How to Remove a Tick from a Cat: Easy-to-Follow Guide, Expert — s Advice

How to Remove a Tick from a Cat: Keeping Your Cat Protected From Tick-Borne Infections

Although cats are usually capable of maintaining their own cleanliness, one challenge that they need your help to deal with is that of mites and ticks. Ticks can be a real pain if they’re not detected and removed on time. Not only will they cause some severe itchiness that could lead to rashes and sores, but you will also need to watch out for tick-borne infections. To help you tackle this problem once and for all, we have prepared a detailed how-to article that will inform you on exactly how to remove a tick from a cat.

Imagine that you’re just innocently lounging on the couch with your cat. You run your hand through their silky hair, and suddenly, you see many black and small creatures freely making their way across your cat’s exposed skin. Oh no, your cat is infested with ticks!

Don’t panic. Taking your pet to the vet immediately is all well and good, but you can actually treat tick infestations at home effectively. With some time, effort, and tender loving care, you will free your cat of the pesky ticks with your own two hands. Who knows? You may end up enjoying the tick-plucking exercise. I know I do. It’s quite fun, actually!

Ticks are resilient. They don’t die easy, and even if you manage to squeeze one to death, from the dead body of the tick will arise hundreds more. Even if the mother dies, the eggs and larvae won’t. Different opinions abound on how to properly eliminate ticks without making the infestation worse, but don’t worry because we’ve tried them all and singled out the solutions that really work. Before we explain how to kill them off for good, however, we would first like to help you understand a bit more about ticks.

The Dangers of Tick Infestation

It is important to treat a tick infestation in cats seriously. Ticks are dangerous parasitic creatures that are members of the Acarina order. Although most people might classify them as insects, these parasites are eight-legged and mostly resemble a young spider when fully grown. While feeding on your cat’s blood, a tick’s body gets inflated with time, making it bigger and bigger.

Ticks are mostly found in grassland areas, near large bodies of water, or places with wildlife around. Rural cats or cats that enjoy outdoor activities are the ones running the highest risks of attracting ticks.

Now, even if your cat spends most of their time indoors, there is still much to worry about. This is because ticks can be transferred to your house via other cats, dogs, or maybe yourself in case the ticks happen to cling to your garments on your way home.

These blood-sucking creatures are very infectious and dangerous. Once they have found their way to your cat’s skin, they won’t easily let go. Similar to how mosquitoes spread malaria, ticks too transfer infections from one animal to another. Among the most common infections your cat could catch from ticks include:

Lyme Disease

This infection is very common in cats and is passed on by ticks which had earlier fed on other infected animals. This infection is caused by a type of bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi which is common in specific mammals such as deer or raccoon. Common symptoms of this infection include fever, lethargy, and joint swelling.


Another fatal but less common infection caused by ticks is the Cytauxzoonosis. This infection is also known as bobcat fever and is most common in South Central and Southeast parts of the United States.

This infection is transmitted when a tick feeds on the blood of a bobcat before moving on to the next host (which in this case is your domestic cat). What happens next is that your cat will ultimately hemorrhage before dying. Among the most common symptoms you’re likely to see here include fever, loss of appetite, enlarged spleen, difficulty in breathing, and lethargy.


Another deadly tick-borne infection is the tularemia or rabbit fever. Caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis, this bacteria could be transmitted by four species of ticks, namely: the wood tick, American dog tick, lone star tick, and the coast tick.

This infection is passed on when a tick feeds on an infected mammal before moving on to your cat. Among the most common symptoms you’ll notice with your cat include dehydration, high fever, loss of appetite, and enlarged lymph nodes.


Another highly infectious disease is the haemobartonellosis. Also known as feline infectious anemia, this illness mostly targets the red blood cells of the domestic cat. Among the most common symptoms you’ll notice with your cat include high fever, lethargy, increased pulse rate, and a pale mucous membrane.


Another rare infection that’s caused by a tick bite is the Babesiosis. Caused by a single-celled parasite protozoa, this infection could result in anemia in the long run. Although this infection is not as serious as the rest we’ve highlighted, common symptoms you’ll see include poor coat condition, loss of appetite, and lethargy.

Now, the only good thing about these deadly infections is that they’re mostly transmitted within 24 hours. This means that cat owners will have ample time to identify, remove, and dispose of the ticks before they can cause any harm to your feline friend. With that being said, this guide will, therefore, go ahead to give a detailed how-to procedure on how to remove a tick from your cat.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Remove Ticks from a Cat

If your cat is badly infested, removing all of the ticks one by one will take time. So get comfortable. This won’t be easy, but it could be fun for both you and the cat. Plucking out the ticks will start to feel like a game once you’ve gotten used to it and your cat will appreciate the bonding time.

Step One: Identify the Problem

First things first, make sure that your cat really is suffering from a tick infestation instead of other problems. For pet owners who don’t know much about ticks, it’s good to understand that these arachnid creatures have a large flat or rounded body with a small head and eight tiny legs.

They come in a range of different colors such as grey, brown, and black depending on the region. Since they enjoy staying in warm areas, ticks tend to burrow under cat’s armpits, around the ears, neck, toes, and between the paws.

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Ticks are not easy to see with the naked eyes unless they’re fully grown or have fed on enough blood to make them inflated. The saliva of a tick has properties that eliminate pain or discomfort when it’s feeding. This means that your cat may be unable to detect any pain or discomfort even when there are ticks on board, but you should know better than to dismiss the threat even if your cat doesn’t seem to be bothered.

Having said that, the first thing you need to do is to finger-comb your cat’s fur in search of ticks. For those cats with longer hair, extra care is required as ticks can easily bury themselves deep inside the fur, making it difficult to identify. Cats with shorter hair are easier to check.

Earlier on, we had mentioned the hotspot areas that ticks enjoy most. Therefore, begin the process by finger-combing the cat’s fur starting with the ears, the neck, on the belly, the tail, and finally between the toes. When you’re done, check the entire body slowly to avoid missing anything.

Finally, check inside the ear canal. In case you notice that your cat is shaking her head often, visit the vet as you won’t be able to handle an infection inside the inner ear canal on your own.

One advantage of ticks, however, is that they usually don’t move around much once they have identified a proper location to feed. This characteristic, therefore, makes it easier for you to identify and eliminate ticks as compared to flies.

Step Two: Observe Your Cat

Before you start the tick removal procedure, look for any notable symptoms. You see, when a tick is attached to your cat’s skin for over 24 hours, chances of tick poisoning are very high.

This is something that might force you to visit a veterinary immediately for medical treatment. However, if there are no signs of infections, you can move on with the removal process at home.

Step Three: Gather the Supplies

Once you’ve identified that there are indeed ticks on your cat’s fur, it’s time to remove the parasites to eliminate the chances of your cat getting infected. As usual, the first step you need to take before commencing with the process is to gather all the supplies you’ll need throughout the process:

A pair of disposable gloves (latex gloves in particular)

Tweezers (or any other tick removal tool of your choice)

Antiseptic wipes or antibiotic ointment

A container with a lid (for tick disposal purposes)

Oftentimes, pet owners find themselves in a dilemma when choosing the best tick removal tool. To avoid such challenges, we’ve included an affordable and safe tool cat owners can consider.

The TickEase Tick Remover is what we’re talking about here. Made from 100% stainless steel, these tweezers are thin and sharp at the tip—making them the best for removing all types of ticks safely without twisting off the head.

With the TickEase Tick Remover, pet owners have the option of using either side to remove ticks from the cat’s skin. One of the sides features a thin tip that’s perfect for removing smaller ticks while the other has a slotted scoop for removing larger ticks such as the American Dog Tick. The TickEase Tick Remover is affordable and comes highly recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Step Four: The Prep

Begin the process by wearing latex gloves to protect your hands from possible dangers. Ticks are very dangerous and contain infectious bacteria that can easily seep into your bloodstream if touched with bare hands.

Step Five: Steady Your Cat

Here, you’ll require the help of an extra hand—maybe a friend, your spouse, or a family member to aid in holding the cat down in a soothing way. Cats are very sensitive creatures.

Even though the tick removal process shouldn’t hurt them, they will need some frequent petting to calm their nerves. When the cat is held in place, light up the room/area to make sure the visibility is perfect.

Step Six: Find the Tick

Start by parting your cat’s hair gently to search for ticks. Keep in mind that ticks love attaching themselves to joint areas such as around the neck, around the ears, on the armpits, between the paws, and around the anus.

Step Seven: Grabbing the Tick

Once you’ve identified the location of the tick, whip out the tick-removal tool you have previously prepared (in this case the tweezers). Look closely and grab the tick without pinching the cat’s skin.

Don’t twist the tweezers when removing the tick to avoid detaching the head from the body. If the head is accidentally embedded in the skin, remove it immediately or simply take the cat to the vet if you can’t do it on your own.

Step Eight: Kill the Tick

Once the tick has been successfully removed from the cat’s skin, place it in a jar or a ziplock bag with rubbing alcohol in it. The alcohol is used to kill the tick safely as it’s not advisable to squeeze it or flush it down the toilet as this might expose the entire family to possible infections.

Step Nine: Disinfect the Bite Area

Once the tick is successfully removed from the cat’s skin, rub the bite wound gently with alcohol followed by an antiseptic spray, a triple antibiotic ointment, or simply use wipes to disinfect the bite site. Through this, you’ll be able to keep the cat from contracting any air-borne infections.

However, this step doesn’t just end there as you’ll have to monitor your cat for signs of swelling or redness. If you detect any, book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible for treatment and advice.

Step Ten: Finishing Touches

Now that you’ve accomplished your goal, remove the latex gloves carefully without touching the areas where the gloves got into contact with the cat’s skin. When you’re done, wash your hands thoroughly with a disinfectant for proper hygiene purposes.

In addition to that, remember to award your cat with some treats for being patient. Play with her to see whether she’s responsive and please, don’t forget to monitor her behavior for any signs of infections.

Wrap Up

It’s often said that prevention is better than cure. One way of protecting your cat from ticks is by checking the cat frequently and making sure that the environment they live in is clean. Since cats are prone to contracting ticks while playing outdoors, most pet owners prefer to keep their cat indoors.

Finally (and this is important), cats should always be monitored for any signs of infections after the ticks are removed. Always keep track of your cat’s eating habits, appetite, and skin/coat condition for several weeks to ensure that everything is going smoothly.

We’ve covered everything you need to know regarding ticks and how they affect your cats. Now, for those pet owners who’ve already tried following this step-by-step guide, how did you find the process? Was it helpful? If so, we would really like to hear your story by sharing your views and experience in the comment box below. If we missed anything important, don’t hesitate to give us a shout!

Home Remedies for Cats With Ticks

Preventing Ticks on Your Cat

Once you remove a tick from your cat, keep a close eye on him for the next week or so. Contact your veterinarian at the first sign of sickness, especially fever, loss of appetite, listlessness, apparent stiffness or aching in the joints. The bite location can also become infected. In rare cases, the tick bite itself can cause a progressive weakness in the back legs of the cat, a condition called tick-bite paralysis. Although this usually goes away on its own within 24 to 72 hours after the tick is removed, it can require IV fluids or additional support from your vet’s office. That’s why you should see a vet for this, rather than wait to see if it clears up.

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Removing a tick from your cat is a traumatic experience for any cat owner. The best way to treat ticks, therefore, is to prevent them from attaching in the first place. Keep in mind that indoor cats almost never get ticks, unless they’re carried in by other pets, pests or people. If your cat does go outdoors on a leash, steer him away from tall grasses and bushes. Free-roaming cats should be checked regularly for ticks when they come indoors, especially during hot weather and in rural areas. Ticks are small and can be easily missed, so be particularly aware of symptoms any time your cat goes outdoors — even if you don’t see any ticks.

If your cat isn’t on a flea treatment program, take him or her to your vet for a prescription. Many products that prevent fleas also prevent ticks and other parasites. This goes for the other pets in your household as well. Another way to keep ticks away from your pets in general is to keep down the rodent population around your house because they can carry ticks as well.

Ticks are nasty little creatures, but these tips should provide you with effective tools for keeping them off your cat.

How to Remove a Tick from a Cat

Ticks like to bite cats just as they like to bite people. How to get rid of ticks on cats is slightly tricky because a cat’s hair can be difficult to part, the ticks embed their mouthparts into the skin like fish hooks, and some cats tend to be wiggly when humans try to intervene with their grooming schedule.

Follow these helpful steps to learn how to remove a tick from your cat successfully.

    Prepare for tick removal

Gather your supplies: latex gloves, cat comb, small tweezers, a jar or plastic bag with rubbing alcohol, and a cotton swab. If possible, enlist another person to help hold the cat while you remove the tick.

Pat the hair down

Wet the cat’s hair a bit with rubbing alcohol or water so it can be patted down or parted for better visualization of the tick. Hold the hair back with one hand so you can see it clearly. Know your limits, though: If the tick is in the cat’s ear, particularly deep into the ear canal, you may need to take your cat to the vet for removal.

Remove the tick

With a gloved hand, use the tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull it out firmly without twisting. Avoid quick, jerking movements. You want a slow, methodical pull. Check the tick to make sure you’ve gotten all of it out of your cat’s skin. Ticks can be harder to remove than you might think, and the cat may get tense at this stage.

Sometimes, a tick might break in half during removal, leaving its mouthparts still in the skin of your cat. This is not uncommon. If there is enough of the mouthparts that are still seen and can be grasped by the tweezers, go ahead and try to pull the remaining part out. If this is not the case, or if a good grasp cannot be had, it is best to leave the area alone and let the body work the mouthparts out on its own, just as a splinter does in human skin.

Simply wash the area with warm soapy water and keep an eye on it to make sure it is healing and not becoming red or inflamed. Continual prodding of the area with tweezers, may not only be painful for the cat, it could push the mouth parts further into the skin, causing irritation and potential infection.

Even if the tick is gone, your cat might not be in the clear. Ticks can leave organisms behind in the cat that can make them sick. In the following days and weeks, look for signs of lethargy, jaundice (yellowing of the ears and white parts of the eyes), lack of appetite, or heavy breathing. Alert your vet if you observe any of these.

Save the tick

Rather than dispose of the tick, place it on a piece of paper, covered with clear tape. Take the paper with the tick to the vet for helpful identification. You can also put the tick in the rubbing alcohol so that it dies.

Treat your cat

Give your cat a treat for being such a good patient!

No one wants to remove ticks from their pet’s skin. Avoiding discomfort for your pet and for you is the ideal scenario, so help avoid the situation by using a preventive tick product.

How To Remove A Tick From Your Cat

Ticks are easy to remove and dispose of, you just need to know how.

So you have found a tick on your cat and you want to do the right thing by removing the parasite so your cat can be tick free. Ticks look a bit like a mole or skin tag and often attach to a cat’s head or ears. They wait in grass and bushes until they detect a warm blooded animal like your cat.

A beautiful tabby kitten scratching its fur

Ticks can spread diseases and give you or your pets an infection, so it is best to remove and kill them promptly. Luckily, removing a tick is easy and you shouldn’t need to visit the vet. Below is a step by step guide on how to remove a tick from your cat:

  1. Using a cotton bud, dab the body of the tick with bleach or a high percentage alcohol (such as vodka). Be very careful and sparing here as you don’t want to get any of the solution on your cat’s skin. This should loosen the ticks grip on your cat’s skin and allow for safe removal.
  2. Using tweezers, grip the tick as close to the cat’s skin as possible. The head and mouthparts of the tick will usually be embedded under the skin and you don’t want these to break off when you pull.
  3. Gently pull the tick out being careful not to leave the mouthparts in your cat’s skin.
  4. Squash the tick in a tissue and throw it in the bin.
  5. Monitor your cat’s skin for a few days to ensure there is no infection.

A close up of a tick feeding on a cat

Important Tip

If you think you have left any part of the tick inside your cat, or if you think there may be an infection following removal, then take your cat to the vet immediately — she may need a course of antibiotics.

How to safely remove a tick from your cat in seven easy steps

When you discover a tick on your cat, your first instinct may be to grab a pair of tweezers and yank it out. Resist that urge! Safely removing a tick from a cat requires a bit of preparation, know-how and patience. Read on for our step-by-step guide so you can safely remove a tick from your cat.

How to remove a tick from your cat

1. Gather your tools

You’ll first need to gather some supplies to make the removal as fast and as comfortable for your cat as possible.

  • A tick removal tool: This tool does a much better job than a pair of tweezers, which can squeeze the tick and break it up, potentially leaving some of it behind in your cat – along with possible infection. While tweezers aren’t recommended for removing a tick, if you don’t have a tick removal tool on hand, use tweezers with narrow, pointy tips rather than ones with angled or bevelled tips. If you don’t have a tick-puller, due to the very dangerous nature of paralysis ticks, either take your cat to the vet to remove the tick, or do your best to remove the tick with what you have available. Leaving the tick attached until you get the right tool is not an option for this deadly parasite!
  • A pair of disposable gloves: Ticks can carry diseases, some of which can also affect you and your family. Wear gloves to avoid direct contact with the tick.
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • A small, sealed container to confine the tick
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2. Locate the tick on your cat’s skin

Part the fur carefully around the tick, taking care to keep your cat as calm as possible. If possible, recruit a helper to hold the cat still while you work. Speak in a gentle, soothing voice, and move slowly.

3. Use the tick removal tool to carefully remove the tick

Removing a tick is tricky – you want to avoid accidentally leaving the tick’s mouthparts in your cat’s skin. Follow the instructions on the tick remover, and position the tool over the tick’s body, very close to your cat’s skin. Carefully pull and twist to bring the whole tick away without squeezing.

Good to know: You should never try to burn off a tick or ‘suffocate’ it with a layer of petroleum jelly, as these methods could harm your cat.

4. Confine the tick

Put the tick in a sealed container, and then keep it to show your vet, in case your cat becomes ill.

5. Clean the tick bite area

Gently wipe the affected area of your pet with an antiseptic designed for pets.

6. Clean up

Clean your tick removal tool with a disinfectant and store it safely in case you need it again. Then dispose of the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.

7. Know when to seek outside help

If your cat gets distressed, the tick doesn’t come out in one piece, or your cat becomes unwell, get some advice from your vet. A single paralysis tick can make a cat very sick and can even be fatal. If your cat shows any symptoms of tick paralysis, consult your vet immediately.

Prevent ticks on your cat

If your cat spends time outdoors, especially if you live along the east coast of Australia where there are paralysis ticks, it’s advisable to use a product registered to control ticks. Make sure to use a product specifically designed for cats (some products for dogs can be extremely dangerous for felines). Your vet is the best source of information on the right tic k prevention product for your cat.

How to Remove Ticks From Cats

Finding a tick on your cat can be worrisome if you don’t know how to remove it. Even worse, you can try to remove it improperly and leave the head still attached to your cat.

How to Remove Ticks From Cats

According to veterinarian Dr. Megan Teiber, «It is safe to remove ticks from your cat at home as long as you are comfortable with the procedure and your cat is cooperative.»

Removing a Tick at Home

The procedure to remove a tick is quite simple, assuming your cat is easily handled and calm and you know what you are doing. It’s also important that you are calm and confident as you don’t want to stress out your cat or yourself if you are bothered by insects.

  1. The first step is to get a tick-remover tool. Most vets should carry them, particularly in areas known for ticks, or pet stores carry them as well. You can use tweezers, but they do not work as well.
  2. If you know that you live in an area where ticks are a risk, you should purchase one ahead of time to have it ready. They can be purchased for as little as $3 and are usually made of plastic.
  3. There are three things you should be aware of before you start. You must not put too much pressure on the body of the tick. This can make the tick spill blood onto the cat which can cause disease.
  4. Second, you must make sure you do not allow the head to stay attached to the cat and remove only the body. Ticks stick their heads into a cat’s skin, so it takes some finesse to remove them intact.
  5. Third, you should protect yourself by wearing gloves or using a paper towel or rag.
  6. Take the tick tool or tweezers and grasp the tick’s head by sliding them under the head, against the skin.
  7. Pull the tick out in a slow, steady motion. You want to have a good hold on it without squeezing too hard. Do not twist when moving the tick out. Don’t worry if this takes a minute or two to get the tick out completely.
  8. Once you have it out, put it in a jar or dish of rubbing alcohol. This will kill the tick which is vital as the removed tick can continue to move and seek a new host.
  9. You can clean the area where the tick was attached to your cat with some triple antibiotic ointment. You can also clean the area with some antibacterial soap.
  10. Another step you should take once the cat is free of the tick is to speak to your veterinarian about tick prevention. Your veterinarian can prescribe Revolution, or Frontline Plus to keep your cat tick free.

Things to Avoid When Removing a Tick

In addition to the steps noted above, there are many stories about how to remove ticks that are not effective and may make the problem worse. When removing a tick, you should never:

  • Use a match to burn the tick. This doesn’t work and can make the risk of disease even higher.
  • Use ointments, salves or other treatments to make the tick leave your cat on its own. Popular myths promote using petroleum jelly or alcohol which do not work and can increase the probability that your cat will get infected.
  • Pulling too hard, squeezing the body or twisting, which can leave the tick’s head buried in your cat.
  • Smush the tick when it’s out as this leaves a risk of disease for you and your cat.

Bringing Your Cat to Vet for Ticks

Dr. Teiber explains, «If your cat does not like to be handled and is too wiggly or becomes aggressive, it is safest to take him or her to the vet for proper restraint.»

  • It also is a good idea to bring your cat in if the head gets stuck in the body. Leaving the head in is not necessarily dangerous, but there is a slight chance that it can increase the risk of disease.
  • If the area develops a rash or becomes very swollen and irritated, you should bring your cat in for an examination. It’s not abnormal for this to happen as the wound heals over the course of several weeks, but it should be checked out, nonetheless.

Removing Ticks From Your Cat

As long as your squeamish, your cat is calm, and you are armed with the proper steps to remove a tick, you should be successful removing one on your own. If you have any concerns at all, contact your veterinarian for assistance.

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