Despite their size, ticks are a huge problem for both cats and their owners. When their parasitic presence is left unchecked, ticks pose a serious health risk to our feline companions. Ticks are also stubborn pests that can be challenging to spot and safely remove from cats. Improper tick removal can increase the risk of infection, so it’s important to use the proper technique.

Here’s why and how you should remove ticks from cats.

Why Is It Important to Remove Cat Ticks?

Ticks can transmit a variety of serious diseases to cats that can result in fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and even death in severe cases. Some examples of tick-borne illnesses include ehrlichiosis, q fever, tularemia, feline hemobartonella, ​and Lyme disease​​​, among others. Tick bites can also irritate a cat’s skin and cause discomfort.

In addition to illnesses, a large tick infestation can lead to anemia or paralysis in cats. Ticks also pose a threat to humans, as tick-borne diseases can be transmitted during close contact with infested cats. It’s crucial to routinely check for and properly remove ticks from dogs and cats before they can spread disease.

When Is the Best Time To Check Your Cat for Ticks?

The best defense against ticks is staying vigilant for early signs of infestation, including excessive scratching and licking. For outdoor cats that spend time in wooded areas, you should perform a thorough tick check each time your cat comes inside. The areas cats frequent, such as parks, bushes, tall grass, and forests, are prime tick habitats, so check for ticks after any time spent outside.

How Should You Examine Your Cat for Ticks?

Compared to fleas, ticks are larger in size and easier to spot on cats. Once attached, they remain in place and feed. To safely inspect for ticks, wear latex gloves to protect against potential diseases. You’ll also need a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and a jar of rubbing alcohol to collect and kill removed ticks.

When searching, gently part the fur to expose the skin and look for tiny dark specks. Adult ticks can be up to 1/4 of an inch long when engorged, but nymphs and larvae can be as small as a poppy seed. Run fingers over the cat’s body, feeling for bumps. Closely inspect the head, neck, armpits, paws, belly, and areas around the tail, anus, and ears, as well as under collars or harnesses.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

I recommend reading up on the differences between ticks and other common pests that may be attracted to your cat, such as lice or bed bugs. That way, you know exactly what you’re dealing with when it comes to pests and your cat.

What Is the Safe and Proper Way To Remove Ticks?

Once you spot a tick, don’t be too hasty in removing it. Improperly removed ticks can cause swelling, redness, pain, and even disease. 

To remove an attached tick safely, follow these steps:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers designed for tick removal. Grasp the tick close to the cat’s skin, as near to the head as possible. Avoid crushing the tick’s body.
  • Pull straight up with steady pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick. This may break off mouthparts and leave them embedded.
  • Avoid squeezing or puncturing the tick, which can inject infectious fluids into the bite wound.
  • After removal, submerge the live tick in alcohol to kill it.
  • Apply triple antibiotic ointment to the bite using a cotton swab to prevent infection.
  • After finishing, wash hands and tools thoroughly with antibacterial soap.

Improper tick removal can increase disease risks. If the tick’s head breaks off during removal, seek veterinary assistance to fully extract it.


Ask your veterinarian about prescription tick preventatives if environmental tick control methods haven’t been successful. 

Finally, if one pet has tickets, check all pets in your household. Infestations can spread between cats and dogs living in close quarters. And don’t forget to inspect yourself after handling an infested cat. Ticks can latch onto humans during close interactions.

So, Is Removing Ticks from Cats Difficult?

While tick removal requires care and precision, the process of removing ticks from cats itself is straightforward. With fine-tipped tweezers, gloves, rubbing alcohol, and patience, pet owners can successfully remove ticks from cats. 

The ease of the process depends somewhat on the cat’s cooperation and tolerance of handling during inspections. But as long as you follow the proper technique, removing ticks is very feasible for most cat owners. The bigger challenge is thoroughly checking cats for the tiny parasites, especially on cats that aren’t accustomed to routine handling and may not tolerate it well. 

Overall, removing ticks is a task any cat owner can master with the right tools and knowledge. It’s important for protecting cats from dangerous tick-borne diseases. You can further prevent ticks from infesting your pets and your home by controlling ticks in your yard, too.

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FAQs About Removing Ticks from Cats

How long can a tick stay attached to a cat?

Once attached, ticks will feed until they are engorged, which generally takes three to five days. But without removal, ticks can remain attached and feed for up to two weeks.

What if the tick's head gets stuck in my cat's skin?

Use tweezers to try grasping the embedded head. If you’re unable to fully remove it, contact your vet for assistance. Leftover mouthparts can cause irritation but aren’t necessarily harmful.

What is the best way to kill ticks after removing them from my cat?

Drop live ticks into a jar of rubbing alcohol to kill them quickly. You can also flush dead ticks down the toilet. Don’t crush ticks with your fingers.

How do I know if a tick has transmitted a disease to my cat?

Watch for symptoms like lethargy, fever, and loss of appetite. Contact your vet promptly if your cat shows any of these signs.

Should I give my indoor-only cat flea/tick medication?

Unless your cat escapes outside or you have rodents in your home, monthly flea/tick preventatives are generally not needed for strictly indoor cats. Discuss options with your veterinarian.

Editorial Contributors
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Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas

Expert Writer & Reviewer

Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas is a globetrotting content writer hailing from the USA. With a passion for pest control, he brings a unique perspective to his writing from his early years working for one of the largest pest control companies in America. Throughout his early 20s, Jordan gained valuable experience and knowledge in the field, tackling pest infestations head-on and ensuring the well-being of countless homes.

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Lori Zaino

Lori Zaino is a freelance writer and editor based in Madrid, Spain. With nearly two decades of editorial experience, she’s written and edited for publications like Forbes, CNN, Insider, NBC, Newsweek, The Points Guy, The Infatuation, and many others. Having just completed her first home renovation, she’s more interested in home improvements than ever, dedicated to bringing you fresh and accurate content to help you update your living spaces.

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