Ticks are dangerous parasitic creatures that can lodge themselves into your cat's fur and into his skin. Besides just being gross, they can also carry life-threatening disease that can impact both you and your cat, including Lyme Disease, Tularemia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
It is essential to remove the tick quickly and efficiently to minimize harm to your cat. While many remedies like kerosene or smothering the tick in Vaseline are often recommended, these techniques are old wives' tales and are not effective, and can actually worsen the situation.
Instead, use this proven method to safely remove the tick:
Safe Tick Removal
Since ticks are very common, it's helpful to keep essential supplies on hand, including sharp-nosed tweezers, a small jar of rubbing alcohol, a disinfectant spray or creme and surgical gloves. To minimize any chance of hurting your pet, having a partner to help hold him can help a great deal.
Once you have your supplies and helper in place, follow the below steps:
- Use a comb to part the hair to expose the tick as much as possible. Using the tweezers, grasp the tick at the head, right where it enters the skin. Do not grab the tick by the body; if you do, you can break the tick in half, leaving it's head embedded in the skin, where it can still inject your cat with toxins.
- Pull the tweezers steadily and firmly outward, without twisting or jerking. A smooth upward motion will ensure the tick comes out whole, without breaking apart.
- Place the tick in the jar of alcohol to kill it.
- Swab the cat's skin around the bite wound with a disinfectant.
- Spray the area with the hydrocortisone spray to help alleviate irritation and itching.
- Wash your hands well with soap and water.
If Lyme disease or other ailments are prevalent in the area, do not throw the tick away or flush it down a drain.
Instead, take the tick in a secured container to your veterinarian. They can test the tick for the presence of disease. Many tick-spread illnesses can be treated, particularly if caught early, so by getting the tick tested, you can begin treatment and help your pet before he gets sick.
Tick Removal and Old Wives' Tales
You may have been advised to soak the tick on your cat with Vaseline, kerosene or alcohol, with the idea being that the tick will "back out". However, this does not work. The tick will simply burrow deeper into your cat, causing it to deposit even more toxins into the cat's tissues.
While ticks can be dangerous, taking action right away and removing it safely can save your cat's life. After removing the tick and treating the affected area, monitor your cat's behavior, appetite and skin for a few weeks. If your cat is lethargic, loses his appetite or develops welt or rashes near the tick bite, he may have developed a disease from the tick and will require medical attention right away. Monitoring his condition and getting him to the vet as soon as possible can help minimize the impact of any illness.