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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

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

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.

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.

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.

Collar Allergy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Loki
Orange tabby
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

scratching

I had been uding topical treatments so I switched to collars. My cay is continually scratching the collar area and started scratching around his ears and face and chewing at his belly. This only started occurring after I applied the collar.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1043 Recommendations
I'm not sure what type of collar you are using, but if Loki seems to be itchier with it on, it would be best to remove the collar. If his signs of itching stop and he returns to normal, he is probably better with the topical treatments that you used before, I'm assuming for fleas. If he continues to scratch, he should be seen by a veterinarian, as he may need medication to help stop his skin from itching.

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Poncho
Siamese
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

reserved
Loss of hair
Bumps

Bare skin along the collar line with the front of neck being the most bare..what is wrong with my cat and will the hair grow back? Itook the collar off.. my cat has a weird smell around that area.he has worn his collar for a while and no issues. I did give him some flea and tick one time use drops that last a month,but other then that I haven't changed his diet or anything.He has had little bumps around his neck and bumps on the tips of his head (they are slowly) getting better. Could it be mange or mites?is there away I can regrow his hair and will I need antibiotics? He has escaped a few times but doesn't get far. We also have a dog if that helps at all.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
You shouldn’t put a collar back on and you should bathe the area around the neck to remove any residue from the collar; without examining Poncho I cannot say whether or not the cause of the hair loss is from the collar or not but generally parasites result in irritated skin which causes severe itching. You should bathe the neck as mentioned, but I cannot give you any assurance that the hair will grow back as I cannot be sure it is the collar; you should also visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Nala
Unknown
3 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Itching

My kitten has had a regular collar on for about 2 weeks, I just took it off because she was scratching at it so much . When I took it off she had a scab and little bleeding on the back of her neck ... what can I do for her ? Is there a collar i should use instead ? She had a fabric collar.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1043 Recommendations
If Nala had a local reaction to her collar, taking the collar off is the first step. If the scabbing does not improve over a few days, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian to see if she needs medications to help that area heal. There are collars made of other materials that she may tolerate better - leather or nylon, perhaps.

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Vixen
Shorthair
2 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Sleeping more than usual
Sneezing

Ever since I put my cats flea medication and collar on she has been sneezing. For what I can see its just been sneezing. And shes sleeping a lot and doesn’t seem to be moving much. There is no redness or irritation around the collar but I’m wondering if I should take the collar off and give her some allergy medicine

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
Did you use a topical spot on medication and a collar? If so you should use one or the other. Either way you should remove the collar and bathe the area around the neck, if Vixen is lethargic and sneezing you should also have a check up with your Veterinarian and take any packaging with you as there are many different products with different active ingredients. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Barbie
Unknown
10 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Bunps
Loss of fur
swollen face
Red itching bumps

Is my cat allergic to her flea collar? She has recently lost all the fur around her neck her face is swollen and she's got red itchy bumps that she's always scratching and a loss of appetite so I was wondering if it is a chemical reaction or is she just allergic to the material of the collar

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
It sounds like Barbie may be having a reaction to the flea collar, you should remove it and bathe the area around the neck with a sensitive shampoo; personally I prefer topical spot on treatments over flea collars as there are generally fewer issues with them. Don’t use another flea collar, continue to bathe the area around the neck twice per day and monitor for improvement; if there is no improvement visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Hermione
American Shorthair
10 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Scabs
Hair Loss

I noticed after a few weeks my cat's back of her neck was getting red and have a open sore that eventually scabbed over after I put a collar on her. She doesn't scratch at it but I decided to take it off and put neosporen on the affected area. She has some fleas that my dog brought in and I'm afraid to put a flea collar on her or give her a flea bath to get rid of them because I don't want to hurt her or make her worse. Should I go ahead and bathe her or put a collar on?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
Personally I’ve never really liked flea collars, I prefer to use topical spot on treatments like Frontline (fipronil), Revolution (selamectin) etc… You should bathe the sore twice daily with a dilute antiseptic and apply Neosporin once dried, for flea protection you should place a topical spot on treatment on her to protect against fleas. You should also wash bedding etc… on a high temperature wash and spray any other surfaces with a fipronil spray. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Shadow
short hair
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss

My black cat shadow had a bad reaction to he’s flea and tick collar and has loss of hair and a rash on the area of where the collar was . What to do please help

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1043 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. First, take the collar off. If the skin is not ulcerated, and he isn't bothering or scratching at the area, it may heal on it's own once the collar is off. If he is scratching at it and it is red or ulcerated, Shadow should be seen by a veterirnarian to assess the area and see what treatment he may need. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you as to appropriate flea control, as well. I hope that all goes well for him.

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Miss Kitty
American Shorthair
2 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

scabby
slight bleeding
Itchy
Irritation

I recently bought my cat a flea collar because the family dog had been bringing in fleas and I was afraid she may get them. After about 2 or 3 weeks I noticed 2 red, very irritated and hairless spots on the bottom of her neck/chest. One was more focused on her chest and the other started just above the first spot, but went quite a ways up her chin. I removed the flea collar and shortly after she began scratching at these places causing them to become more irritated and sometimes even bleed. They almost look like chemical burns. I'm concerned because i'm not sure what I should give/do to her to make them go away. What should I do?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
In these situations you should ensure that the hair is clipped short around the affected area and that you are bathing the area twice per day with a dilute antiseptic; if the scratching is bad you may need to visit your Veterinarian for an examination and possibly treatment against any possibly secondary infection. In these cases it can be difficult to control the itching until the skin starts to be less irritated. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

I have the same problem with my cat amigo. He itches it a lot and sometimes it bleeds I’m constantly looking after it and making sure I clean it every couple of hours. The appointment for vet is on Monday What Can I do till then?

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Zeus
Feline mix breed
1 Year
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Itching

My cat just got a collar yesterday and ever since I put the collar on he has been itching his neck like crazy, is there something I can do to stop him from itching?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
You should remove the flea collar from Zeus’ neck and bathe the area around the neck and the paws with a mild soap or sensitive shampoo. If Zeus is having a reaction like this you should remove the collar immediately, there are other methods of flea control like topical spot on products which are tolerated better (try to use known brands rather than generics). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Otis
Tuxedo
24 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Hairloss
Sleepy
Scruffy

I put a flea collar on my Otis and a few days later I noticed that his neck lost some hair and started to look sore so I took it off. Even though I did, he's been looking scruffy and it looks like he's losing weight. It's it really a allergy or something else? All he wants to do is cuddle with me and sleep.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1043 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Otis may be having an allergy to the flea collar, or an adverse reaction to the chemical. He should probably see his veterinarian to make sure that he is okay, as some OTC flea collars can be toxic to cats. I hope that he is okay.

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Hermione
Tabby tortoiseshell domestic short hair
13 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Scab
Rash
Itching

Medication Used

Flea collar

My cat has just been using her first flea collar since spot treatments have become ineffective. It was great. The only fleas we have see have been dead ones and the cat has seemed much happier. Accept the other day I noticed she was developing a bald spot on her neck. On further inspection today I noticed that this had developed into a red scaley, and at some points scabby ring right under the collar, which I have since removed. Does this mean she is allergic? And if so what other flea treatments should I use? She has already had revolution and frontline which have not been working.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
In addition to removing the collar, you should also bathe the area with soap to remove any residue from the skin and hair which may be causing irritation; if you are having trouble finding an effective treatment you should try something different like Bravecto (fluralaner) or a natural pyrethrin spray (which would need to be applied every few days). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Jake
short hair, tabby
13 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Itching
Sores
scabs,

Hi my cat Jake is experiencing itching, and scabbing. A couple months ago my aunt was coming down with her dogs. Our cats are indoor/outdoor cats and she was concerned about fleas, and asked us to purchase a flea collar. We put them on both of our cats for about a day and half and both of them ended up scratching and getting scabs. Our other cat's receded in about a week and she went back to normal. Jake though who is much older has remained to have scabs and sores around his neck, chin and ears, his fur has also lost some collar, but this might be due to old age. We don't have the money to bring him to the vet right now so any recommendations you have to ease his discomfort would be great

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
You should bathe Jake’s neck thoroughly with a mild dish soap just to remove any residue which may still be present (if you haven’t done so already) and then clean the area regularly with a dilute antiseptic. There isn’t much which can be done from home and it occurred months ago so I am unsure why it is still affecting him. Regards Dr Callum Turner DV

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Bmer
mixed
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

My cat bemer is a black and gray tabby mix. Hi is around 1 and a half his neck is rely raw and is loosing hare and is very flaky do you know what is rong with him and how do we treat it at home

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
If Bemer had a flea collar on it may be due to the collar irritating his skin, you should the collar, bathe him and clean the area around the neck with a dilute antiseptic. If the irritation continues, you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination if there is no improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Trico
stripped kitten
around 4 months.
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Itchy
slight bleeding
Redness
raw

Medication Used

over the counter flea meds
none

our sweet little baby trico got fleas so we got every body little purple flea collars. after only a few days i noticed what looked liked something red under his color so i moved it to look and all the fur on the back of his neck was gone! it looked like it had been bleeding slightly and looks like it hurts so bad. we has to stuff our vet grave us for itchy irritated skin. but it was for another animal and i don't want to make it hurt worse. i feel so horrible for my lil kitten (he is only 12-15 weeks old.) i wish i could take away his pain i would trade spots with him :( to make this already long sob story a little shorter he is scratching at the edges as I'm sure it itches as its healing, but he is making the patch of raw skin bigger! i don't know what to do. please help me as soon as possible. i don't want this to get anyworse.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
Firstly remove the collar (which I’m sure you’ve done) and bathe the neck area with a dilute antiseptic and bathe the paws with a sensitive shampoo (to remove any residue from the collar). Bathe the neck twice per day and clip the hair around the area if required. If you have any concerns, visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My kitty has a very bad allergic reaction to the flea collar how can I help my little fur baby get better soon please help me

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Frankie
Calico/Siamise
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Rash
Swollen eyes

Hi
My cat had a very bad reaction to a flea collar and her neck broke out in a horrible rash and is completely raw in some areas. What can I do to make her more comfortable while she is healing. And if I bathe her what's the best way to do it without completely holding her down and hurting her.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
First step is to remove the flea collar (many people don’t remove it), secondly if Frankie is sensitive it baths and the process would be difficult if you cannot hold her scruff it may be best to find some chlorhexidine wipes to clean the area clean as much as possible. A bath with just warm water no shampoo would be ideal but I understand if you cannot do this; cats are not famous for taking a dip. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Spook
Manax
3 or 4 yrs
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Itching

I have a stray that I have taken in. She is a tailess cat and I already love her deeply. We have tried natural remedies and also a flea collar but she still has fleas. What should we use? Also we removed her collar and all around her neck is an awful rash and the hair is gone. We want to clean the wound but don't know if a bath is a good idea? What can we use to put on the rash. I only have disability and cannot afford a large vet bill.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
Bathe the area around the rash with plain old water, if the skin isn’t damaged used a sensitive shampoo. As for flea treatments, get an effective spot-on medication for cats like Frontline (fipronil) to get rid of the fleas; another spray may be needed to clear the environment of fleas too. Natural flea control is effective (depending on the product) for repelling fleas but I haven’t seen a product effective at removing fleas from an animal. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Peter
tabby
1 Year
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Hi we found fleas on our three cats 2 weeks ago. We killed if the fleas within 3 days by giving them a bath every night containing baking soda and salt. We noticed they had fleas again when we let on of older cats go outside. Peter who is the one I'm asking advice on, we gave him a bath an we found black dots all over his body. I assumed it was the necklace b cause it didn't look like eggs. It's been 2 days and it hasn't gone away what should we do?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
If the black dots are within the coat, it is most likely flea dirt or may be from the collar it is black and he was scratching at it a lot. If the black dots are on the skin and do not come off, then this is something different altogether. It would be best to give him another bath and to rigorously bathe him to remove any dirt or debris; if the dots are physically on the skin, visit your Veterinarian as there may be something else going on and should get your Veterinarian’s attention. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

hello and please help! i have put a new collar to my 4 month old cat and she is frozzing in the mouth ..is it to worry about ??

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