What are cat ticks?
Have you ever spotted spider like, oval shaped, blood sucking creepy crawlies on your cat? Well, they are ticks. They are eight legged and are about 1 mm to 1 cm long in size. Adult ticks looks a bit like small spiders.
You are more likely to come across them between spring and autumn, but they are active throughout the year.
Why you have to check your cat for ticks?
Ticks are not only nasty to look at, they are all filled with your cat’s hard-won blood. If they are left too long or not entirely removed they can transmit serious diseases to you and your cat, so it’s important to remove them as soon as possible.
What disease ticks can cause?
Some of the common tick borne illnesses which could potentially affect your furry friends are listed:
- Lyme Disease
How to know if your cat has ticks?
They are big enough to spot. You can run your fingers through your cat’s body after every outing, look for any lump or bumps. A tick will feel like a small bump on your cat’s skin. You are likely to find them around your cat’s head and neck area.
You would probably find one around the ears, head and paws. Don't forget to check under the tail, around the anus, between the toes , inside the groins and legs.
What you can do to keep your cat ticks free?
You can consider any one of the following ways to keep your cat ticks free this season:
1. Over the counter spot-on medication
You can purchase these from your veterinarian, pet store, or online. These are very effective against ticks and fleas, keeping them at bay for up to a month. Read all the labels carefully before application, for any doubts and advice you can contact your veterinarian.
This method can be an inexpensive one though labor-intensive. You need to repeat it more often about every two weeks. You might consider this depending on how your cat responds to baths.
3. Tick Dips
It is a concentrated chemical that is diluted with water. You can either apply with a sponge on the animal’s fur or pour it over the back. Don’t rinse the pet after the application of dip. Read the labels carefully before use as they can be very strong. The dip is not supposed to be used for very young animals under 4 months. Ask your veterinarian for advice before treating your kitten.
4. Tick Collars
These are mainly useful for protecting the neck and head from ticks. Make sure the collar is in contact with your cat’s skin so that chemicals can be transferred to the cat’s skin and fur. While putting the collar make sure there is enough room for two fingers under the collar and cut any excess length to prevent the cat from chewing it. While choosing a collar for your cat do read the labels correctly. Never use a collar impregnated with Amitraz on cats.
5. Oral Medications
Once a month pill used for cats is actually made for small dogs. Talk to your veterinarian if it is safe to use a pill that is designed for small dogs.
Ticks powders are an effective method to kill and repel ticks and mites. Read the labels correctly to make sure the powder is for both ticks and fleas. use a small amount on your cat and slowly rub it, it is a very fine powder and can irritate the mouth and lungs, if inhaled. You can also sprinkle it in an area where your cats sleep. During peak season, a once-a-week application might be needed.
7. Tick Spray
It is one of the medicated topical applications. It kills the ticks and also provides residual protection. Be careful while applying it to the cat’s face. Make sure the spray is for cats and don’t apply it on other animals in the home.
8. Check your cat for ticks
Make it a habit to check your cat for ticks after every outing. Check between the toes, inside the ear, between the legs, and around the neck. If you spot any tick, remove it immediately and carefully.
9. Keep your cat Indoors
It might be very difficult to keep your cat indoors but you can at least try to limit its outdoor time. Especially during peak tick season, check your cat more often for ticks to decrease the chances of him getting infected as the longer the tick remains on the body, the greater the chances of disease transmission.
10. Treat the House
You can reduce ticks population in your backyard by keeping your lawn, bushes and trees trimmed. You can discuss with your veterinarian for the possible treatment for your yard and household like yard spray. Be careful while using these sprays as these can be harmful to animals, fish, and humans.
How to remove a tick if you find one?
It is not going to be an easy task as it’s important to get the whole tick without leaving its mouthpart buried in your cat’s skin. Have a look at this step-by-step guide to safely remove the tick:
1.Gather the supplies.
- Tick removal tool
- Disposable gloves to wear as ticks carry zoonotic diseases
- Antiseptic wipes
- Small sealed container to dispose of the tick
- Disinfectant to clean your tick removal tool
2. Locate the tick
Part the fur to get a good view and try to keep your cat as calm as possible. If someone else is there to hold the cat while removing the tick, it would be quite easier. If someone is not there you might consider taking your cat to the vet.
3. Grab the tick
Part the hair where you spot the tick and grab it with the tick removal tool. It is important to know where to grab the tick. Grab it where the head and neck attach, as close to the skin.
4.Remove the tick
Slowly and firmly pull the tick straight out of the skin and try not to twist the tweezer as this could lead to detach the tick’s head from the body leaving it behind on the skin.
5. Dispose the tick
You can either use a jar or zip-lock bag filled with rubbing alcohol, as it will kill the tick. Never burn the tick or flush it in the toilet as it doesn’t kill the tick and can lead to the spreading of infection.
6. Monitoring the affected area
Skin tends to remain irritated for several weeks even if it is not infected after tick removal.
Take your cat to the vet, if the skin is extremely red for several days this might be a sign of some serious infection.
Points to Remember
- Always use a tick preventive round the year.
- Never use a collar impregnated with Amitraz on cats.
- If you are having multiple pets, never use the same tick preventive as your cat is very sensitive.
- Always wear gloves while removing the tick as ticks can transmit zoonotic diseases.
- Never apply nail paint or anything on the tick to suffocate it, as it will not kill the tick rather make it vomit which can transmit infection in your cat.