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Cat Ticks 101: Causes, Signs, and Treatment

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All cat parents understand the importance of keeping their feline friends safe and sound.

One of the most critical aspects of doing so is ensuring that they stay free from parasites such as ticks, especially if they regularly spend time outside the house.

Cat tick infestation can cause some severe illness and discomfort and even lead to death if left untreated.

This post has everything you need to know about cat ticks to ensure that your cat does not become infested!

What are cat ticks?

Cat ticks are spider-like external parasites - blood-sucking creepy crawlies. Ticks are common in woodland, grassland, and vegetative areas but can also be found in your home gardens or yards if you live in an area close to wildlife, sheep, or cattle.

Ticks can’t jump or fly. Instead, they latch on to your cat’s coat as the cat brushes past their habitat.

Cat tick symptoms

Here are some of the most common symptoms of cat ticks:

  • General listlessness or malaise
  • Lack/loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Painful breathing or respiration
  • Itchy skin infections, soreness
  • Miscarriages

What are the dangers of ticks on my cat?

Some cat ticks transmit disease-causing microbes, which may affect your cat’s health. Tick-borne diseases such as Q fever, Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, etc., have been found in cats.

However, it’s uncommon for cats to catch these diseases.

How to tell if your cat has ticks

While they blend in very well with your cat’s coat, cat ticks are easier to detect because they’re large enough for the human eye to see.

Ticks, particularly mature ones, feel like small bumps on a cat’s skin. You must, however, know how to differentiate ticks apart from skin lumps.

Give them a thorough coat inspection to find out if your cat has ticks. Run your hands over your cat's coat skin to check for lumps, bumps, irritation, and redness. If you own a long-haired feline, dedicate some extra time to ensure you check through their coat correctly.

Pro tip: Pay particular attention to areas like the cat’s head, feet, neck, groin, armpits, underbelly, and ears during the inspection.

How to remove cat ticks

If you discover ticks on your cat, don’t panic; you can remove them. The recommended way to remove a tick is to use a tick removal tool available through your vet (gently grab as close to the tick’s head as possible and pull it straight out).

You don’t want to twist or spin, as that can cause it to break off, stay in your cat, and cause skin infections.

Tick removal tools are specially designed to grasp the tick at the affected skin area and remove the tick wholly without causing damage to your cat’s skin.

Pro tip: Always wear gloves when removing ticks and have a paper towel handy for the removed tick. Besides, ensure you read and understand the instructions on the tick-removal device packaging before starting or consult your vet for advice.

Prevention and treatment of cat ticks

Tick prevention is one of the best ways to avoid ticks on cats. Just apply a tick-repelling/prevention ointment to your cat’s neck, back, and tail before they go outside. Regular tick checks are critical if you live in an area with ticks.

Talk with your vet about which tick prevention and product option might suit your specific case. Your vet will also recommend appropriate treatments for added protection against tick disease transmission.

Pro tip: Never use dog tick treatment products on your cat as it could be life-threatening.

Bottom line

Ticks can be found nearly anywhere, and unfortunately, cats are especially susceptible to tick bites because they’re not able to groom themselves as well as dogs can.

Since ticks can carry various diseases and health problems, it’s vital to keep your cat free of ticks. Stay on top of checking your cat for ticks, and visit your vet regularly.

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