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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, 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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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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Ask a Vet

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Orlando

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Korat

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7 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Itching Just A Little

My cat has this weird red oval shape on the back of its neck and he wears a flea collar so I don't know if that's the thing and I don't think it's fleas or ticks because he doesn't scratch and bite himself or anything to ever believe the itching but it made me a little scared cuz when I was about to change his flea collar few minutes ago I just noticed it and I didn't know how long he already had it and I don't know what to do

July 26, 2018

Orlando's Owner

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0 Recommendations

For the time being try to keep Orlando indoors and don’t put another flea collar on him, bathe the area around the neck with a mild soap and rinse thoroughly; keep an eye on the spot for signs of improvement, once healed try to use a topical spot on medication instead of a collar to see if it is better. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 27, 2018

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Lucy

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Scab On Neck

My pretty kitty has fleas so we got her a flea collar. After reading the reviews and how some animals have averse reactions I decided to check her daily. She just developed a scablike area on her neck. I removed the collar and give her a bath making sure to wash her neck. It was a very minor scab but I am a helicopter cat Mom so I just wanted to double check that the reaction will stop after the collar is removed? She hasn't shown any signs of lethargy and hasn't been bother by me check the area. I just wanted to confirm she will be okay and if I should do anything to treat the scabbed area.

July 25, 2018

Lucy's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Nothing wrong with being an attentive pet parent. If you have removed the collar and bathed the area around the neck, no further treatment should be required only monitor it for improvement; it would be better to try a topical spot on medication in the future as they are tolerated better generally than collars. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 25, 2018

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