The cone of shame, the lampshade, the Elizabethan collar: whatever you call it, any cat or dog owner is familiar with this notorious yet necessary piece of veterinary equipment.
Our pets are never going to be fans of the vet cone, but if they’ve had surgery or have a bandage, wound or hotspot they need to leave alone, some sort of protection to stop them licking or biting themselves is absolutely necessary.
Your vet will probably issue you with a standard plastic cone, which works for many dogs and cats, but did you know there are lots of alternatives out there?
Our ManyPets canine and feline test team tried out a bunch of the best cone of shame alternatives to work out which ones work best. Watch the video review and then read more about what we loved about the best vet cone alternatives on the market today.
Why choose a cone of shame alternative?
Those plastic cones from the vet are great – they stop most pets pulling out stitches and causing more problems for themselves.
But they’re not a one-size fits-all solution. Pets of certain proportions might struggle with moving around, getting comfortable or even eating and drinking with them on.
Some common cone problems are:
Short-legged dogs bashing the edge of the cone on kerbs and other obstacles while walking.
Determined pets causing rub wounds from the cone’s sharp edges while trying to reach their stitches.
Dextrous animals (especially bendy, wriggly cats) giving a traditional cone the slip
Sensitive souls who can’t get comfy and sleep with their head in a plastic cone
Decor-conscious pet parents horrified by a cone bashing and scraping their walls and furniture
Mucky pups who can’t master eating or drinking with a cone on
Optimistic animals who keep getting stuck in gaps because they forget the cone makes their head too wide
All of the cone alternatives we tested have been designed to tackle one or more of these problems.
Our expert test team
These are the feline and canine product testers putting the cone alternatives through their paces…
Figgy the Cat
Figgy’s been politely described as ‘feisty’. No one takes their product testing role more seriously than this pithy puss, particularly when it comes to testing the ‘ease of fitting’ aspect of each cone. With teeth and claws as sharp as her wits, she’s also no stranger to destruction testing anything that’s thrown at her.
Bowie the Golden Retriever
At the other end of the size and temperament scale we have good-natured Golden, Bowie.
Bowie’s a pillar of integrity when it comes to product testing – she was even spayed just before trying out all our cones, just to make sure she gave each of them a full run out. Now that’s commitment.
MDC Smart Collar
Sizes available: X-small-XX-large
Best for… Escape artists
Not so good for… Cone-a-phobes
The MDC Smart Collar is the simplest design tested and the one that looks closes to a traditional vet cone.
It’s essentially the same design as what you get from the vet, but with more durable materials, sturdier fastenings and most importantly, velvety-soft edges.
This means that not only is it a more long-lasting alternative to a vet-issued cone, but it’s a good choice if you just want something less likely to cause irritation from sharp edges – or less likely to scratch your walls.
Our cat tester found the MDC was the best option for his feline Houdini. Fitting was a bit of a challenge, but once it was on, it stayed put.
Thrive Comfy Collar
Sizes available: X small-X large
Best for… Forgetting it’s even there
Not so good for… Particularly sharp cats
Ok, the Thrive Comfy Collar isn’t winning any beauty contests. It’s only available in an unappealing olive colour and utilitarian vinyl material.
But beyond its looks it’s got lots of really well thought out features. It’s very light and doesn’t stick out nearly as far as a cone. It also doesn’t block your pet’s peripheral vision so it’s a nice option for nervous animals that are freaked out by that aspect of a rigid cone. It also fastens with velcro, which is good for a quick capture with reluctant cats!
On the downside, it won’t stop every pet accessing every wound because it just doesn’t have the same coverage as a cone that extends past the face and mouth. Also, the inflatable design might not suit really feisty cats (like our tester!) that could get an angry claw through that vinyl material.
Overall a great option to have in the house for most pets and the majority of vet trips, so you only have to reach for the dreaded cone of shame occasionally.
Kong Cloud Collar
Sizes available: X small-X large
Best for… Creature comfort
Not so good for… Messy eaters
The Kong Cloud is another inflatable collar design, quite similar to the Thrive Comfy Collar. It goes once step further though with its soft, cosy cover fabric. That makes it more like a lovely cushion for your pet’s head than a veterinary aid.
The downside to this is that it won’t be as easy to keep clean. Food and drool might make that fabric a lot less appealing – not to mention unhygienic – after a few days’ wear. It is washable though – just not wipeable like the Thrive.
As with other inflatable type collars, it won’t really protect wounds on your pet’s extremities – their legs, feet or tail – but it’s a nice option to have to keep them more comfortable when you need to stop them reaching stitches on their body.
KVP EZ Soft Collar
Sizes available: X-small-X-large
Best for… Dogs
Not so good for… Cats
The KVP EZ Soft might not look like much – it’s the traditional cone-shape, but made from floppy, insubstantial blue fabric – but it was a surprise hit with our testers.
It’s first big plus point was that it was fast and not-too-traumatic to fit. Head through, tighten drawstring, done! It also seemed to be really well tolerated by the dogs as the flexible fabric doesn’t stick out and bash things as they run about. In fact they really seemed to forget it was there.
But the EZ Soft was the product that most divided Team Dog and Team Cat. It was not such a hit with our feline tester. Firstly, as the fabric was easily snagged by claws she could easily pull it off over her head. This also meant it ended up looking worse for wear and scruffy in no time. The floppy design also didn’t really suit cat activities as well as dog ones.
Sizes available: X-small-XX-large plus an extender for really huge dogs
Best for… Big, powerful pooches
Not so good for… Weight
We had such high hopes for the Comfy Cone. It’s quite a pricy bit of kit and has a much sturdier construction than the other cone alternatives we tested. It also had over 10,000 mostly positive reviews on Amazon.
Unfortunately, neither our cat or dog testers liked the Comfy Cone, saying it was just too heavy and cumbersome. Figgy the cat basically resisted every cone on test, but fitting the Comfy Cone resulted in some particularly murderous stares at her owner. Even affable Golden Retriever Bowie refused to move or act normally with it on.
Although the size and weight was a problems for our testers, it does give really good coverage and protection. This is one cone that goes up to really extremely large sizes and there’s even an extender to stop particularly big dogs getting to their stitches, so for giant breeds this might be a winner. Particularly as the traditional plastic lampshade is really cumbersome on these hounds, tending to do damage to painted walls and owners legs alike.
Suitical Recovery Suit
Sizes available: 3Xsmall-2Xlarge
Best for… Comfort
Not so good for… Cats. Or garden breaks. Or leg wounds
The Suitical is a really intriguing product that really rips up the rule book on cones and totally redesigns wound protection. It’s increasingly being given out by vets after neutering instead of the plastic rigid cone.
Our dog parent tester loved the Suitical. She felt it was y far the most comfortable option that allowed her dog to act normally after being spayed. There were a few reservations with using it in hotter weather though.
This was another product that split the dog and cat testers. Our cat parent couldn’t even get it on his feisty moggy. You might manage it with a more placid puss, but it’s really only suitable for indoor use. You don’t want your cat escaping outside with this on.
And that actually goes for dogs too. Because the Suitical covers your pet’s genitals, you need to remove it for every garden break, which can be a chore.
Its other drawback is it’s quite expensive, especially as you might want to buy at least two – one to wash and one to wear – to keep the wound clean.