Once you find a tick on your cat, you'll want to be rid of it right away while taking the proper steps to lessen the risk of disease being passed to the cat. In addition to making your kitty uncomfortable, ticks can cause hypersensitivity and anemia, impacting a feline's immune, lymphatic and nervous systems.
Ticks live in wooded, grassy areas and near water, and are often abundant in the spring and fall seasons. They sense the heat from a potential host, such as a cat, dog, deer or human, and attach to the skin to feed on the host’s blood. Over many days, a tick fills with its blood meal, grows larger in size and falls off passing both viral and bacterial diseases from one host to another.
Preparing to Remove a Tick
Humans are susceptible to the diseases ticks can carry, such as Lyme disease. Wear latex gloves to prevent direct contact with the tick and the bite area on your cat. Have another person, also wearing gloves, hold on to your kitty to prevent her from moving around or running away while you remove the tick. Do not use matches or a lighter to burn the tick, or apply fingernail polish hoping it will back out on its own.
Using Proper Tools
Tick removal tools, such as a tick key, are available at stores and typically remove the entire tick, including the head, which can burrow beneath the skin. Fine-tipped tweezers are a suitable alternative. Use the tweezers to grab the tick as close to the surface of the cat's skin as possible. Don’t twist the tick, crush it or yank it out. Pull it straight out with a steady, even pressure. Do not be alarmed if some of your cat’s skin comes off with the tick. Sometimes the tick’s head or mouth parts may be embedded in the bite; your cat's body should force it out in a few days. Take your kitty to a veterinarian if the area is red and inflamed.
Don't Throw it Away
Your first instinct may be to discard the tick in the trash or flush it down the toilet. However, it's best to keep it in a closed glass jar with some rubbing alcohol or insecticide. If your cat shows signs of illness, a veterinarian will be able to test the tick for disease.
Immediately apply a warm compress to the bite area. Treat it with rubbing alcohol or apply an antibiotic ointment. Over the next few weeks, keep an eye on the bite area for signs of infection, such as redness, bleeding and inflammation. Also look for signs of illness in your kitty such as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite or stiff limbs. Take her, and the tick, to the veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms.
Thoroughly disinfect the tweezers and sterilize them over a flame. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Treat your cat regularly with a veterinarian recommended flea and tick repellent. Understand that ticks can come inside even on your clothing, so trim nearby grass and bushes. Keep outdoor cats inside or, at the very least, check them over when they return from every outing. Inspect the fur at the kitty's head, throughout the body, and especially in warm, dark areas between toes, in ears, under the tail, around the groin and under armpits.