A kitten can wear a flea collar at the age of 12 weeks; however, according to the Pet Poison Helpline, flea collars can be life-threatening when used incorrectly.Consult your veterinarian before using flea collars or any flea products on your kitten.
Flea Collar Risks
Pyrethrins are the most common active ingredients in flea collars. They do kill fleas, but they are toxic to cats. Accidental ingestion and incorrect use of collars can cause central nervous system, gastrointestinal system and cardiac system problems. If you notice any of the following signs, call your veterinarian immediately: drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, lethargy, dilated pupils, drunk-like walking, slowed heart rate and low or high blood pressure.
Flea Collar Effectiveness
Flea collars contain a very low dose of pyrethrins because of the toxicity. As a result, flea collars are not very effective at ridding your kitten of fleas. Mid Hudson Animal Hospital in New York gives this example on their website to illustrate the effectiveness, “It takes about four days for a flea collar to kill a flea. In that amount of time, the flea has laid about 400 eggs.”
Flea Collar Safety
If your veterinarian approves the use of a flea collar, there are important safety considerations to keep in mind. Your kitten must be more than 12 weeks of age. Use a flea collar with a breakaway buckle so your kitten can free himself without choking if the collar gets caught on something. Purchase a flea collar that is formulated for cats, not dogs -- pyrethrin levels are higher in dog collars and can cause severe illness or death in cats.
Removing Fleas from Kittens
The safest and most effective way to remove fleas from a kitten under 12 weeks of age is to bathe him and manually remove the fleas. Use a mild dish soap such as Green Works Free and Clear. Keep your kitten’s head dry. When his body is wet, fleas will make their way to the dry area on his head. Use tweezers to remove as many fleas as you can. After the bath, set him on a clean towel and go through all of his damp fur with a flea comb and tweezers to remove the fleas. Kill the fleas by submerging them in a bowl of hot water.
Long-Term Flea Control
Make sure to vacuum any areas where your kitten has been and wash his bedding in hot water to get rid of fleas in his environment.
No matter what the age of your kitten, consult your veterinarian before using any flea control products. There are many different products available, and your veterinarian will know which will be most effective for your kitten.