How to Remove a Tick from Your Cat
Yesterday we covered tick trivia. Today you'll get a tutorial on safe tick removal.
Tick removal is a disgusting task, but not a difficult one.
If your cat tends to be squirmy, enlist the help of a friend or family member. One of you can hold the cat still while the other focuses on removing the tick.
To remove an attached tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers (or tick-removal tweezers). This allows you to remove the tick without squeezing the tick's body. Crushing the tick can force harmful bacteria into your pet's bloodstream, so use just enough force to grasp the tick successfully.
Applying petroleum jelly, a hot match, or alcohol will NOT force the tick to extricate itself. In fact, doing so may cause the tick to deposit more disease-carrying saliva into the wound.
Position yourself in a well-lit area (under a task lamp, if possible) and have everything in place before you start. You'll need the following:
- Latex gloves (I double up on them, just in case.)
- Fine-tip tweezers or tick-removal tweezers
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cotton swab or Q-tip
- Anti-bacterial ointment
- Jar or ziplock bag with rubbing alcohol inside
How to remove the tick:
- Grab the tick by the head or mouth parts right where it enters the skin. Do not grasp the tick by the body. (Grip underneath the tick, not at its midsection.) Use just enough pressure to grasp the tick; don't squeeze too hard.
- Without jerking, pull firmly upward. Do not twist as you pull.
- After removing the tick, drop it into a jar or a ziplock bag that contains rubbing alcohol. (This will ensure that the tick is dead when you dispose of it.) Flushing it down the toilet will NOT kill it.
- Clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol and apply a small amount of a (cat-safe) antibiotic ointment.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap.
Don't Touch It!
DO NOT squash or touch the tick with your fingers -- it can leave you vulnerable to tick-borne diseases. The contents of a dead tick can transmit disease.
Once the tick is removed, it is not uncommon for a welt and a mild skin reaction to occur. The irritation is a reaction to tick saliva. If the area is irritated, dab it with cat-safe hydrocortisone ointment. It may take a week or more for the area to heal. If the area remains irritated, see your veterinarian.
The best way to ensure you never have to perform this disgusting procedure again is to apply tick and flea treatments regularly (usually once a month). Frequent grooming will help you find ticks on your cat -- the quicker they're removed, the less of a chance that the tick will infect your cat with tick-borne diseases. And of course, if your cat is not permitted outdoors, she won't have the opportunity to pick up ticks and fleas.