Cat Flea Collars
Possible Dangers (Max's Story)

Cat flea collars have hidden health dangers for your cat. Read this true account of one cat owner's experience.

Submitted by From Mary, North Carolina

In working with cat rescue for many years, there is one thing that always makes my blood run cold and that is a cat wearing over the counter FLEA COLLARS.

I have had MANY cats surrendered to my rescue centre wearing horrible STINKY flea collars and MANY of those same poor cats had medical issues that the poor owners could not identify the cause of, such as:

  • Respiratory Problems
  • Hair loss in the collar area
  • Irritation or scabbing sores
    (And these were just the VISIBLE problems)

Choose a Safer Cat Flea Treatment!

I want to share with you a story that happened to my very own cat named "Max" that shows how the pesticides in cat flea collars can cause potentially fatal POISONING of the Pancreas! -

Max's Story

Max was 10 years old when he was surrendered to me by my own daughter in law.
She had raised Max from a 6 week old kitten and he had been an indoor, SPOILED cat for 10 long years. He was a part of her life a long time and for her to call me to tell me she was giving him up broke my heart.

Her reason for giving poor Max up was her Doctor told her when she got pregnant that babies and CATS should not live in the same home!

Max was de-clawed (ANOTHER NEGATIVE SUBJECT) that I won't go into at this time but when she called me about getting rid of poor Max, she said:

If you don't take him then I am tossing him outside. (I was angry and in shock) that she could be so cruel to the pet who she had shared 10 long years with.

They lived 100 miles away and Max was going to "hit the street" that night if I didn't come straight away to get him.

And so I gassed up the minivan with cat carrier, kitty water and treats and headed out to bring poor Max to live with me to save him from a life he had no clue of surviving in. At his old age, this would have been very detrimental.

I picked up Max that evening and immediately noticed he looked different than when I had last visited 3 months before. His coat was no longer shiny and his once ravenous appetite was down to the fact that he was refusing food. 

I asked her, what's wrong with Max?
She said "Oh, I think he knows there is a baby coming and he is on a hunger strike to rebel" C'mon, SERIOUSLY, I thought?
How could she think Max would starve himself because SHE was pregnant?
He was about 3 pounds lighter than when I'd seen him 3 months before. Weight loss in a cat is VERY serious and can lead to deadly illnesses that are irreversible if not caught in time, such as Fatty Liver Disease, which is sometimes bought on by rapid weight loss in a cat.

On the drive home, Max was silent. Not at all his old verbal self.
I was worried and KNEW something was not right. I promised Max we would see the VET soon after we got him settled into his new home which in its self would take some adjustment as Max had never lived with OTHER CATS. He was always use to being the One and Only Cat and this was going to be a rude awakening for him, adding to his obvious health issues.

When we got home, I found Max had vomited in his carrier on the drive home.
I attributed that to not being use to riding in a car but I soon found that to not be the case.

The first night at home, I secluded Max in my bedroom so he could adjust to the house and the scent or the other cats outside my bedroom door (By the way THEY DONT STINK) ha ha ha.

Max vomited all night long. He lay around as if in pain and it was obvious to me he was VERY ILL. The next morning we went off to the vet and upon his arrival and after a good check up and blood work, the bad news came back.
Max's Pancreas was shutting down due to chronic inflammation.

This is a VERY painful condition for a cat causing horrible abdominal cramping and nausea. Max's temperature was dangerously high.

Max was going to die a horrible, painful death within hours if we didn't take serious measures and even then at his age, the vet told me there was no guarantee we could save him because the tests showed that Max's pancreas had been in trouble a long time, un-treated and obviously un-noticed.

Max was admitted to the hospital and hooked up to IV fluids and given pain meds to ease his severe pain. I was told he would be there awhile until he stabilizes however long that may be. I could see my poor wallet shrinking as several days in the hospital is costly at a VET Hospital. BUT I chose to take this poor cat in and save him from what I thought would be a terrible life so NOW it was my responsibility to save him at any cost, which his prior owner chose not to do, unfortunately.

In 24 hours, I went to visit my sweet Max and found him to still be quite ill but resting easier due to sedation. The Vet called me in to review his tests and blood work. I was astounded at what was causing this horrible issue with MAX.
He was suffering POISONING to the Pancreas from the pesticide in his cat flea collars!

Max had worn over the counter cat flea collars for years and the pesticide in them had settled in his system slowly and month after month he was re-poisoned with his NEW flea collar until finally his poor pancreas said ENOUGH and started shutting down.

The Vet explained to me that many pet owners think those flea collars are miracle workers and they don't realize they are putting something that is laced with pesticide on their animals skin and it is absorbed into the skin and into the bloodstream where it travels to all the vital organs.
Month after month applications of these things are very damaging to some, if not ALL cats and possibly even dogs.

The new SPOT ON treatments like Frontline Plus or Advantage for Cats and other quality brand names are by FAR safer, according to the vet.

Advantage II for Cats - 4 ct (kittens under 5lbs) Turquoise

Advantage 9 Topical Solution (Bayer) - Cats/Kittens Under 9 lbs.

Bayer Advantage II, Large Cat, Over 9-Pound, 6-Month

So back to Max's Experience.

Max spent 5 days in intensive care, hooked up to IVs and on pain killers and meds to reduce the inflammation in his pancreas and thank God and a wonderful, caring VET, Max survived his ordeal and is now 14 years old and still with me.
He is an older fella but very spirited and lively and very precious to me.
I took him in and with that came a promise to see he has a good life and if he lives to be 25 (which I wish he could) I will spare nothing to save him or any of my other felines in my care.
I did some research on the FLEA COLLAR problems and came up with the following facts in case you're interested.

How Do Cat Flea Collars Work?

There are many different brands of cat flea collars. Generally, flea collars work by either emitting a toxic gas to the local area (head/neck of the pet) or by exuding chemicals that are absorbed into the animal's skin. Some flea collars have an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR), to prevent development of cat fleas, eggs and larvae.

Do Cat Flea Collars Work?

Not in my experience!
Many flea collars are only effective in the local area (head and neck), which is little help since most cat fleas prefer the bottom or back end of the pet. Also, many flea collars aren't strong enough to actually kill adult cat fleas.

Can Flea Collars Cause Harm to Cats?

YES! Flea collars can be harmful as Max's story proves. Also, ingestion of bits of the collars can be toxic. The chemicals that are meant to be on the skin are absorbed into the body when ingested.

Cats can be particularly sensitive to some chemicals. NEVER use any flea product on your cat without the consent of your veterinarian.
Some cat flea collars can cause local irritation around the neck of the pet. This chemical irritation can be worse than the fleabites themselves.

Do I Recommend Using Flea Collars on Cats?

No! The only use of cat flea collars that I recommend is to use them to kill fleas inside your vacuum canister. Cut the collars into pieces and place the pieces in the vacuum bag. That way, when the fleas are vacuumed in, they are killed. They cannot escape from the vacuum and go back into your home.

My Final Thoughts on Cat Flea Collars

The most effective cat flea treatments are prescription medications from your veterinarian. They really work. I'm not getting one dime for giving you my honest opinion here, so if you could buy anything over the counter that worked as well I'd tell you.

Cat flea collars do little to kill fleas and some of the ingredients can be VERY toxic to some cats. To read more about this awful toxicity, saerch for: 
Carbamate and Organophosphate Toxicity in Cats

There are safer and more effective cat flea treatments available on the market.
And because there are so many safe and effective products available, I don't think it is worth using something that can be expensive and doesn't work.

Other than Max, I have taken cats in that had horrible sores on their necks and you and I both know that can't be comfortable. Would you want something on your skin that causes sores and scabbing? Of course not.
Our precious cats are no different. They deserve to be free of those un-necessary ailments caused by treatments that are what we sometimes call "cost effective".

Yes, the spot on treatments are a little costly compared to the cat flea collars that run about $5.00 each in the USA, unless GOD FORBID you get a dollar store one for a dollar!!!!!!

I budget each month for my cats to have the spot on type from the VET. (I use Frontline PLUS) but there are others equally as good. Max's total bill was over $800.00 so Frontline is affordable to me!

One more note: ALL my cats are strictly INDOOR cats ONLY. I NEVER allow them outside under ANY circumstances so why do they NEED cat flea treatments at all you might be asking?

If you have a lawn and walk through it, a flea or fleas can jump onto your clothes and ride indoors with you and hop right on your cat.
Then the nightmare starts as ONE single flea can result in a living nightmare in your home within a couple months. They reproduce worse than Rabbits.
You can't be sure that one will never hitch a ride into your home on your pant leg next time you walk to check the mail box.

I am sorry this was so long but if it saves ONE cat from the horrible issue that almost killed my MAX then it will have been worth it.
Take care and hug your Kitties today and be grateful that they are given to you for whatever time you have them.

Mary in NC

Comment from Kate:
"Thank You Mary, fantastic article as usual. I have always tried to steer people away from cat flea collars too!"

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