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What is Collar Allergy?

With all of the different styles, materials, and varieties of cat collars, your cat may be allergic to one of the materials or several, which can be a difficult thing to determine. However, just getting rid of the collar may not be good enough to ease your cat’s itching and pain. If your cat has had a reaction that you are able to see, the allergens have already had the time to release histamines into the body, which causes the symptoms.

It may take several weeks for the side effects to go away if you just take off the collar and do not treat the problem. It is best to take your cat to see a veterinarian and get her treated with an antihistamine or corticosteroid injection because this can help reduce the itching and inflammation right away. The veterinarian may also be able to suggest a collar that is safe enough to put on your cat.

A collar allergy is likely an reaction to one of the materials used in making the collar such as nylon, plastic, leather, fabric, elastic, and vinyl. If it is a flea collar causing the reaction, your cat could be allergic to the medication in the flea repellent or the material it is made of. Since there are so many types of collars, it may be difficult to determine what material your cat is actually allergic to, but the results are usually similar, but with one difference: the location.

For example, if your cat is allergic to the material it is made of, the symptoms may be localized to the neck area, but if it is a drug reaction it can affect the whole body and can be very dangerous for your pet. The most common signs include scratching and redness around the collar area. There is always a chance for anaphylactic shock with any allergy, which is a deadly reaction to an allergen. It can cause your cat’s throat to swell until she is suffocated, so it is important that you see a veterinary professional if you suspect that your cat has a collar allergy.

Symptoms of Collar Allergy in Cats

Because all cats have different immune systems and collars are so varied, the symptoms can vary quite a bit as well. However, the most common are:

Regular Collars

  • Red irritated rash anywhere on the body but mostly on the neck
  • Chewing on and pulling out hair  
  • Long red lesions (granulomas)
  • Crusty sores and papules
  • Hair loss in the collar area

Flea Collars

  • Scratching all over the body
  • Extremely red rash or blisters on neck under collar
  • Chewing at feet (sometimes mutilating)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Swelling of the face
  • Sore, red ears

Types

There are many styles of cat collars made from all kinds of materials such as:

  • Safety collars that break away if the collar gets caught on something; these may be made of any kind of material
  • Elastic collars are similar to a large hair scrunchie and are usually made from some kind of fabric
  • Buckle collars are usually made of fabric, leather, nylon, or even plastic
  • Flea collars are usually made from plastic resins that are mixed with insecticide
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Causes of Collar Allergy in Cats

The cause of collar allergy could be a number of different materials, which may include:

  • Vinyl
  • Plastic
  • Leather
  • Fabric
  • Elastic
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Diagnosis of Collar Allergy in Cats

Diagnosing any kind of allergy can be challenging and time consuming. But, with a collar allergy, the veterinarian is usually able to tell where the main exposure area is so it is a bit easier. If may help if you bring the collar to show the veterinarian, especially if it is a flea collar that seems to be causing the problem. A comprehensive physical exam has to be done first, taking special notice of the skin. Your cat’s vital signs will be recorded and the overall health of your cat is also noted at this time. Blood, skin, urine, and stool samples will all be taken for analysis. To be thorough, your veterinarian may want to get some x-rays as well to rule out other problems.

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Treatment of Collar Allergy in Cats

The treatment will include medication, and supportive care such as fluid therapy and oxygen may also be provided.

Medication

Some of the antihistamines your veterinarian may use are chlorpheniramine, clemastine fumarate, hydroxyzine, or diphenhydramine. Another drug that has shown to be effective is cyclosporine. Steroids such as triamcinolone, methylprednisolone flumethasone, dexamethasone, or betamethasone are also excellent for severe cases.  

Supportive Care

Intravenous (IV) fluid may be offered to prevent dehydration in your cat and oxygen is also available if needed.

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Recovery of Collar Allergy in Cats

Your cat should be back to normal within a few days, although the rash may take a few weeks to heal if it was severe. Some cats have scars from self-mutilation, but that is rare.

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Collar Allergy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Black cat

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Eight Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

White Bald Patches

my cat has a flea collar on and I took it off and he has two white patches with no hair on his neck

July 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, Many cats have allergic reactions to flea collars. If you can wash this area with water. If this does not start to improve or your cat starts to get worse, it would be best for your cat to see a vet. I hope your cat gets better soon.

July 25, 2020

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Calico Cat

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

Unfortunately, I cannot schedule an appointment with the vet because we do not have any money at the moment. Is there anything I can do to help my cat that doesn't involve going to the vet?

July 17, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello If you are concerned about redness in the area of where her collar is, I recommend removing the collar. She may have having a reaction to it. Otherwise, if there are any other symptoms like discomfort or itchiness, it is recommended that you take her in to see a vet. Good luck.

July 17, 2020

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Lion

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mixed

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Hyperactivity

Hi so our cat recently got fleas and so in my attempt to rid him of his condition I gave him a pill that killed fleas in like 30 minutes. But that didn't work as the next day I still found fleas. So my next thing to do was to use a flea collar. Now our cat has never used a collar before so when I put the flea collar on him he started to get really crazy and stuff. Now I dont know if it's from the chemicals in the collar or if it's just because he's never worn a collar before.

Sept. 16, 2018

Lion's Owner

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Puddy

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grey tabby

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itchy And Hair Loss, Scabs

My cat has removed the hair from her chest. At first the flea collar Sargent flea and tick worked but now the irritation has started on her neck and the collar has been on for two days. I’m at a loss on what to do but I’m going to wash my cat in oatmeal shampoo or head and shoulders to give her relief. My cat is seven years old female tabby.

Aug. 14, 2018

Puddy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Those collars can be irritating, and it sounds like it is causing more damage than helping. The best thing to do would be to remove the collar, and monitor for improvement. If her skin heals, a veterinarian can help find a safe flea prevention for her. If it continues to be irritated, she may need treatment.

Aug. 15, 2018

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Apollo

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mixed

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hairloss

My cat Apollo has no hair and a raw red scabby mark around his neck. I'm not quite sure what to do. I removed the collar but now he won't come near us. All he keeps doing is licking the area. What should I do??

Aug. 8, 2018

Apollo's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

You should bathe the area with a mild dish soap (Dawn) to remove any residue from the flea collar; then you should ensure that you bathe the affected area regularly with a dilute antiseptic, try to prevent licking which I know can be difficult. Monitor the sores for signs of improvement and visit your Veterinarian if there is no progress. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 8, 2018

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Pepe

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Domesticated

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fever
Hairloss
Sore

My cat has used cpllqrs before, and even this one. It was very sudden that it happened. He got his things removed 2nd of april, and got a shot for this worm thing, whivh caused his ongoing hairloss, and his nech was fime at the time, because he got a buster protector around his neck, that I had to put on his collar, showing nothing wrong. And now, a few days ago, I went looking for am old scar of his, to see how it healed, and realized the hair loss around his neck, and alot of wounds. First I though that the collar was simply too tight, and then loosened it. Days later, there is a second line from the very loose collar, which screamed that he was allergic. Though, I don’t know that exactly it is, and why it was so sudden.

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Junior

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Maine Coon

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy. Nausea. Hair Loss

We have nine rescue cats so naturally parasite control is a must. After weighing the cost of monthly treatments against the supposed benefits of an eight month collar, I went for the Seresto collars. They worked super...at first. Then our Maine Coons got lethargic and developed hair loss and bloody spots on their neck. So fortunate that our epileptic one didn't die! Four other cats also developed irritations and hair loss. Out of nine we have three that haven't been adversely affected. Bayer is never going to refund our $450 but hopefully someone will read this and save their fur babies from possible harm.

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Pancakes

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Black and white

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8 Months

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Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

I bought a cat collar from pets @ home she’s 8 months old she had it on for a week and started scratching first we thought it was fleas but she was clear she kept scratching around the neck so we took the collar off since then pancakes has stopped scratching around the neck her poor little neck is still sore but healing.Although she is a indoor cat and has been microchipped we bought her a collar to just in case she did get out it wasn’t a cheap collar either.

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Noelle

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Medium hair

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9 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Fur Loss

I adopted a kitten 2 months ago. I recently noticed that her fur is rubbing off under her collar. Her skin is still okay. She has medium length fur that is very soft. Could the collar be damaging her fur? The collar is made of a synthetic material, probably nylon.

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Smokey

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SHORT HAIRED CAT

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12 Weeks

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Tired

Bought a hartz flea and tick gaurd flea collar my cat has had it on for 8 hours and has slept the whole time which is unusual for her...is this a reaction to the collar?