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How to Remove a Tick From a Cat Safely & Easily
Ticks are the bane of cat (and dog) owners around the world, as a tick can cause serious illnesses if not removed from your cat within 24 hours after it attaches. These illnesses are not only terrible for your feline, but ticks can harbor serious illnesses for humans too, including Lyme disease. This is why removing a tick safely and as soon as possible is vital for your cat and for you and your family.
If your cat spends any amount of time outdoors, they’ll likely come home with a tick attached at some point. In this article, we outline how to remove the tick safely and easily. Let’s get started!
Step One: Tools
In order to remove a tick properly, you’ll need the correct tools. Attempting to remove a tick with your fingers can be tricky and easily cause the tick to pop and leave a bloody mess. It may also leave the head of the tick embedded in your cat’s skin, where it can cause infection and even continue to cause potential illness.
To remove it properly, you’ll need a fine-tipped pair of tweezers or even better, a specialized tick removal tool. Tweezers can get the job done, but you can still easily pop the tick and leave behind the head, so purpose-built tick removal tools are best. You also need a pair of latex gloves to avoid diseases and potential blood, a small container to place the tick into, and antiseptic wipes or a wet cloth.
Step Two: Locate the Tick
You may want to get another family member or friend to help you hold your cat while you locate the tick and prepare the area for removal. Make sure that your cat is kept as calm as possible and that you are in a well-lit area so you can locate the tick quickly — some ticks are tiny and difficult to spot. Luckily, once a tick is attached to the skin, it will not move around much. Make sure to part the hair around the tick to avoid pulling any out with the tweezers and hurting your cat — this is why it’s easier if someone is close by to help you.
Step Three: Removing the Tick
Grab the tick with your tweezers as close to where the head of the tick meets your cat’s skin as possible, to avoid leaving the head stuck. Try to avoid squeezing too tightly to prevent this from happening, but you should squeeze tight enough that the tick comes out easily. Pull the tick straight up and out without any twisting — some can attach harder than you’d imagine, so this may be trickier than you think. The tick will eventually release and may cause slight pain for your cat, so be prepared for them to squirm a bit.
Step Four: Dispose of the Tick Safely
Place the tick into a sealed container, preferably filled with isopropyl alcohol if possible, as this will kill it easily. If you don’t have alcohol available, soapy water may kill it, but make sure the tick is dead before you dispose of it so it will not reattach to your cat or another pet later. You can also burn it or flush it down the toilet.
Step Five: Clean the Bite
Once the tick has been removed, you’ll need to clean the bite area with an antiseptic wipe or soap and water to prevent infection. Be as gentle as possible, as this will likely sting and cause discomfort for your cat, but it is an essential step to prevent further infection.
Related Read: 7 Home Remedies for Treating Cat Wounds
Step Six: Watch for Signs of Illness
Even after the tick has been removed, there is still a potential chance for illness because you may not be sure how long the tick was attached. Keep an eye out for signs like loss of appetite, listlessness, jaundice, and labored breathing, and take your cat to the vet right away if you notice any of these symptoms.
Prevention Is Better Than the Cure
If you have a cat that spends a great deal of time outdoors, especially during spring and summer, when ticks are prevalent, it’s best to invest in tick-prevention products like tick collars, spot treatments, or chewables. These products will help prevent ticks from attaching in the first place and can help with fleas too.
Prevention is certainly better than the cure, but there are still times where your cat may get a tick attached, and you’ll need to remove it as soon as possible. It can take as little as 24 hours for your cat to get ill from a tick, so removing it safely and as soon as possible is essential. With a few simple tools and help from a family member or friend, the process should take less than few minutes and leave your cat (and you) feeling much better!
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Featured Image Credit: Hanna Taniukevich, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.