How to Keep Ticks off Your Cat

Long grass often harbors ticks.

Long grass often harbors ticks.

Outdoor cats encounter a lot of wild creatures, some of which look like potential dinner to your cat. On the other hand, some view your cat as the meal. Cat-eating wildlife primarily consists of a fascinating array of parasites, including ticks.

Prevention

Get your cat neutered or spayed. This is important for a huge range of reasons, not least of which is unwanted kittens. It also reduces the urge to roam in search of a mate, meaning your cat is less likely to explore tick-infested areas.

Trim long vegetation in your yard, especially grasses. This is where ticks lurk, waiting for something warm-blooded to walk past.

Supervise your cat’s outdoor excursions, if practical. Try to stop him running off in the wilds. Letting him out just before mealtimes is a good trick as he probably won’t go very far when he knows dinner is imminent.

Consult your vet about the possibility of a tick collar. This is not always appropriate, or even helpful, so don’t just buy one and stick it on your cat. It might cause more problems than it solves.

Removal

Inspect your cat for ticks daily, looking especially closely at his ears, face and feet. Ticks are tiny and you might not have much luck on a dark or long-haired cat. On a light-colored, short-haired kitty, you should be able to spy some of them. They look a little like very small, squat spiders.

Pull each tick off steadily with a pair of tweezers. Hold it near the mouth (i.e. near the cat’s skin). Don’t yank and don’t try killing the tick first -- e.g. by burning it. Killing the tick means the mouth parts will be left in your cat, which can lead to infection.

Drop the tick into a vial of rubbing alcohol to preserve it for identification purposes if your cat or another member of your household shows symptoms of illness later.

Items you will need

  • Pruning shears
  • Fine-tipped tweezers
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Glass vials or jars

Tip

  • Observe your cat, your family and yourself for signs of any tick-borne illnesses during tick season. Remember, indoor pets might get ticks from animals or people that go outside. Check local government websites to see which, if any, illnesses are prevalent in your area so you know what to watch for. In general, any increase in itching or reddening of a tick bite and/or signs of illness mean you should visit your vet or doctor, depending on who is exhibiting the symptoms, as soon as possible. Mention that the pet or person has encountered ticks.
 

About the Author

Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Photo Credits

  • cat in the grass image by Mike & Valerie Miller from Fotolia.com