this.
ccabochons2 years ago
I like this, nice idea and tute.
mowdish (author)  ccabochons2 years ago
Thanks for comment and thanks for bringing my attention back to this ible. Looks like its views have jumped a lot in the last year. I was always disappointed that this ible didn't get much play when I published it.
jet h3 years ago
great tute and great idea as well, you're right it wont work for every surgery , but it's a great solution for some others.
must laugh of the last picture of your tute, your cat was showing how he/she loved it this modeling.LOL
hey thank you for the tute and the sharing.!!! well done.
mowdish (author)  jet h3 years ago
Thanks for the comment. I'm glad to see this instructable is still getting some views.
jet h mowdish3 years ago
you're very welcome;-D hey have a great awesome week with your furrie friends.;-D
lordmoose823 years ago
I like the creativity but as a Vet Tech I understand that the patients are uncomfortable but E-collars are effective. Anytime we have used "alternative" methods the wound /Bandage always seems to be gotten to. If you do use this watch them as much as you can because it only takes a few seconds to cost you a few hundred dollars to resuture a wound.
hmm good idea i just put a long t-shirt on my pup when she got spayed (her and my mom are the same size)
neivadan4 years ago
forget that what kind of person will do that to one of em little critter like that in the piture
neivadan4 years ago
wow that cat looks like he or she nearly pozzed by a shadom just by the look of  his or her eyes
That cat looks thrilled. Having just cleaned the ears of my chubby black cat, I'm feeling your pain.
omnibot4 years ago
Nice, Ill try this next abcess our cat has. Also I'm totally FB'ing this.
mowdish (author)  omnibot4 years ago
Thanks. The cat in the first picture was recovering from an abscess on her chin. Not pretty. I hope there is no next abscess for your cat. "FB'ing": Fair Buying? Face Bashing? Fast Breathing?
Facebooking, I assume.