Being a cat owner has its ups and downs. Not only do you have to scoop the litter box more than you’d like, but you have to deal with your cat’s ornery tendencies – like jumping on your lap with his claws fully extended. Most of the time, however, it’s well worth the challenges that come with the job.
When you first brought home your cat, what you probably didn’t think you were signing up for was a lifetime fighting fleas. Tiny as they are, fleas can become a serious nuisance and it doesn’t take long for a few of them to develop into a full-blown infestation. Your cat can pick up fleas from going outside, coming into contact with other animals, or you could bring them in yourself.
In this article, we’ll explore the subject of flea infestations in cats to help you learn how to tell whether your cat has fleas. We’ll also talk about the benefits of cat flea collars and provide tips on what to look for. Finally, you’ll receive our top picks for the best flea collars for cats with other flea control products.
What Is The Best Cat Flea Collar?
- Seresto 8 Month Flea Collar for Cats
- Only Natural Pet EasyDefense
- TropiClean Flea & Tick Repellant Collar
- Advantage II Flea Treatment for Large Cats
- Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Cat & Kitten
- Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats
- Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo
- Natural Care Dog & Cat Flea & Tick
- Hartz Groomer’s Best Flea Comb
How to Tell If Your Cat Has Fleas
Before you freak out and call the exterminator, take a breath and make sure your cat really does have fleas. All cats scratch from time to time, so you don’t need to panic until you find out for sure.
The best way to tell if your cat has fleas is to get a flea comb and do a check. Part the hair at the base of your cat’s neck and do a visual check for visible signs of fleas – flea dirt, nits (eggs), or adult fleas. Next, take the comb and run it along your cat’s back, making sure the teeth get as close to the skin as you can. Place the comb on a piece of white paper or paper towel to check for fleas.
If you don’t have a flea comb, here are some signs of fleas you can look for:
- Intense itching, scratching, and biting
- Excessive grooming, hair loss
- Avoid carpeted areas, bedding, or furniture
- Acting agitated or restless
- Scab-like bumps or red skin lesions
- Signs of anemia (pale gums, lethargy, muscle loss)
- Black specks on the cat’s fur or bedding
- Red spots on the cat’s bedding
- Small pinhead-sized insects crawling on cat
Once you’ve positively identified a flea infestation, your next instinct may be to panic. Having fleas is certainly not a pet owner’s dream, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.
There are many different options for flea protection, but many pet owners prefer cat flea collars.
Do Flea Collars Really Work?
When it comes to flea and tick prevention, you’re probably familiar with those monthly topical additives you get at the vet. So, what’s the difference between flea collars vs drops?
The primary difference with a flea collar for cats is that they last much longer than drops. Flea collars work by delivering the active ingredient onto your cat’s coat to kill fleas over a long period of time, up to 8 months. Different flea collars use different active ingredients, however, so it’s important to shop smart and to know what is and isn’t safe for your cat.
Here’s what to look for when shopping for cat flea collars:
- Active ingredients. Most cat flea collars use insecticides to kill fleas – common ingredients include amitraz, deltamethrin, pyriproxyfen, and imidacloprid.
- Repelling versus treating. Some cat flea collars contain liquid that releases a gas to repel fleas. Others combine insecticide and resin that releases the chemical into your cat’s fur over time, killing fleas on contact.
- Veterinarian recommended. Because flea collars use chemical active ingredients, it’s important not to use a product without your veterinarian’s recommendation.
- Breaks the flea life cycle. The best flea collars for cats don’t just kill adult fleas – they contain insect growth regulators (IGRs) like pyriproxyfen that stops the reproduction process.
- Scientifically tested. Don’t use a product on your cat that doesn’t have plenty of testing to back it up. Doing a little research will tell you whether there are negative customer reviews of the product or safety issues you should know about.
Now that you know how to tell whether your cat has fleas, you should be able to decide whether a flea collar is the best treatment option. Take what you’ve learned here about shopping for options and read on to see our top picks.
The 3 Best Flea Collars for Cats
When it comes to flea collars for pets, unfortunately there are a lot of unsafe options out there. Inexpensive flea collars you might pick up at a big box store or even the grocery store may contain pesticides that are not safe for cats. It’s your job as a cat owner to do the research to not only find a product that works, but one that is safe as well.
There are plenty of cat flea collars out there, but we can’t recommend all of them. We’ve reviewed our top picks for flea collars below and have provided some additional recommendations for flea control.
Here are our top picks for the best flea collars for cats:
|Our 2021 Picks: Best Cat Flea Collars|
|Seresto 8 Month Flea Collar for Cats
|Only Natural Pet EasyDefense
|TropiClean Flea & Tick Repellant Collar
|Advantage II Flea Treatment for Large Cats
|Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Cat & Kitten
|Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats
|Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor
|Natural Care Dog & Cat Flea & Tick Spray
|Hartz Groomer’s Best Flea Comb
Top Overall Pick: Easily the most popular option on the market, this Seresto 8 Month Flea Collar for Cats is our top overall pick. This flea collar costs significantly more than most options, but it lasts longer, and it is generally deemed safe. Featuring active ingredients imidacloprid and flumethrin, this flea collar doesn’t just repel fleas – it kills adult fleas and ticks then prevents reinfestation. This vet-recommended flea collar is made from a unique polymer matrix to ensure that it is non-greasy and odorless. The collar itself is adjustable and water-resistant, so it continues working after bathing and sun exposure.
Pros: Kills existing fleas and prevents new infestations, works for up to 8 months, well tested
Cons: Fairly expensive compared to other options, some cats react negatively
If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to the Seresto collar, consider the Only Natural Pet EasyDefense Flea, Tick, & Mosquito Cat Collar. This utilizes a natural combination of geraniol, peppermint, and thyme oils to repeal fleas, ticks, and mosquitos for up to 4 months. The thing to remember is that this collar won’t kill existing fleas – it only repels them. Keep in mind as well that some cats are sensitive to essential oils, so test the collar for an hour or two at a time before letting your cat wear it for an extended period of time.
Pros: Contains natural ingredients, repels fleas and ticks up to 4 months, affordable price
Cons: Doesn’t kill fleas already on the cat, only repels for up to 4 months, some cats are sensitive to essential oils
Another affordable option to repel fleas and ticks is this TropiClean Flea & Tick Repellant Collar for Cats. This flea collar delivers full-body protection for up to 4 months against both fleas and ticks. It is a waterproof collar made with natural active ingredients like cedarwood and peppermint oil. Because this collar uses natural ingredients, however, it only repels fleas rather than killing them. It’s a great option, however, if you want something natural. This collar also has a breakaway safety feature.
Pros: Made with natural active ingredients, waterproof, lasts up to 4 months, breakaway feature
Cons: Doesn’t kill fleas already on the cat, only repels for up to 4 months
6 Other Recommended Products for Flea Control
Unfortunately, there aren’t many cat flea collars on the market we can recommend. The Seresto 8 Month Flea Collar for Cats is the only option we completely back. If you prefer not to use a flea collar, however, there are other alternatives you can consider.
Here are some other flea control products we recommend:
One of the most popular monthly flea treatments, this Advantage II Flea Treatment for Large Cats is a trustworthy option. These flea drops are veterinarian-recommended to kill fleas in all life stages on kittens and cats 8 weeks or older. This treatment starts working within 12 hours, breaking the flea life cycle to prevent reinfestation. The formula is waterproof and comes in packages of 2, 4, or 6 treatments. It provides up to 4 weeks of continuous protection against fleas, ticks, and other pests.
Another monthly topical flea preventive, Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Cat & Kitten Treatment is fast-acting and long-lasting. This waterproof formula is safe for cats and kittens 8 weeks and older, designed to kill fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, and ticks as well as chewing lice. Frontline comes in packages of 3, 6, 8, or 12 treatments, so it’s easy to stock up for multi-cat households and it works for a full 30 days.
If you’re looking for fast-acting flea control and you want to avoid using chemicals on your cat’s skin, consider Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats. These tablets feature a fast-acting formula that starts working with 30 minutes and has been proven more than 90% effective in killing adult fleas within hours. These tablets are safe for cats and kittens between 2 and 25 pounds and they can be administered daily.
Once you’ve identified a flea infestation, the real work begins. Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor is the best tool to have on hand because it quickly kills adult fleas and helps prevent reinfestation for up to 28 days. This powerful flea control shampoo features Precor, an insect growth regulator, that keeps flea eggs and larvae from developing. It also contains hydrating and moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera, coconut extract, and oatmeal to soothe your cat’s delicate skin.
Many pet owners prefer to stick with natural products, and we don’t blame them. This Natural Care Dog & Cat Flea & Tick Spray is a good alternative to chemical flea control and it is still very affordable. Designed to kill fleas, flea egg, and ticks, this spray kills pests on contact and leaves behind a fresh, natural scent. It features peppermint oil and clove extract as the active ingredients and it is safe for dogs and cats aged 12 weeks and older. It’s great for pet bedding and furniture.
Whether you’re checking for fleas or dealing with an active infestation, having a good flea comb is a must. This Groomer’s Best Flea Comb for Dogs & Cats from Hartz is a great option because it is cheap, effective, and easy to use. This flea comb features an ergonomic handle for comfort, sturdy extra-fine teeth, and it’s still gentle on your cat’s sensitive skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is a flea collar for cats safe? It depends on the collar. Inexpensive flea collar brands like Hartz have a very bad reputation, and for good reason. Other models like Seresto (manufactured by Bayer), on the other hand, are generally recognized as safe. The thing to remember is that flea collars use insecticides to do their work. Insecticides are chemicals, so there will always be some risk involved.
- What’s the difference between a flea collar vs drops? The primary difference between a cat flea collar and drops is that flea collars can last several months longer. Topical flea preventives need to be administered every 30 days while flea collars usually last 3 to 6 months, some up to 8 months. Flea drops work by depositing chemicals into the cat’s sebaceous glands so they can be excreted through the skin. Flea collars use a similar mechanism to distribute the insecticide over the cat’s skin and coat.
- How long does it take for a flea collar to work? Some flea collars claim to start working immediately, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see immediate results. It takes about 24 hours for the active ingredient to be released into your cat’s skin and coat. You may not see dead fleas until another few days or even weeks after that.
- Are there any cat flea collars dangers I should know about? Yes, cat flea collars can be very dangerous. In fact, many veterinarians recommend against them entirely because they use insecticides which can be toxic for cats. Even options like the Seresto flea collar that are generally deemed safe and effective have the potential to trigger problems in cats with sensitive skin. Talk to your veterinarian before using a flea collar or other flea control products on your cat.
The best way to deal with fleas is to avoid them entirely. Keeping your cat protected is essential, even if he never goes outside. Fleas are tricky and it only takes a few of them to start an infestation.
To give your cat the best protection you can, consider one of the flea collars we’ve recommended above or one of the alternative flea control products.