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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.

A gray cat on a leash.
A gray cat on a leash. Photography by Dreidos / Shutterstock.
Last Updated on November 25, 2023 by Catster Editorial Team

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:

The 7 Facts About Ticks & 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. 

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About the Author

JaneA Kelley
JaneA Kelley

JaneA is the webmaster and chief cat slave for Paws and Effect, an award-winning cat advice blog written by her cats, for cats and their people. She is a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association, and has been a speaker at the BlogPaws and Cat Writers’ Association conferences. In addition to blogging about cats, JaneA writes contemporary urban fantasy, and whatever else strikes her fancy.

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