Flea collars are not safe for kittens unless you talk to a good veterinarian first and even then I’d consider them fundamentally unsafe but that’s a personal view. I have strong views about these products and the use of pesticides on pets. It’s essential that you take advice on these products because they are potentially very unsafe and can kill a kitten. You cannot, in my view, casually walk into a pet store and buy a collar and stick it on your kitten and think that all will be well. Things might be well but they might not and you could harm your kitten quite quickly. There are numerous pages on the internet about this.
And I have seen some horror stories on the internet and some horrendous pictures of damage done to cats by flea collars. The one above is very mild compared to some I have seen and what about the damage inside the cat? You are essentially putting a ring of insecticide/pesticide around your kitten’s neck on a permanent basis. You wouldn’t do that to a child would you? Well, the same rules apply.
Polluting rivers, poisoning river wildlife
All pesticides are dangerous to people. In fact, I wrote a recent article about rivers being polluted by cat and dog flea treatment pesticides where they kill river life. Most of these pesticides come from dogs when they are bathed but some come from cat and kitten bedding when it is washed and the water ends up in rivers. That’s another issue and it’s a major environmental concern. There is a good argument that the whole market in pet flea treatments using pesticides needs to be re-assessed urgently for this reason alone.
Chemicals to avoid
The Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook provides two warnings. Firstly, you’ve got to make sure that you can get two fingers under the collar to avoid choking and extra portions of the collar should be trimmed off. The pesticides: amitraz, permethrin and organophosphates should not be used on cats.
Serious health consequences?
A veterinary website refers to a report by the National Resources Defence Council entitled “Poison On Pets II: Toxic Chemicals in Flea and Tick Collars“. The report refers to many over-the-counter products which can cause “serious health consequences to pets and humans” even when used according to the instructions. And how many people read the instructions? And how many people know exactly what chemicals are in and on the product? Many of them include organophosphates which are known to be highly toxic. There’s been some horrendous stories of people being poisoned with this chemical causing permanent injury. Chronic exposure to these pesticides can cause insidious mental health problems.
Wherever you look on the internet you end up with the same conclusion that flea collars aren’t necessarily safe for adult cats never my kittens. They can cause chemical burns and seizures, skin irritation and gastrointestinal distress.
I don’t need to go on really because it’s tiresome and a waste of my time and your time to read it. The point is that a kitten is a highly vulnerable and adorable creature. You do not want to put nasty pesticides around their neck where they are in constant contact with the kitten’s skin. It just doesn’t make sense and I despair at the lack of responsibility taken by the manufacturers of these products. They shouldn’t be on the market in my honest opinion.
What should you do instead?
Well the first point is you don’t assume that your kitten will be infested with fleas. You should make sure your home is totally clear of fleas. This may be a big job or it may not but it is essential. And comb your kitten regularly to check for fleas. If you don’t have fleas in the home there is no need to take protective steps. Just keep checking instead with a flea comb. Normally people would advise to take protective steps but because these products are at least potentially dangerous, and I’m referring to the Spot-on treatments (e.g. Frontline) as well, it’s best to avoid them if you can and use mechanical and physical processes rather than chemical ones because they’re much safer.
Perhaps, veterinarians have pushed the idea that you’ve got to buy their products and take proactive steps against fleas as an automatic step in cat caretaking. I don’t subscribe to that idea.
There is a safe physical alternative which is food grade diatomaceous earth which I’ve written about and which is messy but entirely safe. It cuts the exoskeleton of the flea killing it. Very few people use this but it can be useful.
CHECK AND RESEARCH
If you are hell bent on using a flea collar on a kitten: READ ABOUT THE DANGERS AND CHECK, CHECK AND CHECK THAT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IS SAFE FOR YOUR KITTEN. A cat owner’s first duty is the safety of their cat companion.