How to Remove Ticks from Cats

Posted by Dr. Jessica on

outdoor cats and how to remove ticks

Every pet parent with a cat knows they’re pretty self-sufficient with cleaning. Most spend several hours a day on grooming. Their rough tongues remove all kinds of dirt, debris, and tangles. In many cases, they can even remove ticks from themselves.

While most indoor cats have a low risk of getting them, an outdoor cat or a cat that spends time around a dog that goes outside a lot can pick up ticks. As cats are more flexible than dogs, it’s easier for them to remove the pests. In some cases, though, they may need a little help. Here’s what pet parents need to know about how to remove ticks from cats.

Before Starting

Removing a tick from a cat can be tricky. It is essential to prepare ahead of time by gathering the necessary tools first. Here are a few tools to have at the ready:

  • A pair of gloves 
  • A tick removal tool or tweasers
  • A small container to hold the tick
  • Cat-friendly antiseptic wipes to help with skin irritation (and to reduce the risk of infection)
  • A spray or cleaner to disinfect the tick removal tool 

A second person may also be helpful. One person can hold the cat and keep them still, while the other removes the tick.

Step-By-Step: Removing a Tick from a Cat

After gathering the tools, it’s time to remove the tick. Choose a safe, quiet space free of distractions. Pet parents should also offer treats to entice the cat. It helps to speak in a calm, soothing voice.

Once the cat is calm and happy, one person should hold them on their lap and continually soothe them. The other person should part the fur around the tick for a better view. To remove the tick:

  • Place the tick removal tool around the tick’s head, as close to the cat’s skin as possible
  • Pull and twist the tool, carefully and without squeezing, to dislodge the tick
  • Check the tick to make sure its mouthparts are still attached and place it in the container 
  • Clean the cat with a wipe (and give her another treat!)
  • Wash hands thoroughly and disinfect the removal tool 

Even after removing the tick, keep an eye on the cat’s skin. If it looks irritated or infected (or if the mouthparts didn't come out), chat with a vet for additional guidance or recommendations. 

Avoid Alternative Methods

Some pet parents may have heard of alternative methods for removing ticks. One of the most common is to use Vaseline to smother the insect. Another involves using a flame to burn it off. Neither of these methods are effective, and trying them could harm a cat, especially if they are uncomfortable or struggling against the tick removal.

A tick removal tool is the safest, most effective way to remove a tick from a cat. Pet parents can pick one up from their vet. Alternatively, they can take their feline into the office and have the vet remove it for them but this generally unnecessary.

Keep Cats Safe from Ticks and Other Outdoor Pests‌

Ticks are a real problem that plague both dogs and cats alike. Pet parents can practice cat skin care to keep their feline friends safe with preventative measures like monthly topical treatments. Many treatments prevent not only ticks but fleas, mosquitoes, and other pests that could spread disease. They keep cats protected, and give pet parents peace of mind, a win-win that keeps everyone healthy and happy.

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