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Ticks on Cats: How to Spot & Get Rid of Them

Blog Home Sep 23, 2021

Ticks: they’re gross little bloodsuckers that can’t wait to latch onto your kitty, causing havoc with their health. 

Although peak tick season runs from March to November, the little devils can be a nuisance all year round (just like fleas).

Read on to find out all you need to know about how to spot and get rid of ticks on cats. Your puss will thank you for it!

What are ticks?

Ticks are arachnids so they look a bit like tiny pale spiders whose bodies become larger and darker as they drink more blood. They start out at about 1mm long and can grow to up to 1cm. 

So where are the blighters lurking, we hear you ask? You’ll find ticks in long grasses, bushy undergrowth and wooded areas (all the places our hairy hunters like to prowl). Ticks are the ultimate hitchhikers – they climb onto the end of long bits of vegetation and just hang out there, waving their legs around until your kitty brushes past and that’s it – your cat’s got themselves a new, unwanted friend!

Once on board, ticks sink their jaws in for dear life and drink their host’s blood until they’re full – this usually takes around 7 days but they’ve been known to cling on for up to 3 weeks!

How do I know if my cat has a tick?

You’re probably going to feel ticks on your pet before you see them. When your cat gets home, give them a stroke and check all over their body for any small bumps.

The most common places ticks latch onto are:

  • Under your kitty’s collar
  • Inside their ears
  • Around their groin
  • Under their armpits
  • Under their tail
  • Between their toes

Really, anywhere their fur is less dense and they have easy access to your furry friend’s flesh!

These creepy crawlies can be tricky to spot if they’re inside your cat’s ears so it might be helpful to use a torch to get a proper look into their ear canal when you’re checking them over.

How do I remove cat ticks safely?

Ticks have super strength jaws which they sink into the skin, firmly attaching themselves to your pet.

Once they’ve filled up on enough blood, adult ticks will drop off but it’s always best to remove them once spotted.

Check out the video below from resident Itch vet Zoe Costigan as she shares the best way to remove ticks from your pet. 

What problems can ticks cause?

These disgusting little vampires are considered a threat to humans and animals because they can carry multiple diseases including Lyme disease and Babesiosis.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a potentially deadly bacterial infection that affects the nerves and muscles in both animals and humans. 

It’s a myth that cats are immune to Lyme disease. Adult cats don’t tend to make a fuss when they feel ill – brave little soldiers. Cats are less susceptible to it than dogs, but they can still catch it. 

Symptoms of Lyme disease in cats include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Joint stiffness or pain
  • Limping 
  • Fever

Always get in touch with your vet if you spot any of these signs. If your feline pal is diagnosed with Lyme disease they’ll be treated with antibiotics.

What is Babesiosis and does it affect cats?

To date, Babesiosis – a malaria-like disease – and the tick that spreads it, have only been found in southern England, so it’s pretty rare in the UK. 

Cats are not thought to be at risk from the species of the Babesia parasite that’s now present in the UK but they can cause serious illness in dogs.

How can I protect against cat ticks?

Ideally, you should use a year-round tick preventative treatment to keep those nasties at bay. 

Never use a tick treatment designed for dogs on your cat – this is extremely dangerous and could even kill your kitty.

The good news is that Itch Flea treatment protects your favourite feline against ticks, too! It won’t stop the pests from latching on, but it will kill them within 48 hours – dramatically reducing the chances of them transmitting a nasty infection. Take that, ticks!