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Do Tick And Flea Collars Work for All Cats? Feline Health & Safety Facts

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

cat with flea collar lying on the bed

Flea and tick collars are a great way to prevent and treat pests on your cat, ranging from fleas, ticks, and mosquitos, to even their eggs. They work best for cats when worn indoors and usually, one size will fit all because they are adjustable. Tick and flea collars will work for all cats, however, certain factors can cause the tick and flea collars to not work as well as they should.

Even if you are using a tick and flea collar on your cat as a preventive measure, you will still need to use other methods in severe infestations and these collars will not be the most effective in these situations.

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How Do Tick and Flea Collars Work?

The older version of tick and flea collars works by producing a chemical as a gas that is toxic to fleas and ticks. Any pests that come into close contact with the collar will die, and the active ingredient coats the outside of the collar. However, the newer versions continuously emit a repellent that spreads over your cat’s body through the hair to provide protection.

Fleas can typically be found around your cat’s neck because this area is usually inaccessible to cats to groom or lick so flea infestations are mostly around your cat’s neck. This makes the collar effective at killing any pests that try to congregate in that area while making it difficult for the fleas to reproduce and complete their lifecycle to cause a severe infestation.

In the newer tick and flea collars, the all-over body protection is more effective because it not only helps repel ticks and fleas from your cat’s neck but also all around their body.

man holding a flea collar
Image Credit: Gagarin Iurii, Shutterstock

How Long Do Tick and Flea Collars Take To Work?

Tick and flea collars generally work quickly, and you will notice the benefits of the collar after about 2 weeks, indicating that it is working. You may still see fleas and ticks on your cat after this time, but they will usually be dead and only need to be removed from your cat by a bath (make sure to remove the collar first).

You will notice that the fleas will start being killed or repelled in less than a day, whereas it may take up to 2 days for the collar to work on ticks.

Once the collar is on your cat, the gas or repellent chemicals will begin working immediately to take care of the pest infestation while also working as a preventive against ticks and fleas. However, the collar will need to be replaced around the 2-month mark, because it will lose its effectiveness after this time.

When Do Tick and Flea Collars Not Work?

Tick and flea collars may not work if it has been on your cat for longer than 2 months which is the maximum lifespan for most of these tick and flea collars if your cat spends too much time outside not giving the collars a controlled environment to emit the gasses in older versions, or if the collar has been exposed to water.

woman wearing the cat a flea and tick collar
Photo Credit: Inga Gedrovicha, Shutterstock

The Collar Needs To Be Replaced

Most tick and flea collars do not last longer than 2 months, but some only work for up to a month. It is important to check how long the tick and flea collar you chose for your cat will last, as you will need to replace the collar after the maximum wearing time. Once the collar has passed its usage stage, it will not work anymore.

The Cat Spends Too Much Time Outdoors

Some types of tick and flea collars only work effectively in cats who spend most of their time outdoors, especially the older versions of these collars that emit gas to repel the pests. If your cat is outdoors often, it is best to look for a collar that works both indoors and outdoors and that the active ingredients cannot be diluted outside. If you notice that your cat’s tick and flea collar isn’t working, it could be because your cat’s collar isn’t meant to be worn outside as it reduces the collar’s efficiency.

british short hair cat wearing flea collar
Photo Credit: Georgy Dzyura, Shutterstock

The Collar Has Got Wet

Tick and flea collars are rarely waterproof, but they are water resistant, and they will not work anymore if they get drenched in water. If you keep your cat’s tick and flea collar on when you bathe them, or if they get wet often, the collar will not work as well as it should. Raindrops and splashes from the water will not affect the collar, but water can remove some of the chemicals that allow the collar to work.

Are Tick and Flea Collars Safe?

Tick and flea collars are generally safe for cats, even though they do emit chemicals and gases. The chemicals produced from the collar are concentrated on your cat, so they shouldn’t expose your family to chemicals in the home.

However, these chemicals can rub off on your cat’s fur and transfer to your skin or furniture in the home. It is important to wash your hands after handling your cat if they have a tick and flea collar on and avoid letting your children or other pets encounter the collar for safety.

Always make sure that the tick and flea collar you are using is safe and does not contain any ingredients that you or your cat are allergic to. Some ingredients in the collar can irritate your cat’s neck, especially if it is placed tightly on your cat. You should be able to fit two fingers around the collar when it is on your cat to make sure it is not too tight, and they should not experience any hair loss or redness around the collar which could indicate an issue with one of the ingredients.

kitten wearing green flea collar
Image Credit: Fayzulin Serg, Shutterstock

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Tick and flea collars will work for most cats if they are used correctly and replaced when necessary. Make sure that you choose a high-quality tick and flea collar for your cat that has benefits that will work for your cat’s lifestyle. Tick and flea collars have a one-fits-all size and can either have a chemical-based gas to kill fleas and ticks or it can emit a repelling chemical.

Featured Image Credit: sharshonm, Shutterstock

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