Cats and Flea CollarsThey were marked for what I felt was certain death. A family we know was about to hand over its two six-year-old cats to a shelter because they thought their kids were allergic to the cats. While we already had two, I've had cats all my life and hated the thought of these well behaved cats sitting in a cage, probably waiting to die. We took them in.
The family which owned these cats had kept them as 'outdoor cats', putting flea collars on them to ward off the little creatures. When I picked up one of the cats, I was immediately hit with the overwhelming odor of the collar. I couldn't even imagine how the cat, with its sensitive nose, lasted with that aroma right by his head. Still, I held both cats close over the next two days, trying to ease them through the moving trauma.
After the first day I began to get a bumpy rash all along my neck. As it got worse on the second day, I began to be concerned. Maybe I was somehow allergic to these new cats, but not any other I'd ever had during my life? My boyfriend also started to get various allergic reactions. I worried that the cats might have to find a new home or go to the shelter after all.
Since they were now indoor cats, I removed their flea collars and gave each one a good bath with a cat shampoo. The next day, my rash disappeared and my boyfriend's reactions vanished. The cats also seemed much more interested in the smells of the household, and their food. I even made an effort to spend more time with the cats, but there was no reaction at all.
I talked with my vet about the flea collars. He told me that his professor had always scoffed at the usefulness of flea collars. According to the professor, the only fleas ever killed by flea collars are the ones on the neck that are squashed when you put the collar on. Other vets have told me that flea collars, if they work at all, only drive the fleas from the head region further down to the back end of the animal.
I am very glad to have solved the rash and allergy problem for our household, since it means the cats can now live with us. If you are having allergy problems with your own outdoor cats, and they are wearing flea collars, be sure to consider other options! Your cat will thank you, and your own health might improve because of the decision.
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