I was taught early on not to pet a cat’s fur the opposite way, and I’ve always felt that cats are great pets until you do something they don’t like. While most of my cats have been lazy and like to be pet, this doesn't mean they like the attention to detail you need to have when removing ticks from them.
This makes tick bites a cat owner’s worst nightmare. While some cats are cooperative, it’s not unlikely for you to find that your cat won’t let you remove a tick.
Ticks are stubborn enough as is, and it will be even more difficult to remove if you’re fighting your cat's claws as well.
So what do you do when your cat won’t let you remove a tick?
Removing a tick from your cat can be made easier with a few preparations:
- Prepare any tools (tweezers or tick remover) and try to locate the tick without alarming your cat.
- Secure your cat with the help of someone else. If no one else is available, you can try to use a towel or blanket to wrap your cat in and distract them with a treat.
- Part your cat’s fur with water or rubbing alcohol to have a better view of the tick.
- A Seresto collar (or other tick solution) can be used as a last resort if you absolutely cannot remove the tick (will kill within 24 hours).
It may take lots of wriggling and protest from your cat, but using these tips should allow you to remove a tick from your pet.
Ticks carry harmful bacteria so you’ll want to remove one as soon as you see it to lessen the chance of disease, and I’ll be covering the proper way to remove a tick below.
How to Remove a Tick From Your Cat
The right way to remove a tick from a cat is a pretty similar process as removing one from a human, but you’ll need to use a few extra tips to help with all the squirming your cat may do.
1. Gather your tools and gently locate the tick
Before you go into battle, have all of your tools gathered and ready. This includes soapy water to clean the bite after, a container or bag for the removed tick, and your removal tool.
The CDC recommends fine-tipped tweezers, but I also really like this Tick Removal Tool for Pets. Some vets use it as a go-to, as you can see in this video.
Specially designed to remove the entire tick- head and all. Designed to help you get your furry buddy tick-free impressively fast. Just latch, twist and pull. It’s that easy.
Not just a tick removal tool for dogs and cats, you can use it as a tick remover for kids and adults too.
The good thing about this device is you can more quickly and easily remove a tick from your cat without having to be a precise as you normally would need to be with tweezers.
It's a much simpler way to remove the tick and if your cat is squirming and being difficult then this tool can be invaluable.
You might also want to grab a blanket or towel that your cat likes, which will be needed for the next step.
Another tip that will make removal much easier is parting your cat’s fur with water or a solution like rubbing alcohol, as it will make it much easier to see and access the tick bite.
Always make sure to use slow, gentle movements so you don’t alarm your cat (and if you have a “talking to your cat” voice, use it to soothe them).
2. Secure your cat
This is where having a buddy to help will come in handy. Have a friend hold your cat securely in a position where you can work on removing the tick.
If your cat is extra wriggly, try wrapping them burrito-style in a blanket or towel, especially one that they like (it may help them feel comfortable). It will also help to stop their claws from scratching you.
You can also try distracting your furry friend with a treat if it helps to keep them still.
3. Remove the tick using your tool
If you’re using tweezers to remove the tick, grab the tick as close to your cat’s skin as possible and pull straight away at a 90-degree angle.
Twisting the tick with tweezers may cause it to break apart, leaving some remains in your cat’s skin. So try not to twist but rather simply pull it directly out.
If you’re using a tick removal tool like this one for pets, the process will be slightly different. Hook the tick (like hooking a nail with a hammer) and twist until the tick separates from the skin, then pull away.
Watching this video may help you better understand the technique.
If the tick does break apart and leaves parts in your cat’s skin, you can attempt to remove them with tweezers. If it’s unsuccessful, you can leave the remains to naturally heal, similar to with splinters.
Just make sure to check up on the bite for the next few days if this does happen, to ensure no infection occurs.
4. Dispose of the tick and clean the bite
Once you’ve got the tick out, drop it in a cup of rubbing alcohol to kill it and place it in a sealed bag (or other container).
Keeping the tick can be a smart move if your pet ends up getting sick, as a vet can use the body to identify any possible illnesses.
Make sure you always clean the bite with warm soapy water afterward and apply an antibiotic ointment if you have it to prevent infection.
After you have that done, give your cat a treat and make sure you check up on the bite for the next couple of days to make sure it doesn’t get infected.
What if My Cat Won’t Let Me Remove a Tick?
If your cat absolutely will not let you remove the tick yourself, this vet explains that you can use a Seresto collar to take care of the tick within 24 hours.
The Seresto Collar slowly releases chemicals onto your cat’s coat over an 8-month period to kill and repel ticks, and it will kill any attached ticks within the first 24 hours.
Long-lasting flea collar kills & repels fleas for 8 continuous months. Hassle-free, non-greasy, easy-to-use flea & tick protection
Seresto collars or other tick treatments for cats can help to kill any ticks attached to your cat (in case you miss some) and can be great for larger infestations. However, if you see ticks in your cat you should always take the time to remove them right away to ensure there is less risk of infection.
These collars are highly recommended by vets and are extremely popular among pet owners, but if your cat already has a tick, I would not opt for the collar right away.
The longer the tick stays attached to your tick, the longer your cat will be exposed to harmful bacteria and possibly disease, so make sure you try as hard as you can to remove it yourself before opting for a collar.
You should also be aware of when it’s time to consult a vet. If you discover a large number of ticks on your cat (around 5 or more), I would strongly recommend letting a vet take care of them to ensure your pet doesn’t get sick.
To prevent future tick bites, use a natural tick repellent on your cat’s coat to protect their skin from the devilish little things.
Permethrin is a common tick killer/repellent but it can be extremely dangerous and even lethal to cats so I would always avoid using this on your cat.