What are ticks in cats?
Ticks are small, spider-like parasites which nuzzle into our cat’s fur and skin, feeding with your poor kitty’s blood. They start off small but grow to around the size of a pea after they’ve filled up with blood. Yep, it’s pretty gross, to say the least! Generally, ticks innocently hang out on plant material in woodland and grassland, a few feet off the ground. But it’s when they drop onto unsuspecting victims, like your cat, when they become troublemakers. Ticks tend to be most active between spring and autumn, but there’s a chance your kitty will catch them at any time of year.
How can I protect my cat from ticks?
Lyme disease, Tularemia, Ehrlichia - these are only a few of the potentially fatal diseases which ticks can pass on to cats. Truth be told, the easiest way to stop your cat from getting ticks would be to keep them indoors. But if your cat is a real adventurer, it’s not fair to suddenly stop them from roaming. You can, however, take the following preventative measures to protect your cat from ticks.
Keep your garden tidy
If your home has a garden, it’s essential to keep your lawn, bushes, shrubs and trees trimmed back as much as possible if you have a cat. Keeping your garden well-maintained mean there is less breeding ground and living space for fleas and ticks to linger. Ticks hate being out in the open with nowhere to hide, so they’ll likely make a run for it if your garden is lovely and tidy! Don’t leave food or water out for pets in your garden if you live in an area with lots of wildlife. Stray cats, rabbits and racoons are notorious for carrying ticks and fleas, which they could pass on to your kitty. If there’s no food source for them, they’re more likely to stay away.
Use a preventative treatment
Yet again, prevention is the best cure! We highly recommend using a precautionary spot-on preventative medication year round - especially if you live in a high-risk area or have a wild garden. These treatments are great at preventing ticks from taking host on your cat in the first place, saving you a lot of trouble in the long-run and giving you peace of mind. But don’t just pick up any old product from the store - it’s essential to read the label carefully and make sure it’s appropriate for your little one. If you’re unsure, just ask your vet. They’ll be able to recommend a brand based on where you live and your cat’s lifestyle.
Use a medicated shampoo
If you find your cat seems to be tick-prone, bathing them in a medicated shampoo could be your best bet at protecting them from ticks. It might seem like hard work, but it’s fairly inexpensive and kills ticks on contact, preventing disease in your cat. You’ll need to repeat the process every two weeks during peak tick season, but it’s very effective.
Buy a tick collar
If your feline friend copes well with collars, consider using a tick-repellent collar between the spring and autumn. They only protect the neck and head from ticks but are still useful, especially if you live out in the country. If you do decide to use a tick collar, ensure that the collar is making contact with your cat’s fur, with room to fit two fingers underneath. Keep a close eye out for discomfort or an allergic reaction - a common sign is scratching - and remove it if necessary.
Check your cat regularly and remove ticks fast
No matter how many precautionary treatments or gadgets you use, you should still make a tick check-up a regular part of your cat’s routine. When they come in from an outside adventure, give them a quick check over for ticks. The most common tick hiding places are between the toes, inside the ears, around the neck and between the legs. If you spot one, it’s essential to remove ticks in cats as quickly as possible to prevent the spread of disease. An easy way to do this is to use a pair of tweezers or a tick-removal device to gently twist the tick out of your cat’s skin.
Be extra careful not to squeeze the tick too tightly as infected blood could leak back out onto your cat’s skin. If you’re unsure of how to remove a tick, it’s best to head to the vet.