Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can I Use a Dog Flea Collar on My Cat? Our Vet Explains

Dr. Sharon Butzke, DVM (Vet)

By Dr. Sharon Butzke, DVM (Vet)

woman wearing the cat a flea and tick collar

Vet approved

Dr. Sharon Butzke Photo

Written by

Dr. Sharon Butzke

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to deal with a flea infestation knows that it is much better to prevent these pests than to face the difficult task of getting rid of them after they’ve found a way into your home!

Cats who spend time outdoors are the most likely to encounter fleas, but even indoor kitties can benefit from flea protection. Especially if they live in an apartment building, or with another pet who goes outside.

Flea collars may seem like a reasonable and inexpensive option for flea prevention. However, veterinarians often advise against flea collars for cats because they pose a strangulation risk (cats should only ever wear quick-release collars).

Many ingredients commonly found in dog flea collars are highly toxic to cats, so you should never use a dog flea collar on a cat!

Fortunately, there are many other safe and effective products for flea control in cats, which often treat other parasites as well. Ask your veterinarian to help you choose the best option for your cat.

hepper cat paw divider

What Are the Dangers of Using Dog Flea Collars on Cats?

Aside from the strangulation risk, one of the biggest dangers of using a dog flea collar on cats is that it may cause severe toxicity.

As previously mentioned, dog flea collars often contain ingredients that are not safe for cats. Particularly harmful substances include:

  • Amitraz
  • Permethrins, pyrethrins, and pyrethroids
  • Organophosphates
  • Carbamates
  • Essential oils

As we have already mentioned, dog flea collars should never be used on cats.

Signs of a Negative Reaction to a Flea Collar

Cats can have a negative reaction to any flea collar, even if they are intended for feline use. Reactions can range from mild skin irritation and fur loss to signs of severe neurologic toxicity.

Signs that should prompt you to remove the collar and seek immediate veterinary attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Ataxia (wobbliness, general incoordination)
  • Extreme tiredness (lethargy) and/or weakness
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Elevated body temperature (feeling hot to the touch)
  • Muscle twitching, tremors
  • Seizures
laying cat sick
Photo Credit: Sisacorn, Shutterstock

What to Do if You Suspect Your Cat Is Having a Bad Reaction to a Flea Collar

Here are some steps to take if you suspect your cat may be having a negative reaction to a flea collar:

  • Remove the collar!
  • If your cat is showing any of the signs listed above, seek urgent veterinary attention. If they just seem to have some mild irritation and are not showing signs of toxicity, you may bathe them in lukewarm water with liquid dish soap (e.g., Dawn) to remove any residue from the collar. Repeat if needed.
  • After bathing, dry your cat thoroughly, keep them warm, and monitor them closely.

If at any time you become concerned about your cat’s health, please contact your vet or the nearest veterinary emergency clinic. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 (please note there is a fee for this service).

wet cat in the bathtub having shower
Photo Credit: Vladeep, Shutterstock

How Can I Safely Protect My Cat from Fleas?

There are many great options for flea prevention in cats, which are summarized nicely in this chart. Your veterinarian will be happy to help you pick the product that’s right for your kitty!

Here are some other important safety tips:

  • Only use products that are specifically for cats
  • Make sure to give the correct dose for your cat’s current weight
  • Confirm that kittens are above the minimum age and body weight for the product you are using
  • Do not use multiple products together without checking with your veterinarian
  • Avoid using flea products in very old, sick, and debilitated cats (unless directed by a veterinarian)
cat with flea collar lying on the bed
Photo Credit: sharshonm, Shutterstock

hepper cat paw divider


There are so many products available for flea control in cats that are safer (and often more effective) than flea collars. Flea collars can pose a strangulation risk, and cats are known to be sensitive to many of the substances they commonly contain—especially flea collars designed for dogs.

Please remember to never put a dog flea collar on your cat!

Ask your veterinarian to help you decide which flea-prevention product is right for your cat.

Featured Image Credit: Inga Gedrovicha, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database