Is Your Cat Allergic to Flea Collars?

If you have recently introduced a new, or different brand of flea collar to your cat, and you notice irritation or other symptoms around the neck or other areas, your cat may be allergic to flea collars. While less common than other allergies, contact allergies can be aggravating to your cat's skin, but are usually easily treatable.

Contact Allergies

A contact allergy is a reaction to a toxic chemical or substance that comes into contact with the skin. Many cats experience contact allergies due to the chemical substances used in flea collars. When the chemicals irritate, cats may experience itching due to dermatitis or other skin allergies. Occasionally, hair loss may occur. Usually, removal of the flea collar will clear up any rash or skin disorder. If not, a simple topical ointment should assist in healing.

Flea Collar Chemicals

Flea collars usually contain chemicals designed to rid a cat of fleas. Some flea collars emit a toxic gas that kills fleas, but usually only on the head and neck area. Other types of flea collars contain a substance that is absorbed into the cat's subcutaneous fat layer. When the flea bites, it comes into contact with this substance and dies. Additionally, some flea collars contain an Insect Growth Regulator which helps to prevent the development of flea eggs and larva. Popular ingredients often seen in flea collars are propoxur or tetrachlorvinphos. These chemicals have been shown to leave carcinogens on the fur, posing a health risk for animals as well as owners. Not only are alternatives for flea control available, there are also flea collars containing natural ingredients.

Alternative Flea Control Products

If it appears that your cat may be allergic to flea collars, there are alternatives which are quite effective at killing fleas and preventing infestation. There are shampoos, dips, flea powder and spray on the market, but keep in mind that these often have dangerous chemicals as well. Check labels to be sure these don't contain any similar chemicals that your cat may be allergic to. Spot-on treatments are available and are usually applied only to one spot near the collar or the top of the head. These are usually available by prescription only. Oral and injectable medications may be used to help break the cycle of flea eggs and larva.

Herbal Flea Collars and Flea Control Products

If you have a general preference for flea collars, you might try products that are herbal or all-natural. These herbal flea control products can be found online and possibly at your local pet store, or health food store. Herbal flea collars use essential oils like pennyroyal, eucalyptus and citronella to control flea infestations on your cat. Despite the holistic properties of all-natural flea products, essential oils are considered to be natural chemicals. Skin irritation or other problems may still be an issue to a cat highly sensitive in this area.

Treating The Area

Cease the surrounding population of fleas before they can get to your cat. There are many chemical and all-natural products that aren't applied directly to your cat, but to the surrounding areas of your home and yard. This may be the best alternative for a cat with allergies or other health problems.