If you have a cat, you may be wondering what the best flea treatments are for your feline friend. While there are many options to choose from, flea collars are one of the most popular, safe, and effective methods to prevent and treat fleas in cats.
To help, we researched dozens of collars, and hundreds of verified reviews, to find the 3 best options for your cat right now. We also included a comprehensive buying guide to help you navigate the process. Here’s our list:
Our Picks for the Best Cat Flea Collars
1. Bayer Seresto Flea & Tick Prevention Collar for Cats
Bayer Seresto is the top cat flea collar available on the market right now. While it’s the most expensive collar we looked at, it’s far and away the highest-rated and safest option for your cat. It kills and protects against fleas, ticks, and flea larvae for 8 months, and is both water and sun-damage resistant.
- Vet-recommended cat flea collar with 8 month protection
- Repels and kills fleas within 24 hours of application
- Repels and kills ticks within 48 hours of application
- Adjustable neck size to fit most cats
- Active ingredients: Flumethrin 4.5%, Imidacloprid 10.0%
- Odorless and non-greasy formula
- Waterproof and sun damage resistant
- Includes a quick-release collar and visibility reflectors for extra safety
- Suitable for both adult cats and kittens 10 weeks or older
- Quality comes at a price; this is the most expensive collar that we reviewed.
2. Adams Plus Flea and Tick Collar for Cats
The Adams Plus Flea and Tick Collar is another solid option for those looking for a cheaper alternative to the Seresto (the Adams is only $10). It protects against and kills fleas, flea eggs, larvae, and ticks for up to 7 months.
A quick heads up, this product shouldn’t be used around young children. If you have kids in the house, we recommend speaking with your veterinarian before purchasing a flea collar. See our guide below for more information.
- Cat flea collar with 7 month protection
- Repels and kills fleas, flea eggs & larvae, and ticks
- Fully adjustable collar fits most cats
- Active ingredients: Tetrachlorvinphos 14.55%, (S)-Methoprene 1.02%
- Affordably priced relative to other options
- Breakaway collar for added safety
- Suitable for cats and kittens 12 weeks and older
- Collar shouldn’t be used around children
- Not as highly-rated as the Seresto collar, though comes in at 1/5 of the price.
3. TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Collar for Cats
Looking for an all natural cat flea collar? Take a look at the TropiClean option. It’s made with cedarwood and peppermint oils, both of which naturally repel and protect against fleas and ticks. This collar works for up to 4 months, and is fully waterproof.
- Cat flea collar made with all-natural ingredients
- Repels fleas and ticks for up to 4 months
- Repels mosquitos for up to 7 days
- Active ingredients: Cedarwood Oil 4.3%, Peppermint Oil 4.3%
- Other ingredients: Almond Oil, Zinc Stearate
- Affordably priced
- Fully waterproof
- Suitable for all cats and kittens, ages 4 months and older
- Breakaway collar for added safety
- Not for cats that are allergic to essential oils
- All-natural collars work for many cat owners, but generally aren’t as effective as collars with flea insecticide. You should weigh the pros and cons of each when buying.
4. Advantage II Flea Prevention and Treatment for Cats
Yes, Advantage II is a technically a topical treatment, and not a flea collar. But we thought it was worth mentioning given its solid reputation. Each application is easily administered on the back of your cat’s neck via a small tube, and starts working in 12 hours. The medicine then kills fleas and protects your cat from infestations for 30 days.
- Monthly cat flea treatment, applied topically to the back of a cat’s neck
- Kills and protects against fleas, as well as flea larvae and eggs
- Starts working within 12 hours and protects for up to 30 days per treatment
- Active ingredients: 9.1% Imidacloprid, 0.46% Pyripoxyfen
- Also available for small cats
- Odor free and veterinarian recommended
- One of the highest rated cat flea treatments
- Doesn’t protect against ticks
- Requires more work than a collar, as treatment needs to be applied once per month.
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Cat Flea Collar Buying Guide
Guide provided by Marguerite Larsen
April showers may bring May flowers, but unfortunately, July and August bring fleas and ticks. As temperatures begin to rise, it’s time to start thinking about flea and tick prevention for your pets.
Why Should You Buy a Cat Flea Collar?
Flea collars and ointments for dogs have become common in most pet-owning households, but what about flea protection for cats? Cats are also vulnerable to flea infestations, which can carry problems ranging from mild conditions like allergic dermatitis, to more severe issues like anemia or tapeworm infections.
Because of the dangers posed by fleas (to both animals and humans), it’s important to protect your cat. Outdoor cats who live in spaces where fleas are common, such as grassy or wooded areas, are most likely to get fleas. But they aren’t the only ones at risk. Cats who play outside for only short periods are also susceptible, as it’s possible for other animals to bring fleas into your yard.
Even indoor cats can get fleas. Both dogs and human owners can unknowingly bring these insects into a home, and cause a house-wide outbreak. In these cases, cats living in the house will also need to be treated.
For these reasons, it’s important to invest in a high-quality flea repellent for protection.
Whether you’re looking to protect your cat, or treat an existing flea infestation, collars are a leading vet-recommended option for preventing and treating fleas in cats. Some collars even have the added benefit of also preventing and treating ticks.
How Do Cat Flea Collars Work?
Flea collars are a safe and effective method of preventing and killing fleas. Collars contain flea medication released in low doses over time, spreading over a cat’s fur and throughout their entire body.
While collars may sound messy, they actually can be cleaner and more hassle-free than other flea treatment options (such as ointments). Collar medicine spreads slowly, but dries quickly, so it’s unlikely to wipe off on your furniture or other surfaces.
When considering whether cat flea collars are the right choice for your cat, it’s smart to consider the pros and cons of a flea collar as opposed to other types of treatments:
Pros of Flea Collars
The main benefit of a flea collar is that your cat is unlikely to accidentally ingest the medication. Other options, like ointments, can be easily licked off from various areas of the body.
Flea collars also require the least amount of work for the cat owner. The majority of collars are designed to work for seven or eight months, so once your cat gets used to wearing one, you won’t have to frequently change or replace it.
Cons of Flea Collars
This being said, there are a few times when a collar may not be the best flea treatment method. Collars can pose safety hazards if you have small children, or if part of the collar breaks off. Additionally, some cats may simply refuse to wear one. If your cat won’t tolerate a normal collar, it’s unlikely that they’ll wear a flea collar.
What to Look For When Buying Cat Flea Collars
When shopping for a cat flea collar, what should you look for? First off, cat flea collars aren’t as popular as their dog counterparts, so there are fewer options to choose from. Whichever brand you decide to purchase, here are some things to look for:
“Kills fleas, flea larvae, and ticks”: The best flea collars are a one-stop-shop that will address all of the most common insect-related infestations. For fleas, the active ingredient should address both adult fleas and their larvae.
Breakaway collars: Cats are jumpers and climbers by nature. Because of this, it’s important to protect them from injury by ensuring they have a breakaway collar. Just like standard collars, flea collars made for cats should be able to detach if your cat gets stuck on a tree branch, fence, etc.
Reflectors: These aren’t a necessity, but are a nice added feature on some collars. Reflector panels help ensure your cat is visible at night, protecting them from cars or helping you locate them more easily in the dark.
Flea Collar Safety
In the past, flea collars came with a bad reputation because of added pesticides, as scientists discovered the chemicals previously used were toxic to pets. But today, flea collars no longer contain these ingredients, and when used according to manufacturer directions, are a completely safe and effective solution.
To be extra careful, we’ve outlined certain ingredients to avoid below. Our top picks in this article do not contain any of these ingredients.
Ingredients to Avoid
When shopping for a cat flea collar, avoid ingredients that can cause dangerous side effects when ingested, or those that shouldn’t be used around children. These include:
- Deltamethrin: This pesticide has been linked to neurological issues in cats when ingested, and is best avoided to prevent accidental exposure.
- Permethrin: (used in some dog flea collars)The chemicals used in cat flea collars are different from chemicals used in dog flea collars. Some chemicals in dog flea collars are toxic to cats, including Permethrin. Never use a dog flea collar on your cat.
- Organophosphates including amitraz, fenoxycarb, propoxur, and TCVP
- Natural products containing geranium, eucalyptus, or pennyroyal oil: these are toxic to cats.
Cat Flea Collar Side Effects
The good news is that cat flea collars usually cause little to no side effects. Some pesticides, such as Nitenpyram, can cause fleas to become more active as they begin dying off. While this can cause temporary itchiness, it’s a sign that the product is working rather than a sign of toxicity.
It’s possible that your cat may accidentally ingest some of the pesticide if they lick their collar, or if multiple cats lick each other. However, most ingredients in modern collars cause only mild side effects. If ingested, your cat may experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, but the effects are temporary. Still, it’s a good idea to contact your vet if you think your cat ingested any of the medication, especially if they are exhibiting symptoms.
Safety Around Children
The primary safety concern with flea collars is the risk of pesticide exposure for children. Because children are likely to touch their cat or dog frequently and/or put their hands in their mouth, small amounts of pesticide can be absorbed through their skin or enter their digestive tract. Although flea collar safety has vastly improved in recent years, this can still be an issue. If you decide to use a flea collar around your children, opt for one that doesn’t contain TCVP or Propoxur.
If you prefer not to use a flea collar around children, ask your veterinarian about alternative flea prevention methods like oral medication. Some natural flea prevention sprays, such as those containing cedarwood oil, are also safe to use around babies and small children. The tradeoff with natural products, however, is that they are often less effective than their chemical counterparts
Choking & Obstruction Hazard
Lastly, a flea collar itself can pose a safety hazard when broken. Be sure your cat’s collar is securely attached at all times; if you see any loose pieces, or if any part of the collar falls off, replace it to avoid the risk of your cat ingesting them.
Signs Your Cat Has Fleas
Itching is the most common sign that your cat has fleas. It’s caused by both irritation from flea bites, as well as flea allergy dermatitis, an allergy to the actual flea saliva that’s common among cats.
Overgrooming: In response to the itchiness they feel, many cats will begin overgrooming, which can lead to hot spots or bald patches on their fur. However, these are also symptomatic of several other cat skin conditions such as ringworm, medication sensitivities, and even seasonal or food allergies. One characteristic difference to help identify flea allergy dermatitis is the presence of small bumps that look like millet seeds spread throughout the back, neck, and face. These are not flea bites themselves, but a reaction cats develop in response to flea bites.
Flea eggs, larvae, or excrement in bedding: Unlike dogs, cats’ grooming habits make it less likely to see fleas scurrying over their fur, though if you inspect the base of the fur closely, you may notice flea excrement or larvae. It’s easier to examine their bedding for these signs: according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “flea excrement is reddish black, cylindrical, and pellet- or comma-shaped.”
A flea infestation in the household: Whether or not you see signs of fleas on your cat, if another pet in the household is discovered to have fleas, it should be assumed that all pets have been exposed and need to be treated accordingly.
Seasonality: The time of year may be another indicator as to whether the cause of your cat’s itchiness is fleas. Fleas are most abundant in the late summer months and are only common year-round in warmer climates.
How to Look for Fleas on Cats
A cat’s thick fur, combined with the speed at which fleas move, can make it difficult to spot them on a cat’s coat. Be prepared to look fast. Fleas are small insects (1/16 – 1/8 in.) that can range in color from black to light brown. As they ingest more blood, they become lighter in color.
When you look for fleas on your cat, slowly part your cat’s fur in spots where fleas like to hide: warm, moist areas like your cat’s belly, groin and armpits. Using a flea comb can be helpful when attempting to find and/or remove fleas from your cat’s body.
As mentioned above, you may not actually see any live fleas on your cat because of how quickly they move. Up to 95% of fleas also don’t live on the cat at any moment, and may be in the environment, making them even more difficult to find.
Because of this, you’re more likely to see signs of fleas, such as dried blood, flea excrement, or irritated skin. A good trick is to put a paper towel under your cat when looking for fleas to check for excrement. If any particles fall onto the paper towel during your investigation, wet them with water and see if they turn reddish-brown. If they do, you’re looking at the digested blood in flea excrement.
Even if you don’t find any live fleas, but see the above warning signs, assume your cat has an infestation and act quickly, either by beginning a treatment regimen or taking your cat to the veterinarian.
Here’s a great video that shows how, and where, to check your cat for fleas:
What to Do if Your Cat Has Fleas
If you discover that your cat or another animal in your home has fleas, all animals need to be treated, and your house needs to be thoroughly cleaned to remove the infestation.
1. Treat all household pets for fleas: A great first step is to buy a quality flea collar for your cat, and dog flea medicine for any pups in your home. Note that fleas can live for 6-24 hours on your pet before being killed, and it can take 30-60 days to get a flea infestation under control. For this reason, don’t stop using flea medicine if you find more fleas or if it’s been less than thirty days.
2. Clean your house and all pet bedding: Wash any pet bedding, carriers, and toys in the warmest water possible, as well as any human sheets or comforters your pet sleeps on. It’s also a good idea to vacuum sofas, rugs, and carpets.
3. Get rid of fleas in your yard: Spray the boundaries of your yard, as well as any warm, moist areas such as crawl spaces, dog houses, or garages where fleas can congregate. Take steps to make sure wild animals aren’t coming into your yard and bringing fleas with them.
For severe or chronic infestations, these steps may be insufficient to entirely rid your home and pets of fleas. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian, as they can recommend additional medicines, including corticosteroids that can be used to help treat your cat, or insecticides that are safe to use around your cats.
Cat Flea Collar Frequently Asked Questions
Are cat flea collars safe?
Yes, though there are considerations to make. Overall safety of a collar depends on its active ingredients and proper use guidelines. Certain flea collars are also better if you have multiple pets or small children. See the Flea Collar Safety section of this article for more information, or speak with your veterinarian.
Are cat flea collars effective?
Yes, especially because cats are so small! For dogs, other methods of flea prevention can be preferable as chemicals tend to concentrate around the head and neck. Because of a cat’s size, however, it’s easier for a collar’s medicine to spread throughout their entire body. As a general rule, natural flea collars are less effective than chemical ones, but can have fewer side effects.
Are there alternatives to cat flea collars?
Yes, in addition to flea collars, there are ointments, oral medications, and natural prevention methods to treat and prevent fleas in cats. If you have small children, or your cat doesn’t like to wear collars, these may be good options for you. Ask your veterinarian for help deciding the best flea treatment option for your family.
Can cat flea collars be used around dogs?
Yes. If your dog accidentally licks your cat’s flea collar, the pesticide may cause some mild digestive side effects, but nothing serious. The reverse, however, is not always the case. Dog flea collars containing Permethrin are poisonous to cats, so if you have both cats and dogs at home, don’t use these types of collars on your dog or anywhere around your cat.
The Bottom Line
Cat flea collars are a safe and effective method of preventing and treating fleas on cats, but can come with side effects that may not work for all cats. Before purchasing a cat flea collar, be sure to consider your cat’s tolerance for collars and your home situation, including other pets or small children.
When purchasing a cat flea collar, opt for those that don’t contain toxic ingredients, and consult your veterinarian if you’re concerned about whether a flea collar is the right choice for your cat. Remember to always use the collar according to the package directions to ensure safe and effective treatment. If you follow these tips, your cat can stay happy and flea-free year-round!
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Looking for Fleas on Cats
Cat Flea Collar Safety
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