Ticks are an under-recognized parasitic threat to cats. Researchers published a study in the Journal of Veterinary Parasitology which says that ticks can be found on cats in any month of the year, no matter where they are from.
So, it’s no surprise when you find a tick in your cat’s ear. Removing them from your pet’s body is not as easy as swatting a fly away. You need to be careful and delicate with the extraction.
To make it easy for you, we’ve compiled a guide to help you.
Step by Step Guide to Removing Ticks
1. Get your Tools
Check if you’ve got the necessary tools before you start. Here’s a list of relevant tools:
- Tick-removing tool: Having a specialized tick-removing tool is better than using tweezers. Buy one if you don’t already have it.
- Latex gloves: Ticks carry diseases. So it’s better to handle these creatures with gloves and avoid infecting yourself.
- Antiseptic Wipes: You’ll need them handy to disinfect the tick bite area.
- A Container: Once you’ve removed the tick, you’ll need a container to keep the tick before eventually throwing it away. If possible, fill the container with isopropyl alcohol and drop the tick in that.
- An Assistant: This will be a team effort, so have a friend or family member help you while you extract the tick.
2. Handle Your Cat with Care and with Gloves On
After donning the latex gloves, ensure that you hold your pet appropriately. This is where having an assistant will be of greatest help.
Ask your helpmate to hold the cat’s rear end close to their stomach while holding the front limbs and shoulders. Or you could hold the cat lengthwise against your body while your assistant holds the front limbs. This increases the likelihood of preventing your pet from wriggling free.
If you’re doing this on your own, hold your cat gently between your knees while kneeling down.
3. Commence Extraction – Remove the Tick!
Removing the tick can be tricky. That’s because ticks cut through the skin and insert their feeding tube through the opening. The feeding tube commonly has barbs that keep them in place. That means simply pulling out the pest would leave the head still attached.
Here’s where the tick-removal tool comes in handy. Position the tool as close as possible to the cat’s skin. Once you’ve got a light hold on it, gently pull and twist the tick away from the cat’s ear. Avoid any quick or jerky movements.
Ensure that you have the whole tick out and that no part is left behind.
4. Dispose of the Tick
With the tick in your gloved hands, drop it in the container you set aside. The container should be filled with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol).
Dispose of the blood-sucking critter immediately.
5. Clean Up
Once the tick is out of sight, it’s time for a cleansing.
First, clean your cat’s ear with an antiseptic that is made for pets. Next, dispose of the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly. Finally, disinfect your tools before storing them away.
The tick-removal process is pretty straightforward. Once your cat is tick-free, shower them with treats, especially if they were patiently enduring the entire ordeal.
Follow Up Actions
Here are a few next steps you need to take once the tick is removed:
1. Constantly Monitor Your Cat
Keep an eye on your pet for any sign of disease.
Usually, symptoms develop days or weeks after the tick has been removed. If your pet shows symptoms like appetite loss, jaundice, heavy breathing, etc., seek advice from your vet as soon as possible.
2. Learn When to Seek Help
Sometimes your attempt at tick removal may be unsuccessful.
This is evidenced by your cat being distressed, or you notice that the tick’s head is still attached. These are the moments you allow the professionals to step in (unless you are one yourself).
Things to Avoid
1. Don’t Use Tweezers
Not having a tick-removing tool and resorting to a tweezer is potentially disastrous. You can’t be delicate with a tweezer (unless the ends are really narrow). Also, you risk squeezing the tick too hard till it bursts. The residual fluids could infect your cat.
2. Avoid Using Your Fingers
Never try to remove the tick with your bare fingers. Your fingers will be unable to grasp the tick properly. Even if you do get a hold of it, you will risk breaking it and spilling fluids on your cat and your fingers. Tick saliva and blood carry diseases that infect both you and your pet.
3. Burning the Tick Doesn’t Help
You may be tempted to destroy the tick through fire. However, this is a bad idea for two reasons.
One, you’re highly unlikely to actually burn the tick. Second, you’ll probably burn your cat. Plus, your cat will react poorly to having something hot in its ear.
4. Petroleum Jelly Doesn’t Help Too
It’s a common myth. The saying is that ticks will eventually back away after being smothered by petroleum jelly.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The tick will not back off; it will burrow itself deeper in your cat’s skin, making it harder to extract than before.
How to Prevent Ticks
Cats can easily become infested with ticks. So regularly checking them for the parasites is the first step you can take.
It’s common for cats to spend a lot of time outdoors. Ticks usually wait in places like grass for a host to latch on. Other pets are also a source of tick infestation. So your cat could easily be infested through these avenues.
Using tick repellent products like tick collars or spot-on treatment should help in keeping ticks away. Ensure that you use products specially manufactured for cats. Using products that are made for other pets like dogs could be harmful to your cat.
Finally, you could also use tick control sprays and shampoos. Applying a tick control solution to your cat is effective.