How To Remove A Tick From Your Cat
First step to remove a tick from your cat: Calm down 😬🕷
Ticks are total pests, so it can be pretty upsetting to see one on your cat.
If you do happen to find one on him, you’ll want to remove it as quickly as possible to lessen the risk of disease.
So, how do you remove a tick from a cat safely and effectively?
The Dodo reached out to Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, a veterinarian at the Humane Educational Society in Tennessee, and Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian working with Excited Cats, to find out what you should do if you see a tick on your cat.
What do you need to remove a tick from a cat?
You can use tweezers or a tick removal tool to remove a tick from a cat. The specialized tools are generally considered to be easier to use, though, so it’s good to keep one on hand before you actually need it.
“If you wear glasses, make sure you have those on,” Dr. Elfenbein told The Dodo. “Find a well-lit area so that you can see what you are doing.”
“You also need a cooperative cat,” Dr. Elfenbein added. “If your cat will not quietly lay there while you remove the tick, it is best to let your veterinarian's office do it for you. It’s not worth risking injury to yourself or your cat.”
You should also have cat-safe antiseptic wipes handy to clean the bite area after you remove the tick.
And make sure there is a toilet or rubbing alcohol nearby so you can kill the tick after removing it from your friend.
How to remove a tick from your cat with tweezers
If you don’t have a tick removal tool available, you can pull the tick off with tweezers, being very careful not to squeeze the tick too hard.
“In a well-lit area, spread your cat’s fur so you can see the skin,” Dr. Elfenbein said. “Grasp the tick against the skin and slowly but firmly pull out with a twisting or arcing motion. Do not pull straight out, as this will make it more likely for the tick head to get stuck.”
Once the tick has been fully removed (including the head!), wipe down the site of the bite (as well as the tweezers) with the antiseptic wipe, and wash your hands.
How to remove a tick from your cat with a tick removal tool
If you’re using a tick removal tool, definitely follow the instructions on the package. But most tick removal tools will require a similar latch, twist and pull motion to ensure the tick is removed completely and nothing is left behind.
Can you remove ticks with Vaseline?
There’s a theory that if you apply Vaseline to the area where the tick is attached to your cat, the tick will be smothered in the petroleum jelly and just fall off.
But it turns out this method just doesn’t work.
“Ticks breathe very slowly, only about four times an hour, so being covered in Vaseline really won’t affect them much,” Dr. Bonk told The Dodo.
Instead, a tick removal tool or a simple pair of tweezers is the way to go.
What should you do if the tick head gets stuck?
It’s super important that you remove the whole tick and not just a portion, as this can cause an infection in your cat.
If you can see the tick’s legs wiggling around after you’ve removed the tick, you likely did a good job removing the tick in its entirety.
If you don’t, or if you see a portion of the tick is missing, contact your veterinarian immediately — and don’t try to remove the rest of the tick yourself.
“Use a permanent marker to draw a dime-sized circle around the head to make it easier to find at your vet's office (the marker will dissolve after a few days),” Dr. Elfenbein said. “Do not dig in your cat's skin for the tick head. Let your veterinarian use the proper instruments to avoid causing pain.”
How do you kill the tick?
You will need to kill the tick after removing it to ensure it doesn’t crawl back onto your cat (or you!).
“Once the tick has been removed, drown it in rubbing alcohol or flush it down the toilet,” Dr. Elfenbein said. “If you throw it in the trash before killing it, it will climb out.”
Dr. Elfenbein also recommends taking a picture of the tick to show your vet “in case your cat gets sick.”
“Different types of ticks carry different diseases, so knowing the type of tick will help your veterinarian make a diagnosis and choose the right treatment,” Dr. Elfenbein added.
Signs of tick poisoning in cats
Ticks carry a number of diseases, some of which can be transmitted to cats, like babesiosis and Lyme disease.
Though the symptoms for each disease are slightly different from each other, some general signs that your cat is feeling ill include:
- Anemia (pale gums is a symptom)
- Loss of appetite
“Any one of them is a reason to take your cat to your veterinarian,” Dr. Elfenbein said. “Be sure to tell them about the tick exposure and show them the picture if you remembered to take one.”
Tick prevention for cats
Treating your cat with a monthly tick preventative is essential. Even if you have an indoor-only cat, ticks can latch onto you or other pets to find their way inside (and onto your cat).
Luckily, there are some tick preventatives on the market that are really good at keeping dangerous pests away.
Depending on what your cat prefers and what your vet recommends, you can go for an oral tick preventative or a topical tick preventative.
Oral tick prevention
There are a bunch of oral tick preventatives on the market, but Dr. Bonk recommends one in particular.
“Cerdelio cat is a good oral product that kills fleas and ticks for up to one month,” Dr. Bonk said. “It is easy to give and has very few side effects.”
Topical tick prevention
“Tick prevention for cats is really easy now that there are two very effective topical medications, Bravecto and Revolution Plus, that are both designed specifically for cats,” Dr. Elfenbein said. “Bravecto lasts 8 to 12 weeks and kills fleas and ticks, while Revolution Plus is a monthly topical that takes care of heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, fleas and ticks.”
So don’t panic if you find a tick on your cat, because now you know what to do about it.
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