7 Things You Should Know About Ticks and Cats
A gray cat on a leash.
A gray cat on a leash. Photography by Dreidos / Shutterstock.

7 Facts About Ticks and Cats

Do cats get Lyme disease or other tick-borne diseases? Can indoor-only cats get ticks? What is the best way to remove a tick from your cat? We've put together a few must-know facts about ticks and cats.
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Dogs and cats are particularly popular hosts for ticks, and because the nasty little buggers are renowned for spreading disease to people, you need the facts on the risks and what you can do to prevent your kitty from getting ticks. Let’s review some important things to know when it comes to ticks and cats:

1. Cats very rarely get Lyme disease …

An orange tabby cat lying down, looking sick and tired.
Lyme disease is rarer in cats than it is in humans and dogs. Photography ©Dashabelozerova | Thinkstock.

Although cats can and do get bitten by deer ticks, the species notorious for carrying Lyme disease, cats don’t seem to become ill from it nearly as often as dogs and people do.

Plus, Lyme disease is a serious risk for humans! Don’t ignore these Lyme disease symptoms >> 

2. … but they often get other tick-borne diseases

Deer ticks can carry anaplasmosis (aka Erlichia) and tularemia. Various species of dog ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, to which cats may be susceptible, and the big baddie, cytauxzoonosis (“Bobcat fever”), which is a very severe and often fatal illness.

3. Indoor cats can get ticks too

Even if your feline friend is an indoor-only cat, you can bring ticks in on your clothing, or the family dog can get one embedded in his skin.

4. Check your cat daily for ticks

You’re most likely to find ticks on the front of your cat, in the areas where she can’t reach to groom herself. The top of the head, under the collar, and in the ears are popular locations for ticks to become embedded. This video demonstrates a good tick-check technique.

5. Avoid these tick-removal techniques

Don’t use oil or petroleum jelly to suffocate an embedded tick, because the reaction to asphyxiation is to release more potentially disease-carrying saliva. The same is true with holding a match to the back end of the tick.

6. To get a tick out of your cat, pull and twist slowly

If you yank a tick out of your cat’s skin, you’re likely to leave the mouth parts in, which can cause irritation and possible infection. Instead, use a tick twister or dull tweezers to grab the tick just behind the mouth parts and use a slow pulling and twisting technique, as demonstrated in this video. Then place the tick in a small jar of alcohol to kill it.

7. When it comes to ticks and cats, prevention is the best cure

If you live in a high-tick area, be sure to use monthly flea and tick prevention. Ask your vet which product seems to be most effective, based on where you live and your cat’s lifestyle. Check yourself and any family dogs for ticks after outdoor excursions.

You don’t need to be terrified of ticks, but you do need to be aware of the risks and take action to prevent or treat tick infestations.

Tell us: Have you seen an increase in the tick population in your area? Have you had to remove ticks from your cat? Has your cat ever developed a tick-borne illness? Share your stories abotu ticks and cats in the comments.

Thumbnail: Photography by Dreidos / Shutterstock. 

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

It’s Flea and Tick Week sponsored by Andis on Catster.com. Stay tuned for more tips on how to keep your cat and household safe from fleas and ticks!

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7 thoughts on “7 Facts About Ticks and Cats”

  1. Pingback: Руководство – блохи и клещи у кошек – Kotik Blog

  2. Pingback: Guide – Fleas and Ticks on Cats – Kotik Blog

  3. Debra A. Caporiccio

    We dont even have a dog. How did my cat get a tick walking on him? I thought it was a scab, but uggghh, it was a tick! EEEWWWW.

  4. If this cat is COLLecting ticks, meaning it keeps getting ticks over and over, it definitely needs frontline GOLD for cats or advantage11 for cats because the poor thing is probably getting very sick and will die from this neglect. Four years is very young for a cat. If you cannot afford to buy a four pack of this product tell your vet what is happening and ask for one packet for now at least. Otherwise give him to the no kill shelter so someone else will care for him.

  5. Lori Cerepani

    We have 4 cats and 1 dog. The dog typically only goes outside when he needs to “go”. One of the cats stays indoors entirely while the other three come and go. Of those three, only one seems to collect ticks. I’ve actually been trying to research just what diseases ticks transmit to cats. I’m glad this article gives me some possibilities to check into. The cat who collects the ticks has had a rather sudden change in behavior over the last two months or so. He stays inside far more often sleeping and has a coughing/choking spell once or twice a day. My daughter thinks it’s simply because he’s getting older–he’s probably around four years old–and that the choking is a hairball. I’m not convinced. Any thoughts anybody?

    1. Could be just about any infection, tick borne, sinus, etc and four is not old at all. We had one that had cancer at early age, around 9, wouldn’t play suddenly and kind of cried so took to vet but yours more likely infection. If he’s hanging on after a month or two, not likely the most severe of the tick diseases but probably still needs treatment.

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