Ticks are spider-like creatures. Ticks have very strong jaws which they use to latch on to the cat’s skin and to suck the cat’s blood. Ticks are usually found in tall, wooded areas. They can survive in any area that is consistently about 40 degrees fahrenheit or warmer.
If your cat has ticks she most likely will only have a small number of them (5-15). If you notice your pet scratching the same area frequently or if you suspect ticks check your pet’s fur and skin. Ticks are very easy to spot. They are fairly large and slow moving (unlike fleas), and the more blood they suck the larger they get.
Ticks can become a serious problem for a cat or kitten if not treated properly. Ticks can suck quite a bit of blood and thus smaller cats and kittens can quickly become anemic due to the loss of blood. Ticks can also spread infectious diseases such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as well as more common problems such as skin inflammation, paralysis, and allergic dermatitis.
Symptoms to look for:
- Biting or scratching of areas of the body
- Skin irritation
- Allergic reactions
If this is your cat’s first bout with ticks or if you have a kitten you will want to call your vet and make and appointment as soon as possible. Depending on your cat’s age and the severity of the tick infestation your vet may recommend several different treatments. One treatment is to bathe your cat with a flea and tick shampoo. Make sure to massage the shampoo deeply into the fur and skin. Once you have rinsed your cat thoroughly get a pair of tweezers, a bowl of rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, disinfectant, flea/tick shampoo, and an empty bowl. Carefully search the cat’s skin for ticks. They will be large and fairly easy to spot. Once you see one, dip the tweezers in rubbing alcohol and grasp the tick as close to the point of contact with the cat as possible. Pull the tick out backwards very slowly. Try to not break the head off. The head, still attached to the cat, even without the body, can still spread disease and can cause infection. Note that ticks which have been feeding for a while (the fatter ticks who have consumed more blood) will be easier to remove. After you pull the tick out, place it in a fresh bowl or jar that you will eventually add tick shampoo or alcohol to to kill it. Finally swab the area on your cat with disinfectant. Your vet may also suggest a tick medication such at Revolution® or Frontline®. If you suspect that your cat has any further complications due to a tick infestation do not hesitate to take him to the vet immediately.
Note : You should never give tick medication for dogs to your cat, even in small dosages. Also make sure to read the instructions for any over-the-counter tick medication. You should never give your cat a tick medication containing Permethrin. Permethrin is found in spot killing tick treatments, mainly for dogs. Permethrin is toxic to cats, even in small amounts. Never use a product that is more than 45% Permethrin on your feline. Also make sure to not use Permethrin products on your dog if you have a cat in the house. This way your cat won’t inadvertently come in contact with the product. Products containing Pyrethrin and Phenothrin have also been shown to have adverse reactions in cats when taken in moderate to high dosages. Only use an over-the-counter product if it specifically says it is ‘designed for cats and kittens’ and if you have any questions about the main ingredient in an over-the-counter tick medication contact your vet.
Bathe your cat once a month and make sure to groom your pet and look for ticks often. Have your cat wear a flea and tick collar all year round if need be. Keep in mind that these aren’t the most effective means of prevention and some cats are actually allergic to them.