How to safely remove a tick from your cat in seven easy steps
When you discover a tick on your cat, your first instinct may be to grab a pair of tweezers and yank it out. Resist that urge! Safely removing a tick from a cat requires a bit of preparation, know-how and patience. Read on for our step-by-step guide so you can safely remove a tick from your cat.
How to remove a tick from your cat
1. Gather your tools
You’ll first need to gather some supplies to make the removal as fast and as comfortable for your cat as possible.
- A tick removal tool: This tool does a much better job than a pair of tweezers, which can squeeze the tick and break it up, potentially leaving some of it behind in your cat – along with possible infection. While tweezers aren’t recommended for removing a tick, if you don’t have a tick removal tool on hand, use tweezers with narrow, pointy tips rather than ones with angled or bevelled tips. If you don’t have a tick-puller, due to the very dangerous nature of paralysis ticks, either take your cat to the vet to remove the tick, or do your best to remove the tick with what you have available. Leaving the tick attached until you get the right tool is not an option for this deadly parasite!
- A pair of disposable gloves: Ticks can carry diseases, some of which can also affect you and your family. Wear gloves to avoid direct contact with the tick.
- Antiseptic wipes
- A small, sealed container to confine the tick
2. Locate the tick on your cat’s skin
Part the fur carefully around the tick, taking care to keep your cat as calm as possible. If possible, recruit a helper to hold the cat still while you work. Speak in a gentle, soothing voice, and move slowly.
3. Use the tick removal tool to carefully remove the tick
Removing a tick is tricky – you want to avoid accidentally leaving the tick’s mouthparts in your cat’s skin. Follow the instructions on the tick remover, and position the tool over the tick’s body, very close to your cat’s skin. Carefully pull and twist to bring the whole tick away without squeezing.
Good to know: You should never try to burn off a tick or ‘suffocate’ it with a layer of petroleum jelly, as these methods could harm your cat.
4. Confine the tick
Put the tick in a sealed container, and then keep it to show your vet, in case your cat becomes ill.
5. Clean the tick bite area
Gently wipe the affected area of your pet with an antiseptic designed for pets.
6. Clean up
Clean your tick removal tool with a disinfectant and store it safely in case you need it again. Then dispose of the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.
7. Know when to seek outside help
If your cat gets distressed, the tick doesn’t come out in one piece, or your cat becomes unwell, get some advice from your vet. A single paralysis tick can make a cat very sick and can even be fatal. If your cat shows any symptoms of tick paralysis, consult your vet immediately.
Prevent ticks on your cat
If your cat spends time outdoors, especially if you live along the east coast of Australia where there are paralysis ticks, it’s advisable to use a product registered to control ticks. Make sure to use a product specifically designed for cats (some products for dogs can be extremely dangerous for felines). Your vet is the best source of information on the right tick prevention product for your cat.