Collar Allergy in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Collar Allergy in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Collar Allergy in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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, so it is important that you see a veterinary professional if you suspect that your cat has a collar allergy.

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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. 

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Treatment of Collar Allergy in Cats

The treatment will likely include medication, and supportive care such as fluid therapy 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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Worried about the cost of Collar Allergy treatment?

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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

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domestic cat

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Three Years

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6 found helpful

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6 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Scabbing

My neighbor's cat has recently started allowing me to pet him and I've noticed that he has a lot of scabbing on the top of his head and down the back of his neck, as well as some missing fur on his tail. He wears a flea collar that looks really old, and I was wondering if that could be what's causing it? He, also, seems to be a little under weight but I don't see any other health issues.

Nov. 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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6 Recommendations

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda, The flea collar is unlikely to be the cause but it may well be that there is a flea infestation causing the signs. Ideally, we would use a prescription flea treatment and he may also need some anti itch and antibiotic medicine prescribed for his skin. There are many potential reasons a cat may be under-weight including parasites, a poor diet, underlying disease such as liver/kidney disease etc. A general vet check would really be the next step.

Nov. 21, 2020

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Black cat

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Eight Months

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7 found helpful

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7 found helpful

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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7 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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